Good staging, bad staging

empty room
empty room – Old growth fir floors

It seems like it took years to sell people on the idea of staging but I am still finding real estate agents and homeowners who don’t understand what staging a home to sell is all about.

It isn’t about cramming the place full of furniture, lamps, books and rugs. Staging is more about cleaning, decluttering and making needed repairs or upgrades. Most of the houses I sell have too much furniture and furniture needs to be removed not added.

Effective home staging for an occupied home can include removing pieces of furniture and family photos from the walls. Clearing horizontal surfaces and re-arranging shelves and art work. There is no need to over think it. Moving a chair from one place to another isn’t going to cause a home to sell for more or less.

I am not convinced that a vacant house needs to have furniture put in it to help it sell. I love the look of clean empty rooms. To me there isn’t any room that is more pleasing than one that is empty. I don’t have any problem seeing the possibilities or imagining it with my own stuff in it.

If the house needs a little work and a good cleaning filling it with a stagers furniture isn’t going to help. In fact bad staging might even make it worse.

I don’t need help I can find the perfect house

Forbes Ave
Houses on Forbes Ave

Times have changed. It is rare that I encounter someone who wants to buy a home who can not find a home for sale. Most buyers search the internet and find homes they are interested in buying. I have buyers tell me that my job is easier and that buyers themselves are doing all the work.

The internet has made my job easier because people who use the internet to do research and learn about homes for sale and the local real estate market are educated and informed. They will have an easier time choosing a home and making decisions about how much they want to pay for it.

The internet has not made the home buying process any easier. I recently had a client find a house all on her own that she wanted to buy. She contacted me and gave me the address. I contacted the listing agent and found out that there were already four offers on the home and that offers were due in less than an hour.

My client wanted to make an offer. I explained that it would be a long shot. She was able to offer a little more than the asking price.

I abandoned my Saturday night plans and wrote that offer even though I knew it was a long shot. I believe that my clients deserve a shot and that is part of the service I provide and the value I add.  I triple checked it to make sure that it was perfect. I got the offer in right on time. Early the next morning I was informed that there were six offers and the sellers did not choose the one that I wrote. I suspect the winning offer was at least 5k higher than the one I wrote.

Even when my clients can find a house to buy without my help that isn’t the same as buying the house and having the sale close. The finding part if easy, it is the buying part that can be challenging. Even though most people are amazing negotiators they don’t always know how to negotiate with sellers who are also amazing negotiators.

When I work with buyers I have to be fast and flexible. I need to be able to quickly gather the information needed to make an offer and then I need to council and advise the buyer on strategies making a winning offer.  I can count on having to go through this process at least twice with each buyer.  I have heard tales of buyers making seven of more offers. Those buyers want to consider a new strategy.

Financing, contracts and even inspections have gotten more complex. The internet compounds issues as home buyers crowd source solutions from friends on social media rather than asking an experts.  Houses haven’t gotten more complex but there are fewer to choose from and for some reason that is translating into showing each buyer more homes as they want to look at any possibility as they look for the perfect home.

I spend less time searching for homes for sale because I can use the internet and so can my clients.  I spend more time with each buyer and show them more houses over a longer period of time.  I write more offers for each buyer and spend more time negotiating and advocating for each buyer before they close on their home.

It is more stressful to have to write offers very quickly and compete with half a dozen other offers.

Selling your home in the summer


Yes homes do sell during the summer. How the yard looks matters more in the summer. You will need to keep the lawn mowed. No I am not kidding.

Hedges need to be trimmed and foliage should not be touching the house. Flower beds and gardens need to be kept weeded.

Perennials run with the property and are automatically included in the sale. If you plan to dig up a few with when you move, that needs to be disclosed in writing to the buyers. I can’t even begin to tell you how totally messed up things get when a home owners takes grandma’s rose bush, or a few hostas, and dig them up right before the closing.

Put fresh flowers in front of the house in planters, pots or hanging baskets. Red flowers seem to be particularly powerful but only if they are not wilted and brown due to lack of water.

First impressions and curb appeal matter. People do judge houses by how they look on the outside.  No matter what your mother or last REALTOR told you it isn’t just what is on the inside that matters.

Home owners who sell in the winter sometimes include photographs of the yard in the summer when gardens are in bloom and the lawn is green. Summer sellers do not need to provide winter pictures. No one ever asks about what the property looks like after it snows.


The front door – clean it up, paint it.

The high ROI of Landscaping

Types of air conditioning found in homes

Types of air conditioning

The chart is from the NorthstarMLS.  79% of homes listed have central air, 3% have wall air conditioners, 5% have window air conditioners, less than 1% have geothermal and 1% have ductless Mini-split and 12% of homes have no air conditioning.

For houses without the duct work the ductless mini-split is an attractive option . . at least is is more attractive than a wall or window unit with a small air handler/evaporator inside the house mounted on the wall and a condenser outside.

Real estate agents can search for homes based on the type of AC. The most common request is to search for homes with central air.

In Minnesota heating is also important. Most homes have central heating. either forced air or hot water. Homes without central heating may have baseboard electric type heat.

Great taste, less waste

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Today I am going to share my recipe for iced tea. Yes you can make iced tea at home. It tastes better than store bought type ice tea, costs almost nothing to make and there are no empty plastic bottles to dispose of.

sun tea
Sun tea

Fill a canning jar, with water, put in a tea bag or two. (I like to use quart sized jars)   Set the tea on a windowsill or outside in direct sunlight for at least 2 hours. I usually leave it out for four hours. I put a reusable lid on the jar.

Once the tea is done brewing, remove the tea bag. Pour the tea over ice and sweeten and add lemon if you like. For more tea use bigger containers and more tea bags. Clear glass containers work the best. The tea is nice and mellow, never bitter. It is low fat, has no cholesterol, calories or sodium and is gluten free and can be caffeine free but that seems wrong. Enjoy.