The 6 features your luxury seller should upgrade

Getting a luxury home into selling shape is all in the details…

Britt Klein, Associate Broker, Sotheby’s International Realty in Santa Fe

“Intimately understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your listing is essential for effective marketing,” says Britt Klein, Associate Broker with Sotheby’s International Realty in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “You want to place your listing in the strongest possible position for a sale.”

After all, buyers are quick to take things at face value. According to Jon Mand, Broker with Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty in Louisville, it’s crucial for agents be able to see a property from the buyer’s perspective so they know what to change. “The objective of my initial walkthrough is to view the home through the eyes of a potential buyer in order to accurately assess the current condition and marketability of the property,” he says.

Jon Mand, Broker, Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty

What are the first things he looks for? “Is the paint chipping? Is there visible water damage? Deferred maintenance is the first priority for our sellers to tackle. A beautifully staged room will quickly be overshadowed by heavily worn hardwood floors and drywall in need of repair.”

In some markets, what’s outside matters almost as much as the interiors. “My clientele are craving the ultimate indoor-outdoor living experience,” says Klein. “When possible, I encourage sellers to work with interior and staging specialists as well as landscape architects.”


So what are the upgrades agents need to stay on the lookout for? Here are our top six picks:

Take care of the basics

1. Refresh the walls
Paint chipping, water damage, and flaws in the drywall can steal the show from even the most elegant homes. Walls are a high priority, and they can be a quick fix — especially if the problem is simply the color. “Whether the home is $200,000 or $2,000,000, painting consistently remains the greatest return offered to sellers out of any pre-listing work or staging I recommend,” says Mand. While rich jewel tones are having a moment in design, for selling a home, neutrals still see the best return on investment in luxury properties: soft gray-blues, warm browns, and beiges create a blank canvas for allowing buyers to picture themselves in a space while conveying a sense of refinement. If the creative urge strikes, kitchen cabinets and bathrooms are places where a bit of color is less likely to deter luxury buyers.

2. Replace flooring
“Updating or refinishing flooring is a close second to walls,” continues Mand, “and can make a world of difference to a space.” Floors are a particularly nuanced feature because there are so many types to choose from. Hardwood remains appealing to buyers, although tastes regarding plank width vary between markets; in humid climates, ceramic and granite tile can provide sophistication without the risk of warping. Consistency in flooring throughout a house can matter more than type: sellers are well advised to choose an attractive option for the main rooms of their home in order to keep buyers from identifying flooring as a problem area.

3. Raise ceilings

Luxury Kitchen Interior

Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty

Along with walls and floors, ceilings are an oft-overlooked surface that can be improved in order to lift and lighten a space. Vaulted ceilings are highly sought after, and for luxury condo buyers, ceilings of at least 13 feet are in vogue.

“I once recommended several changes to a home, including a fresh coat of paint throughout, refinishing hardwood floors with a darker stain, and replacing an older dropped ceiling,” recalls Mand. “At that time, the clients decided to move forward with listing without making any improvements. The home sat on the market for several months before they decided to remove it and make the changes originally suggested. Upon reentering the market, we immediately received multiple offers and ultimately sold above ask.”

Brush up on the extras

4. Modernize the kitchen
When asked about the upgrades that bring the biggest benefits to sellers, both Klein and Mand are quick to mention kitchens. “As far as significant renovations go, sellers will see the most value for resale in a complete kitchen update,” says Mand.

This is an area of the home that builds up a lot of wear and tear; it’s also a space where buyers are especially concerned about having the latest features, whether it’s energy efficient lighting or a smart refrigerator.

5. Splash out on the master bathroom
Unlike the kitchen, homebuyers focus on the master bath as a luxury more than a necessity, but it’s another upgrade that Klein and Mand unanimously agree is one of the most important. It’s also one of the most likely to maximize the seller’s return on investment. Details like radiant in-floor heating, soaker tubs, and open-concept Italian showers can take a master bath from run of the mill to attractive oasis.

6. Design a tranquil outdoor space

Luxury home exterior at night

Sotheby’s International Realty – Santa Fe – 326 Grant Avenue Brokerage

A property’s façade is the first thing buyers see when attending an open house; that’s why, for Klein, curb appeal is non-negotiable. “The exterior experience is among the most important upgrades, and provides a great return on investment,” she notes.

Landscaping, patios, and the indoor-outdoor lifestyle is even more critical in secondary home markets. “In Santa Fe, buying a luxury home is often a choice rather than a necessity,” she says. “Most secondary homebuyers need to emotionally connect with the property, and are willing to pay a premium for a move-in-ready residence that offers an idyllic Southwestern lifestyle.”

On trend or timeless?

When it comes to advising sellers on upgrades, it’s vital agents know what’s current. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to style, as long as you steer away from anything outdated. Mand advises his clients to focus on traditional aesthetics with wide appeal; Klein makes sure to identify and replace any features that have fallen out of fashion and may adversely affect marketability.

“Recently, I worked with a seller who had designed their Santa Fe residence with a dramatic French country theme,” she describes. “The home was exquisite and tastefully decorated; however, the design theme deterred buyers who wanted the Santa Fe experience. My sellers willingly replaced the antique crystal chandeliers with rustic wrought iron fixtures and restaged the home with a neutral theme. This rebranding broadened our audience, which resulted in a significant surge of activity and an immediate sale.”

Ultimately, your sellers are relying on you to tell them what requires an upgrade — whether or not they know the scope of work needing to be done. “Being an objective and knowledgeable third party during an often emotional and tiring process will make all the difference to your seller,” says Mand. In the end, superior service is what counts most in the luxury real estate space.


About Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit

The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.

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The Ruggiero Group Joins KLSIR

A Legend in the Field

We are pleased to announce Cynthia Ruggiero of The Ruggiero Group has joined us at our Mendham location. With over 30 years of experience as a Realtor in western Morris County, Cindy understands how to merge a client’s style of living with the perfect home.

Cynthia Field Ruggiero 38- (3) Cropped
Cynthia Field Ruggiero

Clients trust Cindy to have helped her earned the Platinum level for the New Jersey Association of Realtors’ Circle of Excellence since 2014. With over $25 million in sales and over 60 units closed annually, REAL Trends has included Cindy and her group among their list of America’s Best Real Estate Professionals.

Recognized as a Five Star New Jersey Agent for nine consecutive years, Cindy has put together a team of professionals to provide top-level customer service for buyers and sellers alike. Led by Cindy, The Ruggiero Group includes: Alena Field, Kim Harwanko, and Peter Ruggiero.

Alena Field & Kim Harwanko 156- (2) Cropped
Alena Field & Kim Harwanko

Alena Field is a licensed real estate agent who provides support to Cindy in the office and out in the field. Alena also provides website support and social media marketing.

Kim Harwanko is a licensed real estate agent who brings a lifetime of local living and a strong background in marketing. Her deep roots in Morris and Somerset counties off an intimate knowledge of the area.

A 38-year resident of Long Valley, Cindy has volunteered as an elected West Morris Regional High School Board of Education member for eight years, coached girls traveling soccer and Morris County select soccer, as well as working with “Turning the Town Teal” for ovarian cancer awareness.

We invite you to contact The Ruggiero Group at 908.399.3408 or to learn more about how our real estate professionals are the proven leaders in representing distinctive homes.

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Inside Musician Martin Johnson’s Hollywood Hills Home

It feels fitting for a musician like Martin Johnson—whose milieu is American rock and pop—to have settled here, in this modern cabin with a wide-open view of one of the  most iconic sights in the U.S., the Hollywood sign. Helmer of The Night Game and former frontman of Boys Like Girls, Johnson has also made career as a songwriter of multi-platinum songs. When he’s not touring, he retreats to this inviting haven, built in 1978 byaward-winning architect Tony Ngai and updated to reflect a modern sensibility with hints of timeless Scandinavian style.

Los Angeles, California | Patricia RubenSotheby’s International Realty – Los Feliz Brokerage

The interiors display an emphasis on clean lines, natural materials—including Swedish Kährs wood flooring and clear-cedar ceilings that mirror the home’s striking façade—and the maximization of natural light. This sort of warm modernism—relatable and appealing yet sophisticated—creates a deep-seated sense of comfort, furthered by such spaces as a cushioned “conversation pit” with a fireplace and a library with custom shelving and track ladder for accessing its upper reaches.

The charming and colorful Miele-outfitted kitchen features a cozy window seat and an adjoining dining area with doors to a balcony. Throughout, soaring ceilings contribute to an airy lightness, and oversized windows transform views of the surroundings into veritable works of art.

The home offers three restful bedrooms, four light-filled baths, and generous closet space—including a well-appointed room-size walk-in in the master suite. The master bath offers a soothing soaking tub, a relaxing steamshower, custom floating vanities, and—appropriately for the home of a musician—surround sound speakers.

Picture windows offer views of the enveloping canyons. The cabin’s enviable location—at the end of a cul-de-sac on a road less traveled—affords desirable privacy.

From a chic and modern cabin in Los Angeles to the castles of Ireland, discover incredible and unique luxury homes from around the world

Posted on November 12, 2019

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Design | 7 Futuristic Materials Having a Moment

Corona Del Mar, California | Linda Chan & Sana AmarithPacific Sotheby’s International Realty

What makes a house truly feel like a home? Aside from the events that take place between its walls, much of a home’s personality is found in the materials, textures, and accents that bring it together. While it can be time-consuming to keep up with the latest design trends—especially the perennials that come in and out with the seasons—incorporating the latest high-end materials into your home is an easy way to give a space an instant, luxurious update. From cozy fabrics to rich metals, here are seven futuristic materials to freshen any room.


Harrison, New York | Alix PrinceJulia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty

An ultra-soft, looped yarn fabric, bouclé is a material that exudes warmth and whimsy. Traditionally a popular texture for coats, bouclé is adorning couches, loveseats, and throw pillows to add instant comfort—and a little fun—to the living room without sacrificing high-end style. Curling up on furniture made from this fabric is a lush experience; it’s getting up once comfortable that becomes a challenge.

Rice Paper

Naples, Italy | Sabrina MajelloItaly Sotheby’s International Realty

When it comes to the burgeoning trend of sustainable home décor, materials like rice paper, jute, linen, and wool are making a big name for themselves. Rice paper lanterns and floor lamps are perfect accents for bright, minimalist spaces that adhere to the design tenets of serenity and relaxation.


Cyprus | Anastasia YianniCyprus Sotheby’s International Realty

By no means a new material, ceramic is having a moment in 2019. Patterned ceramic tiles are an exciting way to spruce up walls and flooring, and artists worldwide are creating stunning bowls, flower pots, and vases in both high-shine and matte finishes. Whether for function or simply for display, unique ceramic artwork makes a clear statement.


Hamburg, Germany | Alexander StehleHamburg Sotheby’s International Realty

For a clean, minimalist look and feel, acrylic furniture is a fuss-free, futuristic trend to incorporate into your home. Acrylic coffee tables, end tables, and hallway or entryway pieces provide a balance of function and style without detracting from the overall design of the rest of the room. And in tight spaces, clear acrylic furnishings allow light to travel without adding any visual disruption.


Laguna Beach, California | Sean StanfieldAriana Gaffoglio, & Seth NelsonPacific Sotheby’s International Realty

There’s just something about velvet that elevates a room. A velvet couch, especially in a rich jewel tone, not only makes a glamorous statement, but the fabric’s plush feel is a luxury in itself. An example of the old being made new again, velvet is making a splash in contemporary rooms with a hint of Art Deco. Not ready to commit to a velvet couch? Try throw pillows, a blanket, or a headboard to bring this trend into your home.


Sydney, Australia | Michael PallierSydney Sotheby’s International Realty

From tables to benches to tiling, concrete has stepped into the interior limelight. A major component of industrial design, concrete can bring texture and contrast to spaces that are rich in other natural materials like wood and wool. Statement walls and concrete islands create focal points in bright and open rooms, and, when properly sealed, concrete is a resilient material to use in kitchens and workshops.


Lisboa, Portugal | Jose GorjaoPortugal Sotheby’s International Realty

It’s time to bid farewell to rose gold—last year’s ubiquitous accent metal—and say hello to the warm, earthy glow of copper. Integrate this rich metal into your home through lamps, kitchen and bathroom faucets, side tables, and even picture frames and plant pots. Keeping your copper from oxidizing involves the application of sealant, but the care of faded metals can be easily addressed with products found in most kitchens.

Whether you’re looking to update a space with on-trend touches or are planning a home renovation, there are plenty of futuristic materials to draw from to bring your spaces into the present. Choose from elegant details that accentuate a minimalist space or rich fabrics to add depth to a modern room—with elements made from acrylic or copper, velvet or bouclé, forward-looking design options are at your fingertips.

Explore these beautifully designed luxury properties for inspiration and find your next home.

Posted on November 5, 2019

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