Credit: Courtesy Sherwin-Williams

If you turn on the news, it seems interest rate hikes and the shifting real estate market are a daily topic of discussion, and with good reason. Home buyers are seeing their purchasing power decrease due to increased mortgage interest rates, and their income is not going as far due to higher prices at the gas pump and grocery stores. 

Credit: Courtesy

A 30-year mortgage on a $1M house with 20 percent down and a 3 percent interest rate (available for borrowers with good credit in 2021) would result in a monthly payment of $4,096. That same house will cost the same borrower $5,367/month at a 5.7 percent interest rate. For many, this increase in their monthly payment completely changes the affordability of the home. 

“For South Santa Barbara County, June showed a -28 percent decrease in total sales YTD over 2021, while the median sales price of a single-family home is up 18 percent YTD. While statistically the market is strong and inventory remains historically low, new listings are slowly accumulating as pending sales have slowed. Buyer demand is still present, but it is not as aggressive as we’ve seen over the past few years. Rapidly rising interest rates, stock market equity decline, and overall economic uncertainty have made buyers more cautious. These factors, combined with expected seasonality, have slowed market velocity considerably,” states Kelly Knight, with Knight Real Estate Group of Village Properties.

Gone are the days that sellers can count all-cash, multiple offers over asking price. And whereas the statistics show we are still in a seller’s market, sellers need to invest time and sweat equity into their home in order to gain an edge over their competition. 

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Here are my pro tips to create a show-ready home:

Credit: Courtesy Sherwin-Williams
  • Paint it white. Buyers want light and bright, and a fresh coat of white paint will go a long way in helping buyers overlook areas of the house that may need updating. Benjamin Moore’s Simply White and Sherwin Williams’ Alabaster are my go-to white paint colors.
  • Clean, and clean some more. There is a difference between dated and disgusting. A dated home that is exceptionally clean and clutter-free will win buyers’ attention every time over a home that looks dirty and dark and smells unpleasant. 
  • Start packing now. I can’t stress this enough; pack up about half of your belongings and put them (neatly) in the garage or a storage unit. Knickknacks as well as dark, heavy pieces of furniture, like armoires and bookcases, need to go, as they make rooms feel smaller.
  • Let the sunshine in. Swap out heavy, dark, or dated window coverings with neutral, light-colored, sheer panels that let more light in; rooms will feel larger and more appealing. 
  • Scent matters. Eliminate any odors of mildew, mold, smoke, or anything funky! Fabric/upholstery holds odors, so consider replacing carpet. 
  • Make your bed a sanctuary. By using crisp white linens and plump bedding with plenty of pillows, buyers feel like they’re in a luxurious hotel. We typically use at least eight pillows for a king bed and seven for a queen bed.
  • Ask for help. Let a certified Staging Design Professional™ (that’s us!) provide a consultation, and we’ll give homeowners all the tips needed to get their home ready for market. We can even do the work for them!

Christine Cowles is owner of Styled & Staged Santa Barbara, offering home staging and interior styling services. She is a certified Staging Design Professional™, member of Santa Barbara Association of Realtors and Real Estate Staging Association, and a proud WEV graduate. She can be reached at

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