Home Staging Believer

The other evening at 9 pm we received an email from Mark Reed, Corporate Relations Director with www.stagedhomes.com out of California. He was in the area doing a “Home Staging” training class in Tampa and desperately needed a home to stage. He needed a home currently on the market, furnished by the owner, and one that was willing to let 13 students come in and revamp THE NEXT DAY. Luckily, my wife got the email and had a potential home in mind. She and our agent, Lynn Hanratty, had just been at the house taking pictures and doing a little staging themselves. Lynn mentioned that the owner was open to professional staging. The home is in Dunedin and is really quite nice. It is very clean with neutral colors, updated and already shows pretty nice. Hmm we wondered, what could they possibly do to make it better? Anyway, somehow everyone got on board and the plans were set for 1 pm the next day.

Lynn Hanratty was amazed as she watched them work. She had planned to sit in the backroom and clean out her pc but she was so interested in watching all the students move things around, she said she sat on the bar stool watching and just giggled as the little elves did their thing. The transformation was outstanding. They took a nice home and turned it into a showplace – using nothing more than their new found skills, ribbon, and interchanging the current owner’s furniture and decor.

The pictures tell the story. Here’s some of our favorities:

-not a bad look – little quiet but pleasing.

Master Bedroom BEFORE

-notice how they moved the dated chair, put the night stands actually where they go, dressed up the drapes, the bedding, and made an interesting arrangement with the baskets.


-this is one of those rooms where you say “what is this room?” Well, it’s a family room, nice sized one but with this layout of furniture you can’t use it.

-they took furniture from a small Florida room and made this into a true family room where the family can gather, watch tv or play board games.

-clean & neat but lacking in decor

-a few simple touches and relocating the furniture made a big impact

-too much furniture in too small a space.

-pared down and light and airy.

What does our customer say?

    “I want to personally thank you for changing my home from a ‘vacant’ looking, sterile house, to a warm, bright and inviting place to call home. I wish you could have seen the amazement on my face last night. I didn’t think your team had very much to work with…and they didn’t; but, what little they had, they made unique and special. Thank you, too, for taking “gentle” care of my things; I really appreciate that. Using my garden flowers and vines added so much to each room. The arrangement at the front door was just beautiful. I will take their advice and find a hidden spot for the toaster and seal-a-meal; and, the suggestion to have trees in the pool cage corners will also add a nice touch. I wish all your students a rewarding career in taking the very ordinary and making it extraordinary; which they did for me. Again, thank you and your crew for a terrific ‘staging’…they did a wonderful job.” – Allie M. Dunedin, FL

Want to see more of this home? It’s located in Dunedin in the Brae Moor Subdivision for $234,900. MLS #7419791. Call Lynn Hanratty at 727-421-8193 for showings. Visit our virtual tour here for more photos.

Update 8/2/09 – This home is under contract! 8 days on the market!!!

Hurricane Activity in Tampa FL

So Hurricane season is in full swing. What can we expect this year to bring us in Tampa Bay? While we all wish we had crystal balls on this issue, no one can see the future. The good news is that the experts are calling for a much quieter year than we have had in the past 3 or 4 years. This is awesome news to those of us who live here or are thinking about buying property in Tampa, but we should not let our guard down and relax about potential activity in the Gulf of Mexico. When a hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico it’s too late to begin making plans. Plans should start regardless of what the experts say – even if they are sketchy plans: where to go, what to do with pets, what to take, etc. Investing in hurricane shutters can be expensive but today there are many different alternative coverings that range in price and having some protection is better than nothing. Plywood is among the cheapest covering and can take a fews weeks to prepare. And, just to set the record straight duct tape on windows is just like doing nothing at all – so don’t even bother with it.

Below is a map that shows the history of hurricane tracking and landfall in the month of August from 1851 to 2006.

A fascinating fact is how the Tampa Bay area has survived a direct hit from hurricanes over the many years depicted in the picture. Actually, along with our northern neighbor Jacksonville, Tampa Bay is one of the least hit spots in Florida. We haven’t suffered a direct hit since 1921.

Are we blessed from above or is there some scientific reason why? According to Jeff Masters of weatherunderground.com, he believes that as the earth rotates, there are three major bands of wind that blow in different directions. In the tropics, the band moves east and in the mid-latitudes, the band moves west. We sit right in between those two bands and that might be the reason most storms shift away from our area. Nonetheless, many other factors come into play like cold fronts, radius of the storm, etc. so let’s count our lucky stars but also keep our guard up.

If you are looking for a place to call home or a second home in a warm and sunny Florida location, check out our Tampa Bay area. We’d like to help you with your real estate needs. We feel that Tampa’s location is one of the safest locations if you are concerned with the threat of hurricanes. Just remember that there are many ways to protect your family and property in the event of a hurricane – it doesn’t always spell disaster.

Florida First Time Homebuyer $8000 Tax Credit

As of July 1, 2009, Florida has created a program to help first-time homebuyers get their federal tax credit early, allowing them to use up to $8,000 toward a down payment. The effective date for the program is July 1; however, it will probably be another few weeks before the funds are available. This is an exciting addition to the already popular tax credit. We see this as a way to help more and more first time homebuyers get into a home and stop paying rent.

While most first-time homebuyers qualify for the tax credit (given by the government as an income tax rebate regardless of tax owed), they once had to buy a home first, submit the info to the IRS through their tax return, and wait for the $8,000 rebate. To help these buyers get the money early enough to use it as a down payment, the State of Florida created a program of bridge loans, the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Program (FLHOP), where money can be borrowed from the state and then paid back after the new homeowner receives his tax credit.

Florida’s local housing administrators will oversee the down payment funds at the local level. (To find the administrator in your area, go to: http://apps.floridahousing.org/StandAlone/FHFC_ECM/AppPage_SHIPLGContacts.aspx

For specific questions about the $8,000 tax credit, homebuyers should consult a tax professional. Resources for understanding the tax credit and bridge loans: FAR’s Homebuyer Center: http://www.floridarealtors.org/AboutFar/homebuyercenter/index.cfm

If you are a first time homebuyer in Florida and would like to purchase Tampa Bay Real Estate, we are here to help you!