Prepping and Staging Your Home


Preparing to list your home? Here are a few tip we compiled from HGTV of how you can stage and prep your home to give you a competitive edge when you put your house on the market.

Time to De-Clutter

The most important thing you can do to prepare your home for sale is to get rid of clutter. One of the major contributors to a cluttered look is having too much furniture. When professional stagers prep a home for market, they often remove as much as half the owner’s furnishings, and the house looks much bigger for it. Take a hard look at what you have and ask yourself what you can live without.

Furniture Groupings


There’s a common belief that rooms will feel larger and be easier to use if all the furniture is pushed against the walls, but that isn’t the case. Instead, furnish your space by floating furniture away from walls. Reposition sofas and chairs into cozy conversational groups, and place pieces so that the traffic flow in a room is obvious. Not only will this make the space more user-friendly, but it will open up the room and make it seem larger.

Room Transformations

If you have a room that serves only to gather junk, repurpose it into something that will add to the value of your home. The simple addition of a comfortable armchair, a small table and a lamp in a stairwell nook will transform it into a cozy reading spot.


Home Lighting

One of the things that make staged homes look so warm and welcoming is great lighting. As it turns out, many of our homes are improperly lighted. To remedy the problem, increase the wattage in your lamps and fixtures. Aim for a total of 100 watts for each 50 square feet. Don’t depend on just one or two fixtures per room, either. Make sure you have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (pendant, under-cabinet or reading) and accent (table and wall).

Make It Bigger

To make a room appear to be bigger than it is, paint it the same color as the adjacent room. If you have a small kitchen and dining room, a seamless look will make both rooms feel like one big space. And make a sunporch look bigger and more inviting by painting it green to reflect the color of nature. Another design trick: If you want to create the illusion of more space, paint the walls the same color as your drapery. It will give you a seamless and sophisticated look.

Neutral and Appealing

Painting a living room a fresh neutral color helps tone down any dated finishes in the space. Even if you were weaned on off-white walls, take a chance and test a quart of paint in a warm, neutral hue. These days, the definition of neutral extends way beyond beige, from warm tans and honeys to soft blue-greens. As for bold wall colors, they have a way of reducing offers, so go with neutrals in large spaces.


Three’s Company

Mixing the right accessories can make a room more inviting. When it comes to eye-pleasing accessorizing, odd numbers are preferable, especially three. Rather than lining up a trio of accessories in a row, imagine a triangle and place one object at each point. Scale is important, too, so in your group of three be sure to vary height and width, with the largest item at the back and the smallest in front. For maximum effect, group accessories by color, shape, texture or some other unifying element, stagers suggest.

Raid Your Yard

Staged homes are almost always graced with fresh flowers and pricey orchid arrangements, but you can get a similar effect simply by raiding your yard. Budding magnolia clippings or unfurling fern fronds herald the arrival of spring, summer blooms add splashes of cheerful color, blazing fall foliage warms up your decor on chilly autumn days and holly branches heavy with berries look smashing in winter.

New Faces

If you can’t afford new cabinets, just get new doors and drawer fronts. Then paint everything to match and add new hardware. And instead of replacing the entire dishwasher, you may be able to get a new front panel. Check with the manufacturer to see if replacements are available for your model. If not, laminate paper, which goes on like contact paper, can be used to re-cover the existing panel.

Don’t Overcrowd Rooms

Don’t overcrowd a room with furniture that is too large for the space; it will only make the room appear small and cramped. However, don’t leave a room too barren either.


Irish 31 “The Peoples Pub” Opening Soon at Wiregrass

wiregrass_locationIrish 31, which has existing locations in Westchase, Westshore, at Amalie Arena and Hyde Park Village, all in Tampa, will open its first Pinellas County location on Clearwater Beach and its first Pasco location at Wiregrass, sometime in July.

Irish 31, which is owned by former USF football star Jay Mize is a neighborhood pub that views it’s “neighbors” as true partners. In addition to their vast array of draft and bottle beers, and full liquor bar, they will have a “community tap” that their “neighbors” vote on to tell them what they want to drink. They have weekly food specials that, if well received by their “neighbors”, are permanently added to the food menu.


From their website: “We have fast become known as the “The People’s Pub.” We didn’t label ourselves this, it was earned. Events such as “Be Our Board” allow our customers to taste our dishes, give us feedback, and have a say in what goes on our menu. If a beer that you love is not behind our bar, we do our absolute best to get it. If there is a cocktail that you are craving, we will make sure we can make it. Our customers ultimately steer the ship, which is why we fit so well in every community, and are rapidly embraced as “The People’s” neighborhood pub.”

“The love and thoughtfulness that our chefs put into creating each dish, is then complemented by the care used in sourcing our ingredients. Our poultry, meats, and ocean-fresh seafood are procured from all over the globe to ensure freshness and to support sustainable and ethical farming practices, and the pub’s produce is sourced locally ensuring farm-to-table freshness and seasonality. The pub’s produce is sourced locally ensuring farm-to-table freshness.

The Irish 31 menu offers a tantalizing mix of traditional Irish food, vegetarian options, Southern favorites, and classic comfort foods. Our Kid’s Menu includes kid-pleasers like chicken fingers and grilled cheese, and our decadent Dessert Menu boasts sinful indulgences like the delectable Irish Cream Cheesecake. We even have a K-9 Menu for our four-legged guests, who are always welcome on our pet-friendly patio!”


Located at: 28358 WILLET WAY| WESLEY CHAPEL, FLORIDA 33543 – Ph. 813-907-2306

HOURS (once open):





Buying A Short-Sale…not so simple

imagesBuyers pursue short sales to get a good deal and believe buying a short sale will present that opportunity. So when you see a price listed for a home that you think is too low for the neighborhood, before you jump on that price ask your agent to call the listing agent to find out if the home is a short sale.

Because you might want to think twice about making an offer on a pre-foreclosure, short sale home.

It’s not as simple as you may believe and very few can close in 30 days or less. Many wait 2 to 6 months to close on a short sale, sometimes longer.

What is a Short Sale?

A short sale means the seller’s lender is accepting a discounted payoff to release an existing mortgage. Just because a property is listed with short sale terms does not mean the lender will accept your offer, even if the seller accepts it.

Be aware that the seller need not be in default — to have stopped making mortgage payments — before a lender will consider a short sale. A lender may consider a short sale if the seller is current but the value has fallen. The seller may have over-encumbered, owe more than the home is worth, so a discounted price might bring the price in line with market value, not below it.

Check the Public Records

Do your research before making an offer to purchase. Your agent can find out who is in title, whether a foreclosure notice has been filed and how much is owed to the lender(s). This is important because it will help you to determine how much to offer. If there are two loans, you could have a problem.

The first mortgage lender’s position is protected by the second lender, unless the second lender does not want to foreclose. If a seller owes $160,000 on the first and $40,000 on the second, offering $160,000 leaves nothing for the second. The first will need to give something to the second to gain its cooperation.

Hire an Agent with Short Sale Experience

It’s one strike against you if the listing agent has never handled a short sale, but it’s even worse if your own agent has no experience in that arena. You need an experienced short sale agent who can anticipate surprises and stop problems from happening.

An agent with experience in short sales will help to expedite your transaction and protect your interests. You don’t want to miss any important detail due to inexperience or find out your transaction is not going to close on time because no one has followed up in a timely manner.

Qualifying the Property and Seller for a Short Sale

A lender is unlikely to agree to a short sale unless the seller has no equity and is unable to repay the difference between your sales price and the existing loans.

Sellers need to provide a hardship letter to the lender. Sellers may also owe taxes on the amount of debt that is forgiven.

Submit Documentation and Purchase Offer to Lender

Once the seller has accepted your offer, the listing agent will it to the lender for approval. You do not have a deal until the lender accepts. Also, the lender will want a copy of your earnest money deposit and proof of funds.

Do not be surprised if the lender asks you to increase your sales price.

pre-approval-imageIn addition, the lender will want to see that you have your own loan available and you are preapproved. Send a pre-approval letter for the lender. It will help if your agent sends a list of comparable sales that support the price you are offering to pay for the home.

Give the Short Sale Lender Time to Respond

Make your offer contingent upon the lender’s acceptance. Give the lender a time frame in which to respond, after which, you will be free to cancel.

Some lenders submit short sales to committee, but most can make a decision within two to three months. The listing agent should have the appropriate contact information for the lender. As a buyer, you cannot contact the lender, so be patient.

Reserve the Right to Conduct Inspections

home-inspection-870x400-768x400Generally, the lender will not allow a seller to pay customary items that a traditional seller would pay. These include home protection plans for the buyer, roof / pest / termite inspections and pest completions. A buyer will be asked to purchase the property “as is,” which means no repairs.

8 Reasons why For Sale By Owner is a Bad Idea

14325968663981. Scams are real.

FSBO scams affect both buyers and sellers. They usually have no recourse other than hiring an attorney to recapture a part of their financial loss. Ask them then how much money they saved by not enlisting the professional help of a Realtor.

Frequent scams include fraudulent papers (loan documents and appraisals) foreign buyer deposits, third party purchases, and asking for certain personal information.

2. Sellers take on all liability.

Making mistakes is human. A seller or buyer that does not obtain the guidance of a licensed real estate agent (or better yet a Realtor) pays for those mistakes. Lawyers can bring a real estate transaction to a close, but they usually do not carry errors and omissions (E&O) insurance.

So if a homeowner lists “hardwood floors” as a feature, and the buyer subsequently uncovers that it is a wood veneer, then the homeowner is going to pay for that mistake most likely.

A Realtor should have caught that mistake before it could have any negative consequence, or it would have been covered with E&O insurance. As our culture increasingly becomes litigious, this additional exposure paints an even larger target on you.

3. Intimidating paperwork.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers stated that understanding paperwork was one of the most challenging tasks for FSBO’s.

In Florida, there are a number of legal forms that are required along the way to a successful closing.  These include a sales contract, property disclosures, occupancy agreements, and lead paint records.

Of course in this internet age, generic contracts can be purchased easily enough.  However, an untrained seller probably won’t understand what all of the language means to them in their specific situation.

4. Sellers can get bogged down in a bad deal. 

FSBO’s who commit to a deal only to subsequently realize a mistake are stuck.  They are obligated to pay the buyer (if the buyer is willing) to get out of the contract, or they will have to stick with the bad deal.

5. FSBO’s sell for less.

According to a NAR study, in 2015 the median FSBO sold for approximately 16% less than the median home listed with a Realtor.

The fact is that homeowners trying to sell by themselves simply do not have the proper time to devote to the sales process, nor do they have the valuation data and marketing strategy.

6. FSBO’s get stagnant.

FSBO’s have the privilege of spending more time on the market than homes listed with a Realtor.  In general that leads to a lower eventual selling price.  On average, 18% of FSBO’s were unable to sell within their chosen time frame in 2015.

7. Limited marketing.

By definition, FSBO’s have limited resources to market their home.  The 2015 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers states that 42% relied on a yard sign, 32% relied on friends and family, and 15% used social mediaHidden costs pile up.

Saving money is the motivation for most FSBO’s.  It may take some time for them to realize it, but chances are that these sellers are being nickel and dimed along the way to a sizeable amount of money.

If they want to be proactive, they are going to be paying for signage, flyers, photography, listing on the local MLS, lawyers, optional home warranties, home inspections, credit reports on potential buyers possibly, contracts, etc.

8. Time is money. 

If they are lucky, the biggest cost to the FSBO is their own time.