From a young age, Holly Garber has been steeped in the real estate and construction industry. For three generations in Lawrence alone, her family has been building homes and helping people buy and sell property. It only made sense that when she turned 18, she entered a business she’d known her whole life - within a few years, she took an entrepreneurial leap,and started her own boutique real estate brokerage, American Dream Realty, shortly becoming a licensed broker thereafter.
Over 20 years later, her locally-owned small business has become one of the best performing agencies in the area, covering Kansas and Missouri. She is regularly named amongst the top agents in the region, has been named to The Best of Lawrence every year for several years running, and was even recognized by her peers recently as Lawrence Board of Realtors Salesperson of the Year.
“I was inspired by all the business owners and entrepreneurs in my family,” Garber said. “many of whom were women, all of whom gave me the courage and inspiration to start my own venture.” Today, Garber’s female-owned company covers several counties in Eastern Kansas and also Kansas City, Missouri. She is proud to work with an amazing and diverse team, offering 80+ years of real estate experience between them. “I thank God every day that I get to work with such amazing professionals,” Garber said. “They truly are the best in the business, and always as excited as me to help every client we work with achieve their own personal American Dream.”
Of the many things Holly loves about being a Realtor, staging houses is one of her favorites, and something she believes is an absolute difference-maker. “I want my clients to earn as much equity as possible - a staged house will get more interest and money than one that is not staged. I use my 20+ years of experience in realty, construction, and design combined with a hands-on approach to ensure maximum impact.”
When asked what some of the biggest mistakes sellers make are, Garber said it’s getting distracted by their own, often costly, honey-do lists (new windows, high-efficiency heating and cooling, pricey appliances, custom features). “Sellers sometimes feel they have to do everything on their ‘honey-do’ before they can list their home. That is absolutely not true,” she said. “Usually we only have to do a few simple cosmetic things to get your home on the market. My goal is make sure every dollar my clients put into a home before selling it will result in added value, and a positive return on the investment. You won’t often see a return with expensive items or custom work.” Garber suggests talking to your Realtor before making any big decisions or purchases, so everyone stays on the same page as preparation for selling the home commences.
Garber firmly believes that staging your home will help you make the most money and sell it faster. For many buyers, the decision is as emotional as it is financial. “We want to take the buyer on an emotional journey. The goal is to make them feel connected to the home, to create moments that resonate with them” she said. “We want to remind them of the places they feel most comfortable, and can envision their lives taking place. Staging helps do that in large and small ways. Good staging means having a curated light touch that leaves a heavy imprint on the mind of prospective buyers” Here are some of Garber’s best staging tips:
7 Staging Tips from the Professionals
1. Maximize Your Lighting - Make sure all bulbs are in and working including hallways, basements, and closets. Make sure all of the lights match. Garber recommends buying all the same color and tone of bulbs (60W warm). This subtle change will evoke a sense of comfort and peace. Adding lamps is almost always a good idea too. Place one on either side of a couch and one on either side of the beds.
2. Windows Are Very Valuable - Light is powerful. Open all of your curtains and blinds. Replace heavy light-blocking curtains with sheers. The more light you can let in, the better.
3. Clean Your Home - This includes windows, light fixtures, baseboards, even pantries. Make everything look inviting and new.
4. Make Every Space Count - Pay attention to patios, decks, and unfinished basements. Set them up as living spaces that will enable prospective buyers to envision themselves spending time there.
5. Replace Personal Wall Collections with Large Focal Points - Collections and collages are for looking at the individual pieces within them. In listing photos, the camera reads the room, not the details. Large statement pieces keep the focus on the entire space so your listing photos are more appealing, ultimately drawing the viewer in.
6. Color Matters - A fresh coat of neutral tone paint will do wonders for updating your home. Garber recommends Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. “It goes great with both wood and white trim,” she said. “White on white is another current trend, and so is sage,” she shared. She recommends Sherwin Williams Egret White with alabasters and creams and Sherwin Williams Clary Sage for cabinets and kitchens.
7. Update Your Hardware - One of the fastest and easiest ways to update your home is by changing the hardware. Black and gold are both in vogue in the Midwest. She also suggests updating one or two of your most noticeable light fixtures - usually the foyer and the dining room.
Garber stresses that homeowners don’t have to stage their home to list with her. “This is for people who want to maximize their equity or their timeline,” she said. “We sell houses ‘as is’ too, because every seller has different circumstances and priorities, and we will always work with that in mind. But staging is included in our fee, so most homeowners are happy to take advantage of our resources and experience.”
Over the last 20+ years in business in Lawrence and Greater Kansas City, Holly has sold several hundred homes, and helped thousands of buyers and sellers… everyone from first-time home buyers to sellers departing from their 4th or 5th home. But if there is one thing she wants anyone she meets to remember about her and her business it’s this, “ We do our best to make your home sale as smooth, fun and relaxed as possible.”
“I thought I might go another direction early on, but it turned out that I just really love people. People became my passion and helping them sell their homes became my specialty.”