Archive for Staging & Design Tips and Sales

Money Saving Tips For Choosing Carpet When Selling Your Home

Carpet SamplesTips for Choosing Carpet When Selling Your Home

You’ve decided to put your Los Angeles home on the market and you realize that one of the many things you need to do to prepare your  home for sale is to replace the worn, stained, Chartreuse or stinky carpet that was installed when Jimmy Carter was president. Good idea, with one caveat: If you have hardwood floors under the existing carpet, don’t re-carpet. Remove the old carpet and spend the money (often times less money) having the hardwood floors refinished. Hardwood floors trump carpet every time when putting a home up for sale.

OK, you’ve peeked under the old carpet (by lifting a corner in several rooms) and you see plywood, sub-floor or concrete. Time to go carpet shopping.

Here are 6 money saving tips for choosing the right carpet to prepare your Los Angeles home for sale:

  1. Don’t buy expensive carpet, but do buy the least expensive carpet  suitable for a home at your listing price. For example, if you are selling a home in Highland Park that’s priced at $450,000, you can get away with purchasing less expensive carpet than if you are selling a home in Pasadena that will be listed at $1.5 million. If the carpet is going up steps, choose a denser carpet so it wraps the edge of the step without showing the mesh backing.
  2. Choose a light, neutral color carpet. You are not choosing a carpet that you have to live with or love. Remember, you are preparing your home so it appears move in ready for your buyer. Choose carpet that is cream, tan, beige, pale gold, caramel or cafe au lait. Lighter colored carpet makes a room feel larger and a neutral color is more likely to match existing tile or flooring already installed in the house. Additionally, neutral colored carpet is more likely to go with a potential buyer’s furniture.
  3. Choose a smooth texture. You may love that floral cut pile texture, but there is a good chance that potential buyers won’t. I usually recommend either a cut pile (like a Saxony or velvet texture) or a cut and loop combination with (without a sculptural pattern). These two choices tend to look more expensive than loop carpets.Best carpet for staging
  4. Shop around for price. Many big box stores slap a private label on carpet that is available elsewhere to make it more difficult to shop around. Don’t always assume a big box store will give you a better price than an independent carpet store. Many independent carpets stores price their broadloom carpet very competitively. They want your business and, if you find the right store, you will probably get great service backed by years of experience.
  5. Keep it simple. It is best to use the same carpet throughout the house. It makes the house feel larger rather than chopping it up room by room. The cost of carpet will be less since pieces left over from one room can be used to complete another room.
  6. Don’t offer a carpet allowance. Allowances are for teenagers. Buyers today are expecting homes to be move-in ready.  They want you to go through the hassle of replacing the carpet.  They’ll accept your allowance and still offer a lower price.

If you need help selecting the right carpet  to prepare  your Los Angeles home for sale, call Michelle at Moving Mountains Design (626)385-8852. We’re happy to help.

Top photo by Emily May

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12 Steps To Real Estate Success in 2018

12 Steps to achieve real estate success in 2018

Real Estate Success A Hole In OneI am often told that I am lucky to be the owner of a successful Los Angeles home staging company. Luck is the magic sauce that makes it all come together, but there are many things I do every day to make sure my company is well regarded and stays ahead of the competition.

Following these 12 steps will make you a real estate success in 2018, whether you are a real estate agent, mortgage broker, appraiser or home stager.

Unlike the title of the hit Broadway play “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, you really do have to make an effort in order to be a real estate success. Here’s my 12 tips for success in the Real Estate business:

  1. The early bird really does get the worm: I find I am more likely to get the staging contract if I am one of the first home stagers to return the client’s call. You get to make an impression on the client first, and that’s often the deepest connection. I imagine it works the same way with real estate agents.
  2. Under-promise and over-deliver: I never reveal every bit of what I’m going to do, or what I’m going to provide before staging a home. I always make sure I go the extra mile and deliver more than I promised.
  3. Don’t take on projects that are “over your head”: You’re dealing with your client’s most valuable asset – their home. If you take on too big of a project or too large of a listing, and you fail, you will ruin your reputation, and may create a dire situation for your client. Stretching yourself to take on a little more than what you are used to is good, but this whole concept of “Fake it till you make it” is deceitful and deceptive.
  4. Open and frequent communication is key: Make sure everyone involved in or with your business understands what you will be providing, how much it costs, and what is expected of them. Repeat, if necessary, until you are certain everyone is on the same page.
  5. Surround yourself with the best: We are measured by the company we keep. Expel people who are dishonest, have dodgy ethics or simply make you feel uncomfortable, from your inner circle. Don’t partner with other agents, home stagers, mortgage brokers, contractors, etc. that behave questionably, lest you be painted with the same brush. Don’t take on clients that seem dishonest, unethical or “weird”. They won’t be worth the lost sleep and headaches.
  6. Trust your “gut”: If you’re not sure if something is OK, or a client asks you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, or you wonder what might happen if you “get caught” – DON’T DO IT! We have “gut” instincts for a reason. It’s nature’s way of protecting us.
  7. Build trust with your clients and your community, and do everything necessary to maintain that trust. Lose a job, turn down a client, quit, if you have to, but maintain your personal integrity.
  8. Keep up on new technology and continuing education: You can take classes in a classroom, go to a seminar, take classes on-line, hire an expert to help you or subscribe to various blogs and groups, but don’t ever close the door to learning as much as possible about tools, technology or methods for doing your job better and more efficiently. I spend at least one hour per day reading blogs from various disciplines (technology, law, finance, art and, yes, real estate) to “keep my tools sharp”.
  9. Always be prepared: We can’t be prepared for every eventuality, but there are many we can and should be prepared for. I think ahead  (if I could underline that twice I would!) and try to figure out all the things that might go wrong or surprise me, and then I try to be prepared.
  10. The greater your effort the greater your chances of success: I have a plan and goals and I work my plan every day (well, almost). I work hard, try to work consistently and make sure my efforts are heading me in the right direction.
  11. Believe that you earn success: I believe that I deserve success, I work hard for it and I earn it. Even when I am not so successful, I believe that I deserve to be successful. If you don’t believe you deserve success – not just want it, but really deserve it – you will always manage to sabotage your success.
  12. Be kind, be respectful, be helpful and behave professionally: You may not always get every job or listing by being kind, respectful and helpful, but you will earn the respect of your peers and clients and your reputation will grow accordingly. Behave professionally, because you never know who’s sees what your doing, reads what you’re posting to Facebook or where your next client will come from.

Follow these 12 easy steps to become the real estate success you know you deserve to be!

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Twelve Expert Tips to Make Your Small Home Appear Larger

As a professional house stager in Pasadena and Los Angeles, one of my primary jobs is to make smaller homes feel larger, or at least, feel as large as they really are.

Small livingroom made to look larger with correct furniture



Here’s a list of my tips for making a small home feel larger. You can use these tips whether you are staging a home to sell or if you are planning to stay, but just need some help dealing with smaller rooms. These tips will work with either vacant or occupied homes:

  1. Pare down your furniture in a smaller spaces to the essentials. Do you really need a chair in your bedroom, or will your room appear larger with just the bed, the nightstands and maybe a dresser?
  2. Clutter makes a room feel smaller. Lots of smaller items, like your Hummel collection or your bowling trophies displayed on every horizontal surface, eat up visual space. Only display 3-5 items at a time. Store, sell or prepack the rest. You’re selling your home, not your collection of treasures. 
  3. Use fewer pieces of furniture. Its better to have one larger dresser than 2 smaller ones.
  4. Use appropriately sized furniture. Having a large sofa in a small family room will highlight how small the space is.
  5. Pull furniture away from the wall. Create a cozy sitting area in front of the fireplace, with room to move around the back of the furniture.
  6. Cooler colors recede, so painting a room a pale blue, green or gray will make it feel larger.
  7. Show more hardwood. The larger the expanse of hardwood, the larger the room will look. See how the room looks without an area rug. If your hardwood floors are hidden by wall to wall carpet, remove the carpet. Your home will feel instantly larger.
  8. Try using one larger area rug instead of several smaller rugs. Or if the room looks OK without it, don’t use any area rugs.
  9. Use fewer patterns on upholstery and bedding. For instance, use a solid color blanket or bedspread on a bed in a small bedroom to make it feel larger. Lighter colored bedding will make the room feel larger.
  10. Strategically placed mirrors make a room feel larger.
  11. A well lit room feels larger. Make sure every overhead light and table lamp is lit before open houses and showings.
  12. Minimize window treatments. The simpler the better. Shutters, blinds or simple drapes (no flounces, ruffles, strong patterns or complicated valences) take up less “visual space”.

These home staging tips work if you are staging to sell or just want to make the home you are living in feel larger.

If you need some help figuring out how to make your home feel larger, consider hiring us for a home staging consultation. You’ll get some easy-to-implement expert home staging and interior design tips. Prices start at $350 for a verbal consultation or $450 for a comprehensive written consultation. Its the best “bang for your buck” and it’s a great investment in preparing your home for sale, or making your home more livable if you are planning to stay.

If you’d like to schedule a home staging consultation or get an estimate for staging your home, call Moving Mountains Design, the Los Angeles home staging experts, at (626)385-8852

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Cost To Replace Kitchen Appliances When Selling A Home

I’m often asked how much it costs to replace kitchen appliances when recommended for selling a home.

On occassion, during the course of a home staging consultation, I recommend the homeowner replace some or all of their kitchen appliances as part of upgrading their home to ensure a faster sale at a higher price. The cost, while not pocket change, is usually minimal when compared to the cost of carrying the home for extra months while it sits unsold.

Los Angeles home buyers want a move in ready house.

Home buyers don’t want an allowance to make repairs, replace the carpet or buy new appliances. Excuse me for repeating myself: Home buyers want a move in ready house. Your list price will have to be considerably lower or your allowance considerably higher than the cost of actually replacing the appliances, replacing the carpet or doing repairs.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and an updated, attractive kitchen will help sell your home.

I did some research to find some very cost effective replacement appliance upgrade packages in Los Angeles. These costs come from advertising flyers in the Los Angeles Times and the Pasadena Star News. I don’t guarantee these prices. These prices may or may not be available when you go into the store to purchase them. If you shop around, you may get an even better price. And don’t forget to apply for your rebates from your electric company and natural gas utility. Many are offering rebates of $100 or more if you replace your old appliances with Energy Star appliances.

From Pacific Sales:

Whirlpool 4 piece Stainless Steel Upgrade Kitchen Package $2,199. with stainless steel refrigerator, dishwasher, 30″ range and over-the-range microwave.

Frigidare 4 piece Stainless Steel Upgrade Kitchen Package with Counter Depth Refrigerator $2,499. This includes a stainless steel 5 burner gas range, over-the-range microwave, dishwasher and counter-depth refrigerator.

According to the Pacific Sales advertising circular, the Whirlpool prices are “Before Additional Instant In-Store Savings”

From Warehouse Discount Center:

Unbranded 4 piece white appliance package $1,199.96 with dishwasher, 30″ range and over-the-range microwave.

Frigidare 4 piece Stainless Upgrade Kitchen Package $1,999.96. Refrigerator has ice and water in the door, dishwasher, 30″ range and over-the-range microwave.

You may be able to get free delivery, free installation and free recycling of your old appliance. Check store for details.

As you can see, for less than the cost of 1 monthly mortgage payment (for most homeowners) you can replace your kitchen appliances to give your kitchen a fresh new look.

If your home sells one month more quickly than if you hadn’t upgraded the appliances, it will be well worth the cost!




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+Michelle Minch