Staging Your Outdoor Living Space for Luxury Buyers

Jul 2, 2019 by

If you’re selling a luxury home during the Canadian spring or summer, you’ll be courting buyers who are already imagining how they might use outdoor space to its fullest. Admiring city skyline views on a rooftop terrace, maybe. Or entertaining friends and family in a lavish garden. Extending your home’s living and entertaining space into the outdoors is a great way to increase value. Don’t disappoint! Here’s how to stage your outdoor space for those luxury buyers:

Leverage different stations. The only thing better than a gorgeous outdoor space is a gorgeous space that’s also versatile. Show off your outdoor real estate by having different sections for different uses, like a sleek outdoor bar for al fresco cocktails, a quiet nook with plush chairs for reading on a summer’s day and a gazebo for formal sit-down dining.

Splurge on greenery. Most luxury buyers are looking for a true oasis where they can escape from the chaos of everyday life. Set up your outdoor space with plentiful plants, especially those with a tropical feel, so they can imagine a space that feels like a real mini vacation.

Think about what you value indoors. What makes an indoor space feel comfortable and luxurious? Is it furniture with clean lines, neutral tones and luxurious textures? Accessories like cushions and scented candles? Don’t neglect these features when choosing outdoor furniture. After all, buyers want a luxury living experience whether they’re indoors or outdoors.

Think about what’s underfoot. Aside from grass, you have options for what kind of flooring and materials populate your outdoor space. Consider lining your deck with a colourful outdoor rug or creating a winding path through the garden using flagstones or bricks.

In Canada, the warm seasons might be short, but Canadians know how to make the most of them. That’s why a luxury outdoor space can be a major selling point, especially if it’s staged to show off its best features. By spending the same amount of attention on your outdoors as your indoors, you can give your luxury property an edge.

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The Evolution of Office Space: Where Are We Going?

Aug 8, 2018 by

Editor’s Note: This is part three of a series that takes an in-depth look at how brokerage offices have transformed. You can find part two here and part one here.

What will the brokerage office of tomorrow look like? There’s no crystal ball, but brokers are seeing a trend toward a stronger dependency on technology. The question is: How deeply entrenched will the real estate community become in the cyber world?

Many, including chief operating officer of HomeSmart International Wendy Forsythe, believe the hybrid model that is becoming increasingly popular will win out in the end.

“I believe we will continue to see a hybrid of virtual and brick-and-mortar offices,” says Forsythe. “Our world is mobile—agents need the flexibility and support to do business anywhere. This is also a relationship business, and having a physical connection through sharing a common space, like an office, is important to many people.”

How soon will change come? The industry may not experience a large, perceivable shift for a number of years. Lynsey Engels, president of Mel Foster Co., a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, strongly believes in listening to client and agent feedback in order to determine the best course of action, especially in a people business, where distinctive personalities are an asset and office preference should be taken into consideration.

“Our agents always ask how [their clients] prefer to communicate, and they deliver on that preference,” says Engels. “In this market, customers still want to come in and see the homes in person before making such a big decision and investment. While many start their search online, they also start by touring open houses to get a feel for the market. It allows them an opportunity to meet some of the agents and see how personalities may click.”

Can in-person showings become a thing of the past? Robot-led tours are already available in some markets, and with the implementation of cyber technology, consumers could start to see a phasing out of open houses, as well as a reduction in number of physical tours taken before purchasing a home. If so, will these cyber showings be hosted online, from the comforts of one’s own home, or will consumers be making the trek to a broker’s office to visit a cyber showing room?

“I think the next iteration of a real estate office will be massively more technology-forward than today’s, and it will have other attractions to pull consumers into the space,” says Keith Robinson, chief strategic officer at NextHome, Inc. “What about a virtual reality showing room where you can walk five or six properties, then drive to see the one or two you actually want to tour in real life?”

By that prediction, some will argue that brick-and-mortar office spaces could continue to play a significant role, as consumers may still need to visit a concrete office to access a virtual tour, and an all-encompassing cyber experience could make the home-buying and -selling process less personal and meaningful.

“I think virtual communities will never fully replace real-life office space, but can be a positive addition,” Forsythe says. “As powerful as technology is, human connection is more powerful. When you combine the online and offline world, there are real benefits. One without the other will never reach its full potential.”

Many brokers understand the importance of agent-consumer relationships and how in-person meetings help these to form and flourish. When it comes to agents’ day-to-day operational tasks, however, some foresee a full-scale virtual experience, but only on the agent-broker side.

“I believe the real estate office of the future will be 100-percent cloud-based and technology-driven,” says Josh Harley, founder of Fathom Realty in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, emphasizing only the office, and not the brokerage. “It will take time for that to fully become a reality, but we can already see the trend happening. I believe there will always be a true need to bring local agents and brokers together on a regular basis, because no matter how much technology advances, it cannot replace the innate desire for human interaction.”

“It’s very difficult to develop and maintain a meaningful culture online, so marrying the online and the in-person experience must remain part of the equation for real estate brokerages,” Harley says. “We can bring our agents together weekly if we desire and use that personal touch to build a powerful culture, all with without paying for an office space the other 26 days of the month.”

Is the future already here? Some brokers believe so. With eXp Word, the virtual community created for eXp Realty, agents and brokers use a cyber space for transaction-related tasks and communications.

“Obviously, agents need to continue to have one-on-one, in-person meetings with their current or potential clients, but when it comes to operational needs, or [meeting with] other agents across town or across the country, a virtual office is an easy choice,” says Mitch Robinson, senior vice president of Marketing and Communications at eXp Realty. “Our agents tell us they feel more connected and love the instant support in eXp World.

“If you asked our agents, they would say they already work in the real estate office of the future,” Robinson says. “As a virtual space, we can and do constantly add new things. Our agents and staff asked for coworking spaces, and we were able to build that quickly. Today, every state and province has a coworking space where they can meet as one or in small groups. There are many more things we will be doing in this environment,.”

On the other side of the coin? A more flexible future that understands the importance of technology, while still prioritizing the client-agent relationship above all else—which could mean taking a new look at how concrete office spaces could significantly benefit the industry if only implemented differently, adapting to this swiftly changing real estate landscape.

“When I think about what the future real estate office looks like, I envision high-tech and integration wrapped around a more collaborative shared environment,” says Charis Moreno, vice president of Sales at NextHome, Inc. “Brokers will need to find better ways to provide value through technology that agents want and need. The key to this will be offering ways to automate integral areas of the business so REALTORS® can spend more face time and less screen time, but in a way that is contextual to their clients. Just providing more tools will not cut it.”

Dominguez_Liz_60x60_4cLiz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Temporary Permanence: A Millennial’s Tips for Decorating your Living Space

Aug 15, 2016 by

Whether we’ve decided to go to grad school, have moved to a different country or state for a job, or have simply left our family home for the first thing we could afford, us millennials are usually not living somewhere we expect to stay forever. And while this might sound exciting, the truth is, that lingering sense of instability often causes us to basically live out of a suitcase (something to do with always being prepared to jump ship).

Living in small, shared spaces make us feel like we’re not allowed to unpack. Yet, unpacking and making yourself at home is of the utmost importance. This room, which is at the moment legitimately yours, is the only space you’ve got to recharge and refocus. At the end of the day, your 20s are a time of high stress levels thanks to anxiety-ridden life decisions. It is imperative to put your best foot forward every day.

In my personal experience, I have cozy dorm rooms to thank for helping me feel like I was ready to take on the world.  Now that I’ve graduated and live off-campus, I’ve found that moving from one residence hall to the next helped me develop transferable skills that I am now using to set up my new closet room. These are some of the things I’m glad I learned beforehand:

  1. Consider the space: The biggest mistake most college students made was leaving the furniture arrangement as they found it. Don’t trip over the same stone in your post-grad life. Setting up your bed horizontally and against the wall will automatically free up usable space in your room. In what could only be described as a wide hallway, I managed to fit a futon, a desk and chair, a bed, and a dresser without obstructing the walk-in closet, the bedroom or the bathroom doors. Most likely, there is really only one way to fit everything. You just have to keep going until you find it.
  2. Decorate but don’t suffocate: To make a small space a home, follow two cardinal rules when decorating. First, don’t accessorize to the point of feeling overwhelmed (you don’t want your own bedroom to make you feel stressed). Second, add items that you have an emotional connection with—pictures of family and friends, posters of shows you like, scents that transport you, twinkly lights, etc. If it makes you want to curl up in your bed and stare at it, put it up.
  3. Prioritize comfort: Sure, when you’re living in a temporary space it’s hard to invest in maximum comfort furniture. But that doesn’t mean you have to sleep on a rigid mattress. Instead of splurging on memory foam, get an egg crate. Buy basic silverware and dinnerware, but invest in a couple of special mugs. Pick and choose which things you use the most and allow yourself to enjoy them.
  4. Avoid clutter: This last one hurts, but you might need to put the wallet away when temptation knocks on your door. Sometimes we see furniture or décor that we think would look fabulous in our ideal home, we forget we don’t live in said home, we buy them anyways, and are left with an extra yellow armchair that doesn’t fit anywhere. Be mindful of what actually belongs in your current space and what is meant to continue dwelling in dreams.

Your temporary home can be broken in like new shoes, and they will help you walk the walk you’re on at the moment. By the time you move out, you’ll realize that a little extra spending and organizing really went a long way in keeping you sane…and maybe even happy. So give it a try, go and really unpack in your little millennial hutch!


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It’s Not Just Space: 16 Reasons it’s Time for a New Place

Jan 25, 2016 by

Filed under: ,

Cardboard boxes in apartment, moving day

By Jen Juneau

Take a deep breath and ask yourself: Has the time come to relocate?

Moving isn’t anyone’s favorite thing to do. Aside from the physical process of shifting everything you own into a new space and/or paying people to do so, there are many other factors to consider, such as budget, location, and (perhaps most importantly) your sanity. But the challenges are worth the struggle if you’ve reached the point where relocation truly is best for you.

If you’re on the fence about moving, start 2016 by perusing these 16 signs that it’s time to take the plunge and start a new house search.

1. One word: money.

Yes, it’s an obvious point, but examining expenses is a task that shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re considering a move. Sure, you might be able to upgrade your current home to fit your future needs — but will you see a return on investment when it’s time to sell? Now is the time to examine your finances and figure out if you should continue to save some cash to boost your down payment or explore financing for that upgraded master bathroom you’ve been dying to take on.

2. You’ve outgrown your storage space.

There’s only so much Pinterest-surfing you can do for inspiration on reorganizing your kitchen and clearing out the clutter before you start to realize that your current space isn’t working for you anymore. If more cabinets will make your life easier, so be it. It’s up to you whether that means a remodel or a new kitchen in a new house.

3. Your family is expanding.

If you’re adding a couple of kids and/or pets to your brood, upgrading your home is a logical next step. Aside from needing more space, aspects you may have overlooked before — like A-rated school districts and that sweet neighborhood park — may be suddenly appealing. Don’t have kids? This rule still applies, since buying a house in a great school district is a big plus when it’s time to sell.

4. The kids/roommates are gone.

In the opposite vein, don’t waste money on space you don’t need. If it’s just you and your honey now, why not downsize to a smaller house or studio apartment to save not only on your mortgage but also on utilities, repairs, cleaning time, and more?

5. Your neighborhood is on the decline.

If the crime rates in your neighborhood are headed in the wrong direction, it might be a good idea to move — quickly — before it gets even harder to rent or sell your place to someone else. There’s no shame in wanting to make your nest in a home where you feel safe and secure.

6. You have a dream your current place won’t support.

Whether you envision a home dressed to the nines with luxurious upgrades or one with an extra room you can dedicate to home brewing (hey, whatever floats your boat), it might be a sign that you’re ready to move on.

7. Your city isn’t as appealing to future buyers as it once was.

Every trendy city has its moment. If yours is one of those whose popularity is steadily declining, selling now rather than later could save you a lot of cash (and heartache) down the line.

8. It would cost you less to move than to keep repairing your current place.

It can be hard to admit when it’s time to throw in the towel on repairs, especially if you’ve put a lot of hard DIY work into your beloved abode. But it might be time to take a step back and think about how nice it would be on your stress levels and wallet if you could start fresh.

9. You’ve started cooking at home more (or less).

If you never have time to cook anymore — and don’t see that trend slowing down any time soon — downsizing to a home with a smaller (or less fancy) kitchen could be worth the cost of moving. On the flip side, if a lifestyle change means you’re at home more (and spending more time honing your knife skills), a larger, upgraded kitchen could be a great thing to focus on during your home search.

10. Your kids have stopped inviting their friends over.

Is your kid always like, “BRB, Mom, I’m going to Johnny’s,” but Johnny never comes to hang out at your place? Sounds silly, but it might be time to face the fact that since it has more room to roam, Johnny’s house is just a more comfortable hangout spot (or his fridge is extremely well-stocked). If your kids seem hesitant to invite friends over because there is nowhere to play or no space to work on that group project together, you might want to rethink your housing priorities and start the house search (and bump a refinished basement or big backyard to the top of your list).

11. You’re intimidated by the thought of rising interest rates.

If you bought your current house when interest rates were at their rock bottom and before housing prices started to rise, you might be reluctant to give up that amazingly low mortgage payment — even if you really need a square footage upgrade. And while it’s true that even a small increase in mortgage rates can have an impact on your bottom line, the reality is that you can’t control all the factors. So if you’ve outgrown or just aren’t happy with your current home, there’s no reason not to at least explore your options. You might be surprised at what you can afford if you’ve built up enough equity in your current home.

12. You’ve been putting off moving for a while.

Similarly, if you’ve been meaning to put your house on the market but have a lot of work to do to prep your home for sale — or are just dreading the home-selling process — now is the time. While interest rates aren’t rising too rapidly, they are rising. So if you’ve been waiting for the push to get started, this might be it.

13. You just don’t jibe with your neighborhood anymore.

Still living in your old college town? Is the nearest grocery store (what feels like) a thousand miles away? Ask yourself whether your current living situation fits your lifestyle. If the answer is “no,” it’s time to figure out what you want in a neighborhood and move forward.

14. Your office commute is the bane of your existence.

Commuting to and from the office can take hours out of your week. Just think, you could be doing much more important things — such as binge-watching Netflix (or just not wasting huge amounts of gas and time in hours of stop-and-go traffic). Whether you’re starting a new job or keeping your current one, moving closer to work has a lot of benefits.

15. Things are getting serious with that special someone.

Having a new love doesn’t necessarily mean it’s suddenly time to pack up and move in. But purchasing a new place together can be spatially, emotionally, and financially rewarding.

16. A fresh start sounds like just the ticket.

Sometimes, life deals us cards akin to flashing neon signs saying, “GO FORTH AND START ANEW.” If you feel that tug in your heart and are in a place financially to do it, don’t hesitate. You only live once, and life’s too short not to experience it fully.


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