Tag Archives: top agent

The Gift of Staging

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Staging is magical. It’s “theater” that evokes a buyer’s emotional response and thereby enhances a seller’s bottom line.

It makes it easier for buyers to envision themselves living in a home. It psychically de-personalizes the property and displays furnishings in context. It makes a house more inviting in every way.

But there’s another unexpected and little-discussed benefit: By creating an idealized version of a home, staging makes it easier for sellers to LET GO.

An owner’s initial reaction to viewing their staged home inevitably goes something like this: “Wow. I wish we’d done this while we were living here.”

That “shouldawouldacoulda” cringe is normal. Yet nobody ever actually lives that way. Ergo one of my real estate mantras: “The way you live in a house and the way you sell it are two entirely different things.”

A cruder twist on that bit of wisdom is: “If your home looks like it’s staged, you probably should examine the sacrifices you’re making in the name of keeping up appearances.”

Life is messy. Shit happens. Stuff accumulates. There’s a healthy difference between ideal and reality, and it’s evident in your home. After all, THE HOUSE is the dream metaphor for THE SELF.

So, with staging, there is a pivotal moment that presents a homeowner with a wonderful opportunity for closure and progression.

Consider the story of my lovely client Jane (not her real name). Preparing her house for sale required four stressful months of cleaning out and organizing 40 years’ worth of belongings. Another month was needed for cosmetic fixes and staging. I spent 10 days marketing the house before we considered offers. We closed seven days later.

Prior to de-staging, Jane visited her longtime home. Alone. She sat in the living room. She let the serene and clean feeling of the staged house wash over her. She walked through the rooms and looked out the windows. It was as if she were seeing some of those views for the first time.

There were brief waves of regret – the shouldawouldacoulda. There were flashes of memories – both happy and sad. There was appreciation for the years of service the house had given.

This was followed by a curious contentment and detachment. Jane assimilated the staged version of the house as the one she’ll remember in years ahead. Then, without resisting, she let go of her longtime home.

“The staging,” she explained, “was a gift for me.”

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com. This article was re-posted at McGuire.com.

Sometimes It’s Hard to Imagine……

…what a little paint, a little floor refinishing and a little staging will do.

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Before and after kitchen at 2651 Baker. We did the bare minimum and it made a huge difference!

I almost always recommend superficial cosmetic updates and  staging whenever I list a property for sale. In my heart of hearts, I know it works.

But what’s funny is this: When my clients and I are looking at the “before” version prior to the “after” version being completed, it’s really difficult to envision the transformation ahead.

In other words, in hindsight it always proves to have been a good idea. Yet when you’re trying to decide whether or not to spend an extra $500 to have new carpeting put on the stairs, you might think, “Well. Hmm. It can’t make THAT big a difference.”

Note to self: It always works. It’s always worth it. When in doubt, GO for it!

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

 

Realtor’s Dozen: Cow Hollow

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Cow Hollow when there were cows in the hollow.

Here’s another entry in my series of installments called “Realtor’s Dozen,” in which I extol 13 virtues of a neighborhood in San Francisco.

  1. You can’t help but love an urban neighborhood with a name like Cow Hollow. Especially given the discrepancy between its cow-filled past and its multi-million-dollar-home-filled present.
  2. Walk westward and you’re in The Presidio — full of Eucalyptus trees, historic buildings, hikes, museums and a cemetery where lie the remains of a Union spy.
  3. Wonderful Union Street runs right down the center of Cow Hollow.
  4. Equally wonderful Chestnut Street parallels Union, four blocks to the north.
  5. An offshoot flock of the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill flies over the neighborhood like Blue Angels during Fleet Week.
  6. The Lyon Street steps are good for working off a worried mind or for working up a sweat while getting from Point A (Lyon and Green) to Point B (Lyon and Broadway).
  7. Reliably pleasant weather.
  8. There aren’t many octagon houses left in the world. Maybe one or two hundred. One of the best examples is the McElroy Octagon House at Gough and Union. Let me know what you think. (Nearly 30 years and I’ve yet to visit.)
  9. Find a moment’s peace in the courtyard of The Episcopal Church of St. Mary The Virgin at the corner of Union and Steiner. When open, it’s a nice place to just sit quietly. Like Ferdinand the Bull.
  10. Within walking distance of the Bay. But not on landfill.
  11. Calling all Millennials! According to a 2014 survey by Niche, Cow Hollow is the best neighborhood for Millennials in the 5th best U. S. city for Millennials.
  12. If your home is too small for out-of-town guests, there’s a plethora of relatively low-priced hotels nearby.
  13. The 41-Union is one of the tastiest MUNI routes in town, running from The Presidio, through Cow Hollow, over Russian Hill, across North Beach, into the Financial District and all the way to Main and Howard.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

Enough with the Booties, Already!

Selling a property isn’t brain surgery. So why ask agents and potential buyers to wear surgical booties when they step inside your house? Nobody wants to look like this:

SAMSUNG

Need more inspiration? Watch this favorite from my video archives:

How do YOU feel about booties?

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

10 Things Smart Buyers Look For in a Home

cat in doorway

If you’re listing your home for sale, keep this list in mind. When I’m representing buyers, I’m always on the lookout for a “run-don’t-walk” property which…

  1. Is vacant and unstaged.
  2. Does not have a dedicated website.
  3. Is listed by an out-of-town broker.
  4. Has one grainy photo on MLS (or no photo).
  5. Doesn’t appear on MLS at all.
  6. Is shown on lockbox.
  7. Is asking $50,000 more than the most recent comparable.
  8. Isn’t listed on broker’s tour.
  9. Advertises “offers as they come.”
  10. Smells like a cat has been peeing on the carpet over in the corner.

Such a dream-come-true property is hard to find, but the search is well worth it.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

Story: The Cat

http://www.miskatonic.com/
Photo by David Corby

“It’s fine, but remember The Cat is in the house,” said my seller Y, when I asked if I could show her condo that day on short notice.

I laughed at Y’s intonation. She sing-songed her answer like a rapper: The Cat is in the house, y’all.

That humor would’ve been lost on her pet because if The Cat were an audiophile, she would prefer Mantovani to Macklemore. A senior citizen among felines, she was overly ancient. Extra old. Like 300 cat years old.

When I first met The Cat, I knelt down to greet said bag o’ fur. Y cautioned me sternly, “Don’t touch her. She’s mean!” And, indeed, the shabby tabby began hissing and swiping at the air. I jumped back just in the nick of time.

I ended up logging quite a few hours alone with The Cat during open houses, appointments and inspections. I warned the photographer, the pest inspector, the window washer, various agents and numerous animal-loving customers to keep their distance.

But would they listen? No! All these folks fancied themselves to be cat whisperers.

Me: Watch out, The Cat is viscious.

Visitor: (advancing toward The Cat with bare arm outstretched, fingers waving like seaweed) Nice kitty. Nice kitty. Aw, whatsa matter? Nice, nice. There now. You’re not so ferocious! Who loves the puss? Who wuvves de widdle kiddy. Who? Oh shit! (screaming)

Me: You don’t seem to be bleeding too badly. (rummaging through medicine cabinet for hydrogen peroxide and Band-Aids)

And so it went. With each successive visit, The Cat became bolder. Initially, The Cat hid under a bed. After a week, The Cat would hiss at me from atop the entry stairs. Eventually, The Cat would be lurking just inside the condo door.

This made me very nervous. Nervous The Cat would attack me. Nervous The Cat would attack someone else. Nervous The Cat would escape as soon as I cracked open the front door.

I expressed my concerns to Y. She said, “Don’t worry too much. It wouldn’t be your fault if she ran away. Just bring me an offer.”

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com. I posted an earlier version of this entry at McGuire.com in 2010.

Throwback Thursday: The Realtor/Stripper Connection

Sally Rand, striptease artist

This post from August 2012 when the market was really starting to heat up.

I was the most popular gal in San Francisco on a recent Sunday afternoon. (Not counting the hard-working women employed at the Gold Club, of course.)

That’s because I had a hot new listing that everybody wanted. It was in fantastic shape, freshly remodeled and beautifully staged. It smelled divine. It was totally available and it was really cheap (relatively speaking).

As a result, everybody who came to the open house loved the place and, in an attempt to butter me up, loved me too.

If you’re ever feeling down about yourself, just get a California Real Estate License, procure a well-priced listing in our fair city, hold an open house and stand in the foyer handing out flyers. You can be as repellant as Donald Trump and people will still find something to compliment you about. They will dig deep to sweet-talk you.

“That smiley-face tie is so arty!”

“Your purple cell phone is the nicest one I’ve ever seen!”

“These chocolate chip cookies are fantastically tasty! Did you buy them at Safeway yourself?”

Generally speaking, agents are even more shameless than the general public. They flatter you about how skinny you’ve gotten; how you’re so darn tiny all of a sudden?! (Always amusing, since on the morning of my open house, I’d torn my bathroom apart in search of a safety pin to let my pants out an inch or two.)

Anyway, I counted 100-plus visitors to that open house; pretty heady stuff. It’s like having the ultimate my-parents-are-out-of-town party of your dreams—everybody wants in! People can’t move from the front to the back because the hallway is so crowded. Yet, unlike the guests at an impromptu high school bacchanal, your open house visitors are polite and respectful. Nobody is raiding the liquor cabinet or throwing up in the hydrangeas.

With an attractive San Francisco listing to show, a REALTOR®—at least for two hours every weekend—can be the most popular person in an entire neighborhood. No wonder we agents plaster our photos all over the place.

Think about it. In what other profession do practitioners affix their photos to every communication or marketing vehicle? Not doctors, lawyers or Indian chiefs. Not tinkers, tailors or internet wunderkinds.

You guessed it: Strippers. It’s what strippers do! Maybe that’s why so many successful REALTORS® have what sound like successful stripper names.

Remember the trick about how to discover your stripper name? You combine the name of your first pet with the name of the street you lived on as a kid. Using this technique, my alter ego’s handle is Blue Laurel.

Just for fun, I tried creating stripper names using a new method. I mixed up the first and last names of Bay Area real estate agents (to be fair, I threw both my real names into the pot). Here are some of the results: Missy Cummins, Francesca Holmes, Eva Wood, Adam Upjohn, Mona Cherry, Candace Merryman, Max Shine, Luba Hand, Cynthia Ho.

I bet you can come up with some better ones yourself; just go to any real estate website and start mixing.

Blue Laurel. Not bad for the stage. But not great either. I think I’ll stick with my day job.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

 

Value Added: Vacant Equals Vapid

It’s simple: Vacant homes sell for less. Rooms appear to be smaller, and the house feels cold and unwelcoming. Exceptions to this rule are far and few between, and an agent who says otherwise isn’t serving your best interests. These two photos tell the story.

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Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

 

Hot on Tuesday Tour: Creative Touch

I dig the retro sewing machine. It takes me right back to 1967 or thereabouts. Set on a narrow table in a Richmond district house, it’s part of a crafts tableau that brings some life to an otherwise drab ground-floor space.

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I got a “C” in home economics (yes, I’m that old). And I take my sewing repairs to Miss Sally’s on 20th Street. But even I know you’d never jam that folded up fabric under the pressure foot or set that pincushion there.

Still, I give the stager Three Buddha Busts for switching (or shall I say “stitching”?) it up.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.