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Why is my home not selling?
San Diego home stagers have a new Real Estate Staging Association Chapter!
What are the 5 most important things that will affect the sale of your home?
In San Diego home staging is catching on - what to expect when you hire a stager.
Volunteer Opportunities for San Diego Home Stagers!

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San Diego Home Staging Blog

Why is my home not selling?


Is your home on the market & it hasn't sold?

As the owner of a home staging company in San Diego, CA I hear this question all the time. If you have your home listed for sale & you’re not getting the offers you want, what could be the issue? Here are some ideas on what it might be. And if you haven’t listed your home yet, here is a chance to get it on the market for the sale you want.
 
What factors are affecting the sale of your home?
 
There are five primary things that are going to affect how your home sells.
 
1)   Location (we’ve all heard how important location is)
2)   Market conditions
3)   Condition
4)   Price
5)   Marketing

What is it about each of these factors that makes a difference?
 
Let’s take them one by one.
 
*Hint: with the first two there isn’t a lot you can do to change how your home is going to sell, but we’ll give you a couple of ideas! The last three will be your chance to make a difference!

 





1 – Location.  If you picked a great location when you purchased your home you are most likely still going to be OK on location.  If you selected a home in a great location that shouldn’t change unless something changed in the neighborhood since the time of your purchase (was a commercial building constructed nearby, a major road that added noise, a new flight pattern from an airport, or general downturn in the condition of the homes in your area). If you were able to pick well when you purchased your home, you should be fine on this point. If you are in a location that had issues to begin with or there has been a change in circumstances that is detrimental to your sale, what are some of the things you can do?
 
-  If you have a noise issue, can you add plants or structures that will baffle the noise, or add sound-proofing?
-  If something has been built nearby that is an eyesore, can you block it with a fence, tree, or reduce the impact in some other way by adding better window coverings, a fountain or other improvement?
-  If the neighborhood has gone downhill can you talk to your neighbors or homeowner’s association? Would sprucing up your own front yard make a difference? Sometimes one owners’ efforts will help inspire others to make a change!
 
2 – Market conditions.  This is another area where there isn’t much you can do as a homeowner that will help the sale of your home. Market conditions are going to be in flux. Hopefully, when you are ready to sell you will be lucky enough to list in a great real estate market when homes are selling well.  If not, it will be more of a challenge; but, there may be some things you can do that will help.  If you have seasons in your area where the market fluctuates throughout the year & you decided to sell during the slow season, you might want to wait to list your home until sales pick up.  Sometimes if you can wait a while longer, in a few months or a year the market may shift.  I’ve seen some homeowner’s decide to ride out a poor market by deciding to rent out their property until market conditions improve. This is an issue where timing may be everything.
 
3 Condition.  At last, something you can really do to make a difference when you are selling! The condition of your home is a critical factor in how well it is going to sell.  A clean home that is well-maintained with a yard that has inviting curb appeal & with a great look inside is going to sell faster & for a better price.  Here are some things you can do to help get your home in the best condition:
 
Fix it.  If your home has things that need to be fixed get it done before you list it if you can.  This is the time to take care of deferred maintenance.  If your property looks well cared-for potential buyers are going to assume that you have maintained your home over time & that they are less likely to have problems in the future.
 
Deep clean.  Now is the time to get everything spotless, organized & put away (you’re moving soon anyway, take this time to start packing!) Check for details like baseboards, corners, around tubs & sinks to be sure they are fresh. How about floors & windows? Check for odors & be sure if you have pets to deodorize & put things away if you can.
 
Get organized.  Your home will look larger & more appealing if you follow the general guideline, less is more.  Reduce clutter, pack or put away the things you are not using, consider putting personal hygiene items like toothpaste and shampoo into baskets that you can slip under the counter to hide.  Then spruce up that area so that it shines!  And de-personalize where you can.  You want potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home so don’t distract them with your personal mementos & family photos.  Look at the demographic of the potential buyers you think are your most likely buyers & focus on them.
 
Hire a professional home stager. Here is a proven way to help you sell your home quickly & for the best price! Statistics show that a home that is well-staged will sell approximately 80% faster & for an average of 12% more than a similar home that has not been staged! The return on your investment in home staging is the largest return of anything you can do as you prepare to sell your home – at over 350%. A home stager will help you present your home in the best possible way to attract buyers.  Hiring a quality company is definitely something to put on your “to do” list. Be sure you find a staging company that has experience & look at their website and reviews.  Interview more than one. Ask to see photos & examples of their work or if they have a home currently staged ask to see the listing. How long have they been in business & how many homes have they staged? Most importantly decide if this company is a good fit. They are going to be helping you sell one of your most valuable assets & you want to feel like you can work together.




























 
-  Look at your homes curb appeal.  How your home looks as buyers drive up to see it is going to set the stage for how they perceive the property. Is your yard well-maintained?  Are shrubs & bushes pruned and the lawn trimmed?  Try freshening up your yard with new plants, colorful flowers and mulch, gravel, bark or other ground cover. 
























4 – Price.  Setting your price right is often the most critical factor in getting the right buyer.  Let the experts (your real estate agent or appraiser) guide you when you are making the decision on where to set the price.  Many sellers get an idea in their head about what they think the price should be & they won’t let go of it.  Being realistic is going to be a huge help in getting your home sold.  Your agent is going to look at the comps (the selling price of homes similar to yours in your area that have recently sold) to help you set the best price.  And for some tough love, remember, buyers don’t care what you need to get from the sale of your home, they want to know that it is priced right.
 
If you set the price too high you risk letting the house sit on the market.  If a home has been listed for too long buyers are going to question if there is something wrong with it.  You will also open the door to people thinking you are in a financial bind & need to sell the home, which will attract low offers.
 
The cost to hold on to a home that doesn’t sell because the price is set too high is almost always more than the first reduction in price.  The same is true for the cost of fixing things from deferred maintenance or investing in the cost of quality home staging. 
 
When you are selling your home you want to get on the market with all of the boxes ticked that say your home is going to make the best first impression possible, that it’s priced right, the value is there & the condition is such that it helps buyers fall in love when they step through the front door & can’t wait to get their checkbook out!
 
5 – Marketing.  How your home is marketed is also critical to your sale.  Your best friend when you are putting together your marketing plan will be the help of a qualified real estate agent.  Interview two or three agents & get referrals from past clients.  Check their reviews & look at their website.  Ask questions about their prior sales.  How many homes have they sold overall? In the past 12 months?
 
And most importantly, decide whether they are the right fit for you.  You’re going to be working closely with them & you’re selling what is most likely your most valuable asset.  You want the partnership to work to get your home sold.  You want your agent to create a marketing plan where the greatest number of your potential buyers will see your listing. A good agent will see that you have professional photos for your listing.  Buyers today are most likely going to see your home for the first time when they are looking online.  Having great professional photos of your home looking its best is going to attract buyers & get them out to look at your home!

Have I done all that I can?
 
If you take a look at each of the areas that are going to affect the sale of your home & do your best to work with each one to have your home looking its best, it’s priced & marketed right, then you are in for a great sale!  If you are having trouble getting the right offers, think about what you can do to make some changes to get the results you want.
 
As a home stager I am sometimes asked to come into a home that has been on the market for some time & add staging to help showcase the best that the home has to offer.  I have seen great results over the years & many homes turn the corner on sales after staging.  But if you can, take the time to do your research and get it right the first time. 
 
Are you ready for a great sale?

It’s true, you only get one chance to make a first impression!   I would wish you “good luck on your sale” but perhaps a better way to close is to say that if you are getting ready to put your home on the market your best results will be if you “do your homework” – if you do that your chance of getting the sale you want is greatly increased.


San Diego home stagers have a new Real Estate Staging Association Chapter!

If you are a San Diego home stager, there is a new RESA chapter ready to serve you!

If you are a home stager you know that home staging is a relatively new industry that is going through major changes as the industry grows & more people understand the benefits of staging their home as they prepare to list it for sale. 

As the industry grows home stagers have more access to programs & associations for continued training, professional support & one of own trade associations - the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA).

Beginning in May 2016 San Diego now has its own San Diego Chapter of the Real Estate Staging Association!

As a home stager in San Diego County, CA, I was fortunate to learn about the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) early in my career as a home stager.  RESA is a member-governed trade association for home stagers.  RESA is committed to advancing professionalism and excellence in real estate staging & has members in the U.S., Canada & throughout the world. 

We know the benefits of home staging - but what are the benefits to a stager of belonging to a trade association?

New clients often ask me about what qualifications a home stager should have.  Being a part of a trade association that is recognized throughout the industry is an important step that can keep you connected to what's going on in the industry, continuing education, professional tools, support & networking with your peers.

General statistics on the benefits of home staging show that a homeowner selling their home can expect to sell approximately 80% faster for an average of 10% or more when their home is staged. One of the most important things that makes staging work is the understanding in the public eye of those benefits & that quality staging is key to the best results. An organization like RESA helps educate the public about those benefits.

RESA helps promote ongoing education to real estate agents, homeowners & the general public as to the value of home staging.

What are the benefits to a home stager of belonging to a trade organization such as RESA?

As a trade organization RESA offers:

-  access to continuing education for home stagers
-  networking opportunities 
-  discounts to services for home stagers
-  access to other resources such as legal, insurance, healthcare, business forms & more
-  special rates on things such as car rentals, office supplies, online shopping, artwork, greenery
-  discounts to popular online marketing companies & inventory management systems
-  opportunities to participate in leadership positions within the organization
-  an annual convention & the chance to meet home stagers from other areas
-  access to the Staging Excellence Alliance program

The San Diego Chapter RESA meeting will have discussions on issues that are important to all stagers, events hosted by local vendors, opportunities to volunteer in community events & chances to meet other local stagers & network.

If you are a home stager in San Diego please come join us at our San Diego Chapter RESA meeting held the 4th Tuesday of the month.  For more information contact: Judith Burzell at (760) 224-5025 for details.  

Coming soon:

What other steps can I take as a home stager in San Diego to improve my skills & raise the level of professionalism that my company has to offer?


What are the 5 most important things that will affect the sale of your home?


Are you getting ready to sell your home? Here are 5 things you need to know!


If you are getting ready to put your house on the market there are five primary things that are going to affect the sale.


Two of those things you can’t control – but there are three that you can!

 
1)   Market conditions –  market conditions have a huge effect on how your home is going to sell.  The things that affect the market are inventory (availability of homes for sale), affordability (the ratio of prices to earnings), housing values, interest rates, mortgage rates & the overall economy. 

There is nothing any of us can do to affect the housing market.  It simply is what it is – with some exceptions!  If the market traditionally fluctuates in your area through the calendar year if you can plan to list your home during the peak season (traditionally mid-March to mid-April - this will vary regionally) you may increase your chances for a quick sale at the price you want.
 

2)    Location – you’ve heard it all before! Location, location, location – where your home is located is probably the most important factor in how your home is going to sell. If you chose well when you purchased and your home is located in a desirable area, you are set. If the area has declined or your specific location has issues with things like noise or proximity to something like commercial or industrial areas, your sale is going to be negatively affected. 

Again, there is really nothing you can do about the location of your home. So focus on taking care of the things you can do to make a difference!

 
3)    Condition – the condition of your home is going to be one of the most important factors in getting the sale you want.  Unless you are prepared to put your home on the market with the idea that someone will come in and completely renovate it, top to bottom, you are going to want to make the best impression possible on potential buyers.  Be sure to take care of deferred maintenance, curb appeal & deep clean.

And most importantly, be sure to have it professionally staged.  A staged home will sell 80% faster and for 15% more than a similar home that has not been staged.  A professional stager is trained in maximizing every area of your home to appeal to the broadest range of buyers. Interview stagers the same way you would an agent.  Get their background, be sure to see samples of their work & ask questions about how they would help you prepare your home to look its very best.  The cost of staging can vary, but this is most likely your most valuable asset! This is not the best time to cut corners, so find a quality company.  You want your home to stand out among all the rest & get those offers coming in. In most cases the monthly cost of staging will be less than the carrying cost if your home doesn’t sell right away.  And the first price reduction is almost always less than the cost of quality staging.

 
4)    Price – in order to get the offers coming in you need to price your home right.  It doesn’t matter to potential buyers what you “need” to get out of the sale.  The house needs to be priced just right – not too low and not too high.  Don’t assume that if you price it over comparable homes buyers will come in & make a low offer with the hope that you will negotiate. More likely they will just walk away.  And this is where your real estate agent will make a difference.  Your agent will do a comparative analysis of the homes in your area & help you determine a fair price.  

When you are ready to select an agent be sure to interview several.  Check their background & experience.  Look at their marketing plan & ask them for statistics on how the homes they have listed have sold (the number of days on market, number of price reductions, how many homes have they sold, how many years have they been in business, check their reviews).  Then pick the agent you think can do the best job & is someone you think you can work with.

 
5)    Marketing – how you market your home will be one of the most important factors in getting the sale you want.  Marketing strategies have changed a lot over the past 15 years.  These days buyers are shopping for homes online & that may be the first place they see your home.  You want an agent who knows how to get your home in front of your pool of potential buyers – ask them how they are planning to do that!  

You’ll want professional photos that showcase the best your home has to offer and a marketing strategy that is directed at your target demographic.  Your agent should be able to tell you who that is – are you near great schools? Your target buyer may be a young family with children.  Is your home single story? That opens up your target market to anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to climb stairs.  Do you have local shops within walking distance? Are you close to good public transportation?  Those things should all be part of a good marketing plan.
 

Be proactive as you get ready to list your home for sale & you can count on the best possible result!













































In San Diego home staging is catching on - what to expect when you hire a stager.

Home staging in San Diego is rapidly becoming a standard practice used by homeowners to help prepare in the sale of their home.  Homeowners are realizing that the value added by staging their home is one of the best returns on investment that they can make when preparing to put their home on the market.

What can you expect when you hire someone to stage your home?

Every room in your home can be enhanced by staging!

Rancho Santa Fe staging where the kitchen stands outWhenever you are considering hiring a home stager be sure to check samples of their work, either on their website or a site such as Houzz.  

What you choose to do will depend on the circumstances of your sale. Is your home occupied or vacant?  Stagers offer services to occupied homes that range from a design plan, organization, upgrades, recommendations & staging.  

For occupied homes, stagers will try to use what you have on hand, streamlining the look of each room to make it appealing to buyers. They may recommend bringing in furniture & accessories as needed to make the most of your home.

Home staging companies will often offer different levels of services, such as a consultation or a MiniMakeover, where their staff will make changes that will allow you to get your home on the market quickly.  Most stagers will offer shopping services & redesign. 

Most home staging companies also offer staging to vacant & model homes.  In those cases, you will need to decide with the stager which rooms are best ones to be staged.  Generally, the most important rooms to stage are the first ones you see as you walk in - that is the best opportunity to make a great first impression.  Other important rooms to stage besides the main living area, are the dining room, kitchen & bedroom. 

A well-staged bedroom will make a home look warm & inviting! 

Staged to sell by San Diego home stager HomeScapes SD





















Why is curb appeal so important!

The first thing a potential buyer is going to see when they drive up to your home is the view from the street.  This is your best opportunity to make that great first impression.  

Landscaping & front yard improvements are relatively inexpensive & give you a great return on your investment!  Fresh plants, cleaning up & trimming, & adding fresh, colorful flowers will make a tremendous difference to how your property looks to a buyer.  A good home stager will make recommendations that are cost-effective & help highlight that first look!

This homeowner took full advantage of the outdoor space, using large colorful plants, adding a new walkway, trimming & setting the stage with comfortable porch seating!

Curb appeal is part of this Encinitas home staging



























What about outdoor spaces?

In San Diego, where outdoor living is year-round, it is important to consider staging your outdoor space. Our climate allows us to enjoy patio living in just about any season - in our area enhancing the patio & yard can make the difference in the sale of your home.

In San Diego, staging outdoor areas is often your best choice!

San Diego home staging should include outdoor areas
In most cases we recommend that the seller make the most of their backyard by taking care of landscaping, adding colorful plants & staging their outdoor living space.

In San Diego, a good choice for landscaping is often native plants that grow well in the area but require little water.  Choosing low-water use, native plants helps the environment & lowers your water bill at the same time!

Other consideration on hiring the right professional for you:

When you are looking for a home stager, ask the company representative about their business model & whether or not they own their own inventory or plan to rent from a furniture rental company. Some staging companies rely entirely upon rental furniture. Almost all provide their own accessories for rental. 

Either option or a combination of both, may be the best choice for you depending upon the unique features in your home.

When discussion staging options for your home, the company representative should be familiar with the San Diego real estate market.  Ask for references & check testimonials.  

As you interview stagers check to see if they ask you questions that are relevant to the sale of your home, such as size, number of bedrooms, year built, floor plan, whether it is a single family dwelling, & single or multi-story. They should ask for a general description of the property, lot size, its condition, unique features, when you are planning to put the home on the market, & any issues that may concern you about the impending sale.


What about staging the entryway?

The entry way is the potential buyer's first introduction to the inside of your home. This point of view has the most potential to grab a buyer's interest & help them see themselves living in this home. Even the smallest touch of color & warmth can help draw a buyer into the home & set a welcoming tone!

A beautiful painting set at the entry warms the space & invites the buyer in!

A foyer to invite you inside from a Rancho Santa Fe CA home staging

Qualifications ~

A good stager will have credentials & experience - ask them about their work & training.  We offer a review of the property & a detailed bid for larger projects.  Our company approaches the sale of your home as if it were our own - our primary goal is to help get your home sold quickly & for the price you want, not to showcase our design abilities.  

Staging should highlight the best features of your home, emphasize the unique aspects of the home that will help it sell & help potential buyers to see past minor issues that are easily resolved, so that they are ready to make that offer!







What it means to "define the space"

Before staging it was difficult for buyers to see how this space could be used - with staging it becomes a clearly defined extra living space!

Living room appeal in this San Diego staged home
The home stager you hire should approach each space in your home as a potential buyer would.  
A good home stager will look at each area of your home from the point of view of the buyer, asking the same questions someone looking at the home would buy.  

Common questions are "what is the purpose of this space", "how can I use this room", "will my furniture fit this room", "are there any problem areas I see"? 

An essential part of staging your home is helping to address & answer those questions before a buyer walks through the door, showing each room to its best advantage.

A home stagers job is first & foremost to help you get your home sold.  

Getting it Sold!

A well-staged home will enhance the property's best features without overwhelming the space.

Views are highlighted by this Encinitas CA home staging

To find the best stager in your area to help you sell your home, look at their experience, credentials, samples of actual work completed, testimonials & see how comfortable you are with their presentation.  

Your home stager is an essential part of the team that will help you sell your home so be sure you pick a company that you feel confident can provide you with what you are looking for!

Your home is often one of the most valuable assets you will own - taking the time to find the right staging company is essential to making the most of that asset!  

And remember - staging sells!

Volunteer Opportunities for San Diego Home Stagers!

HomeScapes SD Home Staging works with & supports the Home Stagers Network, an organization designed to support the home staging industry. The Home Stagers Network works to educate people on the benefits of staging your home when you are preparing to sell, provides a network of support to home stagers & supports charitable work where we can share our skills.  We are partnering with the Home Stagers Network in their volunteer program, "San Diego Dream Homes", which will co-ordinate on-going participation in local volunteer work in the San Diego area.

Their 1st project supports Habitat for Humanity (HFH).  HFH need donations (new or gently used items) for their stores. The donated items are sold & the proceeds are used to support Habitat for Humanity's great community projects. In the future there will be opportunities coming up to work on newly constructed homes where stagers can help out on-site. I'll keep you posted when something comes up, if you want to get out there & help!
 
In the meantime, until there is an active home-building project to volunteer for, they need things now for their stores. We will be gathering donated items over the next month to take into the Escondido store. They also accept items in the SD store & for large items they will pickup! This is an on-going project, so we will post a reminder each month that we are gathering items for donations. I will also post when volunteer opportunities for home stagers in San Diego come up where we can help out on-site.
 
If you are a San Diego home stager & would like to help out, you can contact me through a comment on this post or through the website's "Contact Us" page. For stagers in other areas, if you are interested in starting a similar project, leave your contact information & I will share the information that we have gathered so far. Our next project is shaping up for the holidays! If you are not a stager & would like to participate, leave a comment & I will get back to you.
 
Happy staging! Let's share what we know & love!
 
https://www.facebook.com/homestagersnetwork

Every home staging in San Diego we do has to begin somewhere

Shocking Discovery in SEO optimization! Is it possible you can do it yourself?


Sep 6 2014

Is SEO optimization really so complex that you need to go out & hire an expert? Maybe not! Is that heresy in today's tech-driven world? Recently, when I was sitting next to a consultant who specializes in SEO optimization & asked that question, he laughed out loud.

Two years ago I didn't have the slightest idea what search engine optimization was. SEO was some technical term that didn't affect my life or business - or so I thought.The first rule of business is that you need to have something of value to offer potential customers. The second rule is that you need to find the best way for your customers to find you.

This is a home we recently staged to help get it sold as quickly as possible for the best price. As a home stager this is what we have to offer our customers - but what could I do to help them find me?It was pretty clear that the first step was looking at how internet searches work. 

We staged this home in San  Diego & it sold the 1st day with 6 offers over list price!

And if you want your business to come up high on an internet search, you need to know what SEO optimization is & a little bit about how it works.As the owner of a small home staging business in San Diego, I eventually realized that I had to come to terms with learning (yet again) another lesson in technology & that meant getting acquainted with SEO optimization.I am a complete novice. 

I love my business, but a background in home staging doesn't lend itself to a high degree of sophistication in mastering the ever-changing challenges of today's technology. And yet to succeed in business, in today's world we don't have much choice but to jump in & see if we can figure out some way to find our potential pool of customers so that we can let them know we have something of value to offer them.

When business was slow this last winter, I decided I would either need to hire an expert to help with my SEO optimization or try to understand a little about it on my own. Out of pure curiosity, I began to read one article after another about search engine optimization & what it means.The goal was to get a higher ranking on Google, Yahoo or any other place where my very specific client base might find me. So far, it's been working pretty well. Shockingly well, in fact.

Is it dumb luck? Or is some of our success a matter of sticking to classic good business practices that have been around for decades - rather than putting our focus on trying to outwit & manipulate this monster of information, the internet.Following best business practices to me means offering the best product & service you can provide, working to be consistent, honest, reliable, informed, current, relevant, & in the end giving them what they want. 

Because in the end, that's what it's all about - the ultimate goal for any business is to give the people what they want.How can doing that - just running the best business you can using the best possible classic business principles - help you find your target audience & get new clients to know you & trust you enough to buy what you are selling?

As I searched through articles on how to promote my business on the internet, it occurred to me that most of what they were talking about was raising your standards to try to be the best in the business - offering people answers & giving them something of value.When people do an internet search they have a question they want answered. They are going to type in the search words that they think will most likely bring up websites and articles that can help them answer those questions or provide a product that will.Classic good business practice is about quality, value, content, consistency, solid information & reliability. And sometimes it is about following rules (although sometimes it is about breaking them, but that's another article).

If you are attempting to get a higher ranking on Google, how important is it to take a look at their rules & regulations? Google makes their rules quite clear and available. There's no question what they are looking for.When people type in key search words as they are trying to come up with answers to their questions, Google wants the most relevant, reliable, informed, engaging, quality content that it can weed out of all the detritus on the internet to come up - they are trying to give the people what they want & need.

If you focus on following the rules and creating valuable content on your website or publications, you have far more to offer that person sitting at their computer than someone who is trying to play the game & do whatever they have to do to scam their way to the top of an internet search.Maybe the key is to create customer focused information that answers a need & provides quality content that your target audience is seeking where they are looking for it. And you want to work with the people who can get you there.

If you are starting with Google, look at what they have to offer. You want Google to help you promote your business, why not take a look at what other services & products they have to offer. Is it possible that part of the secret to Google's mysterious algorithm could lie in networking their own products & services? Does it make sense that a company would set out to make their products and services work in concert with others in the same company?

Do you want Google to work for you? Try expanding your knowledge of what they have to offer. I found over 101+ different products & services with a simple search. Google is the most popular search engine on the Web. There is a vast array of great products to discover, from Adsense, Analytics, Places, Maps, Android, Google+, Mail, Docs & my favorite new product, Waze (a great new traffic and navigation tool).

Google+ is catching on slowly but surely. It's a great place to share information. Linking your publications, website & posts on Google+ & actively sharing, can only help with your SEO optimization.My home staging business in San Diego took off when I worked on developing better content on my website, defined our brand & niche market, and became active on social media sites. I began to post on my blog, shared posts, & published articles with original content that I thought would be of interest to our potential clients.

I've shared everything from staging photos to nature photos to gorgeous travel shots, just to lighten things up once in awhile!

As San Diego home stagers we love to incorporate fresh flowers in our staging! IMG 3334

If you've ever investigated SEO optimization you've probably come across the concept of content marketing. If you are familiar with the term, you might have noticed that all of the descriptions I used earlier on classic good business practices (providing a quality product, information that is valuable, relevant, consistent, reliable, customer-focused, and original), also fall into the most common definition of content marketing.

A lightbulb went off when I finally realized what "content marketing" was all about! When you focus on providing a quality product backed by quality information that is focused on your potential customer's needs and answers their questions, those are the things that a search engine wants to come up when someone sits down at their computer & asks a question. They don't want a bunch of empty content, blatant advertisements, spam, high-pressure sales techniques or inaccurate information.


It seems to be working.

The irony is that while it works today, things change so quickly in our technology-driven world that this could all be obsolete tomorrow & our ranking could crash and burn - and if that's the case, it means it's time to hang it all up & book that vacation to the Seychelles!

6 Good Reasons to Hire a Professional Home Stager

Six good reasons to hire a professional home stager
 
We recently received an inquiry from a real estate agent asking us how a hiring a professional home stager when you are ready to sell your home is different than just de-cluttering & organizing your home.  I wanted to share my response.
 
“Hi,
 
I received the comment form you submitted to my website, HomeScapes San Diego, a local home staging company.  You mentioned that you would like some information on the benefits of hiring a professional home stager that goes beyond what de-cluttering & organizing can do.  Home staging may include some de-cluttering & organizing, but it goes far beyond that.  Anyone could, & should, de-clutter.  But if you want the best price for your home, home staging is the way to go.
 
What professional home staging does is give you an edge when selling your home over other homes for sale in your area - which often means the difference between getting it sold & having it sit on the market with the price trailing downwards. When you put your home on the market (often someone’s biggest asset) you want to come out of the gate running & looking your best!
 
1 -   Statistically, staging your home professionally will help you sell quicker & for a better price - homes that are staged sell an average of 80% quicker and for 10% more than those that are not & staging is the best return on investment a homeowner can make when selling (NAR)
 
2 -   A professional home stager, who has been trained & has experience, knows how to showcase this particular home to make the best first impression possible
 
3 -  When you professionally stage, you help buyers see how rooms can be defined, how the space can work with their furniture & it helps them envision themselves in the space
 
4 -   Professional home stagers are trained to know how to showcase the home to appeal to the broadest range of potential buyers in the targeted demographic for this home, without the personal bias a homeowner may hang onto about the home, which could prevent them from having the perspective needed to get buyers attention
 
5 -   The cost of using a trained home stager is a drop in the bucket compared to the average first price reduction if the home doesn't sell (typically home staging can range from $1,000 - $2,500 - far less than the first drop in price, usually no less than $10,000)
 
6 -  Good home staging increases the perceived value of the home - with improved curb appeal, decor & better photographs, the homeowner gains because they have re-inforced the perception that the home has been well-tended & has been taken care of overall.
 
Let me know if you have any comments or questions.  It was a pleasure to provide some information on why we believe in professional home staging to get any home sold quickly & for the best price, regardless of market conditions. If the home is priced right, a staged home will sell faster than its competition!
 
Thank you for your inquiry. A picture says it best - take a look at the "Before" & "After" photos of the home we staged last week, below.
 
Best regards,
 
Judy

Judith Burzell
www.homescapes-sd.com
(760) 224-5025”


Before home staging
















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Flexibility may be the key to increasing profits!


LEARNING TO BE FLEXIBLE! 

Building your home staging business
Do you want to increase profits? It’s all about being flexible and keeping an open mind:
 
Flexibility & the ability to adapt & make changes is key when it comes to running a business & seeing a profit.
 
I am in the business of home staging. We have a business plan and model that we are constantly revising to adapt to changing circumstances & things we are learning.  I am constantly challenged, even with two decades of owning my own businesses.
 
Today’s business owners need to be savvy on multiple fronts: internet marketing, social media marketing & continual changes to the sites we are all learning to use. This is a different business world than the one I first met two decades ago.
 
But the overall principles for success in business have not really changed.  The underlying tenets to creating a successful business are the same, but how we go about it & the tools we need to master are different.
 
               
THINK LIKE AN ENTREPRENEUR!
 
Thinking like an entrepreneur requires a basic skill set.  You can find dozens of articles on what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. Almost every list includes having a passion for your business, tenacity, vision, the ability to take risks, break rules & learn from setbacks.
 
What does it take to move from that basic skill set and turn an idea into a successful business? Of all the traits I have seen listed, I believe flexibility and adaptability are the most important. It is the same for the survival of any organism.
 
Success in business is founded on adaptability and the ability to assess where you are & make necessary changes.  That takes an open mind.  It means being able to make an honest appraisal of what is working and what is not.
 
You may need to consider questioning the belief that you are ever finished with creating your business model.  There is a fine line between finding what works and staying with that & being able to see when circumstances have changed & when you need to adapt to move on.
 
Successful business owners are committed to constantly looking at their business model and being brutally honest about what is working and what is not.  They are open to a constant flow of new ideas and changes in the marketplace and how we are being challenged to market with changes in technology.
 
That social media site that gave you 90% of your business in 2010? Well, it may not be much of a player in 2015.  We all know how fast things change today.
 
Entrepreneurs know the value of rule-breaking at times and the ability to look ahead and defy convention when we see a new open road.  People who are able to spot trends in the early stages have a huge advantage.
 
get your ducks in a row to get your home staging business goingGet your ducks looking like this…     
 






TRY SOMETHING NEW!
 
A step beyond recognizing & moving with trends is the entrepreneur who is able to break with convention and actuallycreate change.  The freethinkers of yesterday who defied convention became the innovators who broke through outdated models in their field.  They were the ones who had the courage to break out of the norm & come up with new ideas that changed the world.
 
Many of the world’s great innovators, from great artists to literary geniuses to business giants, were mocked when they first came out with ideas that defied conventional thinking.  Think: Frank Lloyd Wright, Pablo Picasso, Steve Jobs & Larry Page. They were all freethinkers who were unafraid of taking risks and creating something new.
 
Flexibility and adaptability show up in many small ways in the way we think and act.  The words we think and speak reflect our attitudes about how the world works and can show us just how open-minded we really are when we take a hard look. 
 
THINK SOMETHING NEW!
 
If we accept that mastering the art of being flexible and adaptable can translate into a more successful business – which in the long run means greater profits - how do we do make that change?
 
First look at a couple of definitions.  “Open-minded” is defined as being  “willing to consider different ideas or opinions”.  “Flexibility” is defined as “the ability to recognize & adapt to fluctuating situations.”
 
What could be more fluctuating than the rapidly changing world of technology today where we are trying to do business?
 
It all comes back to how we think.  If you accept that you have the power to direct your thinking, then you realize you can change your thinking habits to become more open-minded and flexible. We have the power to re-frame the way we think and train ourselves to become less rigid in our thinking.
 
Rather than sticking with an opinion that is unwavering, we can chose to step back, reserve judgment and consider new options.
 
A FORMULA FOR SUCCESS: A.L.C.
 
One way to look at it is to try the formula: ALC: “Act”, “Learn”, “Change”.  In life we are always going to need to “Act” in order to put an idea into motion.  Once we do that, if we have an analytical approach with an open mind we can assess how that idea worked, “Learn” from its successes and failures, then “Change” - that is what adaptation is all about. Do that once, then do it again & keep on doing it.  The process never stops.
 
Try it – make a decision about something you want to try with your business.  Let’s take advertising.  You make the decision to “Act” and take an ad out on FaceBook.  You watch the analytics and you see how the ad is doing.  It’s not performing the way you had projected.
 
Begin to research how other people are doing the same thing and see what kind of results they are getting. Figure out what they are doing differently. “Learn” from that analysis.  Then “Change” the things that are not working.  Then start over and do it again. 
 
ALLOW THE WORDS YOU USE TO CREATE WEALTH!
 
How we think is reflected in what we say and do.  If you’ve made a decision to be more flexible and adaptable, try tracking how you are putting that into action as you interact with others.  What you ‘put out there’ can indeed affect where you end up.
 
Here is a small example of how this works in my business. I see a lot of discussions about my field in articles and on social media sites. There is always some discussion on best business practices. One such community for business owners is LinkedIn.
 
LinkedIn has some great opportunities for business networking and sharing ideas through discussions that offer support to business owners.  The group discussions allow people to post questions and answers to a wide range of topics.  It is a great place to learn.
 
One of the most interesting things I have learned from that site, is that there is a tendency for many participants to have firm, uncompromising, even judgmental, beliefs about just about everything - from basic rules for how a home should be staged (should you use table settings in kitchens or trays on beds, silk vs. real plants, air mattresses, leave business cards at homes you’ve staged), to the best business model (should you rent furniture or own your own), or the best way to use internet marketing – the list goes on & on. 
 
The discussions can get heated and sometimes the participants are downright insulting to one another.  You hear “I would NEVER do XYZ…” or “anyone who does XYZ is ….” – not the model for an open and supportive discussion and the free flow of ideas. You’re not learning when you head is filled with judgments.
 
Reserving judgment and thinking before you speak may not only be a kinder alternative, it can help you train yourself to keep an open mind.  Doing that allows you to explore the possibility that someone else might have a better idea.
 
Even if you still don’t agree 100%, by keeping an open mind you may find that there is some small lesson that you would otherwise have overlooked had you not indulged yourself with that “AHA, I would never do that”- moment.  That small lesson could result in a slight ‘tweak’ you make to your own business model that ends up making a difference. Sometimes those ‘small’ ideas create breakthrough moments for your business.
 
 
AN OPEN MIND WILL ADD TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT!
 
For me the answer is that there is no one right way to do any of these things.  There is no ‘one size fits all’.  It depends on the situation: your geographic location, your client, the current market, availability of resources, budget constraints, local tastes and trends.  For home stagers, if the home is at the beach an ocean-themed décor plan may be perfect year-round – in Ohio in the dead of winter, that’s not going to work. 
 
If you step back and reserve judgment, listen and learn, you may decide that your opinion that inventory purchased at the local discount store is tasteless is unfounded - it might be the perfect solution for someone else in a different area with a different budget. It might even work for you someday.  And rudely expressing that judgment has just shutdown someone in the discussion. When we don’t keep an open mind we are at a standstill.
 
GET GROWING!
 
It is the free-flow of ideas that is at the heart of being flexible and adaptable.  If we learn to check our egos at the door and step back from making broad judgments about how other people run their businesses, we might just learn something. And that little thing we learn might be just the thing we need to know to succeed & grow profits.
 
While the examples here might seem silly to those outside the field of home staging, the basic issue – being flexible & adaptable when it comes to how you approach your business model - is critical to seeing your company grow. Inflexibility can show up in the many tiny ways we interact every day.
 
In order to live things need to grow and change.  Being open to that change, not set in old, narrow ways of thinking, can be your greatest tool to creating a successful business & seeing greater profits.
 
May you all succeed doing the thing you love most!

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Where Steve Martin and my business plan meet.

Every so often I decide to update my business plan to make sure I’m heading in the right direction. I 
 usually have music on in the background or a comedy tape. 

Yesterday, as I was working on the update, one of Steve Martin’s standup comedy routines from back in the ‘70’s came on from “Let’s Get Small” (along with some terrific banjo music).  To quote in part…
 
“I like to get small…very dangerous for kids though, because they get really small. I know I shouldn't get small when I'm drivin', but, uh, I was drivin' around the other day, you know [whistles tunefully] and a cop pulls me over. And he goes, 'Hey, are you small?' I said, 'No, I'm tall, I'm tall.' He said, 'Well, I'm gonna have to measure you.' They've got a little test they give you; it's a balloon, and if you can get inside of it, they know... you're small. And they can't put you in a regular cell either, because you walk right out.”
 
And right then and there, I realized that the problem with my business plan was that I wanted to do the unthinkable – I wanted to “Get Small”!  And I wanted to stay small.
 
Well, that goes against everything they ever teach you in business school.  It challenges the basic core of the bulk of today’s marketing plans! It is outrageous, blasphemous, un-heard of! To purposefully stay small? To frame your entire business plan upon a goal that would make you “small” and keep you “small” – that’s heretical!
 
And yet there it was, plain as day, written out in fast and furious, mis-spelled-so-I-could-get-it-out-authentically-text – I want my business to stay small.
 
I want it to be manageable.  I want it to be fun. I want it to be hands-on and something I do because I love it. I want every single room I stage to be a reflection of what I intended this business to reflect: a picture-perfect vision of what this room should look like to attract buyers to get this home sold. 
 
It should be beautiful.  It should be detailed. It should enhance the features of this particular home based upon attention to the architecture, geographic location & the demographic of potential buyers that this unique home brings to the market.  In order to do that, I work best when I am allowed to take the time to get those details right. 
 
I have had businesses large and small for over 25 years, many of them highly successful.  That was then and this is now – those businesses were intended to grow, to have employees and to maximize profit.
 
This business is different.  This business is now: at a time when I want to do the work I love and do it well, and still have time left over to enjoy life.  And that’s the way I wrote the current business plan. 
 
We will do a maximum number of staging jobs per month.  They will all be vacant properties or model homes for builders.  I will not rush or take less than the job is worth. I will provide the highest quality service, professionalism, the right amount of detail & stay true to the standards we have set for our business for quality. I will refer out all other jobs to professional stagers I have worked with and whose work I can recommend and admire.
 
Someone said to me when I sent her the draft for this article, that it sounded like I was looking down on other business owners who want to “go big”, as if there was some moral pejorative involved in my decision – that somehow I was making the point that “small” was “better” or of a higher quality.  Or that it ignored the basic premise that to be in business we should all strive to maximize profits wherever possible.  She thought it sounded snooty that I avoided the obvious issue of “how much money do I need to make”, and that by saying I would be satisfied making less, it seemed dismissive to those who need to maximize profits based upon the economic needs of their family.
 
That’s not the point at all.  For me, “smaller” equates to less pressure, more enjoyment and a chance to do the work I love in a working environment where I am most comfortable and thrive best. 
 
Most of all being “small” means that for the first time in my work life, I have some time – time to take better care of myself and my health, time to meet friends, or read a book without feeling guilty. I can turn off the computer and go outside, take up a new sport and begin taking the time to sit down for a healthy meal that I make, now that there is time to shop.  And for once, I won’t be rushing my friends to get off the phone because “I’m busy now” (left unsaid but implied by the impatience in my voice).
Right after I post this, I’m going to write the first real letter I’ve written in years and I’m going to have to go find a real stamp to post it! I think my friend will get a kick out of getting something in the mail beside bills and advertisements.
 
I wish everyone who starts their own business the very best of luck in attaining whatever they are seeking – whether it is expansion, profits, innovation, a big brand name or recognition in their field. May you all have phenomenal success.
 
Success for me will be doing a “small” job with no pressure, leaving work and going home to find that, for once, I have plenty of time to do whatever I want. And for that I have my favorite comedian, Steve Martin, to thank!

Home Staging San Diego Style

Home Staging San Diego Style ~

It's all about style these days and when it comes to what's "in style" (or "on-trend" as people are saying so often these days) where you are makes a difference! For us, here in San Diego, CA, the homes we stage and remodel for the most part are near the beach or a beach community.  Styles in home decor and what's "on-trend" will reflect that atmosphere.

We see lots of beach-themed design and in our opinion, it fits!  Homes that we stage in this area will often enjoy ocean breezes and the people that live here tend to live an outdoor lifestyle.  With out year-round temperate climate it just naturally leads people to be outdoors and active.  Fashion choices, home decor preferences and even your car can be a reflection of the way people live here.

The emphasis on outdoor living and our climate means that in their homes people may want a living space that brings the outdoors inside.  They may want an open concept home & one where you can step right out onto the patio - a place that is likely to be used year round in our area.  The coastal feel translates to a color palette that reflects the ocean and bright blue skies.  You see a lot of natural elements in the design patterns in the homes we see every day.

Our favorite color palette tends to run to shades of blues & greens that you would see in the ocean and sky, to shades of tan that remind you of sandy beaches and touches of coral and gold that reflect our wonderful sunsets.  Decor will often include natural elements such as reclaimed wood, sea shells, sea fans, water elements and live green plants and flowers.  Orchids do well here and we often stage with flowers that are in season - we have Birds of Paradise in bloom year round so those are always a option here, bringing a beautiful touch to any room.

Every area has it's own "style" and those of us in the staging business are aware that there is no one "right" style.  The decor we use in our design may reflect the area and it's character or may be more about the specific home and it's architectural style or neighborhood.  Even the season plays a part - every year as we approach the holidays we will add autumn colors and holiday accents.  At HomeScapes we are in love with the area and all it has to offer, so we are grateful to have our inspiration be the ocean at our side.

What's your style?  Our best to you all as spring approaches!

HomeScapes San Diego
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