Real Estate Marketing Specialists

Category Archives: Staging

Tips and information on staging your Frederick Home for sale

Easy Ways to Improve Your Home’s Appeal

Easy Ways to Improve Your Home’s Appeal

Once you have gotten your home ready for the market, with all the necessary repairs and cleaning, once it’s staged and photos and video has been taken, some final tweeks might help put your home above the competition. Staging a home for sale has proven to be effective in making that home more appealing to buyers. Here are a few tips I’ve jotted down as we spend time with buyers looking at homes.

Making your home more appealing to buyers by paying attention to the “feels” of your home will pay off. What do I mean by the “feels”? Think about things that will appeal to the emotions and senses of prospective buyers:

1.  Make people feel at home. Choose a few areas of your home to pay special attention to in your staging:

  • Put a centerpiece on a brightly lit dining room table with attractive table wear, placemats  and napkins.
  • Fresh flowers are so welcoming. Plants are a warm addition to most rooms and also serve to clean the air. Even a simple bowl with blossoms is easy to do, and brings the beauty of the outdoors inside. flower arrangements
  • If you have a soaking tub or jetted tub, highlight it with pretty candles and attractive bottles of bubble bath. Play up the benefits of a spa-like experience.
  • If you have a cozy nook, turn on a reading light next to an armchair with an open book on the seat.
  • Thin out your closet of off-season clothes. Buyers want to know that storage is not a problem.
  • Dress your bed attractively with lots of comfy pillows. Make your linens non-fussy and not overly feminine.
  • Clear the kitchen counter except for some pretty canisters and an open cookbook. Again, buyers want to see space.staging tips
  • Keep the curtains open and the lights on to make the home bright. You may consider removing screens to let in even more light. Turn on all the lights at night, including the front walkway and entryway.
  • Don’t forget to decorate the outdoor rooms and create a welcoming area. Outdoor rooms add living space.

2.  Keep all of the 5 senses in mind:

  • Make the home smell good by baking cookies or bread just before your showing. Use candles, but make sure they aren’t overbearing.
  • During the time your home is on the market, refrain from cooking with pungent ingredients, like curry and garlic. Odors can linger long afterwards, and can be off-putting to some buyers.make your home more appealing
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature for visitors. When your home is on the market, it’s not the time to worry about the electric bill. While you don’t want buyers to sweat while they tour your home, you also don’t want the rushing out to get a winter coat, either.
  • Keep the air dust-free by changing filters often. As the light is beaming through the windows, make sure that there aren’t wafts of dust floating and making people sneeze.
  • Accent the season with flowers and wreaths in Spring, a basket of pine cones in Winter, Fall foliage in vases, etc. Find ways to bring the outdoors in no matter what the season. Natural elements are appealing and comforting.
  • Keep quiet, relaxing music playing in the background during a showing.

3.  Help buyers imagine themselves living in your home.

  • De-clutter. This will go a long way in helping buyers to envision their belongings in your home.
  • De-personalize. Remove most of your family photos and personal items. The buyers will feel less invasive as they tour your home.
  • Keep pets out of the way and put away food and pet supplies. Some buyers are allergic or not animal lovers.
  • Put away personal bathroom items. De-personalizing private spaces can be challenging, but results in helping a buyer feel more comfortable.

Related Articles: Getting Your Home Read for the Market, Getting Your Home Ready Part 2, 15 Staging Rules, What are the most Important Things to Do to Ready My home for the Market?

The Highland Group
eXp Realty
Frederick, Md 21704

The Highland Group

Using Fresh Flowers to Stage Your Home for Sale

Using Fresh Flowers to Stage Your Home for Sale

Home Staging

Homes for Sale in Frederick Md
Many real estate agents recommend staging your home when you put it on the market for sale. Showing the home in it’s best light, highlighting the stand-out features, and showing buyers the best use of your space…all these are benefits of staging. [We have several resources with great information in our Staging Category] Using fresh flowers to stage your home will add a touch of luxe.

Using Fresh Flowers to Stage Your Home

Frederick gardeners, you know you’ve had enough of the drab days of winter when you find yourself out in the yard, in the dark with a flashlight scanning the beds, in search of the first hint of green pushing through the thawing crust of earth. You know you are making the most of the bursting of spring when you keep your garden clippers next to the door…any opportunity to bring in the beauty.

My friend Barbara is a Master Gardener in Maryland. She has provided me with a super list of flowers that would be perfect to arrange and display in your home, whether you’re staging and selling, or just want to enjoy the beauty of fresh flower. Flowers make your living spaces so friendly and welcoming, and add a touch of luxury.

Here are some of Barbara’s best tips to get the most out of your fresh flowers:

  • Spring bulbs are best when they get a simple dunk in a vase filled with cool water, kept fresh with a teaspoon of household bleach and a pinch or two of sugar.
  • Change the water every few days—or sooner if the water looks murky. The best method – rather than pulling the bouquet from the vase to change the water, simply hold the vase and flowers under the tap and flush till the water in the vase is clear.
  • Use clippers — not scissors. Scissors will crush the stems and impede the uptake of water. Be sure to strip away all foliage below the water line. Warm water perks up wilted flowers; hot water (110 degrees Fahrenheit) stands up floppy stems. And if you want to triple the shelf life of your bouquet, tuck the flowers in the fridge or a cool corner of the cellar (40 degrees Fahrenheit) for a good six hours before putting them out for show.
  • Branches and very thick stems do best with a vertical snip to soak up more water.

It doesn’t matter whether you cut them straight from the garden or pick up a bunch at the supermarket or your favorite flower shop. However, if you do cut from the garden, it’s best to cut in the morning, once the dew has dried. That’s when the stems are at their sturdiest, and filled with moisture, giving you the best chance for a longer show.

When to harvest: When most of the flowers on the stem are open.
Vase life: 7 to 10 days.
Special attention: These beauties need nothing but a quick snip and time to inhale their lovely scent.

Grape hyacinth (Muscari)
When to harvest: When blooms are half open.
Vase life: 5 to 7 days.
Special attention: None.

NarcissusWhen to harvest: When fully open is best, though it’s lovely to have a spectrum of buds to blooms.
Vase life: 6 to 9 days—if you precondition (see below).
Special attention: Narcissi ooze a toxic sap, keep away from animals and babies; to keep from knocking off other blooms, pre-soak in cool water about six hours before adding to your mixed bouquet. If you have room, tuck in the fridge for the pre-soak. You don’t need floral preservative, but be vigilant about changing the water.

A little Mythology:  Narcissus, of Greek mythology, was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope, known for his unmatched beauty. He was proud of his beauty and had disdain for those who loved him. Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance, noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus drowned. The flower grew in his place.

When to harvest: When entire bud is flush with color.
Vase life: 6 to 10 days.
Special attention: Curious bloomers, tulips will grow one to two inches even after they’re cut. So keep that in mind if you’re designing an arrangement and scale matters. Also, tulips will bend toward the sunlight, so be sure to twirl the vase often, unless you want leaning blooms.

ButtercuupRanunculus or Buttercup
When to harvest: As soon as buds show color.
Vase life: 5 to 7 days.
Special attention: None.

Fun Trivia: The Princess Bride  was Robin Wright's first film, playing Princess Buttercup, after acting in the soap opera "Santa Barbara" for four years. The film is number 50 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".

Ixia ixia
Sometimes called Corn Lily.
When to harvest: As soon as you can see a touch of color on some buds.
Vase life: 10 days to two weeks, even longer.
Special attention: None.


peonyWhen to harvest: Once the bud is showing bright color, and petals can be seen.
Vase life: 5 to 8 days.
Special attention: As soon as you cut, place stems in warm water to increase water uptake. Be sure to shake off ants before bringing these perfumed beauties inside.


Also: evening stock and night-scented stock
When to harvest: When half the flowers on the stem are open.
Vase life: 7 to 10 days.
Special attention: If you remember to keep recutting the stems, you can add an extra three days to the vase life.

Virginia bluebells

Virginia BluebellsWhen to harvest: As soon as a few bells are open.
Vase life: 2 to 4 days, at best.
Special attention: A six-hour stay in the refrigerator is essential if you want these beauties to last past the next morning. They’ll do best if you trim either all the leaves, or all the flowers, going with one or the other on each stem.

Fresh flowers add beauty and aroma to your home, as well as a welcoming touch. For more inspiration: A favorite resource many gardener’s to turn is Suzy Bales’ Garden Bouquets and Beyond. These bouquet suggestions are full of flowers that are built to withstand sleet, snow, raging winds and whatever springtime in Maryland brings. Sturdy flowers that don’t require too much primping and fussing are perfect for a busy homeowner.


Thanks Barbara, for your expert help!

Decorating Trend Forecast for 2015

Decorating Trend Forecast for 2015

Most homeowners, whether they are thinking of selling or not, have an interest in decorating. Everyone wants to be comfortable in their nest, and that often includes decorating in colors and styles that reflect who they are. Whether you put a lot of thought into your decor, or whether you do a quick makeover, whether you use what you have accumulated over the years, or whether you love to purchase an entire new look, the decorating trend forecast for 2015 will be of interest.

Decorating Trends for 2015 for Frederick Homeowners

According to Elle Decor – Pantone, House Beautiful, Houzz, Ikea and, we’ll also be seeing a continuation of some of this year’s styles and colors, and some new ones. Sometimes the first clue about next year’s decorating trends are seen on the runways of Fashion Week in New York! For clues, ladies will be interested to know that Fashion Week is taking place as I write, September 4th through 11th, 2014.

Colors for 2015

Color of the Year – “Radiant Orchid” is the Pantone 2014 Color of the Year. Similarly, all kinds of pinks, salmon and peach are going to be a hot decorating color going into 2015. Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015 is color of the year 2015Marsala:

The Benjamin Williams Color of the Year for 2014 is “Breath of Fresh Air”. Look for all shades of blue in next year’s decorating.

Pantone’s Color of the year for 2015: Marsala.

The colors that will be seen everywhere in 2015:


Follow The Highland Group’s board Turquoise on Pinterest.

Chalky Black

 Follow The Highland Group’s board Black on Pinterest.


Follow The Highland Group’s board Yellow on Pinterest.


Follow The Highland Group’s board Blue on Pinterest.  


 Follow The Highland Group’s board Green on Pinterest.

. Neutrals – In modern decorating, neutrals are no longer just beige and white. Neutrals next year will include shades of peach, pink and coral; lavendar; clay; taupe; and pale blues and greens. .

Grey is still the hottest neutral, according to House Beautiful. The combination of soft grey walls, charcoal doors or trim, and a whitish-grey ceiling is going to be very popular, and a good background for any color combination chosen for furniture and decor. Any light pastel is considered a neutral, especially blues and greens in 2015. .

Color Palettes.

  1. Dynamic Pairings – The new modern includes dynamic color pairings, like black, white and a pop of red…or the bold combination of blue, green and orange. .
  2. Pastel Palettes reminiscent of the 80’s – Think orange and purple sunsets, green palm trees and aqua pools, and pink flamingos. .
  3. Warm, muddy tones reminiscent of the 60’s – Think rust, olive, aubergine and dusty mint.
  4. Traditional colors paired with crisp white, for a modern twist. Consider deep, rich blues… Indigo, Greek Blue, Traditional Cobalt Blue, but glossy, and paired with white. .
  5. The sumptuous, glamorous rich hues of Renaissance colors. According to House Beautiful: The combinations of greens, plums, cerulean blue, beiges and whites – and the mixing of patterns and textures, as seen in many Renaissance paintings.

Color Combinations for 2015:

Follow The Highland Group’s board Color Palettes for Decorating 2015 on Pinterest.

Decor Trends for 2015

Finishes – Brushed Gold, gold mixed with brass, seen in gold leaf and also mixed with other metals. Silver will still be seen, but second to gold.  Black finishes will also be popular, matte black.

  • Tile Work – Texture and matte finishes are popular in tile work. Intricate and mosaic patterns will be the rage in tile work next year.
  • Metals – Vintage Metals, Faucets with minimalist designs and contemporary clean lines, or techy attributes, like touch-activated faucets. Industrial Design is the rage. Consider this trend for light fixtures, occasional furniture and storage solutions. It also works well for mirrors, home office furniture, and just about anything for a modern loft-feel.
  • Appliances – Colored Kitchen Appliances are the trend, with vintage-looking models, as well as appliances being built into the cabinetry. Microwave drawers are becoming more popular, as many consumers don’t want to use counter or cabinet space.  Look for steam ovens to be in stores as people focus more on healthy eating.  See more on our Pinterest Board:    

Fixtures and Finishes for Home Decorating 2015

Follow The Highland Group’s board Fixtures & Finishes for Home Decorating Trends 2015 on Pinterest.

Style Trends .

  1. Simplicity – Scandinavian style is trendy now, as it is the epitome of simplicity. Next year the trend will broaden to include airy, spacious rooms, less cluttered and more straightforward. As our lives become more cluttered, our spaces seem to move the other direction. Hide-Away storage pieces are more in demand as more people are opting for smaller, but smarter spaces. .
  2. Mid-Century Modern – Thanks in part to the television show “Mad Men” this style has become popular in the last few years. It spanned a period of about 2 1/2 decades from the mid-1940’s to 1970. Many are attracted to the simplicity and clean lines of mid-century modern furniture, accessories and decor. A few iconic pieces can work well with any room..
  3. Hand-Made is in style, including crafts from other cultures. A touch of hand-made will cross all kinds of styles. .
  4. Nature-Inspired – Natural elements are still a big part of modern decorating and will continue to be next year. Including plants, wood, stained wood, bone and horns, leather, baskets and natural stone,  granite, and marble is a trend that crosses all styles, from modern to vintage and everything in-between. Botanical prints, and large floral prints are in style for art, furniture, window coverings and even wall paper. .
  5. The New Modern – What we define as modern changes throughout the years. Modern in 2015 includes a fusion of styles, including ethnic patterns, geometric patterns, rustic and natural elements, organic and eco-friendly touches, and the addition of hand-made items, especially items from different cultures. Eclectic is the New Modern..
  6. Geometric Design – Bold and subtle geometric patterns will be seen in wall paper, upholstered furniture, window treatments and rugs next year. One piece can really spice up a living space.  See more on our Pinterest Board:

Decorating Trend Forecast for 2015

Follow The Highland Group’s board Decorating Trends 2015 on Pinterest.

Outdoor Rooms – Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space. The trend to create comfortable, colorful and engaging outdoor rooms will continue in 2015. See more inspiration on our Pinterest Board:

Outdoor Rooms

Follow The Highland Group’s board Outdoor Rooms on Pinterest. .

Staging Your Home for Sale . If you are thinking of selling your home in 2015, consider a fresh coat of paint in some contemporary neutral shade from the 2015 color palette. A few touches of the new color palettes in the furniture, window coverings or occasional pieces, some touches of wood or trendy metals, and you can have a great new look that appeals to the buyers of 2015. Happy Decorating in 2015! .

Contact Us for Staging and Best Advice for Selling Your Frederick Home

The Psychology of Color in Home Decorating

The Psychology of Color in Home Decorating

The Psychology of Color in Decorating A Home

Looking for inspiration in decorating? Or ideas for how to stage your home for sale? Consider how you want people to feel in each space of your home…consider the psychology of color:


Psychology of Color Home Decorating infographic courtesy of All That’s Interesting

A Detailed Breakdown of the Psychology of Color:

the psychology of color

Courtesy of: Carey Jolliffe, Graphic Artist

Getting Your Home Ready for the Market

Getting Your Home Ready for the Market

Selling your house in any real estate market takes some planning. In a buyer’s market, the competition can be high, so planning well is important before you put your house on the market. But even in a seller’s market, you want to maximize your home’s value and appeal to get the highest and best on the sale. The two major considerations a seller needs to understand are:  1) how to price the home effectively, and
2)  how to get your home in its best condition, both inside and out. Getting your home ready for the market can take some time, depending on the condition.

Getting Your Home Ready for the Market

Lots of sellers can get overwhelmed with what it takes to get their homegetting your home ready for the market ready to sell. I’ve seen homeowners who do the least possible and I’ve seen those that break the bank in over-improvements that don’t pay off. Somewhere in the middle is where most successful sellers end up.

Do Your Research

Before dropping a bundle into repairs and renovations that might or might not pay off, a seller would be wise to do their research. First, a home needs to be in keeping with the neighborhood standard to compete in the local market. If the average home in your price-range and area doesn’t have a lot of expensive upgrades, like granite countertops and high-end appliances, then you’d be wasting your money to do a lot of high-end upgrades. You won’t get a good return on your investment.

Vice-versa, if you skimp on the upgrades that every house around you has, your neighbors will appreciate you for helping them to sell their house before yours. You can skimp, but just don’t expect to get the same amount for your home.

What Today’s Buyers Want

A lot of energy is spent on research about what buyers are looking for these days. Realtor Magazine published a recent article listing the top ten wish-list of today’s buyers:

  1. Large kitchens with islands
  2. Energy efficiency, including energy-efficient appliances, super insulation, and high-efficiency windows.
  3. Home offices
  4. Main-floor master suite
  5. Outdoor living space
  6. Adequate Storage
  7. Soaking tub in the master suite and/or an oversize shower with a seating area
  8. Stone and brick exteriors rather than stucco or vinyl
  9. Community walking paths and playgrounds
  10. Two-car garages, but three-car garages are even more desirable

Emphasize the Positive

If you have any of these features in your home, emphasize them in your marketing. If you don’t have some of these features, don’t sweat it, this is a “wish-list”, just keep emphasizing the positives. Don’t spend a lot of time and money creating something that’s not there, spend your time and efforts making what you have look its best.


Part of your research should be analyzing what your return on investment (ROI) can be for various upgrades and repairs. Each year, Remodeling puts out a Cost Vs. Repair evaluation for nine regions of the country. Frederick Maryland is considered part of the Washington D.C. Metro area. When studying these reports, home owners will see that some repairs and improvements have a higher ROI than others.

Incidentally, the highest rate of return most years is something very simple… replacing the front door.

Outside the House – Curb Appeal

Sometimes sellers grow accustomed to the look of their homes. It can be helpful to have another opinion when trying to decide what projects to take on and how much work is needed when the subject of curb appeal comes up.

too much curb appeal
Too Much Curb Appeal??

The psychology behind great curb appeal is really pretty simple:

As a seller, you want your home to be attractive, appealing, and welcoming. Most of the time, achieving that can be very simple. You want to accentuate positives and minimize negatives. The negatives you want to minimize are also simple: You don’t want the buyer to say to themselves, There’s one more thing I’m going to have to do if I buy this house.” That’s a comment a seller never wants to generate from the buyer. They should rather hear, “I love this house, I could just move right in!”

So how do you get the second comment? Five basic steps.

1. Clean up and declutter. Most of the work is usually in this category.

  • Trim back trees, bushes, sidewalk edges and thin out overgrown beds. (Think of it as a haircut, although more of a trim, not a drastic head-shave:) You don’t want the buyer to say, wow, I’m going to have to trim all this back when I move in.
  • Rent, borrow or buy a power washer and clean up sidewalks, porches, decks and siding. You’ll be amazed at what a difference a clean surface makes.
  • Make sure the grass stays mowed while your home is on the market.
  • A fresh coat of paint or stain. Any wood should be freshly cleaned and stained. Again, the buyer will notice and count it as a positive that they won’t have to add it to their list of things to do after moving in. As this list grows, so does the dollar amount a buyer subtracts from their offer!
  • The front door and trim is a first impression. You want it to say, The owners love this house and take good care of it.”
  • Make sure shutters have been repaired if needed and have a fresh coat of paint. Tired shutters will make all your other efforts look drab.
  • The door handle and lighting should be newer and in keeping with the style of the house. Don’t be afraid to light up the entryway for those night-time showings. 

3. Create a focal point at the front door. If you have room for seating, add a cozy chair or a bench. Add a wreath of flowers on the door. The idea is to create a sense of welcome. If the door is dated, paint it or replace it.

4. Add color with flowers. If you don’t have space to plant some annuals, then put out pots of colorful flowers around the entryway. Colorful flowers are a delight to the eyes and senses, and they say a big “Hello”.

5.Repair any problems with driveways, sidewalks or brick or stone edging. Patch and seal for a finished look.

Getting You Home Ready for the Market
Curb Appeal that says, "Welcome Home!" 
Traditional Exterior by Newport Beach Architects & Designers Sinclair Associates Architects

None of these projects have to be expensive and exhausting. They just take a little elbow grease. And make sure you don’t overdo the colors or the flowers, you don’t want to overwhelm your visitors, you just want to make them feel welcome. Welcome enough to want to stay!

Inside the Home – Staging

After spending a wonderful, yet intensive weekend with some relocation clients, after criss-cossing Frederick County for 3 days, seeing 20 homes in all sorts of conditions, and seeing first-hand our buyer’s responses, I came up with some tips for Frederick home sellers trying to stage their home.

I’d like to talk more about the psychology behind the tips, actually. You can find great staging tips all over the internet, but the real value is in getting an understanding of the mind of a buyer. Seeing through their eyes will be very helpful to you when you are staging your Frederick home for sale.

A. The most important thing that sellers need to keep in mind is that in a buyer’s market, the inventory is on the high side.; That means there is more competition. Sellers need to realize that the best-looking and best-priced homes are the ones that will sell. It’s really that simple. Your home must look the best it can.You have to be vigilant about Dirt and Clutter.

  1. When buyers see dirt, the natural assumption is, “If they can’t clean their house for a showing, I wonder what other deferred maintenance issues I might have to deal with?” In their mind, a dirty house is not a house that has been cared for. A note to pet owners: some folks are allergic, so you have to do everything you can to minimize pet dander.
  2. Clutter is also something that absolutely must be tackled. Buyers have a hard time seeing themselves and their stuff in your house, if they can’t see past the clutter. Clutter also makes the space look smaller than it is. Here’s my thought: You’re moving anyway, so why not pack up most of your stuff and live lightly for a few weeks? 

B. As a seller, you are trying to throw as wide a net as possible, and appeal to as many buyers as you can. That is the psychology behind neutralizing and de-personalizing your decor. Not to the point of boring, but to the point of tasteful and neutral. You have to change your thinking from “this house;is my home and hearth”, to “this house is a commodity that I am trying to sell.”

  1. Assume that buyers have no imagination. They can’t see past the gold velvet drapes in the dining room. Sure they looked great with your Queen Anne dining set, but most buyers probably don’t have your exact set. The average buyer is 30 years old. They probably like Pottery Barn or even Ikea, who knows. The point is, they have to see themselves in your home.
  2. If you have some great features, don’t be shy about highlighting them, especially if they were the features that sold you on the house. Do you have a great view? Then open the window coverings, and orient the furniture to emphasize the view. Do you have a hot tub? By all means, turn it on, uncover it and put out the margarita glasses. Suggest to buyers how they will enjoy your home. Do you have a gorgeous master bath? Put out the candles and Champagne glasses and suggest romance to your buyers. Remember, you’re assuming that they have no imagination, so you need to give them every reason to love your home. 

C. For so many years, we’ve watched buyers in the decision-making process. No matter how analytical they are when they start the process, eventually, they make decisions based largely on emotion. They connect emotionally with a house and they start to see themselves making it their home. Find ways to stage your home so that you Accentuate the Positive and Minimize the Negative. Help buyers fall in love with your home.

Pricing Your Home Effectively

The third item to consider when selling your home is pricing. A seller needs to price it accurately from the start. We see it so often, when a seller prices their home high, for many unrealistic reasons, they end up worse off in the long run. They end up selling their neighbor’s homes, then settling for a low-ball offer after too many months on the market.

Here are some principles that will help sellers understand the why’s and how’s of pricing their home effectively:

1. First of all, a seller must detach themselves emotionally from their home. They need to think of it as a commodity, not their nest of memories and comforts. Stop calling it your home, and start calling it a house.

2. A seller needs to get a clear picture of what homes like theirs are selling for. Find a Realtor® who understands the market and can give you statistics of the homes sold in the previous 3 – 6 months. Many sellers mistakenly focus on the list prices of homes that are currently on the market. This statistic only tells us what price homes are NOT selling for.

3. A seller needs to understand there is a strategy for each price range. A strategy for selling to first-time buyers will be different than the strategy used for move-up buyers.

4. A seller needs to have current statistics about the average percent of sales price compared to list price. They also need to know the average days on market in their price range and area.

5. The first 30 days on the market will bring in the most buyer interest and showings. Statistics show that if a home is priced right and in good condition, they should get 1 offer for every 10 showings. If they don’t get an offer, they are priced too high.

6. After too much time on the market, a home will get a negative stigma in the minds of buyers. The seller should count on getting low-ball offers.

7. Price reductions are likely as a seller tries to find the real market value. It’s important that sellers stay open-minded about finding that value and remember: The home is truly worth what a buyer is willing to pay.

Additional Reading: Getting Your Home Ready for the Market, Part 2

For more tips and strategies for home selling, staging, or pricing, see our Sellers Category.

The Highland Group
8923 Fingerboard Rd
Frederick Maryland 21704
Associates at eXp Realty

Contact Us for a free Comparative Market Analysis


Four Common Staging Mistakes

Four Common Staging Mistakes

4 Common Mistakes in Staging

The Most Common Staging Mistakes I See in People’s Homes –

As a Designer and a Home Stager I see a lot of things in peoples homes. I see homes in all price levels from a couple hundred thousand to a few million. There are a few design and home staging mistakes I see over and over and they are so easy to fix.

Mistake #1:  Having all the furniture pushed back to the walls.

Furniture pushed to walls


Even in a small room this is not always the best option. Usually something can be angled or pulled forward.

In a large room, the room actually looks smaller when all pieces are back against the walls. Plus, the room is not very cozy as the conversation area is too far apart.


Furniture pulled up away from walls


My advice is to move the furniture up and create a cozier conversation area. If the room is overly large you will need to split it into two sections.

It is okay to have furniture away from the walls. You can have it floating out into the room as long as it is anchored with an area rug, side tables and/or coffee table.

A tree or a sofa table and lamp can be added behind the furniture to draw the eye back and add height.

Pull chairs away from the walls when they are flanking a fireplace, don’t have them stuck back in the corners and touching the wall. By doing this you will actually draw even more attention to the the fireplace.


Chairs by the fireplace

Pulling furniture away from the wall is hard for many people to visualize or imagine. It is difficult to see alternatives to furniture placement, especially in your own home. You aren’t alone in this. That is why I am calling this a “common” mistake.

Mistake #2:  Not enough lamps

Ceiling lights do not replace the need for lamps. If you are selling your home lamps are needed to bring more light into a room, light up a dark corner and make a room cozier. Lighting from the lamps will also make a room look larger.




If you are not selling your home you need lamps to warm up a room, disperse the lightingthroughout the room and create more ambiance for entertaining.

As a general rule a living room or family room should have three lamps; placed in as close to a triangular position as possible. What a difference this will make!

As a side note, make at least two of the lamps ‘table’ lamps if possible. Floor lamps are great and are necessary in tight spaces but three floor lamps in one room is not the best.


Lamps in a Triangle


Table lamps on each side of a bed is the best way to make an impact and frame out the bed.Don’t have these lamps be too small. A secondary mistake, let’s call it #2B, is dinky little lamps by the bed. The more massive the bed the taller and beefier your lamps need to be.


Lamps by Bed

Mistake #3:  The absence of a coffee table.

A coffee table grounds the room and pulls it together. It provides the central spot of the conversation area. Besides being visually appealing it serves a purpose; it provides your guests a place to rest their beverage or for you to place snacks. It can even provide great storage within the table or hidden inside.

Coffee Table Crystal Bay

A coffee table works even in a small area. A bench that is only 12″ – 18″ wide makes a great coffee table in a limited space or two cubes placed side by side also is a space saver.

Black Wicker in Sun Porch

If you have children and are worried about sharp corners, a large leather or upholsterd ottomans is the way to go.


Coffee tables from ottoman
In my opinion a living area without a coffee table is an incomplete room. If feels as though something is missing and there is!!

Mistake #4: Artwork Hung too High

I see this all the time. Artwork most typically should be hung at eye level…..eye level for someone at about 5′4”. If you are 6′ tall the center of the artwork will be approximately shoulder level.

Artwork hung too high is kind of “hanging out there”.
 Pun intended :) . It isn’t part of the room when it is up in the rafters. You’ll be surprised what a few inches will do. The eyes come down into the roomas the arwork becomes part of the room.

There are many instances where artwork may be hung even lower. An example of this would be if you have a chair with an accent table and a table lamp.

Artwork positioned in the nook of between the lamp and chair should be very low creating a vignette with the grouping.


Home Staging and Resign Minneapolis, MN



Another example of of artwork hung lower than eye level would be on either side of a bed. You want the artwork to be part of the bedroom setting, not up high all by itself.


Home Staging Stager Minneapolis St Paul MN

If you are uncertain where your artwork should be hung get someone to hold it for you and step back and take a look.

Don’t feel bad if you are making any of these mistakes. That is why they are “common”.

For more great ideas on how to finish off your space whether selling or staying, Rooms With Style Home Staging and Redesign can assist you.

Home Staging and Redesign Blog – Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN

A Guest Post from Shar Sitter


Thanks Shar for a Great Post! Really helpful tips and pictures for Sellers.


The Highland Group
Chris & Karen Highland 
eXp Realty – 410-777-5714
Text Us: 301-401-5119

Decorating the Fifth Wall

Decorating the Fifth Wall

Decorating the Ceiling

The Ceiling, sometimes referred to as “the Fifth Wall”, is fertile ground for decorating. Often neglected, the ceiling has a lot of potential and can be a great surface for furthering your room design. From subtle to dramatic, elegant to warm and cozy, there are many options to choose from to take advantage of this other wall. Decorating the ceiling can enhance your home’s appeal if done well.

Architectural Detail


Architectural DetailsWhether rustic, like these simple wooden beams, or more classic, like the box beams below, they add architectural detailing that sets a room apart. Beams can add movement to an otherwise boring space. Not only do they add character and a timeless style, they add a hidden benefit: The hollow beams are great for installing lights and hiding wires or pipes during a build or remodel.
Architectural Details


Box beams are great in a kitchen, a dining room, or even a small space that needs some extra architectural interest. Lights can easily be installed with the beams, adding subtle or bright effects.

Another benefit: If the ceiling has damage, beams can cover a multitude of problems.


Moldings are generally associated with window and door trim, floors

Architectural Detailsand tops of walls. But adding molding to the the ceilings as well as perimeter of a room can add a lot of architectural detail, especially in a room with tall ceilings.

Take for example, this molding treatment on the ceiling. It echoes the molding around the adjacent doorway, adding lots of detail and style.


Faux Designs

The effect of Cofferred Ceilings can be created with the right combination of moldings and paint. This can add an illusion of height. Using dark colors can add the right amount of drama and depth to the right space.


Architectural DetailsPaint

Going beyond the white ceiling can be risky so many choose to avoid making a different choice. Rooms with moldings are a great opportunity to experiment with color.

When an accent wall would make a room out of balance, a painted ceiling can be a solution.

A contrasting color on the ceiling can highlight an interesting shaped room.

Resurfaced Ceilings

Architectural Details
Beadboard or Wood Planking
can add texture and interest, while adding a warm decorative touch to a room.
It can also cover any uneven drywall or less than perfect repairs to the ceiling.
Architectural Details
Tin Tiles or Faux Relief covering can make a huge impact on a room, adding design and texture.
It can add a dramatic retro touch…
or a juxtaposition of modern and historic, as in this loft.


High Tech Touches

This one-of-a-kind room has fiber optics added to the ceiling to imitate stars at night.
Architectural Details
photos courtesy of, one of my favorite websites.






Use our tools to

Contact us to find out what your home is worth in today’s real estate market.

Chris & Karen Highland 
eXp Realty – 410-777-5714
email us: Cell: 301-401-5119

Countertops Choices for Homeowners

Countertops Choices for Homeowners

Countertop Choices for Homeowners

Homeowners today have so many choices in countertops. The choices include natural and manufactured products, and many environmentally-friendly choices in countertops.

Manufactured Quartz Countertops In Demand

Over the past two decades, the last word on countertops has been granite. But a new word has entered the countertop lexicon – manufactured quartz countertops are in demand.

countertop choices for homeowners

The reasons for the rising popularity of this material are many — including its durability, resistance to bacteria, natural-stone look and unlimited color options.

Engineered quartz is produced through a process of mixing ground quartz with a small percentage of polymer resins. Because quartz isn’t porous, countertops are more sanitary, and can be kept virtually bacteria-free. These countertops also resist staining from most liquids and household cleaning products. Sales of quartz countertops have increased 60% in the U.S. in the last decade. Quartz countertops can be installed for around $50 to $100 per square foot and up.

Glass Countertops

It may seem counterintuitive, but according to experts at the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), glass countertops are extremely strong as well as being heat resistant. A glass countertop can create a visually stunning centerpiece in a kitchen, but it will need to be wiped often to remove fingerprints. Scratches may also be a problem. Some companies are creating prefabricated glass countertops that can be installed by experienced do-it-yourselfers. On average, glass countertops may cost anywhere between $85 and $300 per square foot with installation.

Modern Stainless Steel

countertop choices for today's homeowners

Stainless steel is versatile, and can be found in the most modern kitchens (including restaurant kitchens) as well as farmhouse kitchens. It is relatively inexpensive, starting at around $100 per square foot, and can stand up to excess heat. The installation process is similar to installing a laminate countertop, and many stainless countertops come with a raised edge, to reduce floor spills.

Popular Concrete

Concrete countertops are highly prized for their durability and the endless color and texture combinations they can provide. Because they can be expensive, however, more determined homeowners are taking the plunge and creating their own molds to make concrete countertops.

countertop choices for homeowners

Before undertaking a project, however, homeowners must make sure cabinets can support the weight of the concrete, which, at 2 inches thick, can weigh between 12 and 22 pounds per square foot. Instructions for the process are available everywhere, but it is a time-consuming project. however, with diligence and patience, homeowners will be rewarded with a customized countertop for less than if they had hired a contractor. For homeowners who prefer working with a professional, price will generally range from $80 to $120 per square foot.

countertop choices for homeowners
This outdoor kitchen is a perfect place for concrete countertops!
The many colors and looks available in concrete make it very agreeable for any decor.

Ceramic Tile Counters Desirable for Decorative Choices

Another do-it-yourself countertop that may be less difficult to tackle is the installation of a ceramic tile countertop. The material is inexpensive, and typically installed one section at at time. The advantages of a ceramic tile countertop include the price, as well as the wide range of colors, textures and design. Disadvantages may include tile cracks or grout stains.

Green Choices in Countertops

Countertops made from recycled paper are attracting many homeowners. [Eclectic Kitchen Countertops by Other Metro]↓

countertop choices for homeownersRecycled paper is combined with a resin base to create a surface thickness between 1/4 inch to two inches thick and with a wide variety of edge profiles, depending on a homeowner’s requirements. The surface is heat and stain resistant, and no two countertops wil look alike, based on the colors of the paper used. Non-petroleum, formaldehyde-free resins (some made from cashew nut shells) are used. The material can be cut and shaped using woodworking tools.
countertop choices for homeowners

Similarly budget and eco-friendly is the option of a bamboo countertop. The price is similar to that of the recycled paper countertop, and around $40 to $80 per square foot. Bamboo countertops are generally priced between $35 and $70 per square foot. Because of its fast growth, bamboo is considered more renewable than wood.

So many choices! And all of them within reach to homeowners in Frederick Md.

Thanks to David Goldberg, our favorite home inspector, for this great guest post about countertop choices. Contact David for any home inspection needs.

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector
fax:  301-774-4554
Reliable Home Services, Inc.

PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

*          *          *          *          *
If You have a remodeling project in mind,  for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.


The Highland Group
Chris & Karen Highland
eXp Realty
Text Us: 301-401-5119

Home Design for Pet Lovers

Home Design for Pet Lovers

Home Design for Pet Lovers

Let’s face it… dogs and cats are a part of our family. We care for them and love them much like children. We discipline them and nurture them, and hopefully train them. When they leave us after a much too short life, we miss them. They leave a hole that most often gets filled with a new furry family member. So why not admit it and make room in our homes for these beloved fur children? Here are some great ideas for adding home design for pet lovers:

Feeding Stations

Home Design for dog loversI can’t count how many times I’ve tripped on the dog’s water dish on my way through the kitchen, soaking my socks or slippers. I love these ideas for keeping the pet’s dinner dishes out of the way.

Whether you have a drawer that can be pushed in after dinner is over, or whether you have a recess in the end of the cabinets, keeping the dishes out from under foot is brilliant. Some of these ideas can be retrofitted very easily in a kitchen.

And how about this idea in a clean, modern kitchen…

Home Design for dog lovers

Keep Resale in Mind

Whether you are retrofitting, or designing from the start of the build, remember to keep resale in mind. Although pet lovers can’t imagine life without the fur children, believe it or not, there are folks who don’t have pets. Imagine! Remember in your designing, to keep your pet loving features as minimally invasive as possible. Any features that are designed for pets should be able to function easily for other purposes.

 I Love to Be Close to You

home details for dog lovers
 We love having our dogs near, a part of our life and happenings. But sometimes, you just want them in another space. Either you have visitors who aren’t as crazy about your furry family member as you are, or your pet just needs a little time out.
Here is a home detail for a dog-lover that will do the trick. The dog is in another room, but can still see you and feel like they’re with you.
The rollers on the door make for easy one-handed opening and closing. The see-through panels allow you to keep your eyes on the dog, as well as allowing them to see you. [Design by Houston Design-build Greymark Construction Company]

For the Feline Kids

I want to give equal time to the cat-loversHome Design for cat lovers among us. A cat’s need for play can be a fun part of your home design.

I love the way these cat scratching squares have been made into an item of decor, lining the wall at the right height, framed like art. I’m sure they save wear and tear on furniture and household items, as well as provide much needed scratching…and in style. You could even paint the squares to match your color scheme. Removing them is simply a matter of patching some nail holes.
Or how about these ideas to provide hiding places for the frisky times:

And this is my absolute favorite… adorable! And what a great use for what is most likely an antique porthole. I’m sure this is a much used hide-and-seek place.

Home Design for cat lovers
These pictures were all found on Houzz. Check out their site for many more great ideas and products for the home, and more home design for pet lovers.