Home Staging from the Pros!

Interior decor. Home staging. Two different animals.
That’s why you can disregard some of the most oft-heard decorating advice. Here’s examples:
Trends. “Don’t follow trends.” Wrong. Trends will make any home look fresh and appealing. You don’t have to honor every passing trend, but something new and stylish gives life to a room.
Home buyers often tour model homes, which are decorated with trending colors, the newest furniture, and the latest home accessories. Look current. ar117727519417815
Colors. “Add pops of color.” I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing how a dull room can be rescued by “adding a few pops of color!”
A staged room doesn’t want pops of color. A staged room wants to be seamless and layered. It wants to be interesting but not in-your-face, like a tastefully dressed but approachable woman at a meet and greet. Lose the pops, please.
Style. “Buy what you love and it will all work together.” It probably won’t. A well designed room is no accident or collection of oddities. A room that buyers are attracted to takes some forethought, even if it was professionally decorated by an expert interior decorator. When it’s time to stage, the décor rules change.
Palette. “Look in your closet to determine what colors you should use in your home.” Not. Although you might determine your personal color preferences, that’s no guarantee you’ll find the right color scheme for staging a home.
White. “Paint a closet a fun color. Or Paint a ceiling a fun color.” Don’t put stumbling blocks between a buyer and a purchase offer. Most people do not like to paint. They want to buy a home that’s move-in ready. Choose paints that will have the widest appeal possible, colors that don’t call attention to themselves. Closets and ceilings should be white. Period. Ignore what the frou-frou decorators say.
Pattern. “Stencil designs on your wall.” Step away from the stencils! Stenciling an entire wall is fashionable with DIY decorators and home décor bloggers right now. But a wall of design, no matter how tasteful, is restrictive. What are the chances it will be appropriate for the new owner? Painting over a stenciled wall is more difficult than painting an ordinary wall because of the raised paint edges and uneven texture left by stenciling.
Stenciling a wall is one of the mistakes in the photo above showing a yellow tree on the wall. The other staging blunders are: colors are too bright, the photos are too small, and the photos show family members.

Displays.  “Don’t save your wedding gifts and heirloom possessions for special times. Display and use them.” Wrong. I’m saying that you should pack these sentimental and valuable household items away.
There is always the chance that something will be stolen from a home on the market. Why take a chance, when you can stage a home with ordinary art and accessories instead of precious belongings or expensive antiques?
Wallpaper. “Use wallpaper in unexpected places like a powder room, pantry or small foyer.” All wrong! Buyers do not like to see wallpaper. Chances are they’ll want to change it. Painting is faster, easier, cheaper, smarter.
Bath. “Use robe hooks instead of towel bars to save money.” Another veto. This tactic looks cheap, even if you are doing it to be stylish. Also, I question that towels dry thoroughly when they hang from a hook.
Shelves. “Replace your upper kitchen cabinets with open shelving.” Stupid idea. I can think of a few instances where this approach would work: a minimalist’s kitchen, a small vacation home, or a loft where the owners hardly ever eat in.
Most buyers will want closed storage. Are you sure you want all your dishes on display? Do they look THAT nice? And do you want dust and cooking oils to settle on all your dinnerware and glassware?
Trim. “Paint your trim a dark or interesting color.” Mistake. Spaces look bigger when edged in white, and dark trim closes spaces. Buyers want big. Give them clean, classic white trim. It will go with whatever wall colors new owners want in the future.
Painting trim is time consuming. It looks crappy if you do a poor job, devaluing your property. It’s expensive if you hire painters to paint trim. Keep your trim white.
Lights. “Choose lighting that will flatter yourself and guests.” Forget this. Choose lighting that will make your rooms look spacious and clean. This is no time to create moody ambiance with subdued lighting. Make it easy for a realtor to illuminate a room without circling the room to turn on lamps, even if it means you put timers on lamps.

Moving Checklist

Getting ready for a move? Below is a checklist that will help you stay organized and make sure you get everything you need done!


To Do: One Month Before Moving

  • Create a folder to keep all records related to the move. You can also use a legal-sized envelope.
  • Plan the actual physical move (are you renting a truck, hiring movers, etc.). Then get estimates for each. If you are moving for a job find out what moving expenses will be reimbursed and what receipts or documentation you will need for that purpose.
  • If you are going to need temporary or permanent storage for some of your items figure that out now as well.
  • Schedule the turn on and turn off of your utilities: Phone, Internet, Cable, Water, Garbage, Gas, and Electric services.
  • Determine how you are going to move your vehicles and other valuables (especially for long distance moves).
  • Sketch out a floor plan of the new home to figure out what furniture you can take with you and what new furniture you may need to get.
  • Hold a garage sale or go through all of your belongings and donate what you don’t need to Goodwill. If you haven’t used it in the last year, you probably don’t need it (unless it is a keepsake).
  • Contact schools, doctors, and dentists to transfer your records to the new location and to get referrals from them as appropriate.
  • Start collecting packing materials boxes, tape, and all related packing materials to keep your belongings safe as you transport them.
  • Make any home repairs that you may need to make (especially if a deposit is on the line). Get it over with.
  • Return anything you may have borrowed from any neighbors to make sure you leave on good terms.
  • Get back anything you may have loaned out to neighbors unless you never want to see it again.
  • Start using up food in your pantry and refrigerator so you don’t have to move too much to your new home.

Digital Image by Sean Locke Digital Planet Design www.digitalplanetdesign.com
To Do: 3 Weeks Before Moving

  • You should know how you are moving and have all the arrangements finalized (truck, movers, etc.).
  • Start packing anything that is non-essential (anything that you use very rarely).
  • Keep boxes well labeled by Room. It may help to mark the room in the old home as well as the room to take it to in the new home.
  • Separate out any valuables that you will need to move yourself (keep them together).
  • Set a box aside that will be filled with items you will need the day you move (tools, small parts from furniture, etc.).
  • Create an inventory list of all the items and include serial numbers where available for items you need to insure.
  • Fill out a change of address form with the U.S. Postal Service (don’t wait until the last minute or mail you need won’t be at your new home).
  • Make sure that friends, families, neighbors, and employers all have your new address.
  • Notify your insurance and credit card companies of your change of address.
  • Cancel automated payments associated with the old home and all of them if you are switching banks.
  • Make sure that you get all vehicles into the shop for a tune-up so that they are ready for the move.

To Do: 2 Weeks Before Moving

  • Continue packing everything up and make sure that you are cleaning each area of the home as you go.
  • If you will need items right away, make sure you pack them separately and don’t just throw them in one gigantic box.
  • Make sure you have enough time off around the move (coordinate it with your employer).
  • If you have children find ways to let them contribute to the packing and move planning.
  • If you have children make sure you have someone lined up to watch them on moving day.
  • Begin packing suitcases to have all necessary items really handy (some clothes and toiletries).
  • Reconfirm again your movers and method of moving (take no chances).
  • Make sure all of your prescriptions are filled.
  • Empty any safety deposit boxes you may have and put the contents in a safe place for transport.
  • Cancel the following services at the old home: newspaper, housecleaning, lawncare, pool maintenance, and water delivery.
  • Take some furniture apart (what you don’t absolutely need) and check it for any pre-move damage.
  • Make sure all paperwork for the old and new homes is complete and in proper order.
  • Get rid of any flammables such as paint, propane, gas, etc.
  • Continue trying to use up any perishable food.


To Do: 1 Weeks Before Moving

  • Confirm the moving details (truck, movers, etc.) one more time and verify all paperwork.
  • Make an action plan for the day of the move (a complete schedule).
  • If you rented a truck plan for how you are going to pick it up, who is going to drive, etc.
  • Prepare for the moving expenses (food, lodging, moving, etc.). Make sure you have enough cash to cover the move.
  • Continue cleaning the house as you pack more of your belongings (clean as you go).
  • You need to defrost and clean the refrigerator.
  • Make sure your toolbox is handy (screwdriver, wrench, tape, pliers, etc.).
  • Pack of bag of snacks and water bottles to make sure you have ample supply on moving day.
  • Make sure you keep the boxes you are moving yourself separate along with other valuables.

To Do: Moving Day

  • Remove bedding and take the beds apart.
  • Make sure you go early to pickup the truck if you rented one.
  • When the movers arrive walk them through the house and tell them exactly what you want them to do.
  • Once the old home is empty do a walk through just to make sure everything is gone.
  • Write a note for the new residents leaving your forwarding address and other contact information.
  • Take inventory before the movers leave and sign the bill of lading.
  • Double check to make sure the movers have the correct new address.
  • Lock the windows and doors and turn off the lights at the old place.
  • At the new home verify that all utilities are on and working properly.
  • Perform an initial inspection of the new home and note any damages or problems
  • Do a quick cleaning while the place is empty clean the floors, counters, cabinets, etc.
  • Direct the movers to place everything where you want them.
  • Assemble beds and bedding.
  • Begin unpacking.

Moving home 100sqft
To Do: Post Move (One to Two Weeks Out)

  • As you are unpacking make sure you note any damages caused by the movers and watch the deadline for insurance claims.
  • Make sure you change the locks on the new place and make at least 2 copies of the new keys.
  • Confirm that mail is arriving at your new home.
  • Confirm that the utilities at your old home have been cancelled and that they are no longer in your name.
  • Verify that all of the following have your new address: banks, credit cards, IRS, loans, insurance, pension plans, attorneys, accountant, doctors, dentist, family support, newspapers,magazines, licenses, memberships.
  • Schedule a time get your driver’s license updated with your new address.
  • Get local phonebooks and maps if you moved to a new city.
  • Find new doctors, dentists, etc. depending on what your needs are.
  • Update your renters or homeowners insurance to make sure everything is adequately covered.


Tips for Moving with your Pets

As we all know, relocating with a family can be an extremely exhausting and tedious task that no one looks forward to; however, have you ever imagined how stressful a move can be on your four-legged family member?

Ensuring an easier move for everyone, including your pets, FlatRate Moving has compiled a list of “Seven Tips and Tricks to Moving with a Pet”:

1. Try different ways of traveling. Some pets feel more comfortable in a carrier, while others prefer to find a safe spot in the car to hang out. If your pet seems more comfortable outside of a carrier, allow him/her to explore the car before you leave. If your pet seems anxious, a pet carrier is probably a good idea. Purchase one that allows your pet to move around. A month before the move, keep the carrier in your pet’s favorite part of the house. Place a soft blanket and a toy inside and leave the door open. (Specially designed crate cushions make a long ride more tolerable, too). Let your pet explore the carrier and have it become a safe place to be. This will help your pet adjust more easily to car travel.

2. Assemble a “moving kit” for your pet: It’s important to keep the key items close by. Include the necessities, but don’t forget the comforts, like your puppy’s favorite chew toy, to make the ride cushier and less scary. Pet supplies to bring along in the car include:

– Pet food/bowls

– Bottled water

– Treats/toys

– Beds/blankets

– Dish soap

– Disposable bags/pet wipes

– Travel-size litter box, litter and scoop

– Pet medications/medical records

3. Ensure proper I.D. Check to make sure that your pet’s collar fits comfortably, but that it’s not loose enough for escape. Address tags with your cell phone number, pet name and rabies tags should be worn by your pet at all times. If your pet gets loose, you want to know that s/he can be quickly identified.

4. Keep a leash or crate handy. There’s a lot happening on moving day. Keep a leash or crate handy so you don’t have to worry about keeping them secure and out of harm’s way when necessary.

5. Enlist the help of others. If possible; enlist the help of a pet sitter, friend or family member to watch your pets during the move. This keeps them out of harm’s way and allows you to focus on the important details of the move without worrying about them, too.

6. Talk to your vet. Schedule an appointment with your vet before the move to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to travel, and find out what shots are required for the area to which you are moving. Also, find a local vet in your new neighborhood in advance in case of emergencies. Knowing where you can get help could save your pet.

Sources: NewsWeek, Newsweek Journal

Lake Nona, Orlando: Flagship city of the Future

Last week Cisco Systems hosted a Twitter chat at #SmartCityIoE to raise awareness of its Smart+Connected Communities initiative. “IoE” refers to the Internet of Everything, which Cisco describes as, “bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before.”




The availability of these connections can potentially turn “information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.” In February, Cisco released a study that estimates a potential value of $14.4 trillion over the next decade for technology and services that connect people to people (P2P), machines to people (M2P) and machines to machines (M2M).

This value will be achieved by improvements in:

  • Asset utilization ($2.5 trillion)
  • Employee productivity ($2.5 trillion)
  • Supply chain and logistics ($2.7 trillion)
  • Customer experience ($3.7 trillion)
  • Innovation and time to market ($3.0 trillion)

This is happening today in the French city of Nice, where the Connected Boulevard uses technology to manage traffic, parking, waste, and pollution. In neighboring Spain, Barcelona has an even broader set of applications, including energy efficient and “aware” city blocks and public buildings, as well as rain water management and street lighting as a service.

Another, even grander foray into hyper-connectivity is South Korea’s $35 billion Songdo International City, a brand-new, 1,500-acre collaboration between Cisco, developer Gale International, and construction giant POSCO E&C. Smart-city services are expected to transform the city into a sustainable community. More than 10,000 TelePresence video conferencing units will enable leading-edge services in areas such as education, security, virtual learning, and concierge services.

These are some of what Cisco calls its “Iconic City” projects, which also include Toronto, Skolkova (Russia), London, Chengdu (China), Rio de Janeiro, and Lend Lease (Australia).

Cisco’s flagship Iconic City in the U.S. is Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla. The company recently hosted a Live Orlando event and media tour of the 7,000-acre master-planned community. Lake Nona will offer many of the services already mentioned, plus world-class education, recreational facilities, diverse workspaces, retail centers, entertainment choices, and residential options. Integration, coordination, and collaboration will take place between the numerous medical care and life sciences stakeholders within the Lake Nona Medical City that will define, design, and implement a unified lifelong medical care delivery system model.


Smart cities and the many new functions and services that will emerge from them, some organically and some by design, will undoubtedly provide countless opportunities for manufacturers to find new applications for their products in a hyper-connected context. It could be as simple as a dispenser that sends a message when it’s empty, or a medical device that communicates with health care aides. Machinery can be controlled from a smartphone, or tooling components can be equipped with electronic tags that help operators find on the shop floor.

But first, manufacturers need to ask themselves two questions.

  1. How can the immediate availability of a near-infinite source of both data and information improve the performance and usefulness of my products or services?
  2. How can my products or services be combined with this same level of information to provide a richer, more productive, more satisfying, and more valuable experience to my customers?

More broadly, what will all these changes mean to our society? Will all this technology threaten the character of our cities, detracting from what makes them great, with distracted citizens walking around staring at tiny screens and no longer talking to each other?


Anil Menon, Cisco’s president of Smart+Connected Communities and deputy chief globalization officer, told IMT: “Change is happening and cities are changing whether we like it or not… Technology is already changing the way we interact with employers, customers, partners, family members; it is already changing the way children learn, the way we transact business, arrange for services, buy goods, and gather information to choose what to eat, what to wear, [and] where to visit in the world… Technology may change some elements of how a city works, but if the cities’ leaders and citizens understand what makes that city great, then embracing effective technology solutions can enhance rather than detract from a city’s greatness.”


Source: Industry Market Trends, ThomasNet News, Twitter, Cisco Systems,


Agent Feature: Shirlei DeVito

Today on the blog we have Shirlei DeVito!



Hi Shirlei and welcome to the blog! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I have worked in the Central Florida area for over 12 years. I have been featured in local and international real estate articles, and is a leading expert in residential real estate sales in Central Florida. As an internationally recognized real estate broker and sales expert, I have experience with foreign nationals from all over the world. My clients come from Brazil, England, Australia, Spain, China, and many more. They come to Orlando looking for a second come, relocation, or to invest in income properties. I speak fluent Portuguese and have not only years of experience to offer but I am also the team leader for the Devito Homes Team.

How did you get into real estate?

During the process of purchasing my first home in Florida in 2000, I realized I could be of service and provide a superior service than the one I had to buyers and sellers alike.

What projects are you currently working on?

Currently, I am focusing on the Brazilian buyers since the economy in Brazil is providing a great number of buyers and investors to the Central Florida area.

Any advice for those just starting off in real estate?

New agents must educate themselves about the current market situation as well as become familiarized as much as possible with the area. Buyers and sellers are highly educated about the market thanks to the internet. So agents must be confident with the information they’re giving to their clients in order to establish a rapport.


Thanks for coming on our blog today, Shirlei! If you are interested in contacting Shirlei to help her sell your home or buy your next one, here is her contact information:

Shirlei DeVito, ALHS
Broker Associate
nextel : 162*317240*15
Century 21 Metro Lifestyles
720 Celebration Ave., st 100
Celebration, Fl, 34747
“In the business of building clients for life.”

10 tips for hiring a professional mover

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 10.43.50 AM

10. Research Companies

First things first — do some informal research to see which moving companies do quality work. Send out an e-mail to friends to see if they have any recommendations or warnings about moving companies they’ve used in the past. If the companies you’re interested in offer references, call those references. Once you narrow down your choices, check with the Better Business Bureau about any moving companies you’re considering. If one of those companies has had a number of complaints filed against it, then that’s not the company you want to use.

9. Get More Than One Estimate

For interstate moves, charges are based on the weight of the items to be moved, the distance to be moved, packing and other services. Get two or three estimates well in advance of your move. You may even want to meet with a relocation consultant in person and have him or her come out to your home. That way, the consultant can take a look at your belongings and make a solid estimate on how much it will cost you to transport them. When you speak with the moving companies, ask whether their estimates are binding or nonbinding. Do not accept an estimate over the phone.

8. Make Sure the Mover is Aware of Everything that Must Be Moved

Make sure the mover is perfectly aware of everything that has to be moved. And here’s why: The cost will increase if anything is added to the shipment that was not included in the estimate. Also, make sure the mover is aware of any special circumstances that might make the move challenging. For example, is there a possibility that the moving truck will have a hard time parking at your new place? If the mover has to park far away, you may be charged extra money for the walking that movers have to do to get your things to your new place.

7. Get Insurance

If you have renters or homeowners insurance, then your belongings are insured when they’re at your home, but not when they’re on the road between homes. So for a long commute, you might want to consider purchasing moving or relocation insurance. Unless you pay the movers to pack your belongings, it’s unlikely that they will be insured against breakage caused by improper packing. If you want to ensure coverage for broken items, you can always ask the movers to pack your belongings. There are several types of insurance packages to purchase. The moving company is liable for a certain dollar amount multiplied by the weight of the shipment, up to a certain amount.

6. Pay Close Attention to the Contract

The mover will issue you a bill of lading, a legal contract between the customer and the mover. Be sure to read it carefully and make sure you understand the agreement before you sign it. Then, be sure to hang on to your copy of the bill of lading. If something goes wrong, you’ll want to have it handy to state your case. And once you sign the bill of lading, you must pay what it says you’re supposed to pay. Look for the bill of lading to include the following: name and address of mover, the type of payment method it accepts, time of pickup, minimum and maximum amounts to pay and other details about payment.

5. Ask Questions About the Contract

Make sure that any contract you enter into covers rates and charges, the mover’s liability for your possessions, dates for pickup and delivery, and claims protection. Read the document carefully. Don’t worry about making the moving company wait while you look the contract over to make sure you understand everything that’s included. Moving company scams are not uncommon, so you want to make sure a moving company is on the up and up before you sign a contract. If something in the contract looks fishy, trust your instincts and ask questions. You don’t want your moving company to hold your things hostage and force you to pay extra costs.

4. Move During the Winter

If you have the option to move between October and April, you may be able to receive a better price. If your move is scheduled between June and September, the busiest time for movers, be sure to call well in advance for estimates and to settle a contract. When you are choosing between moving companies, remember to leave the estimates from each company sitting out on your kitchen counter or dining room table when movers come by your home to assess your things. That way the moving companies know they have competition, and they’ll be more likely to negotiate a deal with you.

3. Stick to Your Delivery Date

Once your shipment is picked up, you may incur storage costs if you change the delivery date. So try to make sure you’re able to move into your new home on the scheduled date. Otherwise, you may wind up having to put your things into storage for one night, which will cost you money that you could have saved had you been more organized. There are other hidden costs to consider as well: Moving a difficult item like a piano may cost extra. You also may need to purchase extra insurance coverage for your high-priced art or hire special handlers for those items.

2. Check Your Inventory to Make Sure Nothing Was Lost or Damaged

Movers are responsible for loss or damage to goods caused by the carrier. If anything is missing or if cartons are damaged, this should be noted when you check the inventory sheet at delivery. Moving is hectic, and you may think you don’t have time to look through all the boxes when they arrive at your place. But you should go through your inventory sheet and make certain your things look like they are in good condition and that they are all there. At the least, you should verify that everything on the list has been delivered.

1. Make Sure the Company is Legit

Moving scams are pretty rampant, and you want to be sure the company you work with is legit. So, check up on it. Pay a visit to the company to see whether it seems like it’s on the up and up. Are the trucks labeled clearly? It’s not good if they’re not. You can search for the company’s motor carrier license information on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration SaferSys Web site. Plug in the DOT number the company gave you to see if everything looks correct. For example, the address you got from the company should match the address on the SaferSys Web site. If you’re moving to a different state, the moving company should be authorized for interstate moving. There should also be a check next to household goods. For more information, check out Movingscam.com.


Sources: TLC, The Learning Channel: Real Estate Tips