Want your house to shine?

This is a great post by Cherimie Crane – a Realtor in SC, but her advice applies to all sellers in all marketplaces for any priced home. She posted this on Active Rain, but I really think it bears repeating (plus, it’s entertaining)!


Many say it is just putting lipstick on a pig; however, I have actually put lipstick on a pig and it most certainly does make a difference. Not only does it get a giggle out of all involved but the pig stands out from the crowd and as my grandma always says, a little color never killed anyone. For the record, it didn’t kill my pet pig either.

Not everyone can afford a professional stager. Staging is crucial and makes such a tremendous difference in selling a home. When possible, hire a professional. When pennies are being pinched, rely on the experience of an experienced Realtor if for no other reason than an experienced Realtor DOES know tips and tricks that will make your home shine.

I am NOT a professional stager; however, I have spent countless hours, days, months and years going in and out of homes. I know what makes a difference in the eyes of a buyer and what sends them straight for another front door! As most Realtors, I may not be a professional designer, but I am a pro at stretching a dime!

The below tips are from years of taking what we have and making it work! Again, if you can afford a professional stager, DO IT. If not, ask your Realtor how they can help you with the following shades of color!

1. Mr. or Mrs. Seller, meet Mr. Clean! – It doesn’t take a professional to clean a house and clean it well. It takes good music, determination and a little hard work. I really like using Mr. Clean white pads for baseboards! But avoid walls, as this can remove paint in some situations!!

2. Walk through each room and imagine yourself as a Bed & Breakfast owner– If you have children, you may already feel like a B&B owner, but this is different. From floor to ceiling you want each room to offer comfort, peace and space for guests. If you think your home already looks fabulous, call your best friend, she will be honest, then call me.

Kitchen– clean the countertops, free them of anything not used daily. Remove kitchen wash rags (never show your home with kitchen rags hanging from oven, fridge, faucet, etc… Please).                         Each morning wipe down all countertops, fridge, range and microwave, use handi wipes or a spritzer of apple cider vinegar and water. Trust me, it works and takes much less time than the panic of realizing you have a showing and you kitchen is not prepared.

Entryway– This matters, and it may just matter most! Free the entryway from clutter, sneakers, and dogs (friendly or not). If you have a table or stand, remove clutter and leave fresh flowers or a nice floral (think small NOT oak tree) arrangement. If you have a giant chalkboard that expresses your disappointment in your husbands failure to run his errands, maybe write, Welcome to My Home instead.

Family Room– Think sitting area, also think about vacuuming all the cookie crumbs, pizza crust and Fido’sfur OFF of all furniture at least weekly during the marketing term. If you have 4000 pillows, remove 3992 of them. Think clean, smooth lines. If the pillows are dingy, either clean the covers or go to Bed Bath and Beyond and pay $9.99 for new covers. Pillows are an easy way to make the color palette throughout a home flow. Choose one color that will appear in everyroom, it adds to the flow and gives consistency. The coffee table should be clean, clear of anything other than a tasteful (ask your mom, if you aren’t sure!!!) book and 1-2 remotes. That is IT. If you have 4000 cords from various electronic time wasters, remove or hide 3999 of them. There are easy ways to bundle them in an organized manner (Bed Bath and Beyond and most any store have small devices for this priced below $5). Make sure it is well lit during showings, not candle séance lit, but lamp/light fixture! Resist the urge to Fabreeze yourself into frenzy, if your home is clean. Fake flower aroma is unnecessary.

Dining Room/Eating Area– It has been my experience that a full table setting (12 plates, forks, glasses that you never let anyone use) is unnecessary. Instead an appropriate (call me) centerpiece and a clean surface is all that is needed. This depends on the room. It if is Formal Dining room, then setting placemats, napkins and a pop of color (again call me) is preferred. If it is an eat in kitchen, a clean surface and nice centerpiece will do the job!


Master Bedrooms– Think of every nice hotel you have ever visited (if Motel 6 comes to mind, call me). Clean crisp lines with fresh linens. Corner to Corner make sure anything that is NOT used daily is put away or packed in storage. It is necessary, no matter how painful. It is necessary. The baseboards should shine throughout the entire home, but especially bedrooms/baths. Nightstands should be clear with the exception of a lamp, 1-2 tasteful (call your mom) books/magazines, clock or small flower arrangement. You want the room to feel inviting to everyone, not just women and not just men. The bed is very important. Linens MUST match and pillow cases must be crisp and clean. Pillows and pillow cases don’t cost much, but dingy or stained linens will cost you a sale! If you don’t have time to make your bed each day, you don’t have time to sell your home. Hate me or not, it is true. Leave your bedroom as if your mother in law is coming to stay! Dressers and other bedroom furniture should be clean and completely free of clutter. If you have 4000 framed photos, remove 4000 of them. Sorry.

Guest Bedrooms– More of the same bedroom advice, crisp linens, matching linens, warm inviting and very CLEAN. This can be fun, prepare each bedroom for guests (that you really like) thinking of every possible comfort. Remove anything doesn’t make sense! If you have a treadmill in your guest room, STORE it. If you have your bike in your guestroom, find another place for it. If you have any strange appliance, structure, or cage (yes I said cage) remove it.

Bathrooms– White is your friend. White towels, white throw rugs, white shower curtain. Of course there are exceptions, if your bathroom is painted a stark color; a tan or gray may be preferred. Baseboards must shine, floors must be clean cabinets must be wiped down and cleared out!!! Yes, people open cabinets. Clean, clean, clean, if you don’t know how, don’t call your mother, she failed you, call me. Counter tops should be free of ALL personal items. Do NOT show your home with deodorant, toothpaste, hair cream and or other odd manicuring products strewn about. Do not do it. And please, always close the toilet seat. I know you live there, but it should look as though you don’t.


3. Closets, patios, screen porches and other additional spaces– Clean is King. It is worth the cost of a storage unit. I know that is a pain, I have done it myself and yes it is a pain. It is also the difference in selling your home or crying in your grits. Any outdoor living space should allow for actual living. Screen porches should be inviting, offer a sitting area, and have a plant or two, LIVE plants. Closets must be organized, crazy-obsessive-person organized, not the door is closed I don’t care organized. I have a long list of tips on how to do that (just please don’t look in my closet).

As I said, I am not a professional stager. I am a top selling Realtor and I have been for quite some time. I know what it takes to sell a home. I know what it takes to prepare a home for one of the most challenging markets in history. If you can’t afford a professional stager, make sure your Realtor knows the basics!

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Sellers


10 Common Sense Tips for Selling A Home

Selling a homeinvolves a lot of time and effort from both the seller and their agent. When sellers keep in mind a few simple rules, the process will go much more smoothly with a higher chance of success.

10)  Keep the house clear for showings – Kids, pets, in-laws, tenants, and anyone else should be out of the house for all showings, broker tours, and open houses.  Buyers don’t like an audience while they tour your home.

9)  Make it basically clean – It doesn’t need to pass a “White Glove” test but nobody wants to see bread crumbs in the kitchen or shavings in the sink.  A quick pass helps keep it “show worthy”.

8)  Don’t let your personal taste hinder the sale – Selling a home requires making it appeal to as many people as possible.  This often means stripping it down to the basics, staging, and putting your collection of Hummels away (you don’t want them to break, anyway).

7)  Give buyers access – If your showing hours are 10AM to 2PM Monday through Friday with 24 hour advance notice and the buyer can’t look in half the house because kids are sleeping and the dog is locked up, it will not sell.  Make sure it’s available to show during normal business hours, 7 days a week.

6)  If it’s ugly, be honest – Some homes are just plain…not right.  A weird floor plan, odd colors, really worn out, etc will push away most buyers.  A lower price is the only way to overcome this (besides fixing those issues).  Don’t expect maximum price for minimum quality.

5)  Pricing drives showings and offers – No amount of marketing can overcome an overpriced home.  If you haven’t had showings or offers, especially for more than a week or two, then your price is too high.  Reduce the price and you’ll get some action.

4)  You need more than just a couple of photos – An exterior photo of the front lawn and a couple of pictures of the kitchen and a bedroom will not get the job done.  Buyers respond to pictures – lots of ’em.  A virtual tour is even better.  A video tour is a huge plus.

3)  Your location matters (more than you think) – Your beautiful home located on the corner where all the traffic goes by is not worth the same as the house three doors down where almost no traffic goes by.  Buyers will discount that when making offers.  Don’t take it personally, buyers do that with every house in a “less than ideal” location.

2)  Disclose…everything – from the crazy neighbor who has loud parties every night to the “do it yourself” remodeling job you did 5 years ago, disclose anything and everything that could impact a buyer’s decision.  If you don’t, and the buyer finds out, it most likely will hurt the price or kill the sale.

1)  Be reasonable and realistic – I’ve seen deals fall apart for all kinds of silly reasons because the seller digs their heals in during negotiations.  Don’t let a little “nit” get in the way of moving ahead with your plans.  Remember the phrase… “Don’t sweat the small stuff and everything is small stuff.”

Pay attention to the feedback you get from any showings – remember, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but if it’s good feedback and something you can change – DO IT!


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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Sellers


Tips to sell your home faster to younger buyers.

There are tips from Kristie Barnett. For more help on staging, visit her website at
Educating my clients about the audience they will be marketing to is one of the most important things a home stager can do. When you put your home on the market to sell, you should know that the next owner will likely be younger than you are. That’s why you should stop thinking about what you like or want in a home and start thinking about what your most likely buyer will want.
contemporary living room by Found Design

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1. Stick with warm, neutral walls. If your target demographic is “young professional” or “young family,” try using a warm gray as a neutral wall color. The gold or pinky-beige wall color you chose 10 years ago is going to seem outdated to this new group of home buyers.On-trend neutrals like grays allow potential homeowners to envision bringing in complementary colors and clean-lined furnishings to make it their own.
2. Invest in white cabinetry. Many home buyers younger than 40 prefer white or off-white kitchen cabinetry. They don’t want to see their momma’s dark kitchen cabinetry in their new home! Consider a kitchen facelift if you have dark kitchen cabinetry with orange or red undertones.Benjamin Moore’s Advanceis a great paint to consider. It’s a hybrid of latex and oil, and it requires very little prep work.
traditional kitchen by Teri Turan

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3. Update your appliances. Many younger home buyers cannot fathom buying a home without stainless steel appliances. You’ll need to update your almond ones with stainless replacements before putting it on the market.
4. Look for simple stone countertopsGranite and stone countertops are a must-have for most young home buyers — it will make the difference between whether they choose your home or your neighbor’s home. But don’t make the mistake of installing busy or taste-specific granitethat may not appeal to everyone. If you plan to be in your home for a long time, go for it — but not if you plan to sell within the next few years.Instead, choose a granite that is almost black or something with a minimum of colors and veining. Anything more might be a turnoff to those picky younger buyers.

5. Open up your shower space. Young professionals love large, open glass showers. The garden-variety tub isn’t where it’s at anymore.
6. Keep it simple for families with children. People with young kids are less likely to want a fixer-upper. If your target demographic is “young family with small children,” it’s important that your property be ready for them to move right in. Make sure the home has no unfinished projects or red flags for young families.7. Consider selling your home as a fixer-upper. If your neighborhood is becoming a mecca for young professionals, there may be some appeal to the fixer-upper if the price is right. These younger adults without children may have the time, energy and imagination for making over an older home. Even so, the price will have to be lower than if it were picture perfect.

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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Real Estate News, Sellers



Thinking of Selling – Make a “to do” list first


Home sale preparation is an integral part of getting the best price for your property. No matter what the market’s like, the right prep work can make your house more appealing to potential buyers and give you an edge over other properties for sale in your neighborhood. As with any project, selling a home is easier if you’ve got a solid plan and a bit of professional help. To make the process as smooth as possible, you’ll want to start by making a list of needed projects and involving a real estate agent.

Home Sale Preparation: Getting Started
Your first step in preparing your home for sale is to create an overall list of things to do. It might be a good idea to consult with an experienced real estate agent who regularly handles properties in your neighborhood. Usually, the agent will do this free of charge. Though it’s certainly possible to prepare your home for sale on your own, involving a real estate agent as you make your list can be more helpful than you might think. First, an agent experienced in working with homes in your neighborhood is the most qualified person to tell you how your home will be perceived by potential buyers who shop in your market. For instance, an experienced real estate agent can tell you whether the kitchen needs painting or needs a new floor or new countertops. Second, a real estate agent is objective and will see your home through the eyes of an outsider, just as potential buyers will. Home sale preparation is a bit tricky for those who’ve been living in the house. Things that look perfectly fine to you because you’ve been looking at them for years and years may stand out as needing attention in the eyes of an objective observer.

Taking Objective Advice When Selling a Home
While real estate agents can be great resources, they are nearly useless if you make it clear that you don’t want any bad news. We all become quite emotionally attached to our homes. In many ways, our home is an extension of ourselves, and it is difficult to have someone tell us that the shade of paint we picked out for the den is a liability in selling the house. We are bound to be a little hurt and will often respond by, in effect, shooting the messenger.

Instead, we should make a decision up front: Do we want good advice or do we want to hear only what makes us feel good? Just hearing what makes us feel good can be expensive when the final sale price for your home is determined. Selling a house that doesn’t show well can be a real nightmare, but since a realtor does not want to lose a listing, if we make it clear that we don’t want to hear anything critical about our home, he or she won’t offer such information.

Making Your Home Sale Preparation List
You’ve found an experienced local real estate agent, and you’ve made it clear in voice and action that you want a clear analysis of what needs to be done to prepare your home for sale. Together you can systematically develop a list of what will need to be done and why. Your real estate agent can help with the details and give you sound advice on how far to go with each project without spending money that you won’t get back.

What to Do with Your List
You have now identified everything that you will need to do to prepare your home for sale. Look at your overall list and decide which things you want to handle yourself. Keep in mind that sorting through the clutter will take a lot longer than you anticipate. For that matter, nearly all do-it-yourself projects take longer than you think, so be realistic about what you can accomplish on your own. In general, you will save if you do it yourself, but things like roofing and floor refinishing are almost always better left to the pros. If there are things like a new roof or floors or walls or any remodeling involved, make sure you check with the township to determine if you need a permit or not. If you do, it’s probably a good idea to use a contractor since the township will also want to inspect the work. You want to avoid a lot of last-minute hassle and expense having pros coming out to do things that you never got around to or need to fix, and you don’t want to risk putting yourself in the position of having to show the house before it’s really ready


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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Sellers


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Should I disclose this?

Candy Miles-Crocker has some very good points when it comes to disclosing old problems in your home. I just wanted to add that by disclosing these, you could potentially avoid future problems with the buyer of your home.

Do I Have To Disclose ThatWe have all heard the questions…

“We’ve lived here for 10 years and never had water in the basement until that really bad storm last year.  Do we have to disclose that?”

“The fireplace can’t be used because it needs a new liner, but it was like that when we bought it.  Do we have to disclose that?”

“We had a fire several years ago, but as you can see…it’s like a brand new house.  Do we have to disclose that?”


The list can go on and on, but you get the idea.  Since we are the real estate professionals, sellers are constantly asking us what they should or need to disclose when it comes time to put their house on the market.  I don’t believe they ask us these questions because they are trying to hide something.  I believe they ask because they really don’t think there is an issue with not disclosing something that was a one time occurrence or something that was repaired.


Although some jurisdictions don’t even have disclosure laws and statues and the jurisdictions that do have very different criteria, I believe that common sense should take over at some point.  When in doubt, the answer is “yes”, you should disclose (unless you are in a jurisdiction that does not require disclosure and the seller directs you not to disclose certain information).


I say you should disclose because it is the right thing to do.  Buyers deserve to know what they are buying.  In most cases they make an offer on a property prior to having a home inspection, so they are depending on the seller’s disclosure to give them an idea as to the condition of the property.  If they knew the property had lots of little (and sometimes big) issues, they probably would have made a different offer.


Another reason to disclose…neighbors.  Almost every neighborhood has a neighbor who thinks they know everything about every one.  Can you imagine the buyers meeting the neighbor for the first time and the neighbor asks, “so you’re the people who bought the house that caught on fire last year”.  How do you think the buyers will feel if they had no idea the house they just moved into had a major fire?  More than likely they will feel deceived and begin to wonder what else wasn’t told to them.  Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Why not just tell buyers upfront and let them make an informed offer.  In my opinion, when it comes to disclosure…if you have to ask the question, than you need to disclose it…period.


Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Sellers


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Some tips if you are selling your house and you have a pet or pets?

Many of us have pets that are considered family, but potential buyers may not feel the same way. They may not be animal lovers or may have allergies but with a bit of work, you won’t be turning them away from possible interest in your home.
If you cannot find a way to temporarily relocate your pet, place him/her in a pet carrier or cage in an out-of-the-way room (non-used bedroom, basement, etc.) when buyers are scheduled to view your home.  Make sure there is heat or air conditioning wherever they are and that they have fresh water for however long you plan to be away.

If you there are carpet stains from a recent or older “oops” or there are pet odors (ask a trusted friend or neighbor – you may be used to the odor and not notice it but others will), look into hiring  a professional cleaning company.  If this fails, replace the carpet or consider installing hardwood floors (better than offering an allowance).  Buyers will see stains or smell the presence of an animal and may form an early opinion, which isn’t likely to be favorable, before even giving your house a chance.  Once your pets are out of the house, remove their litter box or training pad(s) and clean the area thoroughly.

Remove any pet toys and/or furniture, when a showing is scheduled.

When you sell a home, your Agent will take photos for the listing.  Avoid any photos that show your pet, his/her toys or bed.  Buyers are not looking for a pet, but rather a house that they can call home.

Many states Seller Disclosures (including PA), require you to state how many animals have lived in the home, what kind and for how long so a buyer will know. Just don’t make it so obvious that they have the run of the house!


Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Sellers



10 Tips for Sellers having a home inspection

I “borrowed” this from Amanda Kozlowskibut thought it was worthwhile for more people to see. Great ideas.

Selling your home? Nervous about the home inspection?

Perfect strangers wandering through your beloved home, judging every minute detail…it can be stressful!  Bottom line, you don’t want the inspector’s report to be marked up with a laundry list of small defects that will begin to add up in the buyer‘s mind.  You want the inspection to show all the hard work and money you have invested in maintenance and updates. With a little bit of effort, your inspection can be a positive experience that will instill confidence in your prospective buyer, making the closing process that much easier.

1.   Check your smoke alarms:  they should be installed within 12 inches of the ceiling in each bedroom, and in common areas on each floor.  Test them to be sure they are functional, and replace or install as needed.

2.   Carbon Monoxide Detectors:  as with smoke detectors, they should be in each bedroom and in common areas on each floor.  However, carbon monoxide is heavier than air, so the detectors should be placed within 12 inches of the floor.  Test them to be sure they are functional, and replace or install as needed.

3.   Have a leaky faucet?  This should be an easy and fairly inexpensive repair.  Check for other plumbing leaks as well, and get some quotes from a licensed plumber.

4.   If you have pets, make sure they are not there during the inspection.  Have them stay with a friend or relative for a few hours if possible.

5.   Clear any clutter.  The home inspector will need to see: your foundation walls from inside, your roof structure from the attic, the plumbing, heating, cooling and hot water tank, the electrical panel, and the pipes and traps under your sinks.  If the inspector cannot see an area, she cannot report on it, and the buyer will not be happy.

6.   If your town has any special requirements for selling your home (sump pump inspection, radio-link or hardwired smoke alarms, etc.) get those completed first, so any updates will be present at the inspection.

7.   Check your gutters:  do they empty into an underground sewer pipe of onto the ground?  If they empty onto the ground, be sure that they are diverted as far as possible from the foundation. Add splash blocks to the end of the downspout if needed.

8.   If you have tree limbs hanging over your roof, trim them away to prevent damage to the shingles.

9.   Check your painted exterior trim areas: windows, doors, etc.  If the paint looks worn, scrape, prime and repaint.  Your home will look shiny and new!  Also check these areas for worn caulk or weather-stripping and replace where needed.

10.  Replace your furnace filter if it is more than 90 days old, or if it looks dirty, since the inspector *will* pull it out and check!

Check back monthly for more home inspection tips and news here:

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in General, Sellers

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