Home Staging – Bringing Some Enthusiasm to Your Curb!

Please welcome guest contributor to TeamFisher.com, Rachel Vanderveen, a Calgary real estate blogger and home stager who is writing an eight-part series of home staging advice for our blog. This is part four in that series. Rachel’s previous home staging posts can be found here.

Cleaning and de-cluttering your home has probably left you a bit breathless, but this week I’m going to ask you to go a few steps further. As your home begins to take shape, and you’re starting to see surfaces you haven’t seen in years, I want to focus your attention on some of the small stuff.

I always tell my clients that you have five seconds to make an impression. Saskatoon home buyers usually know if they’re going to love your house or hate it within the first five seconds of viewing your home, so it would make sense that you spend a fair amount of time on curb appeal, and make sure that your exterior sets the stage for the Saskatoon real estate gem that you have hidden within.

So let’s talk curb appeal. If it’s winter, your walkways should be perfectly shoveled, salted, and absolutely clear of ice and debris, not just to make it easy for home buyers to access your front door, but also for the practicality of not wanting to have a lawsuit on your hands should someone slip and fall. If parking is such that people need to walk over a hump of snow in order to get to your driveway, shovel a pathway through the hump so they can walk without immersing their feet in a pile of snow.

If it’s summer your lawn should be cut, trim, whipper snippered, and utterly manicured to perfection. Maybe this is a personal preference, but I’ve always liked lawns that are mowed on a 45° angle. It shows that the homeowner takes pride in his or her home. Your garden should be completely weeded, and planted—if you’re the type that gardens—if you’re not, than your soil should be wet, turned, deep black, and fresh-looking. Try to avoid the soil that is flat and cracking and baking in the sun.

Sorry, but garden gnomes, colourful windmills, personal name plates (Jones’ Residence), and any other type of garden décor are going to have to go. Keep it simple, simple, simple. Use neutral colours in everything you have laid out. If you feel like your garden is naked without all the decoration, you can go out to Superstore or Walmart and pick up those solar lights that you can use to mark out the walkway to your doorstep, or outline the shape of your garden. Those make evening showings warm and inviting!

Now here’s the hard part: your yard needs to look like this for every single showing. You can’t miss one, not even one. I’m not trying to make your life difficult; I do have a very good reason for being so demanding. You see, Saskatoon real estate agents will be opening your door to buyers who have been scouring the Saskatoon MLS® for weeks or more; you never know which one is going to be the one that loves your home and wants to write an offer. To make it easier on my clients, I tell them that every showing that comes through your house is your potential buyer, and every showing after that is the buyers that could take your home into multiple offers and bid your asking price up, rather than down.  The good news is that once you’ve whipped it into shape, it isn’t as hard to maintain!

Now let’s get down to the finer details of the look of the front door. Potential buyers will be standing on your stoop for a moment (in most cases) while they wait for their Realtor® to locate the lockbox and open the door. They will be taking stock of what they see around them, and I have often found that, that moment of looking at a seller’s exterior is usually a pretty clear indicator of what is to come on the inside. So for that reason, make sure your mail box is clean and polished. If it is rusted, tarnished or dirty in any way at all, spray paint it back to a perfect colour, or replace it with a brand new one. Your outdoor light fixture should also be cleaned to a high-shine. Again, if it’s not sparkling, spray paint it or replace it totally. I like to see a wreath on doors. No matter what the season, a wreath creates a great focal point, and gives off a come-hither-type of feel. Make sure that it is seasonally appropriate and extremely neutral and understated. Colours should be whites, golds, beiges, deep greens, blacks, or browns.

Your door handle should be in optimal working order; there’s nothing worse than having the buyer’s agent struggling to get the door open. The knob should be polished and firmly screwed into the door, not wiggly or rattling. Most people don’t notice how dirty their front door gets with scuffs and marks. Attack it with a Mr. Clean magic eraser and if you can’t get it totally clean, then paint the whole thing top to bottom. Don’t do touch-ups here. Broad day-light will often expose a fix like that.

The siding right around your front door has a tendency to collect dust, debris and spider webs. If you go and look at it right now, you’ll likely notice that there is a fair amount of dirt hiding in the corners. Power-wash the exterior of your home from the front driveway right up to the front stoop so that everything that the average buyer sees will be totally clean.

Yes, I’ve given you more to add to your to-do list, but again, believe me, it all pays off when the offer comes in! Good luck, and I’ll see you back here next week as we go further into creating a Saskatoon real estate listing that sells!

Until Next Time…

Blessings

Rachel Vanderveen is a Calgary Realtor specializing in Calgary condos, South East Calgary Real Estate, home staging and Calgary Real Estate Investment, and Auburn Bay Realty.  But more importantly she is a mother to four adorable children, a lover of Auburn Bay Real Estate, and an avid writer of Calgary Real Estate Blogs. For more information on Calgary Home Buyers, or searching mlslistings.ca, visit her website here.

Saskatoon real estate week in review: March 21-25, 2011

Sales surged higher during this first official week of spring, even as winter-like conditions persisted. Saskatoon real estate agents reported eighty-four condo and house sales to the local MLS® system, for the highest volume sales week so far this year. Unit sales were up by fourteen over last week but fell short of the ninety-four properties reported sold during the same week a year ago.

At the same time, the pace of new MLS® listings continued to slow. Agents brought just 111 house and condo listings to the multiple listing service®, a decline of five compared to last week and down twenty-one compared to the same period in 2010. Recent weeks appear to show some signs of a changing trend with new listings. While seven of the first eight weeks of the year produced listing volumes that were up on a year-over-year basis, three of the last four weeks have been down when compared against last year.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Total active MLS® listings (residential) continued to grow at a fairly sluggish pace gaining just fifteen units over the week to close at 1173, up from 1016 at the same time last year. That’s an overall year-over-year gain of fifteen percent, half of what it was just weeks ago. The next eight to nine weeks typically see the largest volumes of new listings for the year, so it’s certainly too early to know just were inventory is headed, but right now, it’s starting to look more like last year’s levels than the higher volumes we saw the two previous years. That could turn suddenly, and dramatically, but at this point, there’s nothing really alarming going on with inventory levels.

As of this morning there are 669 single-family homes and 435 condominiums available for sale within the city limits for a weekly gain of just six and five, respectively. Last year at this time there were 595 single-family homes and just 368 condos for sale on the Saskatoon MLS® system.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Cancelled and withdrawn listings stayed steady at twenty-three units with fifteen of those relisting the same day, at a new price. An additional fifty-seven home sellers adjusted their asking price through the course of the week.

Entry-level sales remained strong through the week pushing the weekly median sale price to its lowest point this year at just $257,500 for a decline of nearly thirty thousand dollars. Still, a dozen sales above the $400K mark kept the weekly average from tumbling nearly as much. It slid about $10,600 from last week to $290,429.  The six-week average sale price saw its first weekly gain in five weeks, edging higher by just under one thousand dollars to $295,904 for an annual gain of roughly $10K. The four-week median sale price slipped lower by about the same amount to close at $284,950. That number is up about thirteen thousand dollars on a year-over-year basis, but at its lowest point for the 2011 year.

Again, as I mentioned last week, the unusual strength in entry-level sales probably reflects a last minute rush to beat the new mortgage rules that came into effect last Friday. Most of the transactions reported sold this week would have gone under contract during the previous week when thirty-five year mortgages were still available.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Overbid activity continued to be weak with just three deals being reported as having sold for more than the asking price, at an average overbid of just $1,766. The balance of this week’s eighty-four deals closed at a price below asking, by an average of $8,307 for a discount of just less than three percent.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

Time to step up the oversight on CMHC operations – Globe and Mail
U.S. home sales plunge as recovery seems far off – National Post
The CMHC: Canada’s mortgage monster – MacLean’s
A house is a home not an investment – National Post
Saskatoon real estate market stable – Star Phoenix
For U.S, housingm a new collapse – Financial Post
Saskatchewan’s population at an all time high – Star Phoenix
Time to rent or buy? – Globe and Mail

A map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate areas is here.
An overview of data collection and calculation practices for our statistical reports is here.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS® listings from all real estate brands with the most detail and information available anywhere. Check it out here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Home Staging – Roll Up Your Sleeves; it’s Time to Sell!

Please welcome guest contributor to TeamFisher.com, Rachel Vanderveen, a Calgary real estate blogger and home stager who is writing an eight-part series of home staging advice for our blog. This is part three in that series. Rachel’s previous home staging posts can be found here.

So now we’ve cleaned our home, and met and hired a Saskatoon real estate agent who is committed to helping us achieve a top-dollar sale. Our agent is sending a stager, but we want to get the most out of our stager’s time by having our home in the best shape we can before (s)he arrives.

So the next thing to attack is de-cluttering. What is clutter? My handy-dandy little Encarta dictionary defines it as a “messy collection of objects.” Well, this week, I’m going to redefine that word for you. Well maybe not redefine, but definitely sharpen the meaning for the purposes of our discussion.

Clutter, for our purposes, shall be defined as anything that you do not absolutely need to use in the next three months. If you think about it, that is a lot of stuff! For example, depending on the time of year, that could mean 3 seasons of your clothes, and your children’s clothes. That being said, why don’t we dive straight into your closets? Closet space is a biggie when it comes to selling real estate. Women Shoppers are always looking for more closet space, and when those Saskatoon real estate buyers come traipsing through your humble abode, they want to see lots of it. How can we make our closets look two-thirds bigger than they are? That’s easy! Remove two-thirds of the stuff! Box it, pack it up, and move it out. Let’s face it; you’re going to have to do it anyways, right? I mean, you are planning on moving house, right? So why not do it now rather than later.

So, Rachel, what am I supposed to do with all of my family’s seasonal clothes? Well, I personally am a big fan of those giant Rubbermaid bins from Walmart, but you don’t have to be so fancy. You can get old boxes from your local grocer. Once you’ve got them all packed up, well, you’ve got to get rid of them! Before I tell you where to put them, I’m going to tell you where not to put them. Do not stack them up in your basement and do not stack them in your garage! I know you’re not going to make me tell you not to stack them anywhere else in the house, that should be a given. Yes, that’s right, your boxes are going to have to go somewhere off site. Now, as I see it, that leaves you with two options:

1) You can find a loving friend or family member who has a basement or garage in home that is not going to be listed anytime soon, and stack them in there.

2) You can enlist the help of a storage unit.

But Rachel, I can’t do either of those things. Okay, fine. If you really can’t do either of those things, the n as a last option you can store the boxes in either the basement or the garage, but if you do so, try to stack them up as high (and as safe) as you can. The reason for this is that we want to be able to see floor space in those areas. Basements—especially unfinished basements—have their value caught up mostly in the amount of visible space. The bigger you can make it look, the more perceived value it has. The best way to make something look bigger is to remove as many unnecessary contents as possible. The garage is another place where space is a big issue. If it’s a double, it needs to look like a comfortable  double; if it’s a single, it needs to look like there is room to spare. So if you must store your extras in the basement or the garage, try to build shelving and get it up off the floor.

Now let’s move back to closets. Once everything is removed that won’t be used for the next three months, the biggest thing I want you to focus on is floor space. If you do nothing else in your closets and pantries, just make sure that the floor space is totally clear. Having the floor clear, again, makes the space appear larger.

After everything is removed from your storage areas, you have to organize it in an appealing way. After years of staging homes for sale, I have found the easiest way to describe the type of organizing you need to do is to say to the homeowner: “It should look like someone with OCD lives here. Think Julia Roberts in Sleeping With the Enemy.” So what does that look like? Well, I’d love to see everything arranged from largest to smallest, with the English label facing out…and…if you have time, colour-block it all. I know it sounds nuts, but let me tell you why it’s so important to make it all look like this. When you’re showing your home to potential buyers who have been looking all of the Saskatoon real estate listings in your area, your home will be the stand out. They see the almost obsessive cleanliness and associate a value to that. They will assume that you are the type of person who set a monthly clock to check your furnace and clean your ducts. They’ll know that if the roof leaked, you were up there in hours to have it looked at and instantly repaired. And they’ll be certain that a person as obsessively clean and organized as yourself, would never stand for mold growth anywhere. Feeling confident that the home you choose has been kept up to high standards has a value that is almost incalculable.

I often say to my staging clients, that when you think of the work you’ll have to do on your home to get it ready for the Saskatoon real estate market, imagine writing yourself a paycheck for about $200/hour. I have found that is roughly how much staging can increase your price, give or take. I can attest to the fact that staging your own home can seem like a  daunting task, but when you picture the income that  you can earn from putting in the time to make it sparkle, it’s a lot more appealing! So roll up your sleeves!

Until Next Time…

Rachel

Rachel Vanderveen is a Calgary Real Estate agent specializing in Calgary condos, South Calgary Real Estate, home staging and Calgary Real Estate Investment.  But more importantly she is a mother to four adorable children, a lover of Auburn Bay Real Estate, and an avid writer of Calgary Real Estate Blogs. For more information on Calgary Home Buyers, or searching The Calgary MLS, visit her website here.

 

Saskatoon real estate week in review: March 14-18, 2011

Saskatoon real estate sales (house and condominiums) saw a slight uptick on a weekly basis, and a larger year-over-year decline, this week. Total unit sales came in at seventy, up three from the previous week, and down ten from reported sales for the same week last year.

New listings moderated some, slipping to 116, down from 125 last week, and finishing well below the 135 properties that were added to the Saskatoon MLS® system during the same period in 2010.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Total active MLS® listings moved higher again this week, just as we would expect at this time of year. As of Saturday morning, we find 1158 properties listed for sale in the residential category of the Saskatoon multiple listing service®. That number represents an increase of just nineteen units from last week, the smallest weekly gain recorded over the past seven weeks. Year-over-year gains continue to get slightly smaller each week. Total listings are now up nineteen percent from last year, at this time. MLS® inventory was up close to thirty percent on a year-over-year basis as 2011 got under way.  Today, buyers will find a selection of 663 houses and 430 condos showing an “active” status. At this time last year, those numbers stood at 555 and 367 respectively.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Listings that were cancelled or withdrawn from the system remained steady at twenty-three. All but eight of those made another appearance on the MLS® system flagged as a new listing on the same day that they exited. Another forty Saskatoon homes sellers changed the asking price on their listing.

Activity remained strong at the lower half of the market as the median sale price of a Saskatoon home slipped nearly nine thousand dollars to $285,350. Still, a handful of sales recorded above the $500,000 mark pushed the weekly average selling price higher to $301,095. Our longer-term price measures both continued to decline. The six-week average selling price saw its fourth consecutive weekly decline as it slipped a little more than two thousand dollars from last week to $294,209 while maintaining an annual gain of less than seven thousand dollars. The four-week median sale price dropped sixty-five hundred dollars from last week to settle at $286,000 for a year-over-year gain of roughly seventy-four hundred dollars.

My early thought on this is that the declines are likely driven by greater activity with entry-level buyers who may have been attempting to beat the rules that saw maximum amortization periods drop by five years, to thirty years. That rule took effect on Friday of this week, so it will be interesting to see where prices trend from here.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Overbid activity was weaker than what we’ve seen in recent weeks with just two sellers reporting a sale above their asking price, by just $1175 on average. Seven sellers managed to bag a full list deal while sixty-one of seventy sellers agreed to a discount averaging just under three percent, or $8992.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

Despite stress, no crash seen in housing – Globe and Mail
How global turmoil will affect real estate prices in Canada – Globe and Mail
Average February for Canadian home sales: CREA – CREA News Blog
Home price gains likely to recede: CREA – Globe and Mail
Affordable shelter a big issue – Star Phoenix
Pace of housing sales decline slows down – Financial Post
Ecovillage at River Landing won’t go forward – Star Phoenix, City Hall Notebook
Fixed mortgage rates find few friends among brokers – Globe and Mail
House sales climb in Saskatchewan – Star Phoenix
House prices: Can you afford to buy at current prices? – CBC News

A map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate areas is here.
An overview of data collection and calculation practices for our statistical reports is here.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS® listings from all real estate brands with the most detail and information available anywhere. Check it out here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

 

 

 

 

Rivergreen Ecovillage fails to secure financing – developer cancels plans

David Hutton is reporting some disappointing news about the Rivergreen Ecovillage, a “green” condominium development that had been proposed for Phase 2 of River Landing. The 65-unit condo complex was to be built at the corner of 19th Street and Avenue C in Riversdale but the developer has announced the cancellation of the project after they failed to obtain adequate financing for it.

Check Dave’s blog here.

Learn more about the Riversdale area here.

Visit our Saskatoon Neighbourhood Profiles pages to learn more about what’s going on in our city’s neighbourhoods.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate