Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pool party! Can I come?

Summer is just about here. Do you live in a neighborhood where some folks have pools and others don't?Have you ever felt awkward about that? Should you ask to go swimming? You've told your neighbors to come over whenever they want - but they don't.

Here is the solution if you are the one with the pool. Have a flag in your pool area. If the flag is up anyone is welcome to come over. If the flag is not flying then it is just family time right now. Tell the neighbors your code.They will not feel like they are intruding and you know you'll not have visitors when you want private family time.

If you don't want to put up a flag, try a bright large towel over the fence or some other signal. Have a fun and safe summer.

Oh yeah, If I see your flag - we'll be right over!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Getting out of the dog-house

A few weeks ago I successfully navigated out of the proverbial doghouse. My dear sweet husband was not going to be too happy with me but a local company helped me out. Here is the letter I sent to that company because it is so important to praise people and businesses that do a good job. Here is the letter to a car wash/detail company called Delta Sonic in my area:

I want to tell you a good story about your wonderful company...

My dear husband is an absolute car fanatic. He has never been to a Delta Sonic because "nobody can clean and detail like I do" Our vehicles are always in a just-washed and just-vacuumed condition.

I am an interior decorator and was going to a job site with my professional painter. When we arrived at the client's home we saw that a full gallon of paint primer spilled in the back of my vehicle!

Thinking quickly - with a slight panic around the edges - I drove to the nearest Delta Sonic.

Your employees were wonderful. They worked and worked on the paint spill until it was completely gone. It looked spectacular. It looked so good I probably didn't even have to tell my husband but the very slight chemical smell gave it away.

My dear husband's next question "how much did it cost to get it cleaned?" (he is extremely frugal too).

When I showed him the less-than-$30-bill he was very pleasantly surprised.

And I did not have to sleep on the couch!

Thank you Delta Sonic!!!!


Have you praised or thanked a company lately? I am sure they would love to hear from you!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

35 Secrets to Selling

Just want to let you know there is an HGTV special coming up.

Designed to Sell Top 35 Selling SecretsAll three Designed to Sell teams -- from Los Angeles, Chicago and D.C. -- have put their combined heads together and come up with their top 35 ideas for bringing in top dollar from a house sale.

Get real estate advice, design-savvy tips and handyman secrets that any seller can use to boost the bottom line.

Sunday May 20 9:00 PM ET/PT HGTV

If you miss that one it is being repeated:

May 21 at 1:00 AM and June 03 at 5 PM HGTV

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How not to sell a house - 3 strikes

Last week I was hired by a family because their house was not selling and they did not know why. The family was being relocated and the house needed to be sold as soon as possible. It was a very nice newer house in a popular development.

I quickly found three major problems that made it difficult to sell.

1.There was very little furniture in the house.

Because the family was being relocated out of state, they had moved much of the furniture to their new house. The first problem with this home is the first room you saw upon entering was an empty dining room. As you know first impression are so critical to selling a house - an empty room was not a good first impression. I could count on one hand the rest of the furniture and accessories in the first couple rooms. This leaves the potential buyers feeling cold and it lacks an inviting feeling.

Solution: They absolutely need to rent a dining room table and chairs. They also need a few more accessories to make the house feel like a home.

2. Wallpaper covered just about every wall in that house.

All the bedrooms had wallpapers. All the halls had wallpaper. Each bathroom had wallpaper. It just went on and on. The problem with wallpaper is that it is very taste-specific. Most people will not have your exact taste nor have furnishings that will match the wallpaper you picked out. The other problem with wallpaper is most people know what a pain-in-the-neck it is to remove. As potential buyers view that house they think "this will be a lot of work to make it our own".

Solution: Wallpaper in the major rooms need to be removed and fresh coat of paint applied to the walls. Priority of wallpaper removal is florals. Tackle those first. If the wallpaper is a soft neutral solid color - those walls are lower on the list. In this house what compounded the problem was there was so little furniture that you noticed the 1990's wallpaper even more because there was nothing else to look at.

3. The house had a distinctive smell.

The family was Indian and cooked Indian food regularly. I could clearly smell cooking odors. If I was being invited to dinner that would be great but many potential buyers don't want to smell other people's cooking no matter what type of food it is. The house looked very clean so the smell is probably in the carpet and curtains.

Solution: This is a tricky one because this food is their regular diet otherwise I would have told them to refrain from cooking spicy foods until the house is sold. Here are some tips: cook with the windows open as much as possible, clean up immediately after cooking to not let the smells linger, have the carpets cleaned prior to an open house, and dine out as much as you can. Most importantly - get an ozone machine that will eat up odors and keep it on all the time.

Now can you see why this house was not selling like it should? With little furniture, tons of wallpaper and distinctive smell - it had three strikes against it. But it all can be taken care of. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The fastest way to sell your house

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of being interviewed by a reporter from the Denver Post. Here is the article:

The fastest way to sell your house
By Sheba R. Wheeler Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 04/17/2007 05:12:53 PM MDT

Staging enables a house to look its best for potential buyers.
(photo credit, Julie Dana,
The best way to get your house sold fast is to make it simple for buyers to imagine themselves living there. "Staging" makes that happen by capitalizing on a home's best features.
Accredited staging professional Julie Dana explains its benefits in her new book co-written with Marcia Layton Turner, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell" (Alpha Books, $18.95).

Here, Dana shares a few words of wisdom.

Q: Do "staged" homes sell faster than non-staged homes?

A: It varies across the nation, but the latest figures ... say it cuts your house's time on the market by 50 percent. The average increase in selling price for a staged home versus a nonstaged one is 6.9 percent.
Staged homes are more appealing to a wider range of people, and they are market-ready. When it comes to nonstaged homes, what you see is what you get. Usually these houses are just plain dirty. They are so cluttered that you can't appreciate what the house has to offer. Thirdly, the decorating is very distracting. People can't imagine themselves living in the house because it's not their personal style.

Q: What common changes are made to a staged home?

A: I usually request (that) clients remove wallpaper, which is very taste specific, and labor intensive. People know it's not a fun job to remove it, so they won't buy a house with it.
In 50 percent of homes I complete, I take out all the curtains. People tend to have their windows covered up with big, old ugly curtains that are out of style and out of date and end up blocking most of the light. Pulling those curtains way back or taking them off can make a room feel bigger and brighter.

If a child's room is painted with pinks and purples for a girl or a sport's theme for a boy, I tone that down. The statistics show that 80 percent of people cannot visualize the potential of a house and only 20 percent can. That means only a few have the ability to see a house as theirs if they changed the style or made a couple of tweaks. Most can't see beyond what's directly in front of them. Aim for neutrality (in decorating) to make the house appeal to (more) people.

Q: What are critical changes that need to take place in other areas of the house?

A: In kitchens, clear off the counters. Having the coffee pot, canisters, the tea pot, toaster ovens and other appliances on the counter make it appear as if there isn't enough space or storage. Also, getting all those photos and notes off the fridge won't cost you a thing. People have misconceptions that staging is really expensive. Some changes that make big impact don't necessarily cost a lot of money.

In living rooms, a few furniture items may have to be removed to make the room feel bigger. But the biggest problem in this room is smells! The living room is one of the smelliest rooms in the house because it has the most fabric, and therefore absorbs the most odors. If you can smell the house, you can't sell the house. Clean the upholstery to get rid of animal smells and cigarettes.

Q: Do homeowners change their minds about selling once their home has been staged?

A: Sometimes people do decide to stay once it's been staged. They got rid of clutter and that makes the house feel big enough. One reason why people move into another house is because they believe they've run out of room. But when you clear out the stuff, suddenly the old home meets their needs again.

If you need help staging and marketing your house, visit .