Top 5 Home Staging Tips You NEED To Know

So, you spent the time in January and February to completely Marie Kondo your home, and it isn’t sparking joy in your life any longer. Maybe it’s time to think about selling? Our REALTORS® are here to help you every step of the way, including whether or not you should sell your home – but if you decide that is the next step, here are some of our favorite home staging tips!

  1. De-clutter & Clean

You’ve already got that decluttering down, right? (If not – check out our series on how to tidy up your home!) Cleaning is of utmost importance when staging and selling your home. Wipe down countertops and clean mirrors regularly, especially in preparation for a showing. Insure floors are clean, check out the inside of appliances (especially if you are selling them with the home) and dust, dust, dust! Not into cleaning? That’s ok, our REALTORS® can recommend resources to help with this.

  1. De-personalize Your Space

Homebuyers want to picture themselves in your space. By removing personal items, like family photos, unique design choices, bathroom toiletries, and anything overtly religious, you allow the buyer to see their photos, their design, their toiletries, etc. Now, you don’t need to do any major renovating to achieve this, nor do you need to clear everything away – you’re aiming for comfortable and charming.

  1. Stage Kitchen, Living Room, Master Bedroom First

The kitchen, living room and master bedroom are the three most lived in rooms in a home. Because of that, homebuyers often make their decisions based on these spaces! Create an environment that helps to showcase the best assets of these rooms, and you will help homebuyers picture themselves living life there too.

  1. Well Placed Color Can Go A Long Way

Most home staging tips will say neutral everything is the key. But some well-placed color can help your home feel vibrant, exciting, adventurous, or calming, serene and comforting. When thinking about color in your home, stick to items like throw pillows, rugs, blankets or fresh flowers to add color – you take those things with you, so the buyer won’t feel stuck with a bright orange wall or pink carpet.

  1. Consult the Professionals

Feeling overwhelmed with our first four tips? That’s where we come in. Our REALTORS® can help guide your home staging choices, and even recommend some trusted industry partners. Feeling eager to get going? Contact a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate agent today!


Top Four Reasons a BHHSMI Realtor® is Good to Know™

We often say a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate Agent is Good to Know™, but what does that really mean? Our company growth is dependent on every carefully chose member of our team, so when you choose a BHHSMI REALTOR® to help buy or sell your home, you’re choosing a leader in the industry.  Here’s our pick for the top four reasons a BHHSMI agent is the best option for your real estate transaction.

  1. We are part of a worldwide organization of trusted real estate experts. Not every real estate company has the name Berkshire Hathaway backing it. When you work with a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network agent, you can trust in their strength, integrity, and universal integrity.
  2. We are one of the largest networks of REALTORS® in Michigan and Northern Indiana. Coming in second for number of agents in Michigan, BHHSMI has one of the largest networks of any real estate company. This means we have one of the largest referral networks, and cover the largest area – which is a good thing for you! A larger network means more offers on your home as a seller, and more potential homes for you to see as a buyer.
  3. We are real estate experts. When it comes to real estate knowledge, no one beats BHHSMI. Our agents spend countless hours each week learning how to serve you better. Whether finding new ways to market listings, researching local areas and communities or brushing up on their legal knowledge, you can count on our experts to get you the best results.
  4. We are marketing gurus. Our marketing services start on day one. We are there to help determine selling price, suggest minor or major repairs to help get top dollar, and we use the best tools in the market to get more eyes on your home. Our national marketing ensures that the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices name is in front of home buyers regularly, our listings are seen on over 100 real estate websites, and we advertise our properties on Facebook and in local information sources. And home buyers – this is good for you too! Knowing where to market a home means we also know where to go to find you that new home.

 

Ready to take the first step in selling your home or buying a new home?  Contact one of our REALTORS® today.


Tidying Up When Selling – Lesson Five

The final lesson in the KonMari Method™ is sentimental items. As REALTORS® this is one of the hardest things to discuss with our clients when selling their homes. Too many sentimental items in your house, or items that match your unique tastes can turn off some potential buyers. Like the other lessons in Marie’s method, lesson five can immediately contribute to your bottom line when selling your home. And like some of the other lessons, it can also be very difficult!

To start, save all sentimental items for the end of the tidying process. If you encountered any of those items in steps 1-4, now is the time to bring them out. These items are often difficult to tidy because we have an emotional connection with them. Perhaps that drawing is from your child who is now grown and has moved out of the house, and you miss that younger time. Perhaps that item of clothing was from a time when you went through a lot of changes, and you have a lot of respect for that time in your life. Perhaps a loved one has passed, and that item or antique was given to you from that loved one.

The best part about Marie’s method is that we can decide what is important to us and what sparks joy for us. If those items do spark joy and you will revisit them, good news, you can keep them! But they shouldn’t be buried in a tub in the basement or the garage. They should be where you can easily get to them each day. Don’t want to see those items each day? That is when to evaluate if it truly sparks joy.

That wraps up our series on Marie Kondo! Have you tried any of her tidying tips? Is your home no longer sparking joy? Our REALTORS® can help with that.


Tidying Up When Selling – Lesson Four

Komono is the miscellaneous items category. And there is one thing we know for sure: komono is just about EVERYTHING. If it isn’t clothing, books or papers, it is komono. It left us yelling “THAT IS SO MUCH STUFF MARIE!”

Happy Marie Kondo GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

Just like Marie’s other lessons, komono is so important when selling your home. As REALTORS® we know that personal items and clutter can prevent a buyer from seeing themselves in a home. Home buyers peek into drawers and cupboards, in kitchens and bathrooms to see how they can store their belongings.  So, this category is actually the most important! One of our favorite rooms with a lot of komono is the kitchen.  Kitchens are one of the top features that home buyers look for, and a well maintained and organized kitchen can mean valuable dollars at the negotiating table!

The process starts the same: bring everything out! Remove everything from your pantry, bring out all of your dishes and Tupperware, and put them somewhere you can see them all at once.  Then, sorting through the items one at a time, make sure each item sparks joy, and will be useful for you moving forward. Especially in the pantry, this is a great time to remove anything expired!

Once you are ready to re-store your items, make sure you keep them in categories – group like food items together, group similar dishes together. Marie also recommends using clear containers when possible, so you can see what you have and how much of it. We love this tip, because it helps when showing your house as well! When a buyer sees that you have plenty of room for all of your dishes – both every day and seasonal or limited use, they will instantly imagine they can store all of their items as well. Not to mention how handy it will be to have all of your snacks in one spot!

One REALTOR® tip as you are evaluating your food and kitchen goods – if you find that an item is no longer practical for you, or no longer sparks joy, but is still functional and not yet expired, consider donating these items to your favorite local charity like shelters, food pantries or soup kitchens! Establishments like this often rely on donations to help a lot of people, so you can clear out your clutter and help others at the same time!


Tidying Up When Selling – Lessons Two and Three

Home offices, or bonus rooms can be a big selling feature for many homebuyers. But what happens when your valuable extra space is cluttered with bills, papers, books and more? Buyers start to see the space as a burden rather than a bonus! That’s where lesson two and three on the KonMari Method™ come in especially handy!

Lesson two focuses on books.

These could be adult, child, textbook, novels, dictionaries – if it has a binding and you’ve been holding on to it, time to tidy it up! The process for books is the same one you followed for clothing: get everything out and pile it on the floor or a table. Then evaluate one at a time if the book sparks joy for you. Marie also points out here that you should consider whether the books will be valuable to you moving forward.  And do not forget to thank each book for its service to you as you tidy.

Lesson three is all about papers.

These seem like they would be a little easier to judge whether to keep it according to the KonMari Method™ but we actually found this really hard! Cards, artwork, little notes can often hold a lot of sentimental value! Remember, Marie’s 5th category is sentimental items, and she recommends completing those last. So, if you’re finding something too difficult, save it for later in the process.  Each paper that you keep should fit in to 1 of the 3 categories in the method.

  1. Pending: these are papers that you need to take action on. Think bills, a letter you haven’t yet responded to, that notice to make a check-up at the doctor or dentist. Sort these in their own location so you can attend to them in a timely way.
  2. Important: It seems self-explanatory, but these are papers that you need to keep permanently, like insurance forms, contracts, etc. Sort them somewhere they are protected – we recommend a fireproof safe where you can also store bank documents, passports, birth certificates and more. And remember, all of the papers should be together, so keep your safe with your other papers.
  3. Miscellaneous: these papers are items you want to refer back to regularly and ones you want or need to read frequently. This could be magazine clippings, recipes, seminar notes, instructional manuals, etc.

When you take care to tidy up that bonus room or office, it will have buyers singing praises of your home’s space and will help them picture their life in your home.

 

 

 

 


Tidying Up When Selling – Lesson One

The first lesson in the KonMari Method™ is to evaluate and tidy your clothing. Closet and storage space is one of the top 10 items that homebuyers tell our REALTORS® they need in their new home, so Marie is on to something here!

To get started with your clothing, you have to make a little mess.  Pile all of your clothing in one place – a bed or a living room floor work well. Kondo says that when you see all of the clothing you own, you are more aware of how much you actually have and it will make the process easier.

Once everything is out of drawers or out of the closet, you need to hold each piece one at a time and determine if that piece sparks joy in your life. If it does, simple, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you have to keep in mind if you truly need it or not – for example, an undershirt might not be particularly exciting or spark that excitement for you, but you may need them to wear other clothing that does spark joy.  Not sure how to know what sparks joy?  Our last blog post gives you some examples.

As you pick the items you will keep, Marie has very specific folding instructions.  Check out her youtube page to see all of the methods!

Folding Marie Kondo GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Aside from the benefit of giving you more closet space, we are really loving the focus on only keeping things that spark joy.  Each and every day, our REALTORS® help homeowners find joy in their homes. We believe in finding that special new home to start your next chapter or the perfect new owners to love your home the way you have.

So, take a look around – does your home spark joy? Give us a call, and let’s make Marie proud!

Tidying Up When Selling

If you’ve been online in the last two weeks, you know one thing for certain: Marie Kondo is taking over!

From her #1 New York Times best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, her proven KonMari Method™, and her new Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”,  Marie is everywhere. It seems everyone is cleaning up and clearing out for the new year, so that made us curious – could you use Marie’s methods to help sell your house? Through the rest of this month, we’ll take a look at the strategies Kondo uses, and give you some great tips to get that house ready for the market!

First up, we need to understand the KonMari Method™.  The biggest differentiator between Kondo’s method and other method’s you’ve tried before is her approach – rather than organizing room by room and never finishing, KonMari gives you 6 basic rules.

Rule #1: Commit yourself to tidying up.
Excited Marie Kondo GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Okay Marie, we’re ready!

Rule #2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
Happy Marie Kondo GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

Our REALTORS® can help you realize this – whether your ideal lifestyle rests in your current home, or if it rests in a new dwelling, imagining the lifestyle someone can live in your home is key to selling (and buying!)

Rule #3: Finish discarding first.
Happy Marie Kondo GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

Makes sense – the saying doesn’t go ‘In with the new and out with the old!’ And discarding is going to do wonders to sell your home.

Rule #4: Tidy by category, not by location.
Happy Marie Kondo GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

This is the biggest difference in the KonMari Method™. We’ve been going room by room for too long! By focusing on categories, you insure everything can be organized as it needs to, all in one fell swoop. Remember when you perfectly organized the office and had everything in its place, only to realize there was a hidden stack of papers in the bedroom? No? Was that just us? Okay, moving on…

Rule #5: Follow the right order.
Happy Marie Kondo GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

I know, I know, the kitchen clutter is calling our name too! Afterall, REALTORS® know that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. But there is a method to Marie’s cheerful madness and we already committed to stick with it.

Rule #6: Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

We’re going to let Marie do the talking here:

Happy Marie Kondo GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

Whatever you want to call them, your items should spark a physical emotion – goosebumps, chills, smiles, happy tears, etc.  Everything you keep should give you that reaction.

In our next blogs, we will explore each of Marie’s categories to tidying: Clothing, Books, Papers, Komono, and Sentimental Items. Stay tuned!
Happy Marie Kondo GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

Top 10 Activities to Do This Winter Break

Need to get out of the house this winter break? These are our favorite activities, in no particular order, to try with your friends and family!

Ice Skating

Find a local ice rink that has open skating hours, or to up the fun, hit one of Michigan’s many outdoor pop-up rinks! There’s Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Campus Martius Park in Detroit, and Millenium Park in Portage. Try searching for one near you!

Build a Snowman

Now this might be a tricky one this year, as not much snow is in the forecast for Michigan the next couple weeks, but if we do get some fresh flakes, try to create one of these snow person masterpieces!

Go skiing or snowboarding

Northern Michigan has some absolutely wonderful ski resorts, who regularly keep their mountains covered in fresh powder. Not a fan of the ski lift or can wrap your head around the snowboard? We love a good time by the fire in the lodge!

Go on a winter hike or walk

This one is especially great along one of our amazing Michigan beaches! Watch the waves roll in and create the phenomenon known as “ice balls” – they usually happen every year.  Just be sure to wear some warm outerwear – it gets windy this time of year.

Shovel snow for your neighbors

We love this one! Have a neighbor who could use some extra help around the holiday? Get out and shovel their walkway or ask if there is anything else you can help with outside their home. Our agents are constantly looking for ways to give back, and this is an easy way to make someone’s day.

Take a holiday lights tour

Holiday lights tours are very popular this year, and for good reason! The light displays are often fun and whimsical, and the perfect thing to do in the evening. Try a professional one like these or create your own light tour by driving through your own neighborhood!

Visit an Indoor Waterpark or your favorite museum

Need some warmth but still want to get out of the house? Try visiting one of Michigan’s amazing indoor waterparks or visit a public museum – many have decreased ticket prices during winter break.

Try a new Restaurant

New place in town that you’ve been dying to try? Now’s the time!

Exercise

Feeling a little sluggish after those holiday meals? Get started on your resolution early and hit your local gym, or try a fun group fitness class like Yoga or Zumba.

Volunteer

Even after the holidays are over, your favorite local charities need your help! All for Good is an online hub to get connected with service opportunities in your community.

 


Last Minute Gifts for Homeowners

Rushing to find all of your last-minute gifts for this holiday season? Don’t worry, so are we! We’ve got great gifts for every homeowner in your life.  And BONUS: all of these can still get to you before the holiday!

For the Tech Savvy Homeowner:

Technology has the power to make every homeowner’s life easier. Give the tech savvy homeowner in your life one of these great gifts and you’ll be sure to get on their new favorite list!

  • Video Doorbell like Ring or Nest
  • Smart home assistants like the Google Home or Amazon Alexa
  • Wake Up Light alarm clock – we think this one is just so cool. Such a unique way to wake up if traditional alarm clocks fail you.
  • Smart TV like Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast or Roku
  • For the pet lovers in your life, try this awesome dog camera (this is going straight into our Amazon carts!)
  • Autonomous vacuum cleaners like the Roomba keep your home clean even when you’re on the go. Perfect for those with little kiddos or pets and their fur.

REALTOR® Favorite: the perfect accessory for any home, an LED toilet bowl light. For when regular lighting just won’t do.

For the Entertainer:

You can absolutely expect to come across this type of homeowner on your gift list – chances are they are hosting you this holiday! For the entertainers in your life, you cannot go wrong with one of these.

REALTOR® Favorite: Dinosaur taco holders. Okay, not so gag, just fun and so functional!

For the New Homeowner:

New homeowners need all sorts of things, trust us! But these gift ideas are sure to be both practical and fun!

  • Nothing says “I’m a new homeowner” more than the mini tool kit you probably gave them when they moved out. Time for an upgrade! Get that new homeowner a multi-tool set so they’ll be covered, that way, they too can enjoy trying all of the sockets before finding the right size.
  • Quality linens, towels or blankets. Same here – time for an upgrade. Out with the old, and in with the new! Plus, old towels make great things to keep in a garage or basement, just in case.
  • New homeowners are likely going to be welcoming guests to their home quite a bit. Help them be the host or hostess with the mostess by gifting a Bluetooth speaker, like this one!
  • See above – new homeowners host guests a lot. Gift a cute serving tray, or charcuterie board for those impromptu get togethers!

REALTOR® Favorite: Bug vacuum. Like a normal vacuum, but for bugs. Because no one likes creepy crawlies in their new home!

Stocking Stuffers

Keeping gifts small this year, or looking for simple things to pop in a stocking? These are all inexpensive options for the homeowner in your life.

  • Batteries – because nothing derails Christmas morning like only having 2 batteries when you need 4.
  • Command Hooks – we retract our previous statement. Nothing derails Christmas morning like hammering a nail into the wall. Command strips and hooks are so much easier, trust us!
  • Home improvement gift cards. So easy to pick up (at multiple locations or online). Check out the big chain stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Menards, but don’t forget your local shops well. They likely have gift cards or certificates as well!
  • Save their coffee table and gift these fun state pride coaster sets from Uncommon Goods

REALTOR® Favorite: Silicone pot holders, but in the shape of lobster claws. Or alligator mouths. We can’t get enough of these fun animal options!


Holiday Hosting Tips

Do you have out of town guests coming to stay with you this holiday? Hosting extended family for a large meal? Feeling a little unprepared or overwhelmed? We’ve got the best tips from our REALTORS® for hosting this holiday season!

Make a List & Check it Twice

Making a list is going to set you off on the right foot as you prepare for your holiday hosting. You can organize everything that needs to be done inside and outside of your home, food you want to serve, activities you want to plan, put it all in a list!

Tidy Up

When you have guests over, whether that be for one evening or a week-long stay, you want things to be organized and clean, so you don’t have to stress during their stay.  Start by putting clutter away, especially in high traffic areas like the kitchen and living room. Then focus on cleaning floors, surfaces and windows. REALTOR® tip: imagine you are trying to sell your home for top dollar – less is more!

Stock Extras

Nothing ruins a party quite like running out of toilet paper!  Make sure you add household needs like paper towel, napkins, disposable tableware if you need it, and yes, toilet paper, to your grocery list. You’ll also want to stock extra snacks if your guests are staying overnight – crackers or cookies that you can grab quickly and easily will just add that extra touch for your guests.  REALTOR® tip: make a small welcome kit for visitors – with small travel size shampoos or toothpaste – you’ll be the hero of their stay with little pieces like this!

Decorations

Every REALTOR® knows that curb appeal and staging are key to selling a home – but it is no different for hosting around the holidays! Spruce up your entrance both inside and out – it’s the first thing your guests will see.  Keep your decorations easy and stress free by re-using pieces in your home year-round or adding small touches of holiday greenery to existing décor.  Dn’t forget to set the mood for your gathering using sounds and scents. Also, check out our blog last week for REALTOR® tips for decorating: https://www.bhhsmichiganrealestate.com/blog/5-holiday-decorating-tips/

Food & Drinks

When it comes to preparing your menu, go with items that will earn you big points while taking minimal work.  Include dishes that can be prepared ahead of time or eaten at room temperature, so you don’t have to cook all day to get a meal out. Absolutely let the store help you out here – pre-made cheese trays or side dishes are definitely your friend! You could also opt for buffet style instead of plated meals – people can serve themselves and it is less fuss for you. For drinks, keep your guests in mind – have a few alcoholic and a few non-alcoholic options available, plus don’t forget options for kiddos if they are joining.

Ready for the Party to End?

We’ve all been there. You’re exhausted and ready for bed, but your guests are still having a great time! Start wrapping the party up by lowering the music, turning on some lights, and blowing out any candles. Dole out leftovers in some fun to-go boxes, and if all else fails, start cleaning. Trust us, they’ll get the message!

Not hosting this year?

Don’t forget some small host/hostess gifts! REALTOR® tip: stock up on small gifts all year long, and you won’t be caught off guard this time of year looking for the perfect thing to bring to the party. Here’s a few options to get you started:

 

Above everything else, make sure you have fun this holiday season, whether you are hosting 2 or 20 people. Enjoy time with your guests, and try not to stress over the rest!