What does your online listing say about your house?

Ninety-nine per cent of all consumers begin their home shopping online. It is fair to say that online presence is paramount to push those potential buyers to want to see the property you are selling. I’d say as important as the curb appeal if not more. So what does the online presence have to convey to get people to want to see the property? The message to convey is “you need this place, its going to improve your life”. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful house do this. Get the professional photographer and stager into that house to create that magic that will lure in those online buyers. You need both stager and photographer as neither can unilaterally create the refined appearance for online shoppers. Let’s not forget those magazine photo shoots of rooms and of food.  Both the stylist and the photographer create the desire and have the skill to draw in the consumer.

Let’s not forget that the text in your listing materials must be enticing to the potential buyer. They need to know what it is about the house that makes it a “must see”. What is special about it? Using the punchy, action-packed words encourage excitement and desirability for buyers. Bad grammar and lacklustre descriptions are not encouraging and may disappoint potential buyers. Use all the character space you have available to explain why the house is a must see. Spelling mistakes are big turn-offs and also a reflection of the agent’s attention to detail.

The message here is to stage your online presence. Bump it up and command attention! Future home sellers will feel the added value when you tell them how you will create interest and market their biggest investment for success. In addition to the complimentary staging consultation, tech saavy Ottawans will welcome your value here too. Tell them why you stand out from the others. Show them.

Refined Rooms

Styling a room makes the image come alive for potential buyers looking online



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RESA Ottawa members meet Amanda Forrest

Fellow RESA Ottawa Chapter member Cindy Charbonneau wrote and provided permission for me to reproduce her blog post here.

Being a member of RESA (Real Estate Staging Association) always has it benefits. Some of the benefits are; connecting monthly with a dynamic group of professionals, sharing ideas and experiences and helping one another to troubleshoot on some pretty challenging bumps in the road that can arise in our exciting industry. One of the best benefits is acknowledging achievements and the group support we all give one another.

I have to say however, that having the opportunity to meet a celebrity from our own industry, adds a little something extra special:) I’m sure each of us, will always remember the experience with fondness and will have grown individually from the experience, as a result of everything Amanda Forrest shared with us that evening with such charm and grace.

RESA Real Estate Stagers Association meets Amanda Forrest

RESA Ottawa Members with Amanda Forrest

Introducing Amanda Forrest

For those of you who may not know Amanda, I would like to take a brief moment to introduce her to you. Amanda Forrest is a Nationally Recognized expert in home construction, design and lifestyle trends and is a expert designer on the Marilyn Denis Show. She is a devoted mother of seven children and a proud supporter of women entrepreneurs. You can see why, this was a great honour and privilege to attend such an event for our RESA members.

RESA - Real Estate Stagers Association meets Amanda Forrest

Style, Beauty and Success to describe a few of Amanda Forrest’s many traits!

Amanda’s Stage Presence

From the moment that Amanda walked onto the stage, she captivated your attention. She is beautiful, stylish and personable. Her friendly air, created a warm and inviting atmosphere that is relate able, so it was easy to stay focused and engage in questions and comments throughout the evening.

One of my favorite parts of Amanda’s entire presentation was the sharing of her own personal experience. We all can get information on interior design at the touch of a key with today’s technology, but to have the opportunity to listen to some of the struggles and obstacles that even someone in her caliber in the design industry have overcome,  can provide a renewed outlook that anything is achievable! You can not get that from reading a blog, watching it on TV or hearing it on the radio. It is in the presence of a person that evokes an emotion and from that, it is marked in your memory for years if not a lifetime.

I found this part invaluable really, because it almost answers some of your very own personal questions about how you are performing in ‘your‘ business. To feel that someone else has been there, done that and succeeded is such a relief and builds renewed strength to go out there and get it!

It wasn’t only her personal story that grabbed our attention, of course we gobbled up anything we could that she had to teach us. Like; Branding and Marketing your product and yourself, having a clear vision of where you want to go and having a positive impact on others and so much more! All such valuable insights in this very sensitive industry, as we are deeply involved in peoples personal lives.

A Quote Recited from Amanda

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique” – by Martha Graham

How poignant!

A Thank you Note to Amanda

In such a competitive industry as is the Home Staging and Interior Decorating industry, I think I speak for all of us when I say Thank You, for taking the time to meet us all in such an intimate way. To share your thoughts, vision, ideas and to provide us all with such valuable advice and, to tailor it in such a way that was fun, entertaining, engaging and knowledgeable is so greatly appreciated.

Kindest regards to you Amanda, I hope we  will have the honour to meet again.

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Staging your Snowy Exterior

RefinedRooms-Inukshuk&BasketMy last post was about decorating your house when you are selling it during the holidays. This blog post is about how to best dress the exterior of your house after the holiday season but still during the white and cold wintery months.

I always like the lifestyle method of staging. In most of Canada that’s a gift at this time of year because our climate is especially wonderful for winter activities. Of course we love our warmth after those activities and you can definitely play up that ambience when staging your interior. We want to have people to feel that your home or their precious home-to-be provides that warmth to combat the coolness but those staging “how-tos” will be for a future blog.

You should not overlook your exterior as a great place to showcase a lifestyle your home can provide even if it was not used that way by you. Staging or showcasing is marketing. Every home can be a winter wonderland to show potential buyers that they can have it too. Show off the areas around the house namely the back, front and side yards with hints of lifestyle potential.

Start by clearing away snow in larger areas, not just a small walking path but clear the deck and areas where two people can walk beside each other. Pathways can lead to inviting destinations like a sitting area surrounding a portable fire place or under a nice pergola. Even if you have your metal canopy frame still up from the hotter months it does provide architecture and looks interesting with snow on it.

Add bird feeders and attractions for squirrels to your yard. Light these destinations with patio lights. Yes hanging white Christmas lights on a pergola is great but don’t have the house trimmed with Christmas lights those should be off now. Flood lights work really well to highlight a beautiful tree in the back yard or pointing to that destination area after dark.

Create glimpses of what your location has available nearby. Do you have access to skiing or a toboggan area? Skis against a wall of the house or by a back or side door, or a beautiful wooden toboggan leaned up against the deck are great ideas to convey this lifestyle and local attractions. These subtle visions create emotional responses or triggers. These are the things I’d turn to. Have benches or Adirondack chairs around the portable fire place. How nice it will look to those potential buyers? Well the first thing they will think is that it is an added bonus for the property to have all that area usable during the cold months.

Add some whimsy! I’ve seen pictures of winter clothing stuffed with snow and think it is brilliant! And what fun that would be to make!

For the front, keep it very simple. Clear walking paths to the front door, two people wide with nice neat edges are esthetically pleasing. How about a snow man strategically placed on the front lawn? Light it up for the dark evenings. A new and larger exterior door mat for each of your entries is a great touch. A wintery wreath for the front door is great but don’t hang onto that Christmas one as its time is over now. I’d hide away any shovels and salt as they aren’t so nice to have greet visitors at the door.

Other must dos:

  • At dusk, turn on the exterior lights and keep them on until midnight. Potential buyers will drive by to scout things out until late into the evening; you want your house to be seen easily and to stand out from the others.
  • Re-photograph your exterior pictures as the season changes. If you had pictures taken at Christmas time for marketing purposes, it’s time to refresh those with new ones after creating this new environment.  Don’t skip this, it’s very important.
  • After shoveling steps, etc. take a stiff-bristled broom to the surfaces as this will uncover the beauty of your walkway and entrance.  These are all selling features and worth working to your advantage especially during our snowy times!
  • Clean and neatly shoveled driveways are a must.  Make it so that it is easy to drive and walk on and not a slushy mess.  Can visitors walk by a parked car easily?  We don’t want it to be difficult. Nice, clear and clean looking is key.

Finally, walk around the neighbourhood and seek out ideas and judge your curb appeal against others. Look at your house from across the street and from both the left and the right sides. Are your lights bright enough? What if you put the upper interior lights on? Ask these questions, be objective and know that this stuff works when you are selling your biggest asset.

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Decorating tips for selling your home over the holidays

There are a few things to consider when selling your house over the holidays and an important one is whether to decorate or not. How to do it successfully when you may have showings is another key consideration. There is a staging solution that works well for sellers and potential buyers but the difficulty is how to make it happen while carrying out all the celebratory tasks already on the agenda.

Get a staging consultation done to find out what is needed to make your house competitive with others on the market. The costs vary and so it is important to match your staging needs with what your stager will do. A simple discussion with a stager can help you determine what your needs are so engage in the conversation. You may not be fully aware of what home stagers can do to successfully meet your requirements. Ottawa’s best stagers are listed on www.resaottawa.org.

Once the list of things to do is prepared for you, determine what you can or want to do and what your stager can take care of. Some stagers have a wealth of resources and excellent project management skills.

Have professional photos taken once work is complete. Have your stager recommend the photographer and do it when the house is at its best. This gives your photos longevity during January and February when the holidays are over. Christmas decorated house photos are a big negative for marketing online and in printed materials.

After the professional photos are taken, decorate for the season lightly and simply. Keep in mind that you might want to remove some furniture if your rooms look too crowded because of the location of a Christmas tree. Your room will look much better to potential buyers and keep them looking at the key selling parts of your rooms, not what is on or under the tree.

Move out all wrapping and boxes after opening gifts. Don’t pile new treasures under the tree but put gifts away. Purchase a tree skirt in one colour to hide your tree stand to make it esthetically more pleasing. Do you want your stager to do your decorating too? There are some that will also do this for you.

Other tips to help you be ready for showing calls at this time of year:
•Hide away storage containers that contain baking and cooking from countertops
•Hide away gift wrapping materials that take up space and look cluttered
•Wash and put away all kitchen dishes
•Keep your entry clean and boot free
•After January 1st remove all your Christmas décor including the outside lights, etc.
•Update the wreath on your door to be more “wintery” rather than “holiday”
•Keep your driveway and walkway and steps clear of snow and slip free.

Refined Rooms Sofa/Coffee Table pictureKim Dingwall, aka The Stittsville Stager, can be reached at 613-862-7585 and kim@refinedrooms.ca.

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Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my blog. I am a certified Real Estate Stager and communications professional.  I am also a mother, wife, and sister.  I love houses.  Always have.  I am thrilled to have a career so closely associated with this passion of mine.  I chose to make this career a reality and have many people to thank for this, mostly my husband.  Friends and family have been very supportive and continue to inspire me.

I sometimes think that I had to make a company to rationalize my passion for collecting furnishings and accessories and justify why I keep buying them.  It is all legitimate now.  Right? I think so.  It works for me.  My company, Refined Rooms has been around since 2009.

I will ramble about my passions here.  It won’t only be about staging but about house stuff. I think House Home Haven is an appropriate name for this blog.

I will learn about blogging and wordpress as I go and hope to make it nicer looking than it is right now.  I maintain my Refined Rooms website and rely on my insanely talented son for graphic support and web design.  It will take time to get this blog the way I like it.  I will move things around and create new parts much like I do when I am staging and decorating.  It is fun and the result can be spectacular and very rewarding.  Thanks for reading.  Comments always welcome, sharing is encouraged!  Now, how do I put those sharing links in?

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