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10 Staging Secrets From the Pros for a Quick Home Sale at Top Dollar

According to the National Association of Realtors, staging a home prior to listing it can result in a faster and more profitable sale.1 In fact, the Real Estate Staging Association estimates that professionally staged properties spend 73 percent less time on the market, receive more foot traffic, and typically sell for more money.2     Our own Farrelly Realty Group experience in the local market also supports the national data. Some of our recently sold properties were staged by SpaceLift.  These properties sold quickly and for top dollar.  

 

Source: National Association of Realtors

 

 

Following are 10 tips you can use to get your home “show ready” prior to hitting the market. These easy and cost-effective ideas will help your house look its best—and help buyers visualize themselves living there. Even if you’re not currently in the market to sell, you can use these tactics to breathe new life into your existing home decor.

 

To get a plan customized for your particular property, give us a call at (978)664-3700 to schedule a free consultation. We’d be happy to share our insider knowledge of the buyer preferences in your neighborhood … so you’ll know where to focus your time, money and energy to maximize your results.

 

 

1. REMOVE CLUTTER

 

Decluttering is typically the first thing we tell clients to do to prepare their home for sale. And according to the National Association of Realtors, a whopping 93 percent of agents agree.1 Decluttering is the act of removing excess “stuff” from your home to make it appear clean and spacious.

 

Overflowing closets and cluttered countertops can make your house feel small and cramped. In contrast, sparsely-filled closets and clear countertops will make your home appear larger and assure buyers that there will be plenty of room to store their belongings.

 

Don’t neglect drawers, cupboards and even your refrigerator in your decluttering efforts. Serious buyers will check out every nook and cranny of your home, so pack up anything you don’t use on a daily basis and store it off site. The same goes for jewelry, sensitive documents, prescription medication, firearms and other items of value. Store them in a locked safe or storage unit before opening your property to buyers.

 

Make sure any items that remain are clean, tidy and well organized. The good news is, when it comes time to move, a large portion of your packing will be done!

 

 

 

 

 

2. DEEP CLEAN AND DEODORIZE

 

From carpets to bathrooms to appliances, having a clean home is a MUST. If you’ve ever checked into a dirty hotel room, you can imagine how buyers can be turned off by a home that hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned.

 

If you have a large home, or are short on time, you may want to invest in a professional cleaning service. And if you have carpet, we generally recommend you rent a steam cleaner or hire a company to clean your carpets for you.

 

In addition to cleaning, it’s equally important to neutralize odors in your home that can be off-putting to buyers, especially pet smells and cigarette smoke. If the weather allows, open your windows and let in fresh air. Empty the trash frequently, and especially before a showing. Avoid cooking any strong-smelling food such as fish or heavy spices. You may need to clean (or remove) drapes and upholstery if odors are particularly strong.

 

Try to keep your home in clean, show-ready condition while it’s on the market. You never know when a potential buyer will want to drop by for a viewing.

 

 

3. DEPERSONALIZE

 

Your family photos and personal mementos are often your most treasured possessions. For many of us, they are what make a house a home. However, buyers will have a hard time envisioning themselves living in a place if it feels like YOUR home.

 

Pack up any items that are personal to you and your family, such as photos, books, children’s artwork, travel souvenirs and religious items. Collectibles and excessive knickknacks can be distracting to buyers. Instead, keep your decor items minimal and generic to appeal to the largest number of buyers.

 

 

4. NEUTRALIZE YOUR COLOR PALETTE

 

Along those same lines, bold color choices may not appeal to all buyers. By incorporating a neutral color palette throughout your home, buyers can better visualize the addition of their own furniture and decor, which may contrast with your current color scheme.

 

But don’t limit yourself to white and beige. Incorporating earth tones and midtone neutrals—like mocha and “greige” (grey-beige)—can add a touch of modern sophistication to your decor.3

 

 

 

One of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to neutralize your home’s decor is with paint. Walls painted in dark, bold or bright colors can turn off buyers. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral color like greige (try Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter) or warm white (such as Kelly-Moore’s Rotunda White) offers a clean palette upon which buyers can visualize adding their own personal touches.4

 

If your sofa is worn, stained or has a bold pattern, consider purchasing a neutral-colored slipcover. Dated or overly busy window coverings should be taken down or replaced. Instead, bring in tasteful pops of color with throw pillows and accessories.

 

 

5. INCREASE YOUR CURB APPEAL

 

You only get one chance to make a first impression. According to a 2017 report by the National Association of Realtors, 44 percent of home buyers drove by a property after viewing it online but did NOT go inside for a walkthrough.5 That means if your curb appeal is lacking, buyers may never make it through the door.

 

Walk around your home and look for any neglected areas that might seem like “red flags” to buyers, such as missing roof shingles or rotted siding. Trim trees and shrubs if needed, and make sure your lawn and flower beds are well maintained. Add some colorful flowers to your front beds and/or flower boxes to brighten up your landscaping.

 

Make sure the exterior of your home is as clean as the interior. This can often be accomplished with a simple garden hose. But if your siding, walkway, or driveway are stained or dingy, you may want to rent a pressure washer.

 

Thoroughly wash windows and screens, and remove and store dark solar screens if you have them. Open shutters, curtains and blinds, which will not only make your house look more inviting from the outside, it will brighten the inside.

 

Consider a fresh coat of paint on your front door, trim and shutters. And small, cosmetic improvements like new house numbers, a colorful wreath and a clean front doormat can have a big impact.6

 

 

6. FRESHEN KITCHENS AND BATHS

 

Kitchens and bathrooms will show better and appear larger if all items are cleared from the countertops, except for one or two decorative pieces.7 You should have already packed up non-essentials during your decluttering process, and the remaining items should be neatly stored in pantries and cupboards.

 

If your cabinets are dingy or outdated, adding a fresh coat of paint and new hardware is an easy and inexpensive way to make them modern and bright. Consider purchasing new shower curtains, bath mats and towels for the bathrooms and new dish towels for the kitchen.

 

Before each showing, make sure kitchens and baths are spotless and trash cans are empty and out of sight. To add a comforting aroma, try baking cookies, or in the fall, simmer some cinnamon sticks and cloves in a pot of water before you leave the house. In the spring, try a vase of fresh cut lilacs.7

 

 

7. SET THE TABLE

 

Buyers often imagine hosting family gatherings in their new home, and the dining room plays a large role in that vision. If your dining room chairs are stained or outdated, you may want to recover them or use slipcovers. In most cases, an imperfect table can be camouflaged with a neutral and stylish tablecloth.

 

Be sure the table is centered underneath the chandelier and on the area rug if you’re using one. If your dining room is small, remove all other furniture and leave only four chairs.8

 

Dress up the table using nice tableware and cloth napkins or a table runner and centerpiece. For a long table, try lining up a series of small vessels down the middle.

 

 

 

 

 

8. REARRANGE FURNITURE

 

Start in your living room and think about what you want to emphasize (and de-emphasize) about the space. For example, do you have a beautiful fireplace or a stunning view? If so, arrange the furniture with that focal point in mind. Use a symmetrical seating arrangement to create a cozy conversation area adjacent to the focal point.

 

If the room is small, consider removing some of the furniture to make it feel larger, especially oversized pieces. That includes oversized television sets, unless it’s a designated media room. Pulling furniture away from the wall can make the room feel more spacious, and placing your largest furniture piece in the far-left corner (as opposed to near the entry) can create the illusion of a larger space.9

 

For small bedrooms, remove all the furniture except the bed, bedside tables and a dresser. If it’s a large room, add one or two chairs and a table to create a seating area. Place lamps on the bedside tables and seating area if you have one.10

 

Make sure each space in your home has a clearly defined purpose. For example, if you’ve been using an extra bedroom as a catch-all storage space, stage it as a guest room or office instead. Turn an awkward alcove into a workstation or a reading corner. Help buyers imagine how they could use the space themselves.3

 

 

9. LIGHTEN UP

 

Lighting can have a drastic impact on the look and feel of a home. Few buyers seek out a dark house; most prefer one that’s light and bright. Make sure windows are clean, and open curtains and blinds to let in the maximum amount of daylight.

 

Each room should have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (such as a reading lamp or under-cabinet light), and accent (such as a floor or table lamp). Aim for a goal of 100 total watts per 50 square feet.11 If your mounted light fixtures are dated, replacing them with something more modern is an easy and inexpensive upgrade that can have a big impact.


Strategically placed landscape lighting can add a dramatic effect to your home’s exterior. Welcome evening visitors with a lighted walkway, or use a spotlight to accentuate trees or other landscaping features. Solar lights require no wiring; simply place them in a sunny spot and they will turn on automatically at dusk.

 

 

10. HIGHLIGHT YOUR BACKYARD’S BEST FEATURES

 

While your home’s interior often takes center stage, don’t forget about staging your home’s outdoor areas to help buyers imagine how they could utilize the space.

 

Even a small patio can become a selling feature with the addition of a cafe table and chairs. Add a tray of plates and coffee cups to help buyers envision a peaceful breakfast on the back porch. Place chairs and wine glasses around an outdoor firepit or hang a hammock with a book in your favorite shady spot.3 These small, simple additions can help buyers visualize the possibilities your backyard has to offer.

 

 

BEFORE YOU GET STARTED

 

If you’re in the market to sell your home, this list provides a great starting point for your preparations. But nothing beats the trained eye and expertise of a real estate agent. Before you do any work, we recommend consulting a professional for advice about your particular property.

 

We offer free, no-commitment seller consultations and will walk through your home with you to help you assess which projects and upgrades are worth your time and money, and which ones you can skip.

 

As local market experts, we are intimately familiar with buyer preferences in your area. We’ll run a FRGestimate to find out how your home compares to others currently for sale in the LOCAL market, as well as those that have recently sold. Then we’ll tailor a custom plan to suit your particular property, budget and needs.

 

Please call (978)664-3700 or email info@FarrellyRealty.com today with questions or to schedule a free consultation! Also, check out our website www.FarrellyRealtyGroup.com for testimonials and local staging recommendations!

 

 

 

Sources:

 

  1. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/migration_files/reports/2017/2017-profile-of-home-staging-07-06-2017.pdf
  2. Real Estate Staging Association –
    http://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=304550&module_id=164548
  3. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2661221/list/sell-your-home-fast-21-staging-tips
  4. HGTV –
    https://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/10-curb-appeal-tips-from-the-pros-pictures
  5. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/reports/2017/2017-home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends-03-07-2017.pdf
  6. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/must-try-neutral-paint-colors-797983
  7. HouseLogic –
    https://www.houselogic.com/sell/preparing-your-home-to-sell/home-staging-checklist/
  8. StageMyOwnHome.com –
    http://www.stagemyownhome.com/staging-the-dining-room.html
  9. Realtor.com –
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/small-living-room-staging-tricks/
  10. SFGATE –
    http://homeguides.sfgate.com/stage-master-bedroom-34573.html
  11. HGTV –
    https://www.hgtv.com/shows/designed-to-sell/15-secrets-of-home-staging-pictures

Go Big and Go Home: 6 Tips for Upsizing With No Regrets

Upsizing to a bigger homeRemember when you bought your home? It was just perfect for the two of you. But now — with a couple of kids, some ever-shedding pets, or maybe an in-law living down the hall — that's no longer the case. Whether you’re already bursting out of your house or about to expand your family, the time to move to a larger home might have arrived.

If it's any consolation, you have plenty of company. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof, a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data found. If you have older kids, you can’t even count on having an empty nest, now that the preferred living arrangement for 18- to 34-year-olds is with their parents (more than alone or with a roommate). And more than one-fifth of Americans older than 55 live in a multigenerational household, as well.

So, what do you look for in a home when you’re bringing so many people under one roof? There’s plenty more to consider before you upsize beyond just square footage. Topping the list: how to upgrade your home without fully downgrading your bank account. Yes, upsizing will cost you, upfront and on down the line. But that doesn't mean it's a bad investment. It just means you need to be smart about it.

Here are six things to keep in mind before leaping into a larger home.

1. Think critically about your goals

Yes, we get it: You want more space. But have you thought, specifically, about why?

Before you hit the house-hunting trail, take a moment to pin down what you really, actually need.

How are you actually going to live in this bigger house? Why do you want a bigger kitchen? If you’re going to be hosting Thanksgiving moving forward, maybe that makes sense. But otherwise, perhaps not so much.

Listing your goals will also help you prioritize. Is the idea to accommodate your traditional nuclear family, or do you need to make rooms for seniors and young adults coming back from college? Is open concept right for you and your family? It sounds fabulous to watch the kids when they’re little, but as they get older, will it still be the right fit?

The key is to have a plan and find a home that works into it.

2. Determine whether bigger is truly better

Before beginning your search, consider not just the home's square footage, but also the layout.

What people want and need isn’t necessarily what builders are producing. In this very hot market, they’re building the largest houses they can on the smallest possible lots in order to amortize the price, which doesn’t necessarily equal the right spaces for families.

You might think you're getting more space, but if that space isn't useable or suitable for you, does it really help you in the long run?

Sometimes, the more bedrooms a home has, the smaller those bedrooms are. You don’t always need more rooms; sometimes you need more spacious rooms.

3. Buy only the space you’ll use

On a related note: Before you speed forward with your upsizing plan, you should make sure the rooms or features in the larger house will actually be used.

An example from the not-too-distant past: When home theater rooms were all the rage, it was a status symbol to have a room with a very expensive system and comfortable seating. But many of those expensive rooms were barely used. That's not the way most people live.

4. Crunch the numbers

Are you prepared for the real financial burden of upsizing?

Beyond just the sticker price on the house are the long-term costs associated with it. When you go up (in square footage), you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance. And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture and decor.

Make sure you can afford to move up without becoming "house poor." You can prevent this sad fate by using online affordability calculators to figure out how far you can stretch your dollar. Or talk with your lender to get the big picture on the costs of your move.

Pro tip: A simple call to the utility company can unearth historical data about the energy costs for a particular address year over year.

Be thorough in your research. Consider not only the price of a home but also the monthly payment and all the associated costs.

5. Consider the resale value

Upsizing now can mean a tidy profit later if you choose your home and location wisely.

Sure, you might think that once you've found the right size home, you'll stay forever. But you might find yourself downsizing a few years from now. As with any home purchase, look at your potential new place through the eyes of future buyers.

That means doing your research about what home buyers want. And right now, that's flexible space because as baby boomers age and their kids buy homes, they’re thinking about when Mom and Dad may visit or live with them.

Keep the latest buying trends in mind as you scope out listings, and your new home could pay off down the road.

6. More space might mean buying in a different neighborhood

After you’ve predicted the future, don’t forget what you learned from the past: It’s all about the neighborhood.

Perhaps your starter home is in the perfect up-and-coming community — close to the city, public transportation, and your favorite restaurant. But having more room to spread out often means spreading farther away from the city center. So make the choice. Are you willing to consider a different neighborhood — one that might be farther from where you live now?

Life is about trade-offs, right? This might be a really smart one.

If you're ready to go big, contact us. We’re happy to help you upsize to a home that is the perfect fit.

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North Reading Town Day - A Fun Community Event Not To Be Missed

North Reading Town Day LogoBeing a homeowner has so many wonderful benefits. From financial -- building equity and capitalizing on tax deductions -- to creating a space that you're proud to call your own. Perhaps the most important benefit (that can often be overlooked) is the sense of community that comes along with homeownership. When you purchase a home, you have an opportunity to develop friendships in a new neighborhood, get involved in town or community causes, shop at local businesses and take part in all of the fun community events that take place throughout the year.

As representatives for the area, we make it our business to know the ins and outs of what's going on in and around North Reading and the surrounding towns. One of our favorite events is the Annual North Reading Town Day hosted by the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce.  

This annual event brings the community together just before summer vacation season, and features local businesses and organizations, free entertainment, kids’ activities and great food. Last year's event included pony rides, bounce houses, a climbing rock wall and a bike parade. The event is a true community gathering and celebration of everything that North Reading has to offer.

Bike Parade Pony Rides North Reading Town DayBounce House

 

prize wheel

 

 

 

 

Kids Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come join us this year at the Second Annual North Reading Town Day at Ipswich River Park on Sunday, June 3rd from 11 am to 3 pm.

More information about Town Day can be found on the Chamber website or by calling 781-664-9207 or via email at: townday@rnrchamber.com.  

Let the countdown to summer begin!

 

11 Things in Your Home That Gross Out Potential Buyers

Kid making gross faceNowadays staging your home for potential buyers is a must-do. Experts suggest thinning furniture to make rooms look bigger, removing family pictures so potential buyers can imagine their family in the home and trimming back overgrown trees to ensure your home has curb appeal.

But the devil, of course, is in the details — and the follow-through. Your house is not expected to be in catalog condition, but potential buyers won’t forgive some frankly disgusting stuff that you might have overlooked in your haste to pretty things up.

With some expert help, we've gathered the top issues in your home that are causing you to unwittingly gross out your potential buyers. Some of these problem areas are quick fixes, while others will take a little more planning and effort to resolve. Start addressing the ick factor now and you'll be wowing your buyers in no time.

1. Dirty bathrooms

OK, this one shouldn't come as any kind of surprise. But just in case you didn't already know, your unkempt bathroom is really grossing people out.

Rings around the tub, orange grime on the corners of the shower floor and toothpaste spit in the sinks are not just visually unappealing, but also make potential buyers wonder how well the house has been maintained. It’s crucial to keep everything pristine while your house is on the market.

Pro tip: After cleaning and sanitizing your sink, tub, and toilet, run a microfiber cloth along your baseboards to catch any dust that's almost certainly collected there.

2. Water stains

Water stains on the ceiling or moldy, rotting wood around the windows is guaranteed to be gag-inducing (and have your potential buyers wondering what other moldy grossness is lurking in your walls just out of sight). Fix stains — and fast.

The key here is repaired — not concealed. Concealing problems will open up all kinds of problems later.

3. Your shower curtain linerShower Curtain

You know what we're talking about: Nobody wants to see your discolored or mildewed liner when they take a peek at the shower to evaluate where they will, you know, get clean.

Toss your liner into the washer with a cup of vinegar and a few towels; run a short cycle for five minutes, then let everything soak for an hour. Complete the wash cycle and hang the liner up to dry. Or better yet, skip the mocha lattes for a couple of days and splurge for a new liner.

4. Pet hair

Nothing says "buy our home" like tufts of dog hair floating across your living room tumbleweeds-style. An easy solution: Vacuum daily. If you're strapped for time (or just plain lazy), invest in a set-it-and-forget-it robotic vacuum.

If you get a call about a potential buyer who wants to view the home say, in the next five minutes, tap into this trick from cleaning pro Lily Cameron, at One-Off Cleaning Services: Grab some rubber gloves and run them over the surface you want to clean (like your couch).

When rubbed against fabrics, rubber generates a lot of static electricity, so it will quickly gather all the pet hair on your upholstery. Some of the most popular rubber items that will do the trick are gloves, shoes and even balloons — which are a particularly entertaining way to get your kids involved.

5. Carpet in the dining room

This one is a real gem. How clean can a dining room carpet be when food is constantly falling on it?

Granted, if you have wall to wall carpet you probably don't want to deal with it right at this moment, but if you have an area rug under the table, save yourself the time and effort of cleaning it every day and just remove it. In fact, stagers will love that solution as the room looks bigger without the rug!

6. Carpet in the bathroomCarpet In Bathroom

Even worse than food in the carpet is, well, the kind of stuff you'd find in the vicinity of a toilet. Plus, carpeted bathroom floors are a breeding ground for mold and mildew, due to the room being a high-moisture area.

Unless you've splurged on mildew- and stain-resistant carpet (which will likely be lost on your buyers, anyway), rip up your fuzzy flooring, pronto.

Carpet in general can be a source of problems, especially if you own pets and prospective buyers have allergies or asthma.

7. Fuzzy toilet seat covers

We can't believe this is still a thing. But alas, here we are, and guests will certainly be grossed out for all the same reasons as above. These things are germ magnets, given their proximity to the throne. Banish them and don't look back.

8. That Squatty Potty

They're all the rage, but let's be honest: These toilet stools, which promise "a royal squatting experience that simply can't be imitated," carry with them some rather explicit associations.

They have a medical-device and unsanitary look that makes people think of hospitals, senior citizens centers, and, well, other unsavory connotations. Children's potty chairs, while more colorful, create the same impression.

Your best bet? Hide 'em before your home is shown.

9. Old sponges and the likeDirty Sponge

Old sponges won’t instill your potential buyers with confidence that your home is clean and well kept and should most certainly be tossed after a week or so of use anyway. Hide all cleaning cloths when potential buyers are around.

10. Your slow-draining shower

Believe it or not, many buyers like to turn the water on in the bathroom to make sure everything is in working order. If your drain is clogged, invest in some Drano or hire a plumber to investigate the source of any backup.

11. Sticky cabinets

Our experts tell us that tacky (as in sticky) cabinet surfaces —typically the result of grease buildup from months and years of cooking — are a major cringe-inducer for potential buyers.

Make sure to wipe down not only your countertops, but also the your cabinet fronts and the top of your hood range before potential buyers view your home. And prevent future gunk by replacing the filters in your hood regularly and using your stove's fan (and/or opening windows) when frying food.

The bottom line - gross is never good when you are trying to sell your home. Paying close attention to those little details can make a big difference to potential buyers and how quickly your house is sold.

Six Community Events To Get You Out And About This Spring

Spring Save The DateAfter another long New England winter, it’s finally starting to feel like spring. The kids are outside riding their bikes and you can take the dog for a walk without getting bundled up. Flowers are blooming in gardens around North Reading and lawns are greening up even in suburbs north of Boston. The warmer weather is always a welcome change and it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy some fun community events.

One of the wonderful things about being a homeowner in North Reading and the surrounding area is being part of a tight knit community. Whether you are new to the area or a long-time resident, there is never a shortage of fun local happenings. Check out some of our favorite events taking place this spring.

1. Mother’s Day Brunch Picnic and Lilac Festival - Sunday, May 13th, 10am to 1pm

Get outside with your family and celebrate Mom. Enjoy brunch, live music and lawn games. This event is held at Stevens-Coolidge Place (137 Andover St.) in North Andover.

2. Hornet Hustle - Sunday, May 20th, 8am Kids Fun Run, 9am 5K Race

Calling all runners and walkers. The Hornet Hustle 5K is a great way to get active with the entire family. Proceeds from the event support the North Reading school’s physical education programs. The race starts at the third meeting house on the common (134 Haverhill St.) in North Reading.

3. 14th Annual Small Business Golf Tournament - Monday, May 21st, 7am to 1pm

Hosted by the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce, this fun golf tournament is a great way to kick off golf season and do a little networking. The event is held at the spectacular Thompson Country Club in North Reading and a portion of the proceeds are donated to support the business curriculum at both the Reading and North Reading High Schools.

4. Giant Yard Sale In The Park - Saturday, June 2nd 8am to 2pm

Time for some spring cleaning? Clean out your garage or basement and shop for some great deals. The yard sale is held in Andover at the Park on the corner of Chestnut and Bartlett Street.

5. North Reading Town Day - Sunday, June 3rd, 11am to 3pm

2017 was the inaugural year for this fun, free family event held at Ipswich River Park. This year's Town Day is going to be even bigger and features entertainment, food, games, giveaways and local vendors.

6. Reading Friends and Family Day - Saturday, June 16th,10:30am to 3pm

This annual community event is hosted by the Reading Lions Club. The event is a free and a fun way to kick off the summer. The event features food, games, local vendors, giveaways, entertainment and fireworks in the evening.

There are so many fun and exciting activities happening right in your backyard. Get out and explore, have some fun, support some local causes, meet like-minded people and take advantage of all that the Reading-North Reading and surrounding communities have to offer. Happy spring!