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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Should You Use Professional Photos For Your Real Estate Listing?

My short answer is “Yes!”

Having just come back from a week of house hunting in Texas I can’t tell you the large number of just flat out bad photos that we viewed on prospective real estate listings. Even the home that we eventually put an offer on I have to tell you that initially, based on internet photos, I was not excited about seeing. It was Mr. Décor who said he felt it could be “the one”. Upon viewing the home in person it was a completely different story. Given that the house had sat on the market for quite awhile in the midst of a housing boom I understood why. I believe that probably 98% of prospective buyers decide whether or not they take the next step in seeing a home based on what they see online.

There is actually a website dedicated to horrible and often hilarious real estate photos. It is called Terrible Real Estate Photos. I’ll warn you that if you click over to the site you will  waste enjoy 30 minutes of time viewing photos that were somehow approved for internet viewing.

So how do you arrange professional home photography? First and foremost I recommend that you interview at least three prospective real estate agents when you decide to list your home. A good real estate agent knows the power of professional photos. In short, they are a big factor in selling a home.

Our Arizona agent, Kim Decker, was the number one sales agent for the Century 21 office here in our area.  That was reason one to hire her. In addition, Ms. Decker is a consummate professional. When she mentioned that she uses professional photography for all her listings I knew we had met our agent.

By selecting an agent who uses professional photography we did not have to pay the photographer out of our own pockets. It is a serious factor to consider when interviewing an agent. 

I have to stress though that while a photographer can work wonders in presenting your home, you must also be prepared to showcase your home in its best light.

 

I spent three weeks preparing our home for sale. From the ceiling fans down to the floorboards everything was cleaned and polished. Excess clutter was removed. (Just consider that since you are moving anyway you are getting a jump on some of the packing.)

 

Closets were purged, furniture that we planned not to move was Craiglisted and a garage sale was held. The remaining furniture was grouped in arrangements that while not perfect, were still somewhat pleasing. 

All the bedding, slipcovers and window treatments were washed or dry-cleaned.

Touch up painting was done throughout the home.

Since Mr. Décor was in Hawaii during this time I did invest a couple hundred dollars to have a gardener come in and trim all the tall trees and bushes. He also weeded and brought in 2 tons of gravel to refresh our rock beds. I made sure the pots of flowers were blooming beautifully.

Of course now we wait for a buyer. In our last two homes I followed the same formula and both homes had multiple offers within one week of listing. If you happen to be in need of a well cared for home in the Phoenix area, in an excellent school district, by all means contact our agent, Kim. She will be happy to show you the property in person. :)

Laura

Monday, August 25, 2014

Leaving A Home Better Than When You Found It

As I mentioned on Friday Mr. Décor and I  spent all last week house hunting in the Fort Worth area. On average we saw between 10 and 15 houses a day. My mind was on house overload I tell you. (I guess I have a fear that I might miss something good. :)

Some houses were an immediate “NO” for me. Some houses were an immediate “NO” for the Mister. Thankfully, we have narrowed it down to three houses and I’ll be sharing all three with you very soon.

Of course while looking for a new home we couldn’t help but reminisce about our previous homes. Our first home was a foreclosure and was around 1,400 square feet. Our second home felt like a palace at over 2,000 square feet and was also a foreclosure in desperate need of love. Our current home is 1,900 square feet and is going on the market TODAY!

There is one thing that all three homes had in common~we think we left them all better off than when we found them.

In our current home we made mainly cosmetic changes. One of the first things we did was remove all the blinds. Many of the windows were covered with dusty fabric covered vertical blinds that were popular in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

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When doing this we discovered that the previous owners just painted around the blinds…head scratcher.

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They also opted to have various window coverings in the same room.

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We went with all white plantation blinds and simple linen drapery panels.

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Most recently the room received decorating touches of touches of red, white and blue.

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The space went from dark and heavy…

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…to light and bright.

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The house itself tended to be quite dark. The darker shades of paint the previous owners had selected only enhanced the feel.

This was the office “before” right at mid day.

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Taking down the dark blind and giving the walls three coats of Dover White Sherwin Williams 6385 to cover the brown walls really lightened things up.

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The dark blind was replaced with a  white plantation blind, I made some curtains and it became a happy space.

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It was the same story in Sweet Guy’s room.

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The dark walls received Sherwin Williams Retiring Blue 6763.

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It became a travel themed room you guys really loved.

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We also updated most of the lighting. You may remember the UFO lights present in all the hallways. They too all had the “Let’s just go around it” paint job.

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With Mr. Décor’s help, Sweet Guy installed new oil rubbed bronze sconces.

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All of the bathrooms had this famous builders grade lighting option:

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I think that the update is much more attractive and it cost under $40 and a bit of time.

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Sometimes it was just merely decorating accents that took a well used space from drab….

…to fab. Like our laundry room and the few touches created for pennies.

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The master bathroom just needed a bit of paint and removal of vertical blinds. 

I made the simple neutral valances.

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In the yard there was an unloved side yard.

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Mr. Décor customized a shed for some lovely storage space.

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Yes, in researching this story I was sort of amazed at all we have accomplished in just two short years. Believe it or not I shared only about 1/2 of the projects we have done in the essence of time and the length of the post.

Of course there were projects that I never did get around too, like painting the kitchen cabinets. I have to leave something for the next owners to do right? :)

But I did create a darling island.

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It did wonders to cozy up the space.

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Although it was tiny and not exactly my dream kitchen, it hosted many a happy occasion and filled this home with joy.

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Truly, that is what is most important.

Laura

Sunday, August 24, 2014

There Are Certain Things We Shouldn’t See or Share

I was going to write an entirely different post today. But sometimes God nudges me a bit and says “Hey, let’s not make it about what you want to write about today.” Until I comply the nagging does not stop. This is somewhat of a heavy subject matter that often we would rather turn away from.

But I can tell you that the closing of this post will be filled with glory and beauty of a precious life.

There are days that I just can’t help but ask:

“What is WRONG with people???”

Generally, I try to focus on what is RIGHT.

Unless you have been living electronically free for the past week you no doubt have heard the tragic news regarding journalist James Foley. Mr. Foley was captured by Islamic State jihadists in November, 2012. Previous rescue attempts by military personal failed and his life was ended earlier this week.

In this computerized day and age the video showing his murder popped up not only on news sites but then was shared to other social media sites such as Facebook.

I just can’t fathom watching such an act and then passing it on.

Instead of focusing on the beauty of Mr. Foley’s life there were those who chose to view barbarity and cruelty. Some even went on to share the grisly footage under the guise of anger.  

Which was exactly what the extremist group wanted.

I for one am not going to give them what they want.

James was the eldest child of Diane and John Foley.

Did you know prior to becoming a journalist he was a teacher and mentor to inner-city students through the Teach for America program at Lowell Elementary School in Phoenix? He later instructed inmates at the Cook County Sheriff's boot camp in Chicago and assisted them in improving their lives.

What a selfless and loving individual!

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His fellow journalistic colleagues speak of his courage, generosity and “dedication to truth and understanding”.

James was a son and older brother to four siblings…

…a good friend and uncle.

James was also a fellow follower of Christ. 

His family learned from released hostages that their son had been a leader of the captives. “In their suffering he was helping the other prisoners. There were a couple of much younger people in the cell and we were told he would just hold them. We continue to feel weak but when we think of what Jim did we feel strong.” ~ Diane Foley

Mr. Foley was captured once before in 2011. So why did he go back?

His parents, siblings, friends and family members spent an hour with reporters outside their New Hampshire home recently. It was no where near enough time to share what an extraordinary human being he was. (You can see highlights from this appropriate video HERE.)

The Foley’s displayed rare courage and dignity as they spoke of their son.

Diane Foley said, “We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents.”

Jim would never want us to hate or be bitter. We’re praying for the strength to love like he did.”

“Jim had a big heart and that is what we shared with President Obama. We just pray that Jim's death can bring our country together in a stronger way.”

The Foley's are taking solace knowing their sons suffering is now over. “We miss his joy and his love but he is free now in Heaven.” 

Compassion and love is what should be seen and shared.

There are still 19 missing journalists in Syria. Let us pray for their safe return and for all the families.

Laura

The Foley’s believe that James offered up his life to save another journalist. With that, this well known verse comes to mind.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.” ~ John 15:13

Friday, August 22, 2014

Exposed Brick in Kitchens, Yea or Nay?

As you read this I am on a plane headed back to Arizona. I’ve been in Texas the entire week on a house hunting trip. There is one home that is a definitely a front runner on our short list. In the kitchen the wall where the range is located is real brick.

Love the exposed brick, white cabinets.

I’ve never worked with brick as a featured design element in a kitchen before. This is an image of the actual kitchen in the house we are seriously considering. (Please also notice the wood floors and awesome molding and baseboards. :)

Right now it feels a bit cave like.

When I told Mr. Décor that I would paint the wood bead board ceiling he, like most men, had a seizure. But then I showed him a few images on Pinterest and he agreed.

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turquoise beadboard ceiling in the kitchen. Yes please!!

But he did say that he wanted the brick to remain unpainted. I’m all about compromise. So thank goodness for Pinterest. 

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I do think it is possible for the space to be cozy yet not cave like.

The exposed brick in this kitchen with the copper, textured countertops, wood beams, and pops of cream are lovely.

I’ll keep you posted and share the other homes we are considering very soon.

Do you like brick in the kitchen?

Laura