Category Archives: Luxury Real Estate

Five Best Kitchen Remodeling Tips

When you shop for a home, what do you look for in the kitchen? Granite counters? Storage? Breakfast bar? Sparkling stainless appliances? If you’re buying an older home like most buyers, you may have to update to get the look and features you want. Here are five tips to get started:

  1. Work with a kitchen design professional. They’re trained to help you solve the most challenging kitchen problems and to work within your budget. A kitchen designer can recommend contractors and oversee all installations to make sure they are done correctly. Some can serve as contractors for a turnkey job.
  2. Hire qualified contractors. Cheaper isn’t necessarily better. Check references, licenses, and make sure their subcontractors are also bonded and insured.
  3. Consider the age of the home for a more organic look. For example, mid-century linoleum floors are more in fashion now than ever before. New patterns and colors in tile can mimic wood or stone for easy upkeep. Try porcelain instead of wood on cabinets for a sleek minimalist look.
  4. Be willing to compromise on costs or space. Cut the expense of new cabinetry by replacing some uppers with trendy open shelving. Splurge on granite for the island, but finish the other countertops with a workhorse stone-like laminate or tile.
  5. Don’t try to save money by doing work you aren’t qualified to do. You may be able to install flooring or a backsplash with a friend and a tutorial, but if a job requires a license like an electrician or plumber, it’s best to hire a professional.

Of course, always remember to call your favorite Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty agent at 703-836-1464 for tips, suggestions, and referrals to our list of vetted contractors.

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Homeselling Tips: Attract Real Buyers, Sell Quickly

You want your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices professional wants to sell your home quickly and at the highest price possible and in the Alexandria and greater Northern Virginia area, many think it is easy as pie. If your REALTOR makes the home selling process look that easy, then you know you have hired the right professional for the job! They are getting the job done for you with the least amount of hassle. One of the key things any good agent needs to do is make sure your home must is exposed to qualified buyers who are serious about finding a home. This is a basic step, no matter if your house is in Alexandria, Virginia or on Maui!

What do serious buyers look like? They are ready to buy and show it by getting prequalified by a lender and knowing their price range. They have criteria to meet, including likes and dislikes. They have a moving date in mind. They’re represented by a real estate agent. They’ve already eliminated homes using the Internet and your home is on the short list. They can make a solid offer on the right home today.House for sale

Serious buyers aren’t nosy neighbors, open house explorers, or people who can’t or won’t make a realistic offer. Serious buyers won’t waste your time because they don’t want to lose the opportunity to buy your home to another buyer.

Your listing agent’s job is to network, advertise, and market to make serious buyers aware of your home. How attractive your home is to buyers is up to you. Here are five ways to help your agent attract buyers to your home.

  1. Verify market prices with your agent. Price your home for today’s market reality.
  2. Stage your home to best advantage. Declutter, depersonalize, clean it, paint it, and enhance curb appeal with fresh landscaping.
  3. Fix everything that’s a problem. No leaks, chips, smells. Move-in ready condition is what most buyers want. Don’t give buyers room to argue price due to condition.
  4. Do something extra for your home. Some updating, fresh paint, new appliances, or new countertops can work wonders.
  5. Be a serious seller. Just as a serious buyer is ready to buy, show you’re ready to sell by offering your home at an attractive price, being flexible about moving dates and other terms, and making your home available for viewing with their agents.

If you are considering putting your house on the market, give us a call and we will be glad to assist. No worries if you are outside the Washington, DC metro area, we will be happy to help you find the right agent in your market.

HOME IMPROVEMENT TIPS: The 60/30/10 Color Rule

To paint and decorate your home without worrying whether you’re going overboard with color, try the classic interior design rule known as the 60/30/10 rule. It’s a foolproof way to divide your color scheme into primary, secondary and accent colors by assigning them percentage values.

The primary color is the largest block of color and will act as your neutral. You can use a true neutral like beige, grey, or white, or try a soft tint of your favorite color. The secondary color is the anchor and works well on upholstery and bedspreads. The accent color should have the most color intensity and is used sparingly in pillows, chair seats or oil paintings. Outside, the primary color is the brick, stucco or siding, the trim is the secondary color and the front door, porch chairs, or planter pots are the accent.

If you choose a deep shade for walls, give the paint a satin finish for sophistication. A dark color can easily look chalky. And the opposite is true—a light color can become blinding in a shiny finish. If you have lots of fine wood trim, paint baseboards, crown moldings and door and window trims in a complementary hue like white or cream.

To test a paint chip for accuracy, hold it parallel to the wall under natural light. Buy sample jars and test the colors on large poster boards you can tape to the walls. Watch how the colors change throughout the day and evening under artificial light.

Remember, interior colors always tend to go darker, while exterior colors appear lighter.

Complex Consumers: Why Your Old Marketing Won’t Work In Today’s Luxury Market

In decades past, luxury consumers were a primarily homogenous group with ostentatious style and a taste for status-setting items with luxury labels. Today, however, these values are all but obsolete. Luxury consumers are more varied, diverse, numerous, and complex than ever before, and thus less receptive to old marketing and branding tactics such as regionally- and demographically-targeted messaging. Market research shows that the “new” luxury consumer—in all of her instantiations—demands a fresh approach from luxury brands and service providers.

Out With The “Old” Luxury Consumer & In With The New

Although the new luxury consumer does not fit into one box, there are a few sentiments and traits that are growing across the board.

  • Global. The luxury consumer exists everywhere, and the Internet makes most products and services available to people from all corners of the world.
  • Sophisticated. Compared to past generations, today’s luxury consumer has more refined tastes and thinks more about the impact of their consumerism. These sophisticated shoppers are more educated about their options when making a buying decision.
  • Demanding. They expect their high-end vendors and service providers to be ever-accessible, as well as near-superhuman in their ability to predict the consumer’s needs and concerns.
  • Concerned with sustainability. The luxury market is not immune to eco-conscious consumers and business practices.
  • Shopping across all channels. Although today’s luxury consumer tends to communicate online, don’t assume that they’re doing all of their buying on the Internet. The in-person, in-office experience still matters.
  • Diverse. In age, race, socioeconomic background, taste, and expectations.

Luxury Experiences

 

One of the most important changes in the luxury consumer is the shift in interest from luxury “things” to luxury experiences. “Shock of the New Chic,” a recent research article by BCG Perspectives, reports that “newly affluent buyers tend to amass tangible goods that show off their wealth. Those who have acquired the ‘things’ they want tend to move on to one-of-a-kind experiences that they can share with others.”

 

Across all levels of affluence, the interest in luxury experiences is growing, from free-diving with hammerhead sharks to attending art auctions with other community members. American Millennials, for example, generally place much more stock in shared experiences than the elder and wealthier Baby Boomers. BCG’s 2013 Global Consumer Sentiment Survey showed that 29% of Chinese consumers prefer enriching experiences to products, while 51% of American consumers said the same. Today, experiential luxury constitutes 55% of luxury spending worldwide, and sales of luxury experiences now outstrip sales of high-end products.

How to Adapt & Improve

 

Here are 3 ways that luxury service providers can change their “business as usual” to embrace the changing trends and demographics within their market.

 

  • Offer luxury experiences. Real estate professionals should expand their services and offer luxury experiences to clients and prospects. This might mean organizing exclusive events, hosting community meet-ups for high-net-worth individuals, or throwing soirées featuring local luxury brands and products. Think of creative, on-brand ways to enhance your clients’ experience and enable them to “live” luxury, rather than just live in it.
  • Enrich your sales process. Research shows that, to excel with today’s consumer, all aspects and stages of your service should be top-tier. “Turning sales activities into deluxe experiences in their own right is nothing new,” according to BCG’s research. “But the practice is reaching new levels of excellence across a widening range of luxury segments . . . and across all channels.” Ask yourself how you can enhance your sales experience in the office, online, and everywhere in between. One digital option in real estate is to provide an easy method for clients to track the selling or buying process via a sleek smartphone app with push notifications. With a customer service interface that is branded and personalized, clients feel cared for and informed.
  • Test out new “experiential” business models. Over the past decade, the luxury market has seen a proliferation of businesses based on “sampling” luxury items or experiences, sometimes through rental or subscription models like those of Bag Borrow Or Steal and Birchbox. BCG noted that, “Although some see such businesses as democratizing luxury—perhaps even diluting the participating brands—the new model clearly resonates with consumers, especially Millennials.” In other words, it’s time to second guess the old assumption that exclusivity begets luxury.

 

Market research and statistics shed light on the luxury consumer’s ongoing transformation, and there is mounting evidence that it’s time for big changes in the luxury industry. BCG Perspectives stressed that, although luxury brands historically put less stock into research than their mainstream counterparts, “the formulas for success have become much more complicated.”

A special article from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing

BHHS PenFed Realty Agents Featured in Washingtonian Magazine

Twenty-two Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty sales professionals/teams are featured in an article in the July issue of Washingtonian Magazine for “Top Performers” in residential real estate. The magazine focuses on the D.C. Metro market. Below is a two page ad congratulating our agents and teams. To view a larger size, please click on link.    Agents PFR Washingtonian Ad_July 2016

PFR Washingtonian Ad_July 2016 Spread Sample_Rev_highres

– See more at: http://blog.penfedrealty.com/

Use the power of “magic showing moments”

By Laurie Moore-Moore, Founder

The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing

Recently, I had an “Aha! Moment”– one of those times when the light bulb flashed and my understanding of something clicked to a new level. Here’s what happened, I had an opportunity to interact with the wonderfully outrageous South Florida home builder, Frank McKinney.

Just to set the stage for you, McKinney’s personality is as big as the 60,000+ square foot spec mansions he builds. He bills himself as a real estate “artist,” and there is no doubt that he is the force behind some of the Florida’s most interesting mansions priced in the double digit millions.

McKinney, who designs his homes in a tree house office, is a master of creativity.  On each property homepage, you’ll find a countdown-to-completion clock ticking away.   His new homes have theatrical “unveilings” (rather than grand openings) and draw hundreds of invitees who pay to preview the properties.

Here’s the light bulb that went on for me. We all know the importance of effective staging. But “McKinney’s marketing approach moves past staging and aims at creating a desire to live in the home from the time the prospect pulls up in front.  He works to take staging and showing and turn it into a powerful selling experience.

First, he considers when and how the prospect will arrive at the house. He tries to schedule showings at a time when the home will show to best advantage. If sunset is spectacular from the poolside terraces, he wants the prospects to experience those views.  Then, with the use of strategically placed cones, he influences exactly where the prospect and agent will park.  He blocks the drive so they are forced to approach the home in the most desirable way.  The prospect sees the full expanse of the front yard, takes in the dramatic architecture, sees the guest house which appears to be floating in a lagoon, smells the freshly cut grass and feels the marble pavers underfoot.  Anticipation heightens with the approach.

When the door opens, a memorable front door experience begins. While McKinney builds-in many of his front door magic moments — including in one recent home, a “water floor” that curves into an arched aquarium wet bar with exotic fish overhead — you can stage your own memorable front door openings by being creative. It’s the concept that’s important.  McKinney carefully furnishes and stages the home so there is a pleasant surprise or positive feature around every corner. He appeals to multiple senses using music and scent.  He has chocolate and champagne waiting. Prospects are qualified in advance, so McKinney has even been known to hand them the keys and suggest they spend the evening at the house (giving new meaning to the old puppy dog close!).

His goal is to open “the window of desire” for the home and close the deal.  What’s sitting by the front door on departure?  A contract.

McKinney’s sales track record would indicate that this approach works. He tells the story of meeting buyers after closing to walk them though their new multimillion home and demonstrate all the features.  His buyers asked, ‘Can we see the upstairs now, Frank?”  They had purchased based on only seeing (and falling in love with) the main floor.

In short, McKinney’s showings are designed to be memorable experiences that result in sales.  How can you do that with your listings?  Your homes don’t have to be multimillion dollar extravaganzas for you and your sellers to make every showing a memorable experience. This is turbo-charged staging.

Think about the questions McKinney must ask himself with every property.  What times of day does the home show best?  How can I take advantage of that?  What approach to the house is most favorable?  How can I enhance that approach? Where should prospects park?  Can you create a WOW the moment the front door opens? How can you keep the positive impressions happening?  What about sound and scent?  How can you stage to best highlight the lifestyle(s) the home represents?

Then, there’s the question of how you get the buy-in and cooperation of your seller.  The reality of today’s market is that some homes are selling.  Successful sales are generally the homes which have proper pricing, effective staging, and creative marketing. If your seller understands this and YOU can create magic showing moments, the probability of sales success rises.

Love Your Home Sweepstakes

Have you heard the news?  Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’s $50,000 sweepstakes last year was such a huge success they decided to give away even more money this year!  That’s right, in addition to giving away a $50,000 grand prize, they will also be giving away $2,500 a week to one lucky winner in the Love Your Home Sweepstakes.

love your home sweepstakes

Now through 5:00 p.m. ET on June 17, 2016, enter for a chance to win $50,000 to update your home so you can Love It or List It. Plus, one person will win $2,500 every week.  For more details or to enter the contest, visit http://www.loveyourhomesweeps.com or read the fine print and complete rules.