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Blog › February 2015

Home Staging Worth the Money, Effort? Yes.

Nearly every home seller hopes to get their property sold quickly and at top dollar.

Staging may be just the thing to help in that quest, according to the National Association of REALTORS’® 2017 Profile of Home Staging (

Using things like furniture, color, lighting, and accent pieces, professional stagers transform for-sale homes from ho-hum to oh-ah and work to make a property appeal to the largest number of prospective buyers

And their work has an impact: 39 percent of sellers’ agents said that staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time the home is on the market, according to NAR’s report.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:


Additional findings include:

  • The most commonly staged spaces include the living room (83 percent), kitchen (76 percent), master bedroom (69 percent), and dining room (66 percent).

  • Staging the living room was found to be most important to buyers (55 percent), followed by staging the master bedroom (51%), and the kitchen (41 percent).

  • Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for buyers to visualize a property as a future home.


Home upgrades that yield top returns

The 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report is out.

The annual study (, done by Remodeling magazine in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine, looks at how much of your investment you can expect to recoup on renovation projects when you sell. 

As in previous years, the data is sliced in various ways. For instance, you can get

a big picture by looking at national data. Or you can see the data broken down by geographic area and look at midrange and upscale projects’ standings nationally and by geographic area.

If you have a second home in the United States or you’re thinking about buying one, look to the study to get a sense of the most valuable upgrades you can make. 

The study is also valuable if you’re buying and you want to make apples-to-apples comparisons of prospective homes’ features.

Here are some key results from the study.

Top 5 Midrange Projects (national averages in terms of cost recouped)

  1. Entry door replacement (101.8%)
  2. Manufactured stone veneer (92.2%)
  3. Garage door replacement (88.4%)
  4. Siding replacement, vinyl (80.7%)
  5. Deck (wood) addition (80.5%)

Top 5 Upscale Projects (national averages in terms of costs recouped)

  1.       Siding (fiber-cement) replacement (84.3%)
  2.       Garage door replacement (82.5%)
  3.       Siding (foam-backed vinyl replacement) (77.6%)
  4.       Window (vinyl) replacement (74.9%)
  5.       Window (wood) replacement (71.9%)

Women and Retirement

One of the biggest issues facing women around the globe is a shortfall in retirement savings. That’s according to a new study by TransamericaCenter for Retirement Studies® done in collaboration with Aegon.

According to The Changing Face of Retirement Women: Balancing Family, Career & Financial security ( looks at women’s retirement prospects across the globe and gauges how women feel about their retirement readiness.

Despite the fact that today’s women are more educated and have greater career options than previous generations did, they still face obstacles, including lower pay and time off for caregiving, that affect their ability to save for a comfortable retirement.

Gender gap

Women are still less prepared for retirement than men are. For example, only one-fifth (20%) of women overall feel they’re on track to achieve the income in retirement they anticipate they’ll need. Twice this amount (40%) simply don’t know whether they are on course or not.

 But in some parts of the world, women do feel confident about retirement, particularly those living in emerging economies, including China, India, and Brazil.

 Though some view their retirement preparedness positively, there’s also widespread angst about the topic. When asked what words they associate most with retirement, optimistic respondents used positive words most often, and those include “leisure” (45%) and “freedom” (39%).


 But nearly one-quarter (24%) of women associated retirement with “insecurity” and almost a fifth (18%) with “poverty”.


 In some countries -- Poland, Hungary and Japan -- negative associations with retirement were quite pronounced. The word “insecurity” was most frequently cited by women in Hungary, for example.


 Women who are most positive-minded are from China (84%), Canada (78%), and Sweden (77%).


Here are some highlights from the Transamerica study specific to Canadian respondents:
























 The study makes some recommendations both to women and to policymakers and employers about improving women’s retirement security.

To women, the report suggests, “Taking ownership of retirement through planning is one of the most important factors in improving confidence about achieving retirement goals. Half of women whose retirement plans are ‘very developed’ are confident they are on track to achieve their desired retirement income.”

Employers can implement automatic enrollment features in workplace retirement plans, give part-time workers access to retirement savings vehicles, provide help and information about caregiving services, and offer phased retirement plans to allow workers to remain in the workforce longer.















Top 10 Rightsizing Tips

Start with the easy stuff.

  1. Eliminate anything that’s broken, damaged or no longer wanted. Then, go to the out-of-the-way spaces like attics, crawlspaces and garages. Making progress in “easier” areas will build momentum to go through the harder-to-decide areas.


  2. Ask yourself, “If this disappeared tomorrow, would I run out and replace it?”

    If you wouldn’t miss it or need to replace it, it’s probably not worth keeping.


  3. Don’t be a storage unit for others.

    If friends or relatives have left things for you to store, it’s time to ask them to pick them up – or arrange to have them shipped. You may need to be tough and set a firm deadline, after which you will donate the items.


  4. Ask for help.

    Although you can do much of this work on your own, a family member, a good friend, or even a professional organizer can help make the job more manageable.


  5. Decide what’s really important.

    Pretend you are moving overseas and the number of items you can take will be severely limited and it will cost a small fortune to ship things. What items belong on your list? These are the tings that matter the most to you.


  6. Is this something from a lifestyle you no longer have or want?

    For example, if you have three cabinets full of plastic containers, but only cook for one or two people, you probably can lose a few plastic sets – and dishes, pots & pans, etc.


  7. Schedule a regular time each week – or several days per week – to work on rightsizing.

    Realize that rightsizing is a life-changing marathon, not a sprint. You didn’t accumulate everything overnight and you won’t sort it all out overnight either.


  8. Value what you keep.

    The fewer things you keep, the more you will treasure and enjoy what you have, instead of tucking them away in a closet or stacked among dozens of other things. These are the few, meaningful items worth having in your personal space.


  9. Prevent new collections from forming.

    Instead of material gifts, ask people to spoil you by sharing time, enjoying new experiences and indulging in luxuries (spa certificates, imported chocolate, a musical or other theatre production, gift certificates for dinner out, etc.) – the things you love and want, but don’t always buy for yourself.


  10. Use age to your advantage.

    Now is a great time to “gift” items you “eventually” want family members to have. Take a photo (preferably a digital one) of them holding the special item and create a digital scrapbook of ‘next generation’ memories…making your special people happy and freeing yourself of extra stuff that you have been charged with keeping for posterity,