Tag Archives: 2017

Stage Your New Build for Maximum Impact!

Staged bedroom

Staged bedroom

We always have a few New Builds or complete Renovation/Flip projects staged at any given time. We do our best to provide the best design possible to compliment the space. However, there are definite steps a builder or renovator can take to ensure they have the best “look” for their staging. We stock a wide range of furniture and accessories but for the best design we need to plan well in advance.

A New Build or complete reno and flip process typically takes months from start to finish. The best time to get a Designer/Home Stager involved is from the beginning. We are more than capable of providing a color scheme or sample board to achieve any style. However, the real reason you want to call your Home Stager at the beginning of the project is so we can see your vision for the property and begin planning the furniture well in advance. We also carry Hunter Douglas blinds and fabrics for custom drapery. This gives us the luxury of planning a beautifully finished space well before your project is ready for market. We also have the opportunity to order in the right furniture & décor to ensure we provide just the right design for your space. When we order furniture in, it usually takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks for the furniture to arrive. We need to build it, inventory it, before we can send it out on a stage job. This means, if you wait until a week before the home is ready for market – we simply do not have the time to get in the best furniture & décor options for your space.

Our inventory changes daily this time of the year. We have had weeks of 2 stage jobs a day. This means coordinating the furniture coming in and going back out is an everchanging struggle. When we know we have a more expensive home, show home or display suite to stage, we begin to reserve the right furniture for the space weeks in advance to ensure we can provide the right design. If we only have a week notice or less, we are can only plan the design from the immediate stock on hand. There are times when we have hit the lottery and the perfect pieces come back into stock from a home that just sold just in time to stage a display suite, but this is rare. The best plan is to give us as much notice as possible. Our policy is to ensure we provide the best design to each confirmed project. This means if you have booked us for staging, we will begin to reserve furniture from the time of booking.

We have even tried to purchase product locally in the city, only to be told they will need to order it in from their warehouse in Toronto, or Calgary and we are looking at 2-3 weeks for delivery. This is the industry norm. Just because a furniture retailer has something on their showroom floor or website, doesn’t mean they will have it available for delivery tomorrow. There is “stock” furniture which is display furniture but not for sale until the retailer no longer wishes to carry that piece and clears it out. They will rarely sell the floor models. There is “warehouse” furniture, which is the better sellers they keep stocked in their warehouse and need to ship in. This doesn’t help me when I’m trying to plan a job in a few days.

Depending upon the selling price for the property, there are some simple steps to take to get it sold quickly and minimize your carrying costs. Work with your Design/Home Stager from the beginning. Buyers love to see to home well decorated for that Maximum Impact! It’s the look they fall in love with as much as the house. Take the time to plan for window coverings and drapery for the main rooms. This is something that can be a huge after purchase expense and turn buyers away from your show home in favor of one that has planned the window coverings and furniture months in advance for a perfect designer home. Finally, work with your home stager well in advance to provide you with the best possible furniture and décor to compliment your New Build. As the market tightens up and houses sit for sale longer, the extra planning and staging expense can save you months of holding costs sitting for sale with few showings and no offers.

 

 

Everyone Wants a Deal but Buyer Beware….

lrafter356lockwood

It doesn’t matter what you are buying, it is critical to ensure you know what you will be getting before you sign on the dotted line. Winnipeg is known as “Wholesale City” – everyone is looking for a deal. There’s nothing wrong with being a savvy shopper but it is extremely important to read the fine print before signing on the dotted line. Make sure you are getting a better price, not less service or an inferior product that is seriously over charged when compared to comparable products or service.

Beware the undercut deal that appears too good to be true. In most cases, if it looks too good to be true – it often is! If someone’s cost is that much less, there is usually a reason why. This is the case in Renovations, Home Staging and even listing contract for Real Estate. We often see this in design when home owners compare products of different quality – just because flooring looks the same doesn’t mean it wears the same, has the same warranty or the same properties. There is a reason for the price difference!

We offer different staging packages based on the budget and services required. We can bring in a bit more inventory to give a home a more lived in and natural look or if budgets require, we can keep the design minimal without sacrificing the overall integrity of the design. I’ve seen home owners compare staging costs for a full stage and go with a competitor whose price was a lower by $150 and receive less than half the furniture & décor we were bringing in. The home owner was furious with the finished product but the contract was signed and the furniture was in place. He called us to ask if this was normal. Minimal décor and furniture should not sacrifice the overall look of a space. Staging with half of a sectional with the sectional brackets clearly visible in the photos just should not be done.

Looking only at the price can lead to a huge disappointment. Look at what you are getting for the price. I often have this discussion with my Realtors. A home owner will list a home for a lower commission only to find that their home is never advertised anywhere! Then they want to switch to another Realtor and find they cannot and are locked into an agreement with the discount Realtor. It’s not all about price! You cannot expect to get the same level of service at a substantially lower price. We see this frequently in the reno industry, as well. Home owners go with the cheapest quote then are not happy with the quality of work. They then need to find someone else to fix the poor work. Then they often find themselves in a dispute or court with the first contractor. The job takes longer to complete and costs more than if they had just taken a mid-range quote to begin with. When I worked in the property management industry, cheapest was never best in my experience. If you want the cheapest you typically are sacrificing quality or service! My husband says you have three options the best quality, best service or the best price. Pick which 2 are most important to you because all three do not go together.

So, when it comes to staging, communicate what you are trying to achieve and what your budget is. Realtors if you are getting quotes for your clients, ensure you are comparing the same design with the same amount of product. Get photos of comparable jobs to show your vendor before your client takes the lowest bid and gets half a stage job! Getting 3 bids is like getting 3 Realtors to compete for a listing with nothing but the commission as the determining factor. That does nothing to provide your vendor with the best service and product at the best price. After all, that is what is important and will reflect best on you, recommending the best service and product at the best price. If your client wants to stay within a certain budget then let us know what that budget is and we will give you a design based on that budget. If the budget is not realistic we will let you know but that is very rarely the case.

The important thing is establishing yourself as a Realtor with a strong power team of complimentary professional service providers to help get your vendors’ home listed and sold quickly! Cheap products and shoddy services will ultimately reflect poorly on the person who made the referral. Your vendor is looking to you as the expert, so take the extra step and compare more than just the cost. Make sure you are recommending your client choose the best services for the most reasonable cost rather than half the services at 95% of the cost! Or turn it around and say you could have half the stage job for this price, or you could have a complete stage job for an additional $150! You end up with a listing that looks a hundred times better, sells faster and makes you look that much better to your vendor. The better a home looks, the more showings you will get and the faster the home will sell. Happy clients are great for more referrals!

 

Key Points When Planning a Renovation

 

Before& After

Before & After

We are constantly bombarded with technology. Emails, home décor and design sites all claiming their own expertise, well intentioned friends and family sharing what they have found online, there is so much information for a home owner to consider when renovating. The reality is simple. As much as you might LOVE a certain look, there are limitations to what will “work” and will “look great” in any given space. The best advice is to go to the experts. As well intentioned as family and friends are, unless they are professionals in the industry, it’s best to listen and thank them for their input and get a second Professional’s opinion.

I’ve been working in the residential home industry in Winnipeg for over 20 years. In that time, I have seen some fabulous renos and some total blunders. As well-meaning as family and friends can be, remember it’s always easier to spend someone else’s money! They love a design and think you should try it. If it doesn’t look good – no harm done… What some are really saying is you be the guinea pig and if I like it, maybe I will spend my own money! There are basic rules that we, as Designers and Decorators use to ensure we actually improve your home and increase it value and appeal!

The Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) is a great place to start for ideas. You need a realistic budget to determine what you should spend on your renos. The AIC can help you determine what is a reasonable amount to spend on a renovation so that you get your money back when you sell your home! Appraisers are the professionals that determine your homes actual value – regardless of what you have spent to purchase it, or renovate it. The value they determine (based on comparable properties in your immediate neighborhood) is what the banks use as your home value for mortgages! It is THE VALUE! This is where I like to start in determining what renovations should be done to update a home. It also determines how much we should look at spending and PREVENTS a home owner from overspending on renovations!

Most of the websites that email you and your friend’s ideas are out to sell. Whether it is advertising they are selling and entice people to their websites to see their advertisers or they are selling products, they want you to come to their site. They do not care about the value of your home, or whether your renovation will work well for you and your family. The only thing they care about is selling their product/service. Sure they may be full of pictures with great ideas but ideas are only as good as the space they are implemented in. I cannot count the number of times we meet someone who wants a major bathroom reno and show me a picture of a 250 sf bathroom with all deluxe fixtures and tile. Then they take me to their 80 sf bathroom and ask me how I would fit everything they want in the space?! There just isn’t the same amount of square footage to work with! We either have make the bathroom larger or scale down the project for the space.

Another huge issue we see again and again is the cost factor. When you are dealing with websites the cost is relative to the area the picture was taken and where the job was done. This could be in Minnesota or Phoenix or Vancouver or Hawaii! The same project will cost different based on the location! Materials that are readily available in one location may need to be shipped to another. This adds additional expense. When we start comparing US $$ to CND $$ there is a huge cost difference for many building products. When you add the exchange rate, shipping, duty etc.… the same products can cost considerably more here. That is why it is critical to compare LOCAL pricing and not INTERNET pricing.

Another important feature of online shopping to be aware of is size. Many products come in different sizes. Just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean it’s a “great deal”! There have been many times when clients have ordered their own materials. When the product arrives, they are stunned to find the product was much smaller than what they were expecting! Same product, smaller size, lower cost! It is critical to go over the specifications of a product before you order. Everything from the features to the actual dimensions should be compared to make sure you are getting a better price for the EXACT SAME product! Your Designers and Decorators deal with this on a regular basis. We know what to check before the order is placed. Furthermore, we may be much more familiar with certain products in our local market that you have not seen online. Many websites promise delivery in a few days or a week or 2. However, delivery can actually be 4-8 weeks out. This can have a significant impact on your renovation. Each market is unique and has unique aspects of climate and product type that works best in that market or situation.

Although websites and family and friends can be great for inspiration, a Professional will always be your best source of information for your particular local market. Whether planning a floor plan, determining a realistic budget for the scope of your project, or sourcing product for you, we will have a much more encompassing approach than any website. When you want a Professional job – go to the local Professionals!

 

Learn how to MAKE money on your Renovation at the Winnipeg Renovation Show this Coming Weekend Jan 13 – 15th

 

Living Room

Living Room

Our New Year gets off and running instantly with the Winnipeg Renovation Show this coming weekend Jan 13 – 15th. Although preparation and planning are often well underway in October/November for the show, the final details all happen right after the Holidays. Our booth is set up in the shop and we will be doing the final design and packing Monday so we can deliver and start set up! We have an extra special booth planned this year with a fabulous new look! We are also doing 2 stage presentations, Friday 13th at 5:00 pm “Planning your Kitchen or Bath Renovation”. We take you through a renovation from concept to completion. Sunday Jan 15th at 2:00 “Ensure the Best Return on your Renovation Dollar” where we show clients the best improvements to ensure they not only get a full return on their renovation dollar but how to learn to MAKE money on their home renovation by increasing the value of their home significantly higher than the cost of their renovation!

Quite often when clients contact us regarding a renovation, they have an idea of what they would like to do but have not worked out all the details! It’s critical to determine what’s not working for them and what they need to improve the space. Sometimes after speaking to the client we can find that what they thought they liked (ie. their friend recently had done) would not work great in their space or for their family. However, we always find an alternative that works beautifully for their home and family. It’s equally important to take in the budget and the value of the home. Every home has a “critical ceiling value”. This is basically the top selling price you can expect for that home based on similar properties in the neighborhood. We want to ensure that the renovation doesn’t push the home owner’s investment in that home well beyond what they can hope to obtain in a selling price. People renovate for many different reasons but I have never met a client who didn’t want to get back the money they invest in a renovation. So home value plays just as important role in determining the details of the renovations as does the functionality and logistics of the renovation. Over the last number of years, many home owners were forced into bidding wars when purchasing their homes. Some have seen a market correction in the value of their home, lower than what they initially paid. Investing properly in an upgrade can help bring the value of the home back to where they can get their money back or even make money on their home. It’s all about knowing the numbers and making them work in your favor! Only then can we look at the different possibilities within the property budget to determine the best solutions for your family and your home!

I am frequently called in for alternate ideas or a second opinion on a design/reno quote. The estimate was not through Maximum or our partner company, KAT Reno and I never ask who the estimate is from. A homeowner whose home is worth $280,000 – $300,000 finds it very unrealistic to spend $100,000 – $120,000 on a kitchen renovation. It is really shocking how many times estimates are given well above what the property value dictates is reasonable for the home owner to spend. In the reno world, anything can be done for a price. However, our job as professionals is also to help the client determine what the best option is for their home and situation. Personally, I could never feel good about a job knowing the client would not get the money invested in their renovation back from their home sale. At the very least, I would ensure the client was aware of the comparable properties and values before they decided to proceed, knowing full well that if they had to sell in the near future they would not get their money back. A common misunderstanding is that if they use better quality materials, they will then get more money. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Once you go into the higher price range, the buyers often have many more options available to them, frequently newer homes in newer neighborhoods. So for a buyer to buy an older, remodeled home, at the top price range in their neighborhood, the buyer MUST have a strong desire to be in that neighborhood specifically. Their Realtor will often tell them that the home is over-priced and they would get better value elsewhere.

One of the biggest rules in Real Estate is that you make money buying the ugly house on a nice block and doing the improvements. Buying the nicest house in an average neighborhood typically means there is little room for your home value to improve as it must wait for the neighborhood homes to increase in value before your home value increases. However, purchasing a dated home with sound structure and mechanicals and spending intelligently on the right renovations can add tens of thousands of dollars to your net worth! That is after all how real estate investors make a living! Knowing what to do and how much to spend is the key to building additional equity in your home and adding value to families net worth! Join us for more details at the Reno Show this coming weekend!