Lauren Schenke

Your Partner in Real Estate

How I Stage My Listings…and Why It Works

I wanted to share with you why I believe in home staging….and what service I offer my clients. Home staging is when an individual hires a design company to bring in furniture, artwork, dishes, etc, and make a home for sale look lived in and updated. It gives buyers a feel for the size of the room and the layout of the house. It makes a cold, empty, sad home look warm and inviting. I believe that visiting a home should be treated as an experience. That sounds ridiculous now that I wrote that down, but really, a home visit should comfortable capture all of your senses….sight, sound, and smell in particular. You have one shot to impress. It’s like an interview. And it’s best to prepare.

A while back, I was working quite a bit with investor clients who were purchasing homes to flip and sell. There’s a BIG difference between a vacant home and a staged home. That’s where I come in. I gathered pieces bit by bit and created a collection of staging décor that I constantly update over time. I just recently added to my collection with new pieces to match the home I’m staging and what’s currently in style. I sat on my living room floor building dressers and end tables and had way too much fun doing so.

While a staged home may cost a seller or agent over $2,500 or so for a four to six week span, it’s a service I include my sellers at no additional cost other than the commission they agree to hire me at to sell their home. I use my own set of staging furniture & decor to prepare the home for sale. I can also consult with my sellers and use the clients’ own furniture, or a combination of both, to prepare their home for sale, if they are planning on staying in the home during the listing period.

Here’s an example of my staged listing that just went live yesterday…

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How can you stage your own house? Walking through brand new model homes is a great way to get a feel for what a clean/staged home ‘should’ look like. Or have your most critical friend come over and tell you what to pack up. Or….keep reading….

My top few beliefs on home staging….welcome mat

  1. Always have a new welcome mat. There’s nothing more off putting than a dingy, dirty welcome mat to kick off your home visit
    . What you see when you first enter a home will put you in a mood, and you want it to be a good one. They’re $20 bucks friends. Splurge.
  2. Air fresheners….on LOW. My preference is the Glade brand of plugins because they are refillable – the clean linen scent.Glade Plugins (Careful with the icky sweet cookie ones…sounds like a good idea because  you’ve always been told to bake cookies….danger Will Robinson.) The key is not to kill the buyers with air freshener. The lowest setting possible is sufficient. Go easy there, essential oil lover…no need to make us want to leave the home the moment we enter. I put two downstairs on opposite sides of the home and we’re good to go. Smells good but not overpowering.
  3. Keep your artwork at eye level. Growing up, my mom was always telling us to hang artwork lower…now lower….still lower… It’s Pictures-in-bedroomoften lower than what comes natural to most people, and it stuck with me til this day. You shouldn’t have to lift your chin to look at the focal point of artwork. Your head and neck’s natural resting position (for an adult) should be staring into the middle of the frame or canvas without raising your head.
  4. Keep it PG and neutral. For the sake of this argument, let’s just say I’ve seen some pretty risqué décor over my last few years. Really? Yes. You think someone’s going to love your naked lady motorcycle poster? Well, they’re not. This client probably is not going to be the prime candidate for staging, but nevertheless, neutralize your home of politics, religion, and anything not PG or G rated. If you lose just one buyer over the bumper sticker you have on your fridge, or the artwork in your bedroom, then you’re probably losing others as well. A good agent will help you swap it out with something neutral at no cost that you can live with for 30 days.
  5. No cropped curtains. It’s like flooded pant legs that are too short. For some reason they just drive me nuts. Long and tall friends, long and tall. Just about the ground…or even sitting on the ground a bit if you like that….but please don’t stop them short. I know curtains are expensive – way too expensive IMHO, but remove them if they are short and fill the holes. Tall curtains look the room look larger, which is important for a small house/room.
  6. Remove the clutter and de-personalize. Even I stop tofridge magnes look at personal photos when they are in someone’s home to see if I know them or to simply be nosy. Best to remove the 800 magnets on your fridge and pair down the non-essentials. fridge magnetsRemove most if not all of your personal photos. Start boxing things up – you’re moving anyways, so why not get a head start. Closets overstuffed? Box it up. Book cases full? Box it up. Putting things in boxes and storing them in your garage during your listing is fine – buyers expect it. The more horizontal surfaces you can see (think countertops, table tops, etc) the larger your room will feel.
  7. Clean. This should be an obvious one, but trust me when I tell you it’s not. Clean your house really well or hire someone to do it who knows what they’re doing. A professional cleaning goes a LONG way. Dirty houses lose buyers.


Thanks for reading this far….hope this helps some….if not, hire me and I’ll help you out! 🙂 Have a great day, and an even better evening…



Kitec Plumbing

The Kitec brand of PEX plumbing is a big disclosure and real estate buzzword these days. It’s a type of flexible plastic plumbing supply line that was used in some homes built in 1995-2007 instead of traditional copper which is more expensive but also less flexible. PEX flexible plumbing is traditionally made up of red and blue lines for hot and cold water supply.

The problem started several years after these new homes were built using Kitec plumbing. The main issue is where the plastic line meets up with the fittings, causing corrosion over time. This corrosion then lead to failures in the lines, and the failures lead to leaks around the home….in the wails, ceiling, etc. From what I’ve been told, it’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN these fittings will fail.

kitec1             kitec2

Now, before you flip out because you have red & blue plumbing lines….NOT ALL red and blue supply lines are the failed brands/companies like Kitec…so check to see what company/brand is stamped on your lines and do some research…it will look like this…


The real solution is unfortunately not a cheap solution. The answer is for the entire home to be re-piped with copper plumbing…not an affordable fix. You’ll have drywall repairs, water turned off until the home is re-plumbed, etc…major repairs.

One area local to us here where homeowners have been experiencing issues with their Kitec plumbing is the community of Del Webb’s Sun City in Lincoln. Many, but not all, of the homes were built during this timeframe and some of the builders used Kitec plumbing. There has been a class action lawsuit filed in the past, and is still open for claims through 2020 from the looks of it, but from what I’ve heard and read, it isn’t doing much to help with the cost to homeowners experiencing issues. And homeowners insurance often does not cover all of this re-plumbing work….they may just cover the damage the leak caused from water intrusion/damage.

If you want more info on Kitec – there’s a couple great resources I found in looking around:

This is a great time to mention to all sellers, or future sellers….DISCLOSE DISCLOSE DISCLOSE. Disclose everything, even if it’s repaired, even if it’s no longer an issue, etc. If you’re aware that Kitec is in your home, it’s vital that you disclose this to all buyers and let them be the ones to decide if it’s a material factor to them….because it is most definitely a material factor. Would it be important to you to consider in YOUR purchase? Probably…

And it’s a great time to remind buyers of the importance of a home inspection! A good home inspector will look for this kind of thing, especially if they know a neighborhood or city contains products like Kitec.





Sac Hottest Housing Market in 2017??

Sacramento continues to be pegged as one of the hottest housing markets for 2017. The Bee had an article in November citing claiming Sac as a hot market to watch this year, and a week ago Zillow claimed the same. What exactly does that mean for you this year?

First of all, are you a buyer or a seller?

As a SELLER, you’ll want to anticipate multiple showings of your home, keeping you busily cleaning your space, and you’ll possibly receive multiple offers on your home. In times like this when we have a combination of low inventory and quote on quote “HOT” markets, sellers tend to push the envelope on price, listing their home for prices above what may otherwise be considered the norm. And many times they even get what they ask for. Just in the past 18 hours alone I have 1) looked up a home in Folsom that sold recently, to find that it closed $25K over list price and received 12 offers! and 2) inquired on a home I showed which I felt was priced too high only to hear that they have received 6 offers already. Things….are….moving.

You’ll want to be cautious though in setting your listing price. You don’t want to list the home so high that buyers no longer see value in the property. That would make your home go stale with no showings and no offers…a seller’s nightmare. There’s a fine balance of pushing the envelope on price and tearing that envelope open with garden shears. 🙂 You also want to be very aware of your property and how attractive it really is to buyers. If you back a noisy freeway or live in an igloo shaped home…there may not be that upward pressure from buyers on price. Be sure to think critically about how attractive your home really is to buyers.

Also as seller, you’ll want to be prepared of where you’re going next…because you may receive a great offer sooner than you think! Do you have plans in place on where you’re going? Are you moving into a rental or buying another property? Be sure to factor this in.  The last thing I want you to be is a couch surfer!!

As a BUYER, this will probably mean a tougher, longer haul for you. When things heat up, and inventory is low, competitiveness begins. It all goes back to your Econ 101 class where your teacher discussed supply and demand. Yes, I’m an econ geek here!! Low supply + high demand = an increase in prices. There’s just not that many homes on the market right now…particularly in January. And from what I’ve seen recently, buyers are still looking!!

My best piece of advice for buyers is to have patience. It may take writing up several offers before you get one accepted and are able to move forward. In the meantime, work on improving your financial situation, whether it be your down payment, credit score, paying off debt, etc. The more we can talk about how fantastic your financial situation is, the better!!  Don’t settle for a home just because your offer will be accepted because nobody else wants it! When you find that right home, do all you can to show dedication and love for the property. That’s where I come in to help you do all we can.

With January almost over, it will be interesting to see if Sac lives up to the hype that the news has already created. I do think it’s still an affordable market compared to the bay area and many other locations. It’s a growing area with jobs and a perfect location between the ocean and the mountains. I’m energized and ready for a wonderful 2017!!






The U.S.’ priciest home for sale

Calling all buyers! The United State’s most expensive listing just hit the market for a cool $250M in Bel Air, in Southern California. For that price, you get 38,000 square feet, 12 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms (*wow*), three kitchens, a 40-seat movie theater, an infinity pool with a swim-up bar and 270-degree hilltop views from downtown to the ocean. It also comes with 7 people on staff, your own helicopter (that’s craned in because they don’t have a permit for landings and take offs!!), a $30M fleet of cars and motorcycles, a four lane bowling alley, a candy room and a whole lot more! Seriously…who knew we were all missing out by not having a room in our homes dedicated to CANDY!

This makes me think of a project I had back in grade school….how to spend a hundred million dollars. I remember it being hard at the time as a young kid and a great exercise in the value of money and the cost of things. It would probably be easier now than it was 25 (cough cough) years ago. How would you choose to spend $250M? Would it be a single purchase of a lavish home like this one? Or would you spend it on something else….or many something elses….

Read more about the home here…

Sacramento Affordability….

I came across this interesting article about affordability in Sacramento neighborhoods…if buyers put 20% down on a mortgage, how much would they need to make to live in some neighborhoods around Sacramento? Pretty amazing to see the amount you need these days…prices have definitely gone up over the past few years. Even North Oak Park has a median  home price of $304K from their analysis…needing over $60K in annual income to purchase in an area that used to be tough and is now a blossoming pocket of homes. Makes for an interesting read…and then click on the similar article about San Francisco to make you feel better about Sacramento!

Click here for the full article…

Things to do when your neighbor lists their home for sale….MSN article

Happy Friday! I read this article and thought it had some valid points to share with you on things to consider when your neighbor lists their home for sale. Hopefully you’ll get a great new neighbor, but, as the article mentions, it’s a great time to see your home from your neighbor’s perspective. Also, from my point of view, spruce up your home a bit and help with property values! Your neighbor’s sale will probably be a comparable for your home value if you’re considering refinancing or selling as well – don’t let your home drag down the neighborhood values!! Have a great weekend!

Read the full article here…

Fed Leaves Interest Rates

You lucky duck buyers and re-fi-ers!! Interest rates will continue to be amazingly low as the Fed decides to keep rates where they are. With the remaining leftovers from the Brexit changes still impacting rates, it’s an amazing time to buy or refinance your home. Even if rates go up a quarter, they’ll still be amazing rates!

Link to full article on CNN found here

Low Inventory Continues…Prices Increase

I read this interesting article on Sac Bee about rising home prices and continued low inventory causing buyers to offer on homes over list price. Many buyers can’t compete as they don’t have the cash to pay the variance if the property appraises below the offer price. I thought this was a great article to show what many buyers are currently up against in the local market here in Sacramento.

There’s ways to make your offer more attractive and I’m here to help. Writing a letter to the seller telling the seller who you are and why you love the home never hurts. Getting fully approved with your lender and having proof of funds is a MUST. Knowing about the current marketplace always helps – and that’s where I come in. I’ll help run some comparable property information and help you determine your starting point for the home. We want to make sure your offer is strong, but realistic at the same time.

I’m here for questions if needed! Have a great day!

For the full article, read more HERE.


Local Trends – June Data

Since I’m a numbers geek, I love seeing watching trends of the local real estate market here in Sacramento. I think visuals in the form of graphs and charts are a great way to explain the local market activity I see and experience on a daily basis.

June continued as expected, with rising inventory as we typically see through July. However, inventory is still 15% below where we were at the same time last year, and pending sales are 22% OVER where we were last year in June! Buyers are buying – it’s definitely a seller’s market!

Days on market (DOM) – the number of days it takes for homes to go pending – continues to shrink as buyers actively watch the market and pounce on great homes.

Home values continue to rise as market pressure and low inventory display a classic case of economics … supply and demand. High demand and low supply = an increase in prices.

I’d expect July to continue with increasing inventory, but not end up anywhere close to where we were last year. I think home values will continue to increase for the next month or two, and then flatten out as we enter our “cold” winter season as buyers and sellers head toward hibernation. Yes friends, winter is coming. 🙂

Enjoy the graphs and let me know if you want to chat about the local market!


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