To Paint or Not to Paint? How Home Sellers Can Optimize Interior Wall Color

Using color throughout a home can be expressive, creative and hold cultural significance. But what happens to that level of personalization when it’s time to sell?

According to Jeannie Do, homeowners preparing a property to sell need to look past their own emotional connection to color and focus on what changes – like a fresh coat of paint – can elevate their home’s overall aesthetic, appeal to buyers, and potentially increase ROI.

Do, an agent and member of the International Group with RE/MAX Professionals in Lakewood, Colorado, holds a BFA degree in Interior Design and spent 10 years designing luxury homes and commercial spaces. Through projects as intimate as renovating a mid-century modern home and as sizable as designing NFL stadiums, Do has developed a keen eye for the role color plays in creating an experiential space and the impact it has on consumers.

Do shares what sellers should – and should not – change up when it comes to their home’s interior paint colors, and what shades serve best as a visual template for prospective buyers.

Reconsidering bright colors

Colors used to express oneself, Do believes, can oftentimes be a reflection of their personality, mindset and values. Working with clients from all around the world, including countries like Morocco, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico and more, Do regularly sees the tie between home color and culture.

“As a member of the International Group with RE/MAX Professionals, we work with a lot of Asian clientele and in many Asian households, you may see the color red because it represents good fortune and is very auspicious,” she explains. “Red is a color of high energy and I think that can relate to the dynamic of Asian families who cherish their extended family and host lively gatherings all together.”

She continues, “That said, red is typically a color we would avoid in home staging because it’s seen as a statement color.”

Many home stagers agree that while color is a great way to be expressive while living in a space, it’s often best to eliminate brighter shades when preparing a home to sell in order to appeal to more buyers.

“When it’s time to sell, you should aim to remove yourself from the house and make it a blank slate – almost like an art gallery,” Do says. “Galleries usually have white walls because it allows the art to shine without making an impression on it. I tell my clients to approach their own homes in the same way – you need to set your house up as the neutral gallery for the buyer to see as their next piece of art.”

Aligning with trends

While neutral paint colors are typically timeless, Do shares that there can be a place for brighter colors to stay up or be added in when preparing a home to sell. If the seller’s goal is to match their home with current design trends, like today’s buzz around mid-century modern style, for example, then in-theme colors may be embraced by prospective buyers.

“Right now, the rich jewel tones are on trend, like hunter greens, deep blues and mustard yellows. If they’re implemented in a design-forward way that could appeal to the current buying market, I would say to leave it up on the walls and carefully curate the space around it,” she says.

Do warns that some wall colors, on the other hand, can actually date a home.

“Color doesn’t necessarily always have to go. But if we’re seeing those dark brown or rich red hues from the early 2000s, it may do a disservice to the overall aesthetic of your home. In these cases, I definitely recommend changing it to a color that’s more neutral,” Do advises.

Homes vary in size, have unique layouts and receive different quantities of natural light, thus requiring different shades and undertones of paint even within one color family. That said, Do often finds herself suggesting the colors Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore, a neutral-toned white, and Pure White by Sherwin Williams, a creamier tone, to her clients as safe bets for creating a gallery-like effect.

Consumer preferences also have a longstanding history of mirroring societal trends. While cooler grays were preferred for a period of time, warmer neutrals are rising in popularity.

“Because of the change in lifestyle due to COVID-19 in the last couple of years, people are actually starting to favor warmer tones for their mood-boosting and comforting effects. It’s all about psychology,” she explains. “Because people are so uncertain about what’s happening in the world, they want to come home to a place that makes them feel safe.”

Creating a synchronized space

Wall color surely sets a backdrop. But the rest of the elements within a home’s interior have to align to create a space that buyers can envision themselves and their families living in.

“Your furniture and décor pieces have to be cohesive with the wall color. If you have really modern furniture but dated wall colors, the interior can feel disconnected,” Do says. “It’s much harder for buyers to picture how they would personalize, furnish and decorate the home when it doesn’t feel natural.”

Do understands that for many, it’s not in budget to make big changes to a home before hitting the market. In addition to decluttering the space, she shares a few other tricks for staging just with existing items within the home.

“Lighting and window treatments are a relatively easy way to elevate a space. It can even be as simple as moving your curtains all the way up to the ceiling to visually elongate the walls and make the ceiling seem higher,” she explains. “Bring in as much natural light as you can. In smaller spaces, consider swapping out heavier curtains for ones that are sheer to really optimize sunlight.”

A qualified seller’s agent will have insight on the local housing market, have seen comparable properties, and can provide further suggestions to help prep a home to sell.

“When it’s time to sell, just keep in mind that you’re trying to appeal to others’ taste, not your own. Getting rid of personalization and loud wall colors can help the process move along much smoother and attract more buyers along the way,” Do says.

Hot Home Trend: Paint it Black

Black is popping up everywhere in home design, from flooring to windows. Black feature walls also are trending. Matte black finishes have become popular choices for hardware, decor, and finishes.

Take a look at some of the latest trends:

Faucets and Fixtures

Matte black finishes are mostly found in kitchens and bathrooms, often up against a white background for a high-contrast look. It’s being used in both modern and more traditional spaces. Matte black is an easy-to-maintain finish: No need to polish!

Also, matte black is increasingly appearing against brass for an even trendier look, which you can get in one fixture. Kohler is now offering a faucet that is half brass and half matted black—two finishes in one.

Black-Framed Windows

Windows are coming to the forefront. A black window trim can add an industrial look to a space.

Black Accent Walls

Few paint jobs are bolder than painting a wall black. But up against lighter colors, a black feature wall could provide drama to liven up your space.

Black Doors

A black front door can add some luxury to a home’s curb appeal. Black doors on white homes create a trendy farmhouse style, but the look can work on other home styles, too.

Source: Realtor® Magazine

How Important is Curb Appeal When Selling a Home?

The exterior of a home can help prospective buyers determine if they’d like to head inside – or run in the opposite direction.

The old adage “never judge a book by its cover” is an important one. But the truth is, first impressions are hard to recreate – especially when it comes to house hunting.

According to a RE/MAX Twitter Poll, a majority of responders – 46.2% – agree that a shabby exterior is the biggest turn-off when touring homes.

Here’s why curb appeal may be critical to selling a home:

Exteriors reflect interiors

Curb appeal is the external appearance of a home, comprised of landscaping, painting, staging and overall aesthetic.

Acting as a hint of what’s to come, the exterior of a home speaks volumes to its interior in terms of maintenance and style. If the outside displays the wear and tear of a home, homebuyers may never open the front door to see if the inside is in sync or not. Even if the kitchen has been renovated with stainless steel appliances or the floors received an upgrade to hardwood, unpleasant or outdated curb appeal will have certain buyers passing by the listing before peeking inside.

When a home has an unkempt exterior – think dead grass, chipped paint or overgrown weeds – prospective buyers could assume the inside needs repairs, too.

According to Torrence Ford, a real estate agent and owner of RE/MAX Premier in Georgia, “move-up buyers” – those upgrading from their current home – set much higher standards for a home’s exterior presentation than first-time homebuyers in today’s market.

“First-time homebuyers just want to lock down a house. A move-up buyer, however, will be more affected by curb appeal and consider it alongside their lifestyle,” he says.

And it’s not just the prospective buyer that forms an impression when looking at the house from the outside. Ford says that appraisers, inspectors and real estate agents likely are also taking a home’s curb appeal into account.

Listing photos (almost always) open with exterior shots

The assessment of curb appeal begins long before buyers arrive on site for a showing.

According to the RE/MAX Future of Real Estate Report, 94% of North Americans searching for properties are doing so online, allowing for them to view a larger quantity of properties in a shorter period of time, even on the go. With photos becoming the catalyst for a buyer’s initial impression, many online browsers could skip over a listing due to an unsightly appearance from a quick snapshot. Plus, staging eye-catching steps, a stoop or a porch adds trendy detail or color, creating more compelling shots for a photographer.

Money talks: Curb appeal could add to overall value

According to REALTOR® Magazine, a study revealed that homes with an appealing exterior sell, on average, for 7% more than comparable homes with a rundown appearance.

In his experience, Ford believes that buyers are more likely to write a higher offer when the entirety of the property feels well cared for. Each small detail that impresses buyers will count toward their overall impression of the home’s worth.

Revamping the front yard and home exterior also increases the value of the neighborhood and surrounding area.

“It has a domino effect. It leaves a lasting impact on the longevity of the neighborhood,” Ford says. “Work on curb appeal and the neighbors will start jumping in, too. When one neighbor starts making upgrades, everybody else tends to want to clean up their property, whether it’s with painting, replacing the roof or even just mowing the lawn.”

So, where to start?

The most important aspect of curb appeal is to ensure the exterior is cleaned up even before sinking money into improvements. This is as simple as mowing the lawn, trimming shrubbery, pulling weeds and eliminating miscellaneous items or garbage.

Creating inviting ambience goes beyond yard care. Sellers can consider adding a number of inexpensive finishing touches, like potted plants or flowers, a new welcome mat, new light fixtures or patio furniture staged on the front porch. Though minor, these accents can help a prospective buyer envision coming home to the space.

“[When updating a home], we will replace shrubbery, repaint the front door, and repaint the house’s foundation so the landscape has a clean backdrop,” Ford says.

He adds that implementing new house numbers, like swapping small, cursive numbers for larger contemporary ones, can help older properties get a quick and easy revitalization.

Sellers may also consider a fresh coat of paint on the home’s exterior, a newly paved driveway or a new roof if its rusty or damaged.

“Curb appeal makes all the difference,” Ford says.

5 Ways to Make Your Pet Dog More Comfortable When Moving

Moving homes means big changes for everyone – including your furry friends. Here’s how to help dogs prepare.

As loyal members of the family, pet dogs play an important role in making any house feel like a home. But dogs are creatures of habit and may feel disoriented (nose out of joint, if you will) when it’s time to relocate or move to a new home.

While they may not help pack boxes or load the car, you can still appreciate your beloved furry friends accompanying you on the journey. Here’s how to make your pup more comfortable during the big move.

1. Contact the vet before you go

Pay a visit to your local veterinarian before moving,especially if your travel plans require a long car ride or taking an airplane. They may have tips and tricks for calming nerves during travel and can also provide you with updated copies of medical forms for your dog.

2. Pack their comfort items

Finding familiarity is key in brand-new surroundings. Make sure to bring along your pup’s favorite toys, blanket that lines their crate or go-to dog bed. These security items hold the scent of a place they are used to.

When you reach your new home, create a safe space right away – whether that’s a crate or just a cozy nook – that your dog understands is their zone for relaxing.

3. Update I.D. methods

It’s critical that you update important information like your address and phone number on your dog’s metal tag. If your dog is micro-chipped, make sure to update your contact info in the database system. Your dog may try to do some unwanted exploring – so if they do escape from a new yard, an updated address will help them get home safely.

4. Stick to their typical food

Sometimes, too many changes at once can lead to anyone not feeling their best. With new surroundings and so much unfamiliarity, make sure to bring along your pup’s normal food to not throw off their stomachs as they undergo stress. Plus, this will help ensure your new space remains accident-free (hopefully!).

5. Create routine from the start

For many people and dogs alike, routine is grounding. Even amid a busy move, try to stick to your dog’s regular schedule, like the time of day they eat and when they get their exercise. Taking a break from moving to walk the dog might even help clear your head, too.

Before moving day, take time to get acquainted with a map of your new neighborhood and look up parks and walking areas nearby. Once you’ve arrived at your new home, a neighbor may know of the best local dog-friendly spots.

5 Indoor House Plants to Consider for Your Staging

Plants can help brighten indoor spaces and may offer other mental and physical health benefits. As such, it’s no surprise indoor plants are one of the favorite accessories of home stagers.

Research has linked indoor plants with reduced stress, increased productivity, and improved quality for the home’s air. Some of the most effective house plants to improve the air quality are areca palms, Boston ferns, rubber trees, spider plants, and ficus tree, studies show.

What are some hardy plants to consider using to spice up your listings with more green? A recent article by Kathryn Jackson Fallon at juniperunltd.com highlights some of the following indoor plants:

  • Norfolk Island pine
  • Cast iron plant
  • Snake plant (known as a nearly indestructible houseplant)
  • Cacti
  • Boxwood

[Source: REALTOR® Magazine]

Housing Experts Expect Post-Pandemic Rebound

Spokane-Spokane Valley is expected to be a “top 10” market during and in a post-COVID environment, according to the National Association of Realtors®, which made the prediction as part of last month’s second annual Real Estate Forecast Summit. It was the only area within Washington state to make the list.

In addition to demonstrated resilience, NAR considered a variety of indicators deemed to be influential for a metro area’s recovery and growth prospects. The factors for the “top 10” list included unemployment rate; net domestic migration, including movers from expensive West Coast areas; share of workers in retail trade, leisure and hospitality industries; mobility to retail and leisure places; and the fraction of the workforce working from home.

“Some markets have been performing exceptionally well throughout the pandemic and they’ll likely carry that momentum well into 2021 and beyond because of strong in-migration of new residents, faster local job market recoveries and environments conducive to work-from-home arrangements and other factors,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist and senior vice president of research.

Housing experts tended to be optimistic about a post-pandemic rebound, citing improving conditions for jobs and stable interest rates as key reasons.

More than 20 leading economic and housing experts participated in the summit, which was held virtually. Among their predictions they expect GDP growth of 3.5% and an annual unemployment rate of 6.2% this year. The forecasters believe the unemployment rate will decline to 5.0% in 2022.

Yun said another 9.8 million more jobs are needed to match the prior peak.

Housing prices are expected to rise 8.0% during 2021 and 5.5% the following year, while 30-year fixed mortgage rates are projected to be 3.0% this year and increase to 3.25% in 2022.

The panels of prognosticators also anticipate:

  • Housing starts will total 1.5 million this year and 1.59 million in 2022.
  • The share of U.S. workforce working from home will shrink from 21% in 2020 to 18% this year; by 2022, it is expected to shrink to 12%.
  • Small declines in office and hotel vacancy rates in 2021, but a slight improvement in retail vacancies.

An overwhelming 90% of the experts surveyed expect the Federal Open Market Committee will make no change in the current federal funds rate of 0% during 2021. For 2022, a rate increase of 0.25% is predicted.

“It is an understatement to say the year 2020 has been filled with challenges and full of surprises,” said Yun. “Yet, one astonishing development has been the hot housing market as consumers eyed record-low mortgage rates and reconsidered what a home should be in a new economy with flexible work-from-home schedules.”

In his presentation, Yun said the months supply of inventory is at an all-time low.

In 2020, home sales will reach 5.52 million, the highest annual mark since 2006, with the median home price setting a record high of $293,000, according to NAR.

“Overall, residential real estate will continue to be an important driver of our nation’s economic recovery and the activity in these markets will help lead the way,” stated NAR President Charlie Oppler, a Realtor® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty.

The 2020 NAR Real Estate Forecast Summit consensus forecasts are compiled as the median of the responses of 23 economic and housing market experts who participated during the 2019 and 2020 summits. The survey was conducted from November 19 through December 4, 2020.

[Source: Seattle King County REALTORS® NW Reporter]

6 Common Mistakes Made When Selling a Home, and How to Avoid Them

Selling a home can be a complex process. To keep it hassle-free from for-sale to sold, consider these common mistakes people make when selling their homes – and avoid making them yourself.

1. Skimping on necessary repairs

Some sellers ignore major repairs in hopes of closing the sale before anyone notices. However, if the home inspector catches detrimental damage, it will likely halt the sale until repair – or an agreement – can be made.

To save yourself the hassle and to streamline the selling process, assess any serious repairs before listing your home. It may feel unnecessary to repair a home you’re soon to leave, but it could help you pass inspection – and possibly get top dollar – on your property.

2. Not prepping the house for showings

Your home is bound to be filled with mementos, photographs, kitchen magnets and all of the wonderful details that make it unique to you. But an important part of preparing your home for showings is to minimize knick-knacks.

To do so, store away any clutter that would distract an interested homebuyer when they enter a room or open a closet or cabinet. Tidy up all surfaces, including bookshelves, end tables and kitchen countertops. By cleaning up messes, you’ll help rooms appear larger, so buyers will be able to envision their own belongings in the space.

Don’t forget about curb appeal. Buyers will likely form an opinion of your home before they enter the front door. When you clean and stage the interior of the home, head outside and give a bit of TLC to the exterior too. Depending on the season, this could include anything from weeding mulch beds, putting out planters or touching up chipped paint on the house’s exterior.

3. Using inadequate listing photos

Listing photos can make all the difference when attracting homebuyers who begin the homebuying process online. Digital listings for even the most magnificent of homes will receive far fewer clicks if they aren’t presented with high-quality photos.

For example, photos with ample lighting can help a room appear spacious. As mentioned above, prepping the home before listing it for sale by cleaning and decorating helps ensure that photos capture each room looking polished and sophisticated.

4. Listing it FSBO

Sellers who list their homes for sale by owner, otherwise known as FSBO, could face major setbacks along the way and may even end up receiving significantly less money in return. In order to ensure the sale is legally sound, and that you’re receiving competitive offers, it’s important to hire a real estate agent.

As your representative in the sale, a real estate agent will offer guidance and make sure the process goes smoothly. Qualified agents dedicate their lives to helping people navigate the buying or selling process – so why attempt it alone?

5. Setting an inflated price

Be realistic and timely when setting an initial listing price. Read up on your local housing market to learn the current trends of buyers and sellers. For example, selling in a seller’s market may mean that you list your home for sale at a higher price to account for the increased demand.

Hiring a real estate agent, who can help guide you to a fair listing price, can be critical. Sometimes, setting a price that is disproportionate to the value of the property means that the home will sit on the market for days on end. Accordingly, buyers who see a home sitting on the market endlessly without any movement may question the integrity of the home.

6. Underestimating costs associated with the process

Before your home hits the market, make sure you’re aware of the costs associated with the process. While your initial investment may be some routine repair, staging and professional listing photos, bear in mind that, as the sale progresses, you’ll typically be paying for closing costs, moving expenses and fees associated with hiring a real estate agent.

Consider these costs to be investments. The return is when you receive higher value back on your home due to how it was presented to interested buyers or how it was represented by an experienced real estate professional. That said, make sure to budget for these costs in advance to avoid any surprises.

4 Features Fall Buyers Want in Prospective Homes

Over the past six months, the course of daily life has greatly changed and, with COVID-19 still present as autumn approaches, homebuyers’ desires have shifted accordingly.

Looking to sell your home? Here are a few features homebuyers are on the lookout for when they tour houses this fall. Consider giving these spaces extra love and attention when preparing to list a house for sale.

  1. Flexible spaces

Homes now function as office spaces and classrooms while still being the place to rest at the end of the day. Homebuyers are seeking interior layouts that can adapt to the changing times. Having multiple spaces to conduct business, take calls or complete classes – while a family member cooks in the kitchen – feels essential when multiple people are home during the day.

Desirable multipurpose spaces may include extra bedrooms – like having a guest room that can operate as a workspace – and finished basements.

  1. Energy-efficient features

With winter right around the corner, interested homebuyers are seeking energy-efficient features for a sustainable household. With so much more time being spent at home these days, people are likely to use resources like water and electricity more than ever.

Some in-demand features that help cut back utility bills include insulated windows, updated appliances and smart thermostats.

  1. Room to workout

Boutique fitness classes and destination gyms dominated the workout space. Since the onset of COVID-19, however, there is a resurgence in the demand for home gyms. And, even as some fitness studios have taken their classes to online platforms, people are rolling out yoga mats on their living room floors with no other place to find Zen.

When searching for homes this fall, interested buyers want a space to workout inside the house, especially with colder weather soon impeding on outdoor recreation.

  1. Extra storage

Pick up a new hobby in recent months? Most people are maxed out on storage space and are seeking even more room to store their new equipment. Increased closet space, attics and garages continue to be desired elements for those searching for a new home this fall.

4 Ways to Make a Small Space Feel Bigger

Square footage determines how big a home is, but painting, furnishings and decorating can affect how big a home feels. Looking to make a small space feel bigger? A few simple cosmetic changes can help.

Consider these four ways to make any small space in your home appear more spacious.

  1. Incorporate mirrors

Create the illusion of expansive walls with the addition of a mirror. This elegant touch can save a room from art-overload, which happens when too much pattern and color collide in a small space. A mirror also creates depth, which is always a plus.

Best of all, mirrors reflect natural light, potentially doubling the amount of sunlight streaming into the room. That alone will make the space feel bigger.

  1. Try lighter colors

Especially in small spaces, lightness means brightness. A fresh coat of light-colored paint in a cramped room creates an inviting atmosphere by mimicking natural light. For those who enjoy brighter colors, white walls are a fresh blank canvas for other elements.

If repainting needs to stay on the to-do list for the time being, try adding pops of light color on décor around the room. In a small living room, for example, give the sofa a makeover with white linen throw pillows and a neutral throw blanket – or opt for other quick fixes like bright new lampshades.

  1. Streamline furniture

If you’re looking to make a bigger change to a small space, reconsider the size of the current furniture. When every piece is chunky, a room tends to look crowded. A few sleek pieces of furniture will open up floor space and let you showcase larger items like an heirloom hutch or statement coffee table. Aim to make your furniture proportionate to the size of the room.

Also, don’t underestimate the impact of window accessories. Long drapes are popular for making ceilings look higher – hang them well above the window frame to show-off the full length of the wall. Sometimes, simply replacing old, heavy curtains with unobtrusive shades can make a major difference.

  1. Get rid of clutter

While purging clutter around the house benefits your well-being in multiple ways, it also makes your rooms appear bigger and less stuffy. Go minimalist and simplify surfaces like walls, bookshelves and end tables, reserving those areas for a select few favorite pieces.

In the end, making a small space feel bigger is mostly about the balance between personal flair and a clean, uncluttered ambiance.

Home Furnishings Trend: Brass is Back

After years of chrome, stainless steel, and nickel being the shining stars of interior metals, brass is back and starting to steal the show.

As with many home furnishings trends, the comeback was inspired by what’s occurring in fashion. In this case, gold and rose gold watches became influencers a few years ago, says Chicago designer Tom Segal of Kaufman Segal Design, who thinks that home furnishings styles tend to be cyclical. Now he’s adding small brass details to rooms in the same way a gold watch might peek out of a shirt cuff.

Using brass now is an easy, affordable way for homeowners to customize and stay on trend.  “Many people want a warmer look, which is also visible in fabrics as warmer colors return,” Segal says.

Erin Imhof, showroom supervisor at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Lansdale, Pa., has noted an increase in brass finishes. She attributes it to how they complement a wide range of colors and other finishes. “Many of today’s top color trends for kitchens and bathrooms, including all-white, blue, and black, pair beautifully with brass fixtures,” she says.

Others concur that brass is a universal mixer. “Our designers like to integrate brass into their designs, whether it’s an accent like a decorative bowl, object of art, light fixture, or metal base on an end table,” says Julie Sprouse, design sales manager at Ethan Allen, the home furnishings chain based in Danbury, Conn.

Caitie Smithe, a design coordinator and stylist at the Walter E. Smithe Furniture + Design retailer based in Itasca, Ill., also considers brass a material that can be used throughout a home, including light fixtures, hardware, and even light switches and vent controls. Other good places to use brass include bathroom hardware, plumbing fixtures such as sinks, and accessory details like candleholders or picture frames.

Here are five tips for using brass that you can pass on to your clients.

1. Use sparingly. Brass works best when used in small doses. Too much can create a “too matchy-matchy” look, according to Smithe. Overuse can make it start to look cheap, says Segal. “Moderation is key,” he says.

2. Mix finishes. Brass appears more timeless rather than trendy when it’s matte, brushed, or aged, which helps soften its sheen, Segal says. But be careful, Smithe says, when mixing brasses in a single space from different manufacturers. “There is a huge range in color and brightness. Some take on a bright yellow color while others can be more of an aged gold,” she says.

3. Combine warm metal colors. Brass, gold, and bronze can work well together since they share similar warm values versus shiny nickel, which leans toward the colder side, says Sprouse.

4. Mix metals. Some designers also think brass, satin, brushed nickel, stainless steel, and oil-rubbed bronze can be used together. But Imhoff still offers some caution. “Go with similar warm, muted undertones for some consistency,” she says. Chicago designer Summer Thornton likes mixing metals, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms where she might use brass, nickel, and steel combinations.

5. Consider longevity. How long brass will stay fashionable is unknown. When it becomes too ubiquitous in retail stores, shelter magazines, and on design websites, it may be time to move on. The good news is that brass touches are easy to add in and switch out.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine