The Kathi Delis Northern Kentucky Real Estate Blog

Home Staging on a budget

Home staging on a budget

Know which items to pack away and when to leave the shower curtain open

By Tom Kelly
Inman News®

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I mentioned "home staging" to a single dad who asked about selling his home this spring. The rest of the men in the group looked at me as if I were from Mars.

"That's great for the high rollers -- the white wine and brie set," one of them said. "But what about people who serve hamburgers and beer, and not watercress sandwiches?"

Home staging is not reserved for the rich -- or for creative women. In fact, cleaning and clearing clutters are the two primary items on Pam Christensen's Inexpensive Staging Tips list for any market. And, guys, it doesn't take a genius woman to help you through the other tips on the list.

Christensen, founder and owner of Staging for Charisma LLC, said guys often forget that they are selling their space, not their stuff.

"There are some staging tips that apply no matter where you live," said Christensen, a licensed real estate instructor and certified staging trainer. "Some tips apply more if you are living on the East Coast than on the West Coast."

Guys, if you're thinking of selling your house or condo this spring, now is the time to prepare your home for sale. Why now? Well, it's the traditional selling season, which means that in most communities, recorded residence transfers are at a peak during June and July. Most of those sales are actually made 30 to 60 days earlier, and it takes time to complete the transaction. Think about the academic year. Many deals are made when the kids are in school, and moves are made when they get out.

What's the best way to make a deal happen? A fresh coat of paint, inside and outside, will do wonders to make your residence show its best and make buyers want to purchase it. If your home looks tired, prospective buyers either won't make a purchase offer or they will highly discount it to allow for the fix-up costs, especially painting. Most buyers want to purchase a residence in model-home condition, so all they have to do is turn the key in the front door and move in.

"White is out, designer neutrals are in," Christensen said. "So what the heck is a designer neutral? Beige, but if you're not careful, that beautiful beige that looked so fabulous on the brochure could look pink on your wall. Warm beiges like Sherwin Williams Practical Beige and Kilim Beige are some of my favorites."

Christensen's other cheap staging tips:

Curb appeal is not dead: OK, nine times out of 10, the first impression of the home is the Internet, but that doesn't mean that curb appeal is out of vogue. The contrast between the chocolate brown bark and the bright green grass makes a striking first impression.

How to get rid of it: It's time to give away the purple cookie jar that you got from Aunt Mary for your 18th birthday, and anything else that you have been saving just in case you might need it someday. Divide everything into three stacks: The purple cookie jar and other things that you never use go directly to the garage sale or Goodwill. The second stack is the things you use but rarely, or they are seasonal and you won't need them while you are on the market. These are packed and stored. What's left can go back into the closets. Will people really look in the closets? Only if they want to buy the home.

Counter patrol: Small appliances like toasters can go into a cupboard. If you have an espresso machine and a coffee pot, choose which one you use the most and tuck the other away.

Bathroom essentials: For toiletries, buy a plastic tote that can come out in the morning and evening and be easily tucked under the sink during the day. Keep no more than one shampoo, one conditioner and one liquid soap in the tub or shower.

And what about that shower curtain? Open or closed? If you have just invested in a new tile tub surround, leave the shower curtain open to show it off.

Say welcome home: Buy a new, tasteful welcome mat for the front entry. It's best if it says "welcome." Adding a pot of blooming annuals by the front door if there's space also creates a friendly atmosphere.

Mirror, mirror on the wall: Place one in the entry or in one of the main living rooms. Mirrors help buyers see themselves in the home. They also help to make the room look larger and lighter. Check the reflection. Make sure you aren't reflecting a view that is less than attractive.

Less is more: You've heard it before, but it is really true. When staging a room in a home for sale, a few well-placed pieces of furniture are all that's needed to show the room at its best.

Tom Kelly's new e-book, "Bargains Beyond the Border: Get Past the Blood and Drugs: Mexico's Lower Cost of Living Can Avert a Tearful Retirement," is available online at Apple's iBookstore,, Sony's Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel eBook Store, and Google Editions.


Tips for Selling Your Home



Produced by Inman News

December 14, 2011

Sponsored by Lowe's

4 ways to attract more buyers to real estate listings

Don't underestimate power of online marketing, private showings

By Dian Hymer
Inman News™

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Some buyers are looking for a home that's located in a specific neighborhood. Others have more flexibility regarding where they live. But most buyers share one thing in common: They want a home that's in move-in condition.

Start working on attracting buyers to your home by putting the property in good condition before it goes on the market. In most cases, it's not a good idea to show your home to a prospective buyer before it's ready to be shown. Photos should also wait until your home presents itself well.

Pay attention to "curb appeal"; first impressions are lasting. Some buyers drive by without taking a look inside if they don't like the way a house looks from the street. The yard should be clean and tidy. Replace the front lawn if it's dead; the same goes for plants that have seen better days. Flowering plants make your home look festive and inviting.

Peeling paint should be touched up, if possible. If an entire exterior paint job is called for, consider changing the color scheme to enhance the appeal. One seller repainted the exterior of his home before selling without consulting his agent or a colorist. He repainted using the existing color scheme, which was out of date. The house didn't sell quickly. When it did, the first thing the buyers wanted to do was change the color of the exterior.

Repair deferred maintenance, particularly if it's visible from the street. You want to convey the impression that your home has been well maintained. If you can't afford to repair...

WOW! What a home!



Produced by Inman News

December 14, 2011

Sponsored by Lowe's

From Marilyn Monroe to 'Mad Men,' $12M mansion has storied history

House of the Week: from


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Click here to view the full photogallery.

Location: Chatsworth, Calif.
Price: $12 million
The Skinny: It might be just 60 years old, but the Fox Residence has many lifetimes' worth of history attached to it. Designed by the modernist duo of Pereira & Luckman, the sleek midcentury manse was -- and all of this is according to the brokerbabble so please take it with a grain of salt -- built for Dora Hutchinson, heiress to the Chase Manhattan Bank fortune, who threw lavish parties and hosted the likes of Ava Gardner and Lucille Ball.

Judy Garland and Vicente Minnelli are said to have married on the property, before Hutchinson returned to New York and began renting the place to Frank Sinatra. Sinatra then sublet the guest house to the one-and-only Marilyn Monroe, who supposedly had a tryst with John F. Kennedy here.

With all that history, it's no wonder that the place...

Choosing the right home for resale!!!

While we all beleive that we buy the right home for the right reason and everyone will love it as much as we do, in todays market we have to plan carefully.  We all know the old real estate matra location, location, location.   That has certainly proven to be true but why is it that in a great locaton, one house sells quickly while another sits forever.   The answer is in the details.   When purchasing a home the buyers needs to pay close attention to, not only the location, but what is the level of the homes around them. 

For example, if you purchase a great home, well updated and great space, but it is the most attractive and updated home in the area, you have a resale problem.  If you have the best home in the area, you will want to get the most money on a resale as you have probably paid a bit more at purchase.  In order for this to happen you will have to keep up with the updating of your home.  The buyer who bought their home in 2000 with a brand new updated kitchen is now living in a home with a 11 year old kitchen that is starting to show signs of wear and tear and has definetly lost it's "shine".

It is also, often, difficult for buyers to see past the "cool" furniture that some sellers have in the homes.  First job of a good realtor is to remind the buyer that they take those nice pieces with them when they move!

Also, if you are contemplating purchasing a really nice home in a lower priced area as it is truly a lot of home for the money, make sure that the homes around you are being maintained appropriately.   Some of the lower end models that builders offer may not have the quality of materials used as a high priced home that may be a bit smaller.  It is important to note how these items age when these homes become 10 years old or beyond.   Using an example; an exterior light fixture that is purchased at the lower end of the price scale will most likely not look as good in 10 years as a more expensive fixture.  While they will both show wear there may be a vast difference in their appearence thus effecting the curb appeal of the home.  The same would be true for exterior doors and so on.

Just pay attention to the details, so when you go to sell, you will sell quickly and at a good price!...

Home Improvement Tips

Home improvements that pay off

Today's buyers are less willing to compromise

By Dian Hymer
Inman News™
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June 27, 2011

The temptation is strong: Clean up the yard, declutter the house, and put it on the market without spending time and money sprucing the place up for sale. This is especially the case if you anticipate losing money on the sale.

Some real estate agents recommend you do little if anything to get your home ready for sale. This could work if you price the listing to look like a bargain. However, most buyers in today's market are nervous and picky. They aren't in a hurry and they want a house that's move-in ready.

An agent who is looking for a fast sale might steer his or her clients away from doing any fix-up work. It takes a lot of time and coordination, not to mention money, to get a home properly prepared for sale in today's market. Some agents don't want to take on the effort, or haven't the vision to see the home's potential. This could cost you on the sale.

One agent told his clients that they needn't do anything to get their house ready for sale. True, the house had inherent charm and good bones. But, the seller's furniture was much too big to show the rooms off to advantage. The dogs had damaged the hardwood floor and the beautiful garden was overgrown.

The house didn't sell until the sellers found another agent who recommended a laundry list of items to take care of before selling, including moving most of the seller's furniture out and having the house staged.

Unfortunately, market values declined between the first and second times the home was listed. Even though the house sold quickly with multiple offers the second time it was listed, it sold for less than it would have if it had showed well the first time it hit the market.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Choose an agent to work with who has experience helping sellers prepare their homes for the market. Ask an agent you're thinking about hiring for references. Call past sellers and ask them how effectively the agent helped them get their home sold and whether they made back the money they invested getting the home ready for sale.

A good agent should be able to supply you with a list of tradespeople who can help you paint, change outdated floor coverings and light fixtures, etc., at reasonable prices. And your agent ought to be able to provide access to the home for the people you select to help with the fix-up if you are out of town or at work.

Ideally, you should work with your agent who will help you prioritize the things that should be done to bring about a timely sale. For example, an outdated kitchen can usually be improved considerably by painting, changing light fixtures, refinishing or replacing a worn floor, and changing cabinet pulls.

It might make sense to change extremely old appliances and counters. However, it's not a good idea to gut the kitchen and completely remodel it for sale. You won't get that money back when you sell. The aim is to make cost-effective improvements that make your home appealing to the broadest number of buyers possible.

Painting is the least expensive improvement you can make that is likely to return more than you invest, provided you select the right colors. One seller repainted the exterior of his home before he selected a real estate agent. He painted it the same dowdy colors that adorned the house for decades. The first thing the buyers wanted to change was the exterior paint color.

THE CLOSING: For the best result, talk to a color consultant before you paint


January 2011 Market Update



January 2011  Market Update

The housing market is recovering. As more home buyers are taking advantage of the improved affordability conditions. With mortgage rates hovering around recent record lows and home prices having generally stabilized, economists are expecting an upward trend to a healthy and sustainable level in 2011.

Encouraging signs are showing up across the economy. Retail sales recently hit their highest level since before the recession. Key measures of small and big businesses’ optimism marched back up to prerecession levels and new claims for jobless benefits are trending lower. Together they bode well for steady job creation and improved consumer confidence which is generally manifested in more spending.

As the economy improves, current stimulus efforts by the government and the Federal Reserve Board are expected to gradually wind down. Meanwhile, serious buyers stand to benefit from historically favorable buying conditions.


Home Sales

Existing home sales resumed on an upward trend since bottoming in July. Sales activity rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million in November. This was up 22% from July and 5.6% above the 4.43 million level in October, but remained 27.9% below the 6.49 million tax credit rush a year ago. As steady job creation is expected to continue, industry experts are hopeful for 2011.


Tips to Save Energy and Add Value

When it comes to energy efficiency, look for smart features and expertise to help you save energy and money and add value to your home.


If the home you buy is simply too large for you or your family’s needs or plans, you stand a good chance of wasting energy through excessive heating and cooling costs. If it’s too small, you’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable. It’s a big investment, so seek balance and buy it “right” from the outset.


And especially the refrigerator, as it alone contributes about 10 percent of the energy use in a home. Also, unplug electronics not in use or turn off power strips to avoid phantom charges.


Lighting accounts for about 6 percent of an energy bill each year.


You can always upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system as well as your thermal envelope, which includes insulation, windows, and doors and the seals or weather-stripping around them.

Visit / energytips for more tips.