Archive for October, 2009

Stage, Stage, Stage

By:  Linda Shropshire Grissom

Staging, a relatively familiar buzz word in the real estate industry is defined as the re-arranging and accessorizing of home furnishings to create universal appeal. Staging enhances a property’s positive features which result in better photographs, marketing collateral and web presence. Staging beckons a potential buyer to linger and feel right at home. 

Every realtor worth their salt will recite this to you. HGTV devotes hours per day to shows like “Designed to Sell” and “Get It Sold”, to show tangible  proof that staging is essential. So why am I chanting it again? Simply put, staging works.

The Facts:

  • During a competitive real estate market, staged homes seize  the attention of  buyers from first sight.
  • Exceptionally staged homes sell within weeks, while others remain on the market for months..
  • Many well staged listings entertain multiple offers, even in a down market and command top dollar.

When I started my real estate career eight years ago, I took it upon myself to re-arrange  furniture and accessories for my new listings.  No matter what I saw when I walked into a property, I was immediately struck by what I could do to make the environment more appealing. Soon thereafter, I heard the word “staging” and realized it was something, that while few appreciated at the time, made a monumental difference in getting my properties noticed. 

I silently built a niche for myself providing “staging” services to each of my new listings. I accumulated a garage full of lamps, plants, framed art, towels, cookbooks and a host of  other accessories. I noticed right away that other agents enjoyed showing my listings and buyers were romanced by the Cabernet and wine glasses strategically placed on the counter. My listings sold and fast. 

Staging has boasted a whole new career path for individuals with the aptitude for space, beauty and form.  A professional stager can demand anywhere from $150-200 for a consultation to $2000 or more for full service staging. I dare say well worth every penny.

A professional stager not within your budget? Here are a few things to remember:

  • Staging goes beyond decorating and cleaning. It is about creating a mood.
  • Plant flowers or establish container gardens on your porch and buyers will swarm to your front door.
  • Set the stage with your foyer. Create a super clean, balanced and inviting environment. Sparse, simple and universal accessories are a sure bet.
  • Place a major focus on your kitchen. New appliances bring high return. Store all counter appliances and kitchen tools. Set the stage as if you are planning for a dinner party.
  • No matter how attached you are to the wood grain, paint the panelling.

Whether you hire a professional stager or plan to do it yourself, your investment in staging  is sure to pay off and put you heads above the competition. Get it started today!

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What is “urban” anyway?

By: Courtney James

I have been given the dubious honor of writing the first blog entry for our Urban Durham Realty blog.  There seems to be an abundance of bloggers writing about Durham in general – and doing it well, I might add.  Therefore, we thought it best to try to limit our blog to what we know best – our company and real estate!  I recently attended a class offered by blogger-extraordinaire, Kevin Davis of Bull City Rising, to get a few tips on blogging.  Not surprisingly, one of the most important rules is to be consistent about updating the blog.   One way in which we hope to maintain this consistency is to share the updating responsibilities (I don’t know how you frequent bloggers do it!).   Each week (at least) you should see a post by one of us in the UDR office.

Now that we have that established, let me relate a little about Urban Durham Realty as a company.  I am often asked about the name of the company and specifically what we mean when we say, “Urban is more about lifestyle and less about location”.  To us, the term “urban” does not mean “downtown”.  Rather it signifies a certain way of living.  Specifically, people who are looking for neighborhoods where they can be close to amenities such as neighborhood parks, clubhouses, stores, and restaurants are seeking the ‘urban’ lifestyle. Additionally, fluctuating gas prices and aspirations to ‘go green’ have prompted the desire for many to be able to walk to places such as work and their children’s school.

Luckily there is a strong contemporary trend towards this type of lifestyle and neighborhood in many areas, including Durham.  Starting in the 1950’s, the country began to build residential housing separate from retail and office.  The government was investing vast amounts of money into the national highway system that would serve to connect these residential areas with the amenities needed for daily life.  The wave of the future was a car-driven, gas-fueled society.  Housing developments started to spring out further and further away from the city center, while strip malls cropped up along the highways reaching out to these new suburbs.  The strip malls were built box-like and fronted with huge parking lots with little attention paid to curb appeal (what do aesthetics matter when drivers pass by at 40 plus miles an hour).  Even if someone managed to walk to the shopping center through the maze of roads and highways, there would not be a sidewalk to get you from the street to the store.

Today there has been a dramatic deviation away from that lifestyle.  People seem to be craving the more established urban neighborhoods that have a greater sense of community.  Box-like strip malls are being renovated to have more curb appeal in order to draw in walking customers, and sidewalks are being added where there once were none.  Bike lanes are being incorporated into new road construction, and mass transit is a major focus in every metropolitan area (although we have a long way to go in this regard).

The trend is thriving in Durham as well.  The areas where real estate value is appreciating the strongest are those that offer established residential communities – particularly those that offer walk-able amenities.  These are the areas of Durham where we choose to focus our business, and this is what we mean when we say urban.

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