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What's Up Magazine

What’s Up With Annapolis Real Estate?

Dec 15, 2011 10:55PM ● By Anonymous

Buyers face an inventory of hodgepodge homes, seemingly endless delays from financial institutions, and mounds of paperwork hurdles.  But this month’s  What’s Up? with Real Estate profiles locals who know the secrets to success are simple: Staging, Pricing, and Preparedness.

Shipley’s Choice/ Millersville

Primary Structure Built: 1981
Sold for: $510,000
Original List Price: $529,900
Last Sold/Price: 2001/$325,000
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2.5
Living Space: 2,240 square feet (+560 square feet below grade)
Lot Size: .34 acre

You’d think a 30-year-old home in a sleepy subdivision wouldn’t be a hot commodity in today’s market. But this Millersville property received an offer within three days and was under contract in nine, a perfect example of good pricing and great staging.

Anyone with cable access or DIY inclinations is familiar with “staging”—the process of de-cluttering, de-personalizing, and re-decorating for a model-home appearance. Annapolis stagers work for homeowners, realtors, or builders, and often provide or rent more appealing furniture and décor. Sellers’ biggest hurdle: “They think they’ve done a lot but it takes an objective professional to pinpoint when they need something more,” says Deborah Goode, owner of a locallybased staging firm.

Lucky for this property, the listing agent had a background in interior design and worked with the sellers to execute a staging plan: bringing in a clean, neutral palette of colors for almost every room, setting up “vignettes” throughout the house so buyers could envision themselves there, and eliminating a significant amount of personal items, particularly toys.

The home showed beautifully in person and pictures (highquality photos are key to today’s buyers, who start shopping online first, notes the selling agent). These factors—coupled with a terraced garden off the deck, a private, shaded lot on a cul-de-sac, an updated kitchen with ceramic tile flooring, and a finished basement with an office, playroom, and storage—added up to a swift sale.

Sources: Laura Stirling (listing agent), Coldwell Banker Severna Park, 410-207-4499, 410-647-2222, Mike and Melissa Murray (selling agents), Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage,

Round Bay/Severna Park

Primary Structure Built: 2009
Sold for: $815,000 Original List Price: $849,900
Last Sold/Price: Rented for 2 years; this is home’s first sale, by builder
Bedrooms: 4 Bathrooms: 3.5
Living Space: 3,767 square feet (+1,500 below grade)
Lot Size: .34 acre

Sometimes in a real-estate world that demands tremendous amounts of staging and detail work, all you need to do is take what you have and tweak it to set it apart from the rest. Case in point, this custom-built home in the much-coveted Round Bay area (see “Summers in Round Bay,” What’s Up? Annapolis, July 2010).

Although its location was ideal (Round Bay is known for such fabulous, family-friendly amenities as swim teams, pavilions, kids’ camps, etc.), the builder was challenged with a tight fit on a parcel for three homes. “We created an enclave effect with 15-ft. evergreens,” which immediately changed the feel of the site, says Chuck Converse, owner of a Severna Park-based builder. Additionally, during building, everything was oriented so windows faced the woods or river, creating a lovely winter-water view. Similar efforts on the interior made the home more competitive, yet not too “over-the-top” for potential buyers. Its granite and stainless-steel kitchen is expected today, but the millwork extension on the fireplace is not. Nice moldings and trim work are details where “you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a home look better,” Converse says.

Additional defining touches include a coffered ceiling, flagstone porch, Pella windows, main plus bedroom level laundry rooms, and Hardi-Plank exteriors. You can’t get better staged than that.

Sources: Kathy Langsner (listing/selling agent), ABR, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 410-647-2222, 410-458-6335,, Chuck Converse, Converse Builders & Developers, 410-647-0038.