Staging Secrets with Minted Spaces

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I was so thrilled when Aryn at Minted Spaces reached out to me to meet up. I had swooned over her work for the longest time, and it was so fun to get to sit down and chat all things home over a cup of coffee. The most interesting takeaway, and what I really think sets Aryn apart, is that she has a background in psychology. It’s hard to realize until you’re in the moment, but we are so attached to our homes and our belongings, whether buying, selling, or even decluttering. I asked Aryn to share the scoop on her process and how you can get that perfectly staged feeling in your home without driving yourself insane and selling all your things online. Keep in mind, many of these suggestions are awesome to keep in mind day-to-day, even if you don’t plan to sell your home!

What is the first thing you think a buyer notices when they walk into a home?

I think the first thing buyers notice is more of a feeling than actual tangible items. Most buyers want to walk into this magical “ah this is home” feeling. While that might look a little different for everyone, overall you can accomplish this by creating a neutral and warm space.

What is a quick way to make your home feel “staged” in under an hour?

First, remove all personal photos. No one is going to have that “ah this is my home” feeling if they see the current homeowner on the walls. Next, focus on the main rooms: kitchen, dining, master bedroom, and living room. If you have a partner, it may be best to split up to cover more ground.

In the kitchen and dining room, make sure all surfaces are clear of clutter and clean. Don’t go overboard though, you want a few décor items out to give it that cozy feel. In the living room be sure the couch has pillows placed near the arms, and a throw blanket over the arm or back of the couch for an extra cozy feel. Sweep/vacuum the floors before finishing up in this room. For the master bedroom, be sure to make the bed (preferably with light colored bedding), toss a throw near the foot of the bed, and clear the surfaces of any vanities, dressers, and nightstands. Adding some flowers (real or faux) helps give this space a retreat feel.

Bonus tip! Have some Scentsy, diffuser or other flameless candle options strategically placed in these main rooms. Vanilla and jasmine scents are proven to be relaxing while lifting people’s moods. If you’re listing in November and December, using cinnamon and pine scents will evoke a cozy feeling. Just be sure to not have them be too strong, as some people get migraines when the scent is overwhelming.  

Is there any advice you find yourself giving over and over to clients? 

Everything I listed above is in nearly every staging consult list I give to clients. Another one is to add real or faux plants to rooms to bring texture and life to a space. Snake plants are excellent for staging. They are tough little buggers and can handle being forgotten about for weeks. They’re also very trendy. There’s no need to repot them, you can simply stick them as-is into a wicker basket and bam! You’re living room is Instagram worthy.

What tips do you have for keeping your house organized and show-ready but also livable? 

The first is to de-clutter. This is easiest to do by season. If you’re listing in the summer, go ahead and pack away all those sweaters, coats, boots, and sleds. This should empty out the closets some.

Next, wicker/cloth baskets are your new best friend. These make closets and cube storage spaces look put together when really, the inside of those baskets can be a hot mess. These are perfect for throwing all the shoes into, then placing in the entryway closet. Toys in the living room? Wicker baskets with lids are your friend. Tuck one under a window and add a pillow on top, and now it’s a cozy area for showings.

Finally, have a plan and delegate. Everyone who lives in the home should have their own set to-do list before leaving the house. This eliminates the frantic, random cleaning where you and your partner are going over the same spaces. If you have pets or children, have a bag packed and ready to go near the door with snacks, toys, treats, and whatever else they may need over the course of a few hours. Doing all of these should help get you and your family out the door with minimal stress.

Hopefully you can implement some of these tips to make your home magazine-worthy, whether you are listing or just nesting!

Countertop FAQs with Geo’s Marble & Granite

graniteFrom the minute I heard another agent in my office say “I like to quiz myself on different granite types in my spare time”, I knew I was in the right place. In my opinion, nothing can change the whole look of a kitchen faster than new countertops. However, when my husband and I were looking at homes, I was totally overwhelmed trying to determine what material was in a kitchen, how easily I could replace it, and what that might entail. So, when I got the chance to sit down with the team at Geo’s Marble and Granite, I got right to the bottom of it all. The company has been in business since 2012 and came highly recommended, so I knew they’d be the ones who could answer my burning questions.

What are the most common materials you might find in a kitchen? How could someone tell the difference when they walk in a home?

Most often you will find quartz (which is manmade), granite or laminate. Occasionally you might see marble but it’s not usually recommended for a kitchen. To quickly tell which type is installed, look underneath. Naturally occurring stone like granite or marble isn’t often altered on the bottom, whereas laminate or quartz will have some factory markings or be smoother and more finished.

What do you need to consider when replacing countertops in my home?IMG_1913

At Geo’s, you’ll need to set aside about 5-7 business days for measuring and installation (this can vary greatly from business to business). As a rule of thumb, summer is better for installation as the winter months get extremely busy in the industry. Always ask if they are willing and able to remove old countertops as well. Geo’s is happy to help for an additional fee, but other companies may not offer disposal.

Which material is the easiest to care for?

Let’s start by saying marble is NOT the easiest, and is often discouraged in kitchens. Many styles can stain and etch easily when they come in contact with things like wine, coffee and even styrofoam. Marble is much better in a bathroom where it’s less likely for these things to come in contact with your surface. Quartz and granite are actually extremely easy to care for and they only require sealing once a year, which is just a simple spray (which you can purchase at Lowes or Home Depot) almost like cleaning and wiping down your counters. As long as you maintain the sealing, they are able to withstand heat, cutting, liquid, and all kinds of other kitchen mishaps. Another great thing about granite is that even if there is some accidental staining, the pattern will often camouflage it.

What happens if my kitchen is oddly shaped or requires a very long countertop?

No problem! While they try to have the fewest seams possible, they are often required in lengths over 10ft. Curves, rounded spaces and overhangs are no issue either.

What determines the cost of different countertops?

At the core, it’s all about supply and demand and what’s the most popular. Besides that, the main factors are material and square footage. Cost also fluctuates based on the amount of waste it takes to get a beautiful pattern. Granite pricing is tiered, so a “level one” granite would be a builder-grade material that starts around $29/ square foot. It has repetitive, even patterns that allow for one piece to be cut after another. Conversely, a complex piece of marble might require a lot of waste in order to get to that perfect design element on a piece, driving up the price. If humans can make more of it (quartz and laminate), it is often more affordable than things we rely on nature to produce (granite, quartzite, marble).

IMG_1231What are the biggest countertop trends right now?

The light, bright pieces are flying out of the store. Many people are going for the look of marble but prefer quartz or granite with that same design. For styles, waterfall countertops (where the counters extend over the sides all the way to the floor, like a table) are increasing in popularity.

I hope that helped clear up some of the questions out there about counters! The best part about this conversation was meeting someone that knew their stuff and loved what they did. They had a wonderful selection (much of it was imported from Brazil- fun fact!) and they were incredibly knowledgable about the varieties, nuances and trends. The team helped me understand how affordable and simple it could be to install and maintain these beautiful additions. If you have any other questions, I’d love to pass them along for answers!

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How Do You Measure a (Real Estate) Year?

Some of the most asked questions I hear as a Realtor begin with “Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 12.22.46 PM.pngwhen should I…?” So, I compiled a VERY extensive list of all of my advice, broken out for buyers, sellers, homeowners and renters. If you’d prefer to just see a segmented list, click the links below for downloadable lists:

Buyers & Sellers

Renters

Homeowners

January -February

  • Buyers– This is the time of year to get prepared for a busy spring! Begin by finding a Realtor that you love and ask for suggestions on lenders you could meet with. The key is to get pre-approved, determine your budget and get the pieces in place so making an offer is turnkey when you’ve found The One. Consider making suggested improvements to your credit and topping off your savings after establishing your mortgage goals. If you are desperate for a home, there are often homes that went on the market during the late fall or early holiday season that are ready for a price-drop.
  • Sellers- This is your time to prepare as well. Begin interviewing agents to help you determine the value of your home, assist in suggesting repairs and getting the home ready to list. As you clean, paint and prepare your home, consider talking to your agent about a “coming soon” status approaching spring to generate interest while updates are being wrapped up. ALWAYS talk to an agent before doing major work on your home in order to sell it. There’s a chance the return might not be what you are hoping for, and a potential to over-improve your home and make it difficult to sell.
  • Homeowners- Angie’s List shares that “despite the thought of working outside in the cold winter months, this is actually a good time to start an addition. Frozen ground and dry air are better for digging foundations and pouring concrete footers than muddy ground and humidity. If your foundation is completed and the room addition is framed before the rainy season, the space can be under cover during the unpredictable spring weather. You’ll likely have fewer ‘rain days’ where no one works on the construction site. In addition, the winter months tend to be less busy for builders, because everyone is waiting for spring and tax refunds to start their home projects.”
  • Renters: The savings on rentals typically extend from October-April, so this is still a great time to snag a deal. Additionally, if you have a longer lead time and are anxious to start searching, consider a new construction building. Companies often want to complete projects before the busy rental season, and may offer bonuses and discounts on top of being a brand-new property.

March – May

  • Buyers/sellers: This timeframe is considered the “spring market” where activity is at a peak. While you might see a higher inventory, there is also an influx of buyers ready to get outside and find their new home. You might find that intentions aren’t always serious this time of year, as buyers are curious and exploring, and sellers might be testing the waters to see if a high price will generate interest. In this fast-paced season, buyers should be prepared with a budget and your offer terms in your back pocket. Sellers, understand what you would accept and how much you could net from the sale of your home prior to being in an emotional scenario.
  • Renters: Keep in mind that rentals often require 60 day’s notice if you choose to end your lease or pursue another rental. I have in many cases been left paying to break a lease or trying to fill a vacancy because I got excited about a new home, balcony or pool!
  • Homeowners: Due to the weather, this is a better time of year to begin outdoor renovations like sidings and decks. However, this is often the busiest time for builders, so it’s probably when you’ll pay the most money for their time and for materials.

June – September

  • Renters: Rents are often higher in these months when activity is high, especially in the case of a college town. Many people are looking for short term leases during summer internships or moving to new cities to begin jobs. On the flip side, there is a lot of variety and competition between apartment complexes, so discounts are not uncommon.
  • Buyers/Sellers: Consider the pros and cons of listing or searching for a home during this time. You might see a great side of a property and a neighborhood, but you could also be inconvenienced by vacations and holidays.
  • Homeowners: Indoor work like kitchen or bathroom remodelingis great during the summer months. Consider things like grilling outside, washing the dog in the driveway, and all of the options you have for not being cooped up inside while contractors complete work. Surprisingly, roofing projects are often done in the summer, because the roofing material needs certain higher temperatures to seal. If you have a Realtor, ask for trustworthy and reliable contractors that might be able to complete work while you are on vacation so you can avoid the inconvenience altogether!

October-December

  • Buyers/Sellers: Usually if you are seeking a home or hoping to sell your home at this time of year, know that the other party is usually more serious. This is not necessarily the time for curious buyers to hit the market, or for experimenting sellers to put their homes on the market to see what would happen. People are typically more focused on family and friends, so they will be less likely to be searching or wanting people in and out of their homes. Bonus, though, beautifully decorated houses are plentiful and you can find the perfect “Christmas Tree corner” that we all secretly seek during showings.
  • Homeowners: If you need a deal on home improvements and contractors, it could be worth it to consider waiting until during the holidays. Most professionals stay busy leading up to the holidays, so their schedules likely lighten up this time of year.
  • Renters: This is the best time of year to snag affordable rent. According to RentHop, “one-bedroom apartments are between 2.4% and 5.4% cheaper in the winter, while two-bedroom units are between 2.3% and 5.8% more affordable. In dollar figures, that equates to between a $37 and $171 per month savings for one-bedroom rentals and between $36 and $191 for two-bedrooms.”

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Article Sources: MarketWatch, Apartment Guide Blog, Investopedia, Sears Home Services