Some Little Tips for Selling Your Home


1. Pricing it right: Find out what your house is worth and work with your agent (hopefully me!) to establish a price that will bring buyers with offers.

2. Half-empty closets: Storage is something a buyer is looking for and never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets, then neatly organize what is left. Be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

3. Light it up: Maximize the light in your home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, and increase the wattage of your light bulbs.

4. Conceal your pets: Not everyone is a dog or cat lover. The bowl of dog food, the smell of the litter box, tufts of pet hair may give buyers the impression that your house is not clean.

5. Do not over upgrade: Quick fixes before selling should pay off, but major makeovers may not. Do updates that that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls (I have a great painter, if you need one), replace door handles and cabinet knobs, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout (a toothbrush with cleanser works),

6. Depersonalize: The more personal items in your house, the less potential buyers can visualize themselves living there. Also, I have had buyers who looked at personal items so much that they really did not see the features of the home.

De-clutter Your Home

Consider this list of creative ways to de-clutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes: Put at least twenty-five items away in five minutes.  If the item does not have a home, or is no longer needed, place it in a donation box.  2. Give away one item each day. This is manageable de-cluttering, simply done one item at a time.  3.  Fill one trash bag: This is an easy way to process excess papers and packaging that is no longer necessary.  When the bag is full, you are done with that task.   4.  Try the Closet Hanger Experiment: To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction.  After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction.  After six months, you will have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard.   5.  Take the 12-12-12 Challenge: A simple task of locating twelve items to throw away, twelve items to donate, and twelve items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize thirty-six things in your house. You can select a smaller number for children to process.  6. The Four-Box Method: As you set out to de-clutter an area, set up four boxes:  trash, give away, keep, and relocate.  Each item in every room is placed into one of the four categories.  No item is passed over; each is considered individually.  Some projects may take an hour and others may take days or weeks but the technique and principles remain the same.  No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these six or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it.  There is a beautiful world of freedom hiding behind that clutter.

Household Problems You Can Solve

There are problems around the house that you should certainly call a professional to fix, such as a leaking roof, but here are some solutions to common problems that you can fix on your own:

Problem:  Countertop scuff

You will need a crayon, a spatula knife, and a microwave-safe bowl.  Pick the crayon whose color comes closest to matching your countertop.  Peel off the paper, place it in the bowl and place in the microwave.  Pour the hot, melted crayon onto the scuff mark and work it into the indentation with the spatula knife.  Scrape off the excess with the spatula knife.  The crayon mixture will harden and dry quickly, erasing the countertop flaw.

Problem:  Loose cabinet hinge

You will need wooden matches, wood glue and a hammer.  Remove the cabinet hinge screw.  Dab wood glue on a match and stick it into the screw holes.  Tap it in with the hammer.  Break off the match part that is sticking out.  Let the glue dry for about four hours.  Twist the screw back into place.  The match piece will create a new solid base for the screw.

Problem:  Squeaky floor

You will need talcum powder.  Sprinkle the powder over the squeaky section and sweep it into the cracks.

Problem:  Stained bathtub

You will need cream of tartar, baking soda, lemon juice and a soft cloth.  Combine equal amounts of cream of tartar and baking soda with enough lemon juice to make a paste.  Rub the mixture into the stain with your fingers or a soft cloth.  Let it sit for a half hour, then rinse well with water.

Problem:  Drywall hole

You will need wire screen, a pencil, a joint knife, masking tape, sandpaper and drywall compound.  Cut the wire screen two inches larger than the hole.  Tie one end of the string to the pencil and thread the other end through the middle of the screen; bend the screen, and insert it and the pencil into the hole.  Pull the string until the screen is flat against the hole ( the pencil will help push the screen flat against the drywall) and hold it taut while you apply the drywall compound.  Tape the string to the wall to hold the screen in place as the compound dries.  Cut the string when dry.   Sand and smooth the compound with the joint knife.

Problem:  Torn window screen

You will need clear nail polish.  Slather the nail polish over the hole in the screen, both inside and outside.  Let it dry and no more bugs will sneak in.  (This is my favorite!)

Quick Updates to Your Home

It happens to all homeowners.  Rooms that once looked fresh and contemporary have aged themselves into drabness.  For some it is an excuse to redecorate.  For others it is a chore.  Either way, homeownership is an ever-evolving process.  As one project ends, another peaks its head around the corner.

To bring your rooms current, as well as to update worn and disheveled items, consider these five room freshening tips:

1.  Paint: Paint is number one on the list because it is relatively cheap and easy to do yourself.  Getting a professional finish is simple, thanks to a myriad of products now on the market for the do-it-yourselfers.  From tape to edgers to color changing paint, you are sure to get a quality finished product.  “In” colors change every few years, so be sure to do some homework on what hues are in style.  While you are at it, research zero-voc  (volatile organic compound) paint before starting your project.  Traditional paint leaches fumes into your home for years.  Zero-voc paint, however, exposes you to fewer odors during the painting process and fewer risky fumes in the years to come.  This is well worth the effort of searching out zero-voc and the cost difference per gallon is minimal.  Paint does wonders for hiding dirt, wear, and tear.  Bring your home into the new decade with a fresh coat.

2.  Trim: The current trend for trim in the rooms of a house is to be white instead of natural wood.  It is contemporary and clean.  If your trim work is in good repair, simply puttying holes, sanding scuffs and painting can update the look.  Dated trim that is too thin for your large rooms can be replaced with new baseboards.  An amateur handyman can tackle this task with table and coping saws.  Trim is all about getting the angle out correctly.  If you already have current looking trim, upgrade your room with crown molding.

3.  Cabinet Hardware: From oil-rubbed bronze to beautiful vintage pieces, old is in.  Hardware can easily be added to any existing cabinetry or changed to bring a new feel to a tired room.  Shop your local home improvement stores, online and at local auctions to find the pieces that truly speak to you.

4.  Decorative Accents: Curtains are the frame to any well-designed room.  Choose colors and patterns that fit the scale of your room.  Heavy curtains made from chenille or jacquard work best in large rooms with tall ceilings.  Lighter weight fabrics, such as silk and chiffon, are great choices for small or airy rooms.  Decorative pillows and throws are also an inexpensive way to change the accents of your room.  Bright is in; do not be afraid to play with color.

5.  Flooring: While flooring is not a simple fix and may require the help of a professional, it can make all the difference in a dated room.  Scratched and worn wood floors should be sanded and refinished to show the natural beauty of the wood.  Laminate wood flooring is an inexpensive and easy solution for homeowners who want a clean and modern update.  I recommend that you do not over-do this type of flooring; it should be in a room or two but not the entire house.

If your rooms are looking tired, be sure to wake them up with a few new colors, paints or accents.



Common Home Fix-it Mistakes

Seemingly small oversights and errors in do-it-yourself projects and home maintenance can have costly consequences.  A single misstep might mean that a job must be completely redone or that hundreds, even thousands, of dollars must be spent to solve the resulting problems.  Below are some of the most common mistakes that can easily be avoided.

MISTAKE:  Failing to apply grout sealer after laying tile.  Grout stains easily and is extremely difficult to clean.  After you grout your tile, whether on a floor, wall or countertop, wait three to five days for the grout to cure, then apply a solvent-based grout sealer.  (Latex-based sealers are less effective.)  Apply with a small brush or spray bottle and wipe off the excess.  Add a new coat of grout sealer every year and if the grout is in or near the shower, do it twice a year.  Helpful:  Environmental restrictions are making solvent-based grout sealer more difficult to find.  If it is not sold at your local home center or hardware store, try a specialty tile store.  Latex-based grout sealers are better than nothing, but you will have to apply three or four coats to get effective protection.  To clean grout that is already dirty:  Use a cleaner specifically made for grout, such as ZEP Grout Cleaner & Whitener, available at tile and hardware stores.

MISTAKE:  Applying a latex paint directly on top of an oil-based paint.  Latex paint, the most popular paint these days, will not stick to a surface painted with oil-based paint, which used to dominate the market.  Within weeks, the new coat of latex will begin to peel and you will have to strip it off and start again.  To determine whether existing paint is oil of latex-based, wash a section with soap and water, let it dry, then swab it with rubbing alcohol.  If some paint lifts off, it is latex; if not, it is oil.

If you must apply latex paint on top of oil paint, first apply a coat of deglosser, also known as “liquid sandpaper”.  Check the instructions on the deglosser.  Some are effective only if you paint within hours of deglossing.

MISTAKE:  Using the wrong caulk or not preparing properly to caulk  Caulking is one of the cheapest, easiest do-it-yourself tasks, but it is still possible to make mistakes that lead to serious problems.  Some homeowners fail to thoroughly clean the surface that is about to be caulked and then the caulk bonds to the dirt and dust, not to the wood, metal or ceramic underneath, allowing moisture to get into the home’s structure.  Others use the wrong caulk.  Cheap caulks can fail in just a few years, and simple latex caulks will not take paint.  Wall trim often needs to be caulked before painted.  The best choice is a high-quality siliconized latex caulk or a letx-elastomeric caulk.  Either should last twenty years.

MISTAKE:  Painting metal without properly treating rust.  Most metal that is exposed to the elements will rust.  Painting over your home’s rusted metal doors, railings, fences, patio furniture or steel gutters only cloaks the problem.  The rust will continue to consume the metal.

Before painting any rusty surface, sand down the rusted area, then apply Ospho, a phosphoric acid product that retards rust.  Let it sit overnight.  The rusted areas should appear black by the next day, a sign that the rust has been chemically altered so it will not continue to spread.  Apply a coat of Rust-Oleum metal primer over the entire surface of the matal to prevent the spread of any rust that is not yet visible, as where there was visible rust, there is additional rust that cannot yet be seen.  Once the primer dries, you are ready to paint.

MISTAKE:  Not “exercising” water shut-off valves.   When the shut-off valves beneath sinks and toilets go untouched for years, mineral deposits can cause them to seize up and the valves cannot be opened or closed.  Often the only recourse is to hire a plumber to cut the valves out and replace them, at a cost of hundreds of dollars.  This will not happen if you shut and reopen water valves every six months.

MISTAKE:  Neglecting exterior door hinges.  The hinges on an exterior door can rust and seize up, causing significan damage to the door when it is used.  This typically happens to seldom-used doors, but it can happen to a front door while you are on vacation.  If you lubricate exterior door hinges once a year with a silicone spray, they will give you a lifetime of trouble-free sercices.  It is best to not use an oil-based lubricant as it can trap dirt in the hinge.  Open the door before applying the silicone to ensure that the lubricant gets inside the hinge barrel.

MISTAKE:  Allowing a garbage disposal to rust.  Rust can develop in a garbage disposal when it goes unused for as little as a week.  Pour a shot glass of vegetable oil into the disposal before leaving on vacation and it should stay rust-free.  When you return, pour a small amount of dishwasher detergent down the disposal to clean out the oil.