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Professional Organizers in Canada Guest Post – School’s Almost Out for the Summer!

**Content produced and provided by Professional Organizers in Canada**

Keep Your Cool during the Summer Sizzle

Are your kids talking about the summer yet? Are they getting excited?  Chances are they don’t know how much more work it is for parents during the summer than it is during the rest of the year. To keep the kids busy with little effort, consider putting advance planning in place so that the rest of the summer can be more spontaneously enjoyed. Here are some ideas you can use to improve the summer months:

Create an activity list or an “I’m Bored Jar” 

Get a large jar for the whole family to add ideas when one strikes. Have all family members write their ideas on notes and put them in the jar. Need some inspiration for summer activities? Organize a picnic dinner, swimming at a local pool, or camping in the backyard. If your kids are acting like wild animals, you might even plan a visit to the zoo.

Install a wall calendar and put the activity ideas on it. 

Use some sticky notes and a marker and start by indicating the important dates, such as the first day of school or camp, or time that will be spent away on a vacation. Colour code the sticky notes by category which could make the board look more kid-friendly. Potential categories can include theme days, playdates, planned outings, and activities done at home.

Stick to a normal routine as much as possible.

To make life easier for yourself, make sure you write out sticky notes for your own well-being and apply them to the wall calendar. Write down your date nights, dinner menu plans and babysitter arrangements.

Pre-sort supplies for Grab and Go Bags

Pre-pack backpacks before an activity day. This will help you avoid the hour of preparation time before being able to leave the house. Some ideas for Grab and Go Bags are:

  • Theme park bags
  • Walking/hiking bags
  • Playdate bags, picnic bags
  • Library bags
  • Pool days

If you’re going to the pool, have water excursion supplies pre-packed in a tote bag. Pack swimsuits and towels, as well as sun safety essentials including sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. Don’t forget to bring a plastic bag for wet bathing suits!

  • Road trip essentials

Be sure to pack items that will keep you and your family comfortable and entertained while away from home. Include essentials such as diapers, water bottles, snacks, and sunscreen. To avoid the inevitable cries of “Are we there yet?” don’t forget books, colouring books or clipboards with blank paper, and zippered pouches of crayons for each child along with the electronic device preloaded with learning games and movies.

There is nothing wrong with kids getting bored from time to time, as some ingenious and unique activities can result from that.  Keep art supplies within reach in the craft cabinet, a few outdoor toys in the backyard, and fruit and sugar-free drinks in the fridge.

STAGING – Let There Be Light

When selling your home, keep it bright.  Dimly lit rooms tend to look smaller and dingy.  Turn on many, if not all lights, even when you are showing your home during day hours.

Create lighting that sets a warm inviting mood. This occurs with multiple lights and not just overhead lights. If there is a small or darker room in your home, put a floor lamp in the room to bounce light off the ceiling and use table lamps to make the remaining space light up.

If the walls seem dreary, repaint them in a nice neutral shade to catch the light.  By creating a lighter feeling in the room, it will appear more relaxed which will allow buyers to visualize themselves in the space.  Make it more welcoming with drapes and blinds open to let in natural light.  Wash the windows in each room on the inside and outside.  Hire a professional window washer if necessary.

By lightening up your home it will help to sell it faster, for more money and that will brighten any seller’s day.

bright-window-replacement-interior

STAGING – Context Is Key

People aren’t buying houses, they are buying homes. Most potential home buyers want to see where they can fit in that home. Without being able to see furniture in the rooms, it just looks like a big empty space and potential buyers will find it hard to visualize themselves in the space.

Here are some reasons why you should never try to sell your home empty:

It is hard to tell the size of a room when there is no reference point.  Furniture will allow the buyer to see the scale of the room and sometimes even make it look larger then if it were empty. A small empty bedroom can leave one wondering if a bed even fits. Most potential buyers do not have a sense of size from reading numbers on a promotional sheet. They need some sort of reference point to make the connection to their own stuff.

Potential buyers will focus on negatives in the home rather then looking at the overall picture.  Maybe there is a scratch in the flooring, a light switch in an inconvenient spot or a bar missing from the closet. All of these negatives are easier to spot in an empty room. Instead of looking at the overall flow, the buyer is concentrating on what needs to be fixed or critiquing furnishings like light fixtures, woodwork, countertops.

Marble Hall and Staircase

Empty rooms can distract buyers from the home. They may be focusing more on why the home is empty rather then deciding if it is the right home for them. Did they get a divorce? Have they moved away? Are they trying to sell fast because there are too many problems? These are questions they may be asking because the home is so empty and nothing is catching their eye. They may even be asking themselves maybe they are desperate and I can make a low offer?

So be sure to stage each room with items to help the potential buyers see the purpose and potential layout of the room.  Even if the house is not fully furnished it is important to at least paint the picture of what could go on in each particular room for potential buyers. A vacant house is depressing, show the cheerful side of your house.

STAGING – Bright, Beautiful, Basements!

People don’t always spend a generous amount of time in their basement and therefore, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. This often carries through when the home is for sale. Research shows us that kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms are main areas of interest to buyers, so when we are selling we focus on making these rooms look great. But, let’s not forget that a simple basement makeover can also help you earn top dollar for your home. It adds that extra living space that home buyers are looking for and gives a feeling that the home is complete.  Here are some ways to achieve a more livable and sellable basement.

Purge It
Before you do anything else, you must clear out your basement.  Basements often become a dumping ground for dingy basementChristmas ornaments, old furniture and out grown toys.  It is common for many homes to have a second fridge in the basement—frequently mostly empty.  These fridges are huge energy wasters and do not add to the feel of room.  If you have a bar area, consider a mini-fridge instead.

Store it
It’s time to get rid of these unused items and store those that are used neatly.  Today’s buyer is looking for space. If you are showing a home with a basement that is crowded to the rafters with stuff, potential buyers question whether or not there is enough room for their belongings. An attractive and functional storage area allows the buyer to see the potential for storage and makes it easier for them to see the real value in the space.

Move It
Maybe you have too much furniture upstairs and you would like to clear some of it out for a cleaner, neater look. Why not find pieces to put in the basement.  You can do the same with choice pieces of artwork, as well.  Sometimes you can create a great room just by rearranging and repurposing pieces that you already own.

Paint It
Touching up old furniture can be an affordable way to add to your basement as well. A new coat of paint on that old table may be just what it needs to look new and modern.

Paint is always an inexpensive, easy way to make a room look updated.  Use neutral colors when painting furniture or walls.  You want the potential buyer’s to focus on the features of the room, not the furniture in it.  They may have a different style than you, and you want them to be able to imagine their things in your house.  Tear down that old paneling and paint a nice neutral color or add a fresh coat of paint to wainscoting. You won’t believe the difference!

Light it
relaxing-room-in-basement-by-candice-olsonBasements tend to have lighting issues so be sure that any windows are unobstructed.  Clean these windows inside and out and use minimal window treatments to allow as much light in as possible.  Don’t let there be a single shadowy corner.  Bring in table lamps and floor lamps to light these areas.  Install fixtures if your basement is lit by bare light bulbs.  Make sure light switch plates are clean and in good repair.  Any lights that have pull cords should have a clean, neat looking cord even in unfinished parts of the basement such as the furnace room.

Air it out
Don’t let the stigma of a basement being a musty place hold true in your house!  Remove carpeting that is worn.  Check for mold and water damage and take care for your own health in fixing these problems.  Use a dehumidifier or air purifier to clear the air.  If the furniture that has been down there retains that musty and dusty smell, get it cleaned or let it go.  To make the basement feel like part of your home, make sure it is well heated and not drafty.  Keep in mind that if you don’t use your heater often, it will have a dusty smell when you turn it on.  So, be sure to turn on the heat on well in advance of potential buyers coming to see the house.

An inviting and functional basement can add a lot of value to your home.  So, make sure you are using the space to its full selling potential.  Don’t let it be “just a basement”, turn it into another room in your home, full of potential for the future home owners.

STAGING – Sparse Space

When selling your home, less means more. Buyers want to picture themselves with their belongings in your home, which they can’t do if it is cluttered or filled with personal items. Remove extra furniture and any collections, family photos, religious or seasonal artifacts. Neutral paint and decor will help increase the appeal of your home, creating a blank slate for buyers to imagine how they will use it. You should also clear clutter and personal items from closets, storage spaces and medicine cabinets. In short, keep only those items you need on a daily basis, and donate or pack the rest.     clean living room

STAGING – Make It Pretty

Dirt, dust, fingerprints and cobwebs all detract from the appeal of your house. Be sure to clean thoroughly in every nook and cranny, and empty all wastebaskets, for enhanced appeal. You should also consider updating the look of your house by removing dated items.

Replace these with a few well-chosen accessories, fresh flowers or lighter drapes that brighten up your house. By simply changing the hardware on kitchen and bathroom cabinets this cost-effective upgrade will take years off the look of dated cabinets.bright-bedroom-design-ideas-6

STAGING – Staging Needs Perspective

Often people wanting to sell their homes just don’t know where to begin. They know they have a lot of work to do, but are looking for advice on how to get started.

Because sellers are used to seeing thier clutter and volumes of trinkets and trash on a daily basis, they often just don’t get the need to eliminate these items. I call it the “wallpaper effect” – it’s such a part of their daily lives that they don’t notice it anymore.

I often suggest that sellers take a really good look at each room in the house from the perspective of the doorway of each room. This is the first impression each prospective buyer will get.

Even better, take a photograph. It will speak volumes. It’s a great way to get a new perspective and to see where to begin to get the house ready to sell.

STAGING – Put Some Focus on Your Focal Points

A focal point is the element in the room which the eye is drawn to as soon as you enter the room. Every room must have a focal point because it makes the room complete and creates purpose.

If a room does not have a built-in focal point, for instance a picture window, you can create one yourself. A fireplace, piece of art,focal point furniture or a beautifully dressed bed make a great focal point in your living room, office or bedroom. Stand in the doorway of each room to see the first thing potential buyers will notice.

Once you have your focal point established, you can work your furniture and accessories to complement it. Keep furniture simple and eliminate all the clutter and personal items from the room. Create a single focal point in the often neglected entryway with an attractive table or painting.

The first impression inside the home is established at the entryway, so make sure to have a focal point that encourages interest to go further into the home. With some extra focus on your focal points homes will sell faster and for more money.

STAGING – Getting Your House in Order

If you want to get the best price for the home you’re selling and sell it quickly, making the necessary fix ups and improvements will certainly enhance your property in a prospective buyer’s eyes.

These fix-ups don’t necessarily have to be expensive. But even if you do have to make a minor investment, dollars for smart fix home-renovationups will be recouped in the price you are able to get when you sell. It’s very important that these improvements be made before you put your home on the market. If cash is tight, investigate your loan options for repairs and you can repay on closing.

Walk though your property with a critical eye or better yet have a friend who is savvy about home repairs give your house a once over. And of course you can use professionals like building inspectors and home stagers. You may as well know what the comments may be up front and then you can decide whether it is worth your while to deal with it.
Be sure to finish all those little projects you never got around to. If you have projects that have gone wrong, it might be the time to call in the experts to turn these projects into a selling feature instead of red flag for trouble to potential buyers.
Leaky faucets, squeaky doors, damaged wood, paint, tile or flooring are all detractors. Buyers want to know that the home has been maintained and well cared for. Start early to get these projects complete and reap the rewards with a higher offer.

STAGING – We Buy With Our Senses

People buy from emotion. Our senses are how we define the world around us and have a strong link to memory and emotion. What better way to create an emotional appeal for our home than through our senses.

When you decide to put your home on the market it makes good sense to consider your home not only with fresh eyes but also consider the other senses as well.

Smellgrapefruit

We often hear about the tactic of using the aroma of freshly baked bread or cookies to fill a house that is being shown to potential buyers. Think of unconventional ways to entice your buyer’s nose (without triggering allergies) with scents such as cinnamon, grapefruit, and cedar. But take care that nothing is too strong. Unnatural chemical renditions of flowers or herbs are highly promoted and sold but these can be very offensive, especially if they are trying to mask another unwelcome odor such as that from a pet. The reality is nothing beats the smell of clean. Overbearing scents make no sense.

Touch

Textures are hot right now in home décor and work equally as well when staging your home. Textures are appealing to the eye and make the person eager to touch and closely examine an object. Use the addition of textures as both a tactile and visual technique with the use of pillows, throws, window treatments, bedding, and carpets. Adding the depth of texture will make one want to linger in a room or home and feel more comfortable.

Sound

wind chimesTreat potential buyers to the sounds of nature by opening a window to your backyard. Encourage birds to congregate and sing in your yard with an attractive bird feeder or bird bath. Hang wind chimes so that even stormy days seem cheery. Have water features running in good condition indoors and out. Play soft music to encourage buyers to relax and enjoy your home.

Eliminate sounds that mean something is wrong – a squeaky door, a toilet that keeps running. This includes cleaning your aquarium’s filter, rain gutters, water pipes, air conditioning and any other appliance or items that could raise the decibel rating or an eyebrow or earlobe of a potential buyer.

When you are staging your home think beyond pleasing the eyes: sooth the ear, nose and hand, as well. Improve the emotional appeal of your home, with improved sensory appeal and you will find a happy buyer quickly.

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