The Chic, New Neutral Color Backdrop


Photo credit: Jeff Kaufmann, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating,

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Move over, beige. Shades of whites and grays are becoming the trendy wall color choice nowadays.

For contemporary, sophisticated walls, stagers are reaching for the whites and grays. In some cases, the colors are even merged as a smoky white.

Fifty-eight percent of designers predict gray to be the fastest growing color scheme this year for kitchens and baths – while the popularity of beige and bone colors continues to wane, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s 2014 trend forecast. The Paint Quality Institute has called gray “the hot new neutral” of 2014.

Gray is a “great neutral color that adds style and also allows buyers to easily envision moving in their own furniture,” says stager Patti Stern with PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating in Cheshire, Conn., whose firm recently chose gray walls when staging a Toll Brothers model home and then used accents in raspberry, yellow, and green for added color.

Stark white walls are also gaining popularity. “Stark white walls create a very clean look that can expand the space and work in any style of home, from traditional and colonial to the very contemporary,” says stager and real estate pro Barb Schwarz, founder of and the International Association of Home Staging Professionals.

Photo credit: Laura Arnold,


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Venture Into the Unknown: We Have a Job to Do


Brooke Wolford

By Brooke Wolford

I have watched all of the changes occuring in real estate lately, and there’s a lot of speculation about what might happen in the future.

You see, real estate has been evolving over the past several years, and I, myself, have gotten sucked into all the drama. I remember spending hours on message boards and in online groups complaining about one thing or another, then getting drawn into other people’s complaints. I decided to step away and focus on what really matters – people who buy and sell houses!

Looking back over my history, from the time I began my real estate career I’ve come to notice one very important thing: everything changes. CONSTANTLY. Change is routine in real estate, and no matter what you do, you probably can’t – or shouldn’t – try to stop it.

If you can embrace change, you’ll be valued highly in real estate. You’ll be seen as a flexible and adaptable. This reputation can open up many opportunities. If, however, you consistently resist change, you’ll be seen as “part of the problem,” and you’ll get left behind.

The fact of the matter is that our jobs are hard. VERY hard. We have lots of complications and obstacles, and we always have to be on our toes. Yes, we have transactions that cause us to wonder whether or not it’s worth it, and then we have the easy transactions that make up for every bad one. Regardless of what you may think, we get paid well for what we do. Some of the most admired entrepreneurs have had to make sacrifices to get to where they are now. Why are we any different?

There’s never going to be some miracle advancement that is going to take place of the relationships we build. The fact of the matter is this: If someone is buying a home, they need us. We are the experts.

Welcome change as an opportunity. Focus on what’s important: Your clients. When almost 90 percent of buyers use an agent in their transactions, there is clearly still a need for what we do. It’s time to calm down and focus on them…because if you don’t do, someone else will.

Brooke Wolford is a real estate practitioner with RE/MAX Results in Eden Prairie, Minn. Follow her blog at

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5 Design Trends You May Want to Avoid in Staging


By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Stagers are embracing some of the latest home design trends in freshening up homes for-sale (view this “Dressed to Sell” slideshow). But some trends, they’re thinking twice about incorporating.

“If you’re too trendy, you run the risk of not being able to sell a home for the top-dollar you want for it,” warns stager Patti Stern with PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating in Cheshire, Conn. “When you stage a home, you want it to appeal to as many buyers as possible.”

Staging in trendy fabrics, colors, and finishes may offer up buyers a feeling that the home is up-to-date and move-in-ready. But getting too trendy can also backfire, particularly if it’s too personalized, stagers say.

Here are some popular interior design trends that some stagers are staying clear of:

1. Wallpaper: Wallpaper is gaining popularity once again in interior designs, from black and white damask prints to bronzed and antique silver metallics, earthy dimensional weaves and more. Wallpaper can add more personality to a room — but maybe too much for homebuyers envisioning moving in their own belongings. Instead, many stagers are sticking with paint.

2. Bright-colored walls: Not so fast with the Radiant Orchid, the bold purple-pink hue that Pantone has crowned as this year’s color of the year. Using the hottest color trends – like navy and purples — to paint an entire room may be too bold for the majority of buyers. Instead, stagers are using a neutral wall color, such as in soft tones of grays or white, and then bringing in the on-trend colors through small accents, like toss pillows, throws, lamps, and bedding or rugs.

3. Brass fixtures: Brass is back, but tread cautiously — at least for now. Most stagers aren’t ready to swap out the fixtures for brass, which had its last heyday in the ’80s. But stagers are starting to welcome back brass in small doses, such as a gold-vintage mirror, lamp, or accent table.

4. Doorless cabinets: Open shelving is a big trend in interior design. Designer magazines are showing off simpler kitchens without doors on the cabinets. The look puts perfectly organized dishes on display. While it can offer a sleek look, some stagers don’t want to field questions from buyers: “Where are the doors?”

5. Tuscan-themed: The Tuscan design style – featuring browns and earthtones – has been a popular interior trend, but it may be showing signs of waning in popularity. The National Kitchen and Bath Association noted the highly ornamented Tuscan – as well as French Provincial – styles are decreasing in popularity, as well as country and rustic styles. Instead, more remodelers are showing a preference for contemporary designs, featuring clean, simple lines, less clutter, and less ornamentation, according to NKBA. Transitional styles – a mix of traditional and contemporary – remain the most popular, NKBA notes. But NKBA notes that contemporary styles may soon overtake the popularity of transitional.

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Fixer-Upper Sellers Unrealistic on Price?


Sure, the sellers know potential buyers must be willing to invest much-needed TLC in their home after the purchase. The tough part is getting them to price properly based on the true cost of necessary fixes.

Help them be realistic about repair costs by branding, printing, and hand-delivering a free article, How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House, from the REALTOR® Content Resource. It’s one of five free articles now available in the “Position Yourself to Be a Better Buyer” article package. Share all five today.

Visit for more articles like this.


The REALTOR® Content Resource is brought to you by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. With it, you can download free homeownership content from HouseLogic to your marketing materials.

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Be the One to ‘Bring Help Home’

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Erica Christoffer

By Erica Christoffer

A natural disaster can bring a community to its knees. But with the help and hard work of NAR members, the REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF) is there to help pick up the pieces.

RRF is holding its second annual online silent auction Nov. 7–9 – coinciding with the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans – to raise funds and increase awareness of the foundation’s mission: “Bring Help Home.” A full 100 percent of all donations goes directly to victims of tornados, hurricanes, floods, fires, and other disasters that result in the need of housing-related assistance.

PrintIn addition to participating in this year’s auction, YPN members can also support RRF by donating auction items such as gift baskets, gift cards, electronics, trip packages, hosted events, and more. The deadline to submit donated items is Sept. 15. All companies donating items will be showcased with their company name, URL, and logo. Download the silent auction donation form.

Last year’s auction raised $55,000 for RRF. This year’s fundraising goal is $100,000. Here’s how it works: Online bidding will take place over 48 hours, opening Nov. 7, at 3 p.m. CST, and closing Nov. 9, 3 p.m. CST. Anyone can bid via computer or mobile device from anywhere in the country. Go to the auction site, to register to bid. Registration is required to bid on items. Items will be available for preview before the bidding period opens. Winning bidders will be notified via e-mail at the close of the auction. Not interested in bidding?  You can show your support by clicking the “Donate Cash” link on the auction site to make a tax-deductible contribution to RRF.

The REALTORS® Relief Foundation started in response to the 9-11 terrorist attacks. REALTORS® and others raised $8.5 million for 1,300 families who lost a loved one to help offset their mortgage or rent. Since then, the foundation has raised another $16.5 million to provide mortgage and temporary housing assistance to nearly 9,000 families in 41 disasters. Most recently, $1.4 million was distributed to those suffering severe damage or total loss of their homes caused by Hurricane Sandy, massive flooding in Colorado, and EF4 tornadoes in Illinois and Arkansas.

Erica Christoffer is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine and manager of the YPN Lounge. Connect with her at

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