6 Steps to Guide You in Staging 101

1. Be blunt: Give honest feedback.
Remember: everyone thinks they’re the expert on their home—even after hiring you. If you actually want their listing to close quickly, you need to be upfront with your feedback.

Living-RoomThat antique doll collection over by the window? While it’s you sellers’ favorite accessory, to most buyers it’s probably a distraction. Be tactful, but don’t hold back.

Smart sellers will appreciate your insight and hop on board with your plan. Others will only appreciate it down the road after they see their way doesn’t bring in the right offers. If you get pushback, point to your sold home history and other selling successes to show clients that you know what you’re talking about.

2. Be inspired: Tour before (or while) you talk.
One of the best ways to show sellers what their home lacks is to have the staging chat while touring other listings. Seeing what other homes have to offer not only supports your suggestions, but may inspire some creative ideas.

At the very least, send sellers to a few open houses. This helps them see how their home measures up to others and gives them an idea of what it’s really going to take to compete in today’s market.

3. Be complete: Stage from the outside in.
Most sellers are real estate media obsessed — addicted to HGTV, Trulia, or one of the many other shows or sites out there. This is good because it means most aren’t completely oblivious to the fact that selling will take some effort on their part.

The downside is that many clients are used to focusing on the insides of houses. If you’re watching house hunters the front of the
 home is on the screen for 10 seconds tops. But first impressions matter. Start the staging talk outside and work your way in. Don’t let your seller ignore the importance of curb appeal.

It doesn’t matter if your seller’s listing has the biggest master bedroom ever; if the outside paint is peeling you’ll have a tough time getting buyers in the door.

4. Be clutter-free: Have your clients pre-pack.

Let’s face it. Most buyers don’t have an imagination. The more stuff they see, the less they can envision themselves in a home.

The framed children’s artwork may be cute, but it could be taking away from the formal dining room a buyer-prospect is trying to picture.

Depersonalization, decluttering, changing the aura—whatever you want to call it—it’s sometimes hard for your sellers to hear it. Like a lot of things in this business, it’s all about how you package it.
Need those counters cleared and family photos off the walls? That’s just “pre-packing.”

Serious sellers aren’t just thinking about the sale, so frame the staging process as a way to help them get a leg up on the move ahead and keep personal decorations from getting in the way.


5. Be neutral: Make it a canvas.
To be clear, when it comes to being bland, we’re not talking about personality. But the more neutral your listing’s color scheme, the more ready it is for a potential buyer to come in and make it their own.

Be sure to think about the paint and fixtures as well. The bright red walls that were perfect for your client’s couches are more likely to be hurdle for the next owner.Go with neutral, but don’t take it too far. If you can avoid it, never show an empty home. Doing so can make it hard for buyers to see a house as a home, lead to super-boring listing photos, and make most places look smaller than they actually are.

Make sure my clients know that staging is a must if they’re serious about selling.

6. Be generous: Spend cash to make cash.
You have to spend money to make money. Convincing clients to spend money on a home they are leaving is usually one of the toughest staging conversations you’ll have.

When clients object, remind them of the cash they stand to make and the big boost their listing will get from a little bit of investment.

It doesn’t have to take millions or even thousands of dollars to stage a home well. Help your clients be thrifty without being stingy: it’s an investment that can have a serious return if you help them do it right.

Gorgeous Restoration Hardware Opens Flagship Store in Beverly Hills


RH-2I recently visited the new flagship Restoration Hardware store on Beverly Blvd. in Beverly Hills with a client. I took her there to shop for furniture and we were blown away by the size of the store and how gorgeous the displays are. They purchased the large Belgian Trestle Table with concrete top for $3,500. We used some of their wicker chairs and put it in a covered area of their home for outdoor dining. This is a good place to get ideas for redecorating or getting your home ready to sell!



NEW LISTING > Beautiful, French Chateau style home in Altadena

1898 Homewood Dr-MLS-001

1898 Homewood Drive | Altadena, CA 91001
Offered at $1,275,000

This beautiful, French Chateau style home is located on one of the most desirable streets in the country club neighborhood of Altadena. This home is 2,245 square feet (measured) with three bedrooms, three baths which has recently been painted inside and out with custom colors. The entrance is highlighted by a foyer with rich wood floors that continue to the generously proportioned living room with crown molding, stately fireplace, and tall French doors that open out to the front yard.

1898 Homewood Dr-MLS-014The bright gourmet kitchen has an open floor plan with granite counters, farmhouse sink, stainless steel Viking range and GE Monogram refrigerator. The custom cabinets have many built-ins including a Bosch dishwasher. The kitchen and great room have French limestone floors that flow between the two areas. The spacious master bedroom overlooks the garden with many windows and has an updated bathroom with limestone tiles. The remaining two bedrooms are large and bright. The fenced garden and patio are perfect for relaxing or entertaining. The large sparkling pool is completely fenced in and is located at the rear of the garden. In addition, there is a fully finished guesthouse with a three quarter bathroom.

Home Features & Amenities:

  • 3 bedrooms/3 baths
  • 2,245 sq. ft. (measured)/13,153 sq. ft. lot
  • Guesthouse with bath
  • Crown molding and fireplace
  • Gourmet kitchen with granite counters, farmhouse sink, stainless steel Viking range and GE Monogram refrigerator
  • Custom cabinets/built-ins
  • Fenced in garden and patio
  • Sparkling pool

1898 Homewood Dr-MLS-027


Exclusively Represented by:
Cell > 626.825.0161
897 Granite Drive
Pasadena, CA 91101
CalBRE #01334603


Additional information and photographs available at: www.1898Homewood.com

10 Real Estate Predictions for 2014

Searching for a comprehensive list of what real estate will look like in 2014? Look no further, because we’ve culled together top predictions from around the web for you right here, with insights from Trulia.com, Zillow.com, Forbes, the NAHB and NAR.

blogarticle1. Unemployment will stabilize between 6.9 percent to 7.2 percent as people re-enter the labor market and start looking for jobs.

2. Affordability will get worse, although price increases will slow from the unsustainable pace of 2013.

3. Expect mortgage rate increases next year. Don’t expect major hikes to scare markets and buyers, but anticipate small upward rate increases as the Fed tapers further.

4. Move-up buyers will be less discouraged by rising prices and interest rates than investors or first-time buyers.

5. Gains in housing will hold up and even continue in 2014, but more moderately in all sectors: new homes, existing homes, and building starts. Growth, however, will be uneven across states.

6. Higher prices will encourage listings for homeowners whose homes were underwater; buyers will face less competition from investors who scale back from buying as prices rise.

7. Existing-home sales will climb 4 percent to 5.2 million, a 7.5 percent increase from 2012. New-home sales may climb by another 16 percent to 580,000 next year (2013 saw an amazing 36 percent increase over 2012).

8. Areas with inventory shortages should cool, but watch rising mortgage rates (see #3). Sales in California and Arizona will be rapid, while New York and Florida will continue to deal with gluts.

9. Prices could slow for the wrong reasons, too, if there’s another government shutdown to dampen consumer confidence, which hurts both demand and pricing.

10. Looser credit may help renters become new owners. With fewer foreclosures, single-family rentals will tighten making buying more appealing.

Housing Recovery Remains on Firm Footing as Americans’ Housing Sentiment Bounces Back From an Autumn Dip

WASHINGTON, DC – Year-over-year gains in Americans’ attitudes toward home ownership demonstrate that the housing recovery continues to move forward on firm footing despite a drop in housing sentiment during the fall, according to Fannie Mae’s December National Housing Survey results. Forty-nine percent of consumers surveyed believe home prices will go up over the next 12 months, compared to 43 percent in December 2012. Consumers’ average 12-month home prices expectations moved to 3.2 percent, up from 2.6 percent last year. Those who say it’s a good time to sell a home rose significantly to 33 percent from 21 percent in December 2012. And, despite a higher mortgage interest rate environment, consumers are more optimistic about their access to mortgage credit than they were a year ago, with those who say that it would be easy to get a home mortgage today rising to 50 percent, compared to 45 percent last year.

“The marked improvement in housing market sentiment over the course of 2013 bore out our view going into the year that the housing recovery was on a firm footing. Year-over-year gains in home price expectations and attitudes about the current selling environment were particularly notable,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Going into 2014, housing attitudes are recovering from a recent dip that coincided with the heated fiscal discussions between the Administration and Congress late last year. Consumer attitudes about the ease of getting a mortgage today are at their highest level in the survey’s three-and-a-half-year history, which should help offset the current higher interest rate environment and support a continued but measured housing recovery as we move through 2014.”


Homeownership and Renting

  • At 3.2 percent, the average 12-month home price change expectation increased since last month.
  • The share of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months increased to 49 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months decreased slightly to 57 percent.
  • Those who say it is a good time to buy a house increased from last month, up three percentage points to 67 percent.
  • The average 12-month rental price change expectation increased from last month to 3.8 percent.
  • Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, a three percentage point increase over last month.
  • Fifty percent of respondents thought it would be easy for them to get a home mortgage today, holding steady from last month.
  • The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move fell slightly to 66 percent.

For more information visit: www.fanniemae.com/progress/index.html

The US Isn’t In a Housing Bubble but Southern California Is

2013.11_bubbleHey, great news: US housing prices are NOT in a bubble. Oh, except here in Southern California, where they are. Trulia’s Bubble Watch report, out today, relies on a lot of crazy-sounding concepts like “fundamental value” and “undervalued,” but then housing prices and bubbles and money are all just inventions based on shared delusions anyway and what are we talking about again? Disorienting terminology aside, the report at least makes some comparisons that can tell us something–it looks at “the price-to-income ratio, the price-to-rent ratio, and prices relative to their long-term trends, using multiple data sources.” So if houses are going for a lot more than what those numbers might predict, Trulia declares a bubble; a lot less, no bubble. Nationwide, housing prices are four percent under what Trulia thinks they should be, so there’s no bubble (compare to 39 percent above at the beginning of 2006 and 13 percent below at the end of last year). But in Los Angeles County, prices are 12 percent above where Trulia thinks they should be. BUBBLE. Of the 100 largest metro areas, LA is second most bubbly only to Orange County, which is 13 percent above.

While mortgages are tougher to get and housing supplies are a lot lower than they were during the mega mid-aughts bubble, LA home prices have been shooting up over the last year or so (largely due, in fact, to the short supply). While prices are now leveling off a bit, according to the October 2013 numbers from DataQuick, they were still up 24.6 percent from last October.

Sales of Bank-Owned Homes Decline as Market Begins to Stabilize

At the beginning of 2009 roughly 60 percent of closings in California were repossessed homes. Now repossessions represent only about five percent of total sales. Sales of bank-owned homes made up a majority of California home sales during the last four years, but now represent only a small percentage of sales in the state.

In 2013 the median price of a single-family home averages $408,600 in California. If the trend continues the projected price is expected to rise six percent bringing the new median to $432,800 in 2014. A modest rate of appreciation can be interpreted as one sign that the state’s housing market is beginning to rebalance itself.

This trend can be attributed to numerous factors in the market place. The most obvious reasons are owners and banks finding alternatives to foreclosure and the impact of the state’s new Homeowners Bill of Rights. The trend includes the Los Angeles and Southern California markets.

The Homeowners Bill of Rights is a package of laws including several provisions to prevent or delay foreclosures, including a ban on dual tracking activities. Dual tracking activities occur when banks work on a homeowner’s loan modification request while simultaneously processing a foreclosure.

These laws resulted in a sharp decrease in foreclosure activity. This year home prices have appreciated rapidly and in August, the California median home price was $441,330. This is 28 percent higher than prices from 2012. This figure also signified the highest price recorded since December 2007.

So, what do you think? Are we heading into a stabilized market?

You can contact Cynthia Tilleman for more information via email at cynthia.tilleman@podley.com.

Cynthia Tilleman, Realtor
897 Granite Drive, Pasadena CA 91001
(626) 825-0161 / (626) 639-1676
Follow us on Twitter.com/cynthiaskorner

Selling Your Home with Feng Shui

When selling a home, it’s not enough to make it look good. Making it feel good is just as important.

When you were house hunting, did you ever get the feeling that everything was “just right” when you walked into a house you liked? If so, then you know how feng shui works.

Feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of making physical and energetic adjustments to a space to create a balance and flow of positive energies. If you’ve been struggling to sell your home, maybe it’s time to add some feng shui magic to it and attract positive vibes.

As a renowned feng shui expert once said, sometimes it’s not just about curb appeal, it takes chi appeal. Chi is the life energy that feng shui tries to attract. It is achieved when everything is balanced beautifully. When you get that “feel good” feeling about a house, that is your body’s response to positive chi energy.

The location of the house is very important in feng shui, though one cannot easily change the physical placement of the home, the next best thing is making sure the surrounding areas are positively charged. This means making sure the street in front or around the house is clean and there is no sloping land behind the house. If there is a slope in the backyard, be sure to have it filled out for level ground.

Which brings us to another way to attract good chi, which is investing in some landscaping. It not only enhances your home’s physical aesthetic, but also adds value and attracts quality energy. Inside, invest in tall lush plants and fresh cut flowers, have good lighting, beautiful art, and create a feeling of space and expansion through strategic feng shui placement of furniture and mirrors.

When selling a home, it’s better if potential buyers see more of the home. That is, don’t make the home too personal. Give the prospective buyer more of the house, not your stuff. The less personal a house is, the less it looks used. And the less used it looks, the better.

But don’t overdo it. An empty home won’t give prospective buyers an idea how the home would look if lived in, but make it too lived in and you might deter buyers away. 
Good vibes in each and every room will result in good energy all round. A single room that emanates bad energy can make or break the sale, so be sure each room is positively charged with enough furniture to give buyers an idea of how it is to live in the home, yet not too cluttered to put them off.

Part of getting rooms primed for positive energy is to make sure everything is in working order. Repaint walls if needed, fix the caulking, and make sure all fixtures are repaired. Be sure to have appliances repaired and that all leaks are fixed. Aside from the positive vibes these bring, common sense dictates that no one wants to buy a rundown home too. So be sure to get handy (or a handyman) and start fixing.

Finally, when selling a home, most likely potential buyers go through the front door, right? The same is true for chi so having a strong front door is important in feng shui. Make sure the size and proportion of the door is right for the house, and the placement of the pathway that leads to it as well. If you are serious about fixing the chi in your home and making a sale, having these elements fixed can be worth your time and effort.

Don’t forget the other doors too, such as the back door, side doors, etc. There should be no direct door alignment as this creates a strong rush of chi, which leads to a loss of energy. If you can’t afford to change the position of a door (by means of a renovation) you can block the direct alignment with a wall, a drawer or cabinet, or any piece of furniture to block the rush of energy.

Selling a home these days isn’t easy, and all the help you can get is always welcome. Why not try feng shui? Who knows, it may be be exactly what you need.

If you need help in selling your home, contact Cynthia Tilleman today. A realtor with a solid background in interior design, Cynthia knows what looks right and what sells.

You can contact Tilleman for more information via email at cynthia.tilleman@podley.com or call (626) 825-0161; (626) 639-1676.

For more information on buying or selling a home and to find out what your home is worth, contact Cynthia at www.pasadenahomesbycynthia.com.