Michelle Ternullo

9 Ways to Make Your Home More Photogenic

How photogenic is your home? Perhaps the question has crossed your mind in this snap-happy, hygge-obsessed Instagram era. Whether you are selling your apartment or listing it on Airbnb, a camera-ready home is a must. An inviting photograph can draw in people scrolling through listings online; a messy or disheveled room will quickly turn them off.

To find out how to make your home look as if it belongs in a shelter magazine, we reached out to professional stagers and interiors photographers for their advice. Here are some of their suggestions for creating a picture-perfect home.

CLEAN AND DECLUTTER “Don’t be afraid to strip down 70 percent of what normally lives on any surface,” said Laure Joliet, a Los Angeles-based photographer whose work has been published in The New York Times, Dwell and Domino. “Instead of having lots of little things along a countertop or table, have one bold vessel or large plant, or a trio of objects that read as one whole. This helps anchor the photo and keeps the space feeling serene.

Clear away family photos, plants and knickknacks from the windowsills, coffee table, piano top and other surfaces. In the kitchen, remove towels, refrigerator magnets, sponges, paper towels, dish detergents, mats and most small appliances. Throw the mail piling up on the counter in the junk drawer if you need to. Stray items can be stuffed in a closet, under the bed or even hidden on the side of the room the camera won’t capture. (Of course, if you are planning on having an open house, more intensive measures are in order.) In the bathroom, open the shower curtain, remove all toiletries and wastebaskets, and close the toilet lid. Fold towels in thirds the long way, then fold in half over the towel bar.

LET IN THE LIGHT Wash your windows, open the curtains and pull up the blinds. “Natural light allows for depth in the shadows and highlights in the window, which makes a room look the way it feels,” Ms. Joliet said. “It’s more human and more relatable. Also, because shelter magazines are often shot this way, it can make your real estate photos look that much more high-end and designed.” And if your fireplace is in good working order and the season is right, light it up.

STEAM THE BED “No one wants to look at a wrinkly, unkempt bed,” said Cheryl Eisen, the president of Interior Marketing Group, which specializes in staging and designing luxury real estate. For a crisp-looking bed, Ms. Eisen uses a hand-held steamer to rid the pillows and comforter of any wrinkles. “We typically start with two stacks of two freshly steamed pillows laid flat, with long pillows on the bottom and standard size on top,” said Ms. Eisen, who prefers soft textures and muted colors rather than patterned spreads. “To create the appearance of a wider bed, match the edge of the pillows with the edge of the bed.The pillowcase openings should lie outward.” Center a throw pillow against each stack of pillows and prop it up with a soft karate chop in the middle, she added, “to create a showstopping bed.”

ADD ACCENTS A pop of color in the way of flowers or throw pillows is always welcome. “Instead of a fussy bouquet, a vase filled with one type of flower, or greens, is best,” said Ms. Joliet, who recommends eucalyptus branches. “I think everyone is tired of seeing a bowl of green apples, so try some simple flowers or greens in a vase instead.”

For a perfectly placed throw, “grab the middle of it and hold it up so that the throw cascades evenly down, and then place it diagonally at the foot of the bed, with the point up toward the long side of the bed and the fringes hanging slightly off the front,” said Donna M. Dazzo, president of Designed to Appeal, a home-staging company. “You can also place it on a bench in a bedroom. Use the same trick with holding it in the middle: Lay it across the bench diagonally, so that the pointed tip is on the bench or off the back of the bench, and the fringe is hanging off the lower left corner.” Another option: Drape the throw over the top or across an arm of a chair, she said, tucking the bottom behind a throw pillow or allowing the throw to cascade off the arm.

LOWER THE ARTWORK “We tend to place our art a little bit lower than maybe somebody would in personal use, because in a photo, if you place it too high, the ceiling looks very low,” said David C. Salvatore, creative director for Edge Mid-Century Designs, a staging and vintage furniture company in Clifton, N.J. “Everyone loves high ceilings — and certainly, if you have the ceilings, you need to put in a huge vertical piece” to show off the height.

What if your ceiling is low? Then you should not only hang your art lower, said Rich Fostek, president of Edge Mid-Century Designs, but “use pieces that are more horizontal than vertical.”

CONSIDER YOUR PETS So as not to alienate potential buyers who are allergic to hamsters or do not like dogs, most real estate professionals recommend keeping pets and their accouterments out of photos, no matter how adorable your dog is. But a furry friend can also add an element of fun to an otherwise staid photo. If you decide to include a pet, consider the color of its coat. Some dark-colored pets end up looking like dark blobs on sofas or rugs, depending on light and furnishings. But always hide chew toys, feeding bowls, litter boxes, pet beds and cages.

BOOST THE CURB APPEAL Rake leaves off your lawns, remove any trash or recycling bins from view, and prune overgrown trees, “especially if they obscure the view of the house,” said Alberto Lau, a retired architect with a second career as an architecture, interiors and real estate photographer in San Diego. “Take the cover off the barbecue grill unless it is hopelessly rusty, in which case it’s better to move it off the frame of the photo.”

 

Experts are divided about including pets in photos, but they agree on hiding the toys and food bowls. 

Also, clear any cars from the front of the house and driveway. “If necessary, place cones or signs requesting others not to park in front of the house,” Mr. Lau said. If you live in the city, try to schedule the photo shoot on a day that street cleaning is happening, to reduce the number of cars and trucks in front of your building. And if your house has a pool, be sure to uncover it and turn on any hot-tub jets.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE WEATHER “Weather doesn’t matter as much as widely believed,” said Jane Beiles, who specializes in interiors and architectural photography and has been a regular contributor to The New York Times since 2013. “A good photographer will figure out the best shots in any conditions. For example, when I have posted the same pool house on social media, I had just as much positive feedback to the rainy-day image as I did to the classic twilight shot or a sunny daylight shot,” she said.

But too much sun can pose a challenge. “On sunny days, every flaw — whether it be a wall, the floor, every speck of dust — gets more pronounced with harsher light, and is less flattering to the apartment,” said Michael Weinstein, the founder of MW Studio and a real estate photographer for more than 20 years who works with major New York City brokerage firms like Halstead Property and the Corcoran Group. “Oftentimes, I prefer to shoot on cloudy days,” he added, noting that “soft light tends to make the room feel more calm and soothing, and imperfections are less pronounced.”

BRING IN A FRESH EYE “Too often, the worn carpet or scuffs on the walls are invisible to home sellers, because these become part of the house and they don’t even see them anymore,” said Ms. Dazzo of Designed to Appeal, who recommends bringing “an honest friend” in for a walk-through. “I once did a staging consultation and asked the homeowner whether the blue plastic on the foyer ceiling was covering something. She said, ‘What blue plastic?’”

It turned out that the homeowner had covered up a fire alarm years earlier, because it went off every time she cooked. “She came into her home every day and stopped seeing it,” said Ms. Dazzo, who noticed it right away. “How could you not?” she added. “It’s blue!”

 

Did Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch Get A Makeover?

Rumor has it that the King of Pop’s former home has been renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch.

If you have millions to burn, here’s a once-in-a-lifetime real estate opportunity. Word on the street is that the estate formerly known as Neverland Ranch, aka the home of the late Michael Jackson, is hitting the market once again. But there’s a catch: It has a new name. Now called Sycamore Valley Ranch, the sprawling property, which was designed by award-winning architect Robert Altevers in 1982, was on the market just two years ago with a price tag of $100 million. By comparison, at the current price of $67 million, you’ll get a slice of history at a major discount.

Tucked in the picturesque town of Los Olivos, CA, near Santa Barbara, the compound once inspired by Peter Pan has officially matured. Set on 50 acres of bucolic wonder, the property has been transformed into a more welcoming, functional estate. A 12,598-square-foot, five-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion anchors the property, preserving the whimsy of Neverland but fused with the exposed timber beams and 18th-century French oak parquet floor that denote French Normandy architecture. Two guesthouses offer plenty of space for visitors, and multiple additional structures grace the massive estate.

The Ferris wheel and other amusement park rides from Michael’s residence have departed, but the estate certainly maintains a variety of outdoor activities. A red barn is ideal for an aspiring equestrian, while a train station featuring a kitchenette, loft, and two fireplaces is a unique component. A stand-alone movie theater seats 50 guests, while a dance studio provides the perfect spot to get some exercise. Another three-bedroom ranch house is connected to the stables, while a staff home overlooks beautiful Figueroa Mountain.

The legendary song-and-dance man, who tragically died of a drug overdose in 2009, originally purchased the property for $19.5 million in 1987.

- See more at: https://www.trulia.com/blog/celebrity-homes/michael-jacksons-neverland-ranch-listed-for-sale/#sthash.MPU3C9Nj.dpuf

Where Are the Home Prices Heading in the Next 5 Years?

 

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists about where they believe prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

The results of their latest survey:

Home values will appreciate by 4.4% over the course of 2017, 3.4% in 2018, 2.8% in 2019, 2.7% in 2020, and 2.8% in 2021. That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.22% over the next 5 years.

Where Are the Home Prices Heading in the Next 5 Years? | MyKCM

The prediction for cumulative appreciation fell from 21.4% to 17.3% by 2021. The experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 6.3%.

Where Are the Home Prices Heading in the Next 5 Years? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe this survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

 

 

7 Cute Yet Cringeworthy Ways Your Pets Can Wreck a Home Sale

7 Cute Yet Cringeworthy Ways Your Pets Can Wreck a Home Sale

You love your pets, but the people checking out your house in the hope of buying it may not share your ardor. The mere sight of these furry creatures can tip the scales, for some buyers, against making an offer on your property at all. Perhaps you only want animal lovers to inherit your home—but if you’re a come-one-come-all kind of home seller, you may want to try to avoid the seven deadly home-sale saboteurs that are listed below. We’ll show you how.

Tufts of fur

Just when you think you’ve got it all vacuumed up, you spot drifts of fur under tables and stuck to upholstery.

“A lightly dampened sponge is perfect for removing pet hair on furniture and fabric,” says Danessa Itaya, vice president of Maid Right, a home-cleaning service. Alternatively, you can try lint rollers and squeegees, adds Nancy Jones, an interior decorator with Showhomes, a home-staging company.

Floor stains

If your feline likes to cough up grass clippings in the hall or pee under the basement workbench, a potential buyer will likely note the discoloration and either wince or run (or perhaps wince, then run). Carpet and floor stains need to be fixed before any showings. If you can swing it, replace the rug, or at least roll it up and stash it in the garage. Hire a flooring professional to remove tougher stains, either by sanding and re-staining a wood floor or dealing them with a commercial-grade cleanser.

That aroma

You’re so accustomed to—and in love with—your pet that you no longer realize she’s given your home a certain scent … but rest assured, visitors will pick up on it as soon as they set foot through your front door. In some cases, before they set foot through the door. The remedy? Good ol’ baking soda, which is safe and effective, says Itaya.

“You can sprinkle it in your cat’s litter box as a deodorizer or put a small amount in a spray bottle with water to apply to your pet’s favorite hiding spots,” she says. And if the smells haven’t been absorbed by the carpet padding, they can generally be lifted out with a pet enzyme removal product or Resolve, notes Jones. “There are also many candles and air fresheners that can eliminate odors without overpowering,” she says.

 

Pets on beds

Cats may have some leeway to nap on the bed, but the very presence of a dog on the couch or bed may scare some people off, often for good reason. When you’re getting ready for a showing, be sure your pooch is out of the bedrooms and either housed in his crate or shipped off to a friend or doggy day care for the afternoon. Then make sure there’s no telltale pet hair left behind.

Scratches and dings

Puppies will chew on just about anything, including chair legs, baseboards, and other wooden features in your home. If you see significant furniture damage, remove the pieces and store them during your next open house. But smaller marks can be hidden with a couple of DIY solutions.

“Felt-tip markers can make a world of difference on scratched-up furniture—find one that matches the color of the wood, and you’ll quickly transform dings so they’re less noticeable,” says Itaya. Jones likes Old English furniture polish to clean up pet scratches.

“It now comes in both light and dark versions and covers most surface marks,” she reports. To remove a deep scratch, use wood putty to fill in the grooves and follow up with a stain to match.

Pet accessories

You won’t impress a potential buyer if he or she has to dodge your pet’s toys in order to get inside the door. Remove these hazards by gathering up her chew things and placing them in a nice-looking basket or bin. You should also hang up your pup’s tangled pile of leashes, fold and straighten her outfits and jackets if she has any, and stash pet beds until the showing is over.

Bowls and litter box

Water dishes and pet food bowls are easily knocked over, so be sure to dump them out and load them in the dishwasher before an open house begins. Of course, you’ll scoop out the cat box so that it’s as clean as possible, but it’s better to get rid of it entirely. Not only does it smell, but it’s just plain gross to catch sight of that gravelly stuff.

“If you must have a litter box around, I usually suggest the clumping kind [of litter] because it’s easier to clean,” Jones recommends. And if your visitors are coming with pets, be sure to spray neutralizers on the areas where they migrate, to prevent dogs or cats from marking their territory.

How to Declutter Before Moving

If you’re about to move to a new home, there is one thing you absolutely must do: Declutter before moving. Really, this is your big chance! There is no better excuse than an upcoming move to unload dead weight.

Think about it: For one, moving costs money—an average of $1,170 for an in-state move or a whopping $5,630 for out-of-state—so every box you pack adds up. Plus, you want your new place to look awesome, right? Cramming nooks, crannies, and closets with junk just isn’t pretty.

All of this is our long-winded way to say it’s high time you started chipping away at your possessions. For help on that front, check out these guidelines on how to declutter before moving.

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Step No. 1: Start throwing things out early

Try to start purging at least a month before you move, says Ross Sapir, CEO of Roadway Moving in New York City, which moves up to 6,000 customers each year. The reason: This gives you time to, say, sell items online or drive them to a consignment shop. Plus, advance decluttering “spreads out the (task) to make it feel like it’s less work than it actually is,” Spair says.

Try to tackle one room, or one closet (or one drawer) a day—it’s less overwhelming—and never handle an item twice. Designate “toss,” “donate,” and “sell” boxes, and when you decide an item’s fate, toss it into the correct box. Done, done, and done.

Step No. 2: Gather the right packing materials

Gather organizational tools like packing tape, black markers, and labels in a tote; that way, you don’t have to rummage through drawers whenever the decluttering bug bites. After all, you’re going to need to get this stuff for moving day anyway, so there’s no harm in kicking things off early.

Another huge help? Clear plastic bins are your friends—and great homes for small items like batteries or office supplies. You can see what’s inside, and they’re easily stackable to save space.

Step No. 3: Consider the size of your new home

Before decluttering, think about your new home and how much space it contains. That will help you decide whether to move that extra set of pots and pans, or donate them. But even if you’re moving into a home with equal or more space, that doesn’t mean you should use this as an excuse to keep everything you own. Clutter and extraneous crap is clutter and extraneous crap!

Step No. 4: Target these top things to toss

Here are some common items you can almost certainly do without. Be merciless, and get them out of your life!

  1. Still boxed: These items never made it out of the boxes: gifts, Groupon deals that seemed like a good idea at the time, bulk purchases of all those giant jars of capers you won’t live long enough to eat. Surely, someone will appreciate these goods that fell by the wayside. You might even be able to raise some cash by selling this clutter online. But get rid of it.
  2. Not used: Tastes and waistlines change. (Especially waistlines.) If you haven’t worn or used something in a year, you probably never will again. If it’s in good shape, donate it charity. If it’s stained or hopelessly out of date, toss it.
  3. Expired: Food way past its sell-by date and expired or unwanted medication shouldn’t live with you in your new place. Some pharmacies will take back unused medication, and cleaned plastic pill bottles are recyclable. Bag up your pills and take them to your local pharmacy for safe disposal. Don’t pour or flush medicine down the drain, which can contaminate drinking water with chemicals, according to Earth911.
  4. Past paperwork: We all have boxes of documents, clippings, and recipes that we never read—they don’t need to be schlepped to a new house. If you file your tax returns online and report everything you should, the IRS says to keep returns and documentation for three years after you file. You can toss ATM and bank deposit receipts after a year. Keep “forever” documents (e.g., your birth and marriage certificates) in a separate box so you don’t mistakenly pitch them with your Dave & Busters receipts.
  5. Books and magazines are heavy and bulky to move. If you’ve read them, and don’t think you’ll ever read them again, donate them to a local library. Many senior residences maintain libraries and would love a fresh supply of reading material.
  6. Extras: Jettison extra towels, extra teacups, extra anything. If it hasn’t come in handy in the past year, it won’t come in handy in the future.