Mars and Venus Weigh In on Home Buying

John Gray’s “Men are from Mars; women are from Venus” mentality may apply to far more than communication styles, conflict resolution and acts of love. Turns out, there may be differences between the genders when it comes to purchasing a home.

Home builder Mark Patterson took a women-centric design course and made big sales based on what he learned. Patterson told BuilderOnline.com that while men look at the big picture, women see the details. Men also are concerned with how the house will provide for relaxation and entertainment, while women are more conscious of how they will live and work in the home.

At the same time, what used to be the woman’s preserve – the kitchen – is now of interest to men. Increasingly they’re weighing in on the kitchen’s design and furnishings, partly because they’re focused on the resale value of the most salable room in the house.

Interestingly, women approach the home-buying process with more anxiety than men do. More than 40% of women find shopping for a home stressful, compared to approximately 30% of men.

A recent insurer study found that the way each gender views mortgages is also different, with 75% of women saying that an easy-to-understand mortgage plan is important, but only 60% of men agreeing.

Study results indicate that women and men do see the home-buying experience differently, but that both are concerned with the home’s livability and resale values.

When it comes to big issues, it’s not so much “He says, she says” as “They say.”

Homeowner Investments to Boost Economy in 2013

After a downturn in spending on home renovations, homeowners across North America have once again been bitten by the renovation bug. And this bodes well for the economy as a whole in 2013.

Residential investment – including construction and remodeling – is expected to add almost three-tenths of a percent to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013. And, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, Americans will likely spend upward of $134 billion by June 2013, up from $115 billion recorded in September 2012. The peak of renovation activity across the U.S. occurred in 2007, when it was 8% higher than that predicted for 2013.

However, even more telling is the impact the entire housing sector has on the economy as a whole. Studies indicate a robust housing industry boosts consumer spending – and consumer expenditures constitute two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

In fact, reports suggest that U.S. consumers are beginning to feel positive again. This is reflected in increases not only in remodeling projects, but also in the purchase of investment furniture.

Homeowners are also looking for changes to their homes that will make their lives easier. Busy families may consider adding a deck, but they’ll likely be looking for low-maintenance decking; some will replace traditional lawns with easy-to-maintain grasses or ground covers.

Many homeowners have downsized to smaller houses where storage is at a premium, so renovations to improve storage capacity will become increasingly popular. Part of this trend is a move toward multifunctional rooms and renovations that can be considered investments in the future.

While aging at home may not yet be a concern to boomer homeowners, most have seen their parents renovate to enable them to continue to live at home. This type of renovation has a future and will grow significantly in the next few years.

‘Convergence’ Is Shaping Urban America

A swing toward urbanism is shaping “Big City, North America.”

It’s those darn demographics again. Only this time it’s not just a baby boomer thing; it’s what some experts are calling a “convergence” between boomers and millennials, also called “Generation Y” and born between 1981 and 2000.

In their home searches, empty-nester boomers are looking for smaller houses in centrally located neighborhoods within walking distance of everything.

Meanwhile, Gen Yers simply prefer the urban lifestyle. The result is an influx of buyers to downtowns and away from suburbia.

The heightened demand for these urban neighborhoods is exceeding supply. In some cities, a rental boomlet is under way, as Gen Yers are finding the urban lifestyle they want in rental apartments and condos.

Size matters, too. Both boomers and Gen Yers are finding that small is beautiful, purchasing smaller urban properties with postage stamp-sized yards or tiny downtown condos with expansive views.

The urban lifestyle also has some new fans: Single women now represent 21% of U.S. first-time buyers compared to 12% for single men, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.

The full impact of the new urbanism has yet to be felt.

But it’s a good bet it will change the shape of cities – and suburbs – for some time to come.

There Are Scary Consequences to Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud has been making headlines in the past few years, with some suggesting it played a key role in the financial crisis of 2008.

Truth is: If there’s money to be made dishonestly through mortgages, there’s no shortage of criminals to figure out ways of doing so. And some of those criminals are us.

While there are many ways to commit mortgage fraud, one of the most common is to sign a mortgage on behalf of someone else, often for the promise of a quick payback. Never sign a real estate loan application unless you yourself are purchasing the property; you could be on the hook for a whopping sum of money.

Don’t get tempted. Ensure that you deal only with licensed real estate professionals and consult a lawyer for help with such things as land title searches and title insurance.

You don’t have to look far for the culprits in “Liar Loans” – a widespread type of mortgage fraud. This occurs when an applicant exaggerates income or years on the job to get a larger loan than he or she would otherwise qualify for.

If it’s discovered that an applicant misrepresented information when buying or refinancing a home, not only can the lender demand immediate repayment of the loan in full, but the applicant may have to do some explaining to the police.

Lenders, too, can be guilty of mortgage fraud. Employees of a New York City bank falsified documents so unqualified borrowers could receive mortgages. The loans were sold to an unwary Fannie Mae, which secures mortgages by repackaging them as securities for investors and lost when the unqualified buyers defaulted.

As in so much of life, ensuring that you’re not unwittingly part of a mortgage fraud involves common sense. Trust your instincts. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Today’s ‘Smart’ Home Makes Decisions for us

We all know what it means to look after a home. Whether it’s vacuuming regularly or applying a much-needed coat of paint, such care is an essential part of home ownership.

But what if your home could actually help care for you?

That’s the driving concept behind the current research into the creation of a truly “smart” home. The idea is not simply a home that responds to preset commands to turn on or off lights or appliances, but one that can calculate such needs on its own and respond to them appropriately.

For example, by monitoring your sleep patterns, your home will turn down the thermostat after you’re in bed to save energy. Or perhaps it will recognize that the oven has been left on and shut it off automatically.

It works through discrete, wireless sensors located in every room that gather information on our habits and patterns and then forward it to a sophisticated computer program. The computer soon is able to anticipate our movements, detect potential aberrations and respond accordingly. The longer we live with these sensors, the more they are able to make decisions on our behalf.

Far-fetched? Apparently not. Researchers from Washington State University wrote in a recent issue of the journal, Science, that home innovations like these are already under development. According to the article, we’re heading for a brave new world where we will be able to rely on our “smart” home to care for us.

It gives new meaning to “home sweet home”, doesn’t it?

Pricing Your Home Is Both a Science and an Art

ou know your home is one of a kind. Soon buyers will know too; you’ve just made the decision to list. The question now is: How do you price that unique property?

Here’s where your real estate agent shines. Pricing is an exact science, but strategic pricing is an art. That’s why you should entrust this function to someone who will accurately price your home, whether it’s a buyer’s or a seller’s market.

A good agent knows that pricing strategies depend on many factors; what works for one home may not work for another.

In a seller’s market, your agent might recommend pricing to encourage multiple offers. However, this will depend on the neighborhood and on the home’s value. The best candidate for this strategy is a well-maintained home in a desirable area where inventory is low. In this situation, the listing price will likely be at the lower end of a price range that reflects the home’s fair market value to encourage competing offers.

In a buyer’s market, the factors influencing price are the same – the neighborhood and the value of the home – but the strategy is very different. Here it’s all about demand and competition. Your home is in direct competition with others for sale in your neighborhood, and it should be priced to compare favorably. It also should be in top condition, and your agent may recommend fix-ups and staging to highlight its attributes.

Your agent will also look for trends. If properties in your area consistently sell below asking price, prepare for offers below the listing price and expect to have to adjust, particularly if you’re in a hurry to sell.

Whatever the market, a well-thought-out pricing strategy can make the difference between selling quickly at a fair price and sitting on the market with an overpriced property.

It’s worth getting it right the first time.

When Does a More Expensive Home Cost Less?

While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s true; purchasing a more expensive home in an urban neighborhood could actually wind up costing you less than a home with a smaller price tag in the suburbs.

In more ways than one.

That’s largely because of the high cost of transportation. When shopping for a home, many people who choose to live far from the core and commute to city jobs often neglect to factor in transportation costs.

The ever-increasing price of gas is not the only consideration. Regular maintenance, higher car insurance rates due to the longer drive, simple wear and tear, and vehicle replacement costs all need to be considered when calculating the cost of living far from where you work.

Given that suburban living also typically requires the use of a vehicle for everything from taking the kids to school to quick trips to the grocery store, you could also be looking at adding a second vehicle.

Whereas city dwellers – who benefit from better transit options and from being within walking distance of many amenities – may get by with one car or none at all.

Something else to consider if you’re weighing the pros and cons of urban versus suburban living: according to research, health benefits – such as lower rates of obesity, hypertension and diabetes – are associated with the increased physical activity (primarily walking) that comes with being a city dweller. And that could translate into both lower medical costs and a longer, healthier life, which we’d all agree are priceless.

Latest Trend Offers Mom Her Very Own ‘Man Cave’

Okay. So maybe “man cave for mom” isn’t a term that’s likely to catch on. But whether you call it a “girl grotto or “lady’s living room,” having a private space set aside strictly for the woman of the house is very trendy.

After all, what female today wouldn’t want a room of her own – far away from the hustle and bustle of the family – no matter what it’s called?

Indeed, “she-suites” are the latest fad in interior design, so they’re a trend you might want to consider if you’re in the market for a new home or are sprucing up your current house before putting it on the market.

Whether they’re located in a spare bedroom, a den or a blocked-off corner of a finished basement or decorated in the frothiest pinks and polka dots, antique lace whites or rainbow shades of French meringues, such spaces tend to be both feminine and functional.

But the ways they’re used by the women who inhabit them vary as much as the women themselves.

In her room

Most rooms-for-her include workspaces that are appropriate to the room’s use, such as desks for studying, writing and paying bills or large cutting tables for avid sewers.

Made-to-order storage space is a must and can include everything from craft cupboards for the passionate scrapbooker to the artist’s supply closet.

The room should be pretty, well lit and inviting. And above all else, it needs a door for privacy.

Increasingly, women are enthusiastically participating in social media; through sites such as Pinterest, where users can pin photos to an online inspiration board, they are sharing ideas and finding motivation for new forms of creativity.

Having a place to put all that imagination to work is not a luxury anymore.

Now if we could just figure out what to call it.

Buy in the Right Location to Ensure Your Home’s Value

True, the phrase, “location, location, location”, is a cliché. But smart homebuyers have come to realize that the location of their new home not only determines how happy they’ll be with their purchase but also dictates its resale value. Following is a primer to help you find the right home in the right location.

Don’t be tempted to buy a great house in a bad neighborhood unless you can see signs that the neighborhood is changing for the better. Future buyers will not be willing to pay top dollar for a house surrounded by fixer-uppers.

Decide what you want in a neighborhood before looking. If it’s important to have excellent schools nearby, don’t look in areas where your kids will have a long drive or bus ride to school.

Safety first

How safe is the neighborhood? Be sure to check it out at night and on weekends. Neighborhoods that may seem safe during the day can change when the sun goes down. Also look around you. Are your neighbors’ homes and gardens well maintained or are there rusted cars in their backyards?

Urban/Suburban?

What amenities do you need nearby? If you’re looking for parks, walking trails and recreation centers, a suburban location is for you. For the local restaurant, bar and theatre scene, check out downtown properties.

And be sure to ask your sales agent about any likely changes in zoning, new schools to be built or recently approved projects that could have a negative impact on the neighborhood.

For Today’s Homebuyer Small Is Beautiful

No longer is the sprawling luxury home the pinnacle of real estate in the North American market.

As baby boomers look to downsize and homeowners trade luxury for function, there is renewed interest in smaller homes.

Eighty percent of 1,300-plus real estate agents surveyed in 2011 said that baby- boomer clients aged 54 to 64 are interested in smaller homes. Saving money and living more simply were among the reasons for the interest.

A recent study by the U.S. National Association of Home Builders showed that the economic downturn has altered the landscape of housing.

The study predicted that by 2015, homes will be 10% smaller than the average single-family home in 2010.

While homebuyers may be looking for smaller residences, they’re not interested in sacrificing functionality.

Instead, they’re trading luxury amenities for practicality.

According to architects surveyed by the American Institute of Architects, buyers are losing interest in spaces such as home theaters and exercise and game rooms and are embracing spaces like home offices and mud rooms.

Aging baby boomers will also be looking for features to make their lives safer and more comfortable. Baby boomers, more than any generation to date, are looking for homes that have been adapted to their needs instead of making the move to retirement homes.

The two- or three-story single-family home may also be on its way out, as boomer homebuyers launch their search for an entirely different type of housing, offering a maintenance-free lifestyle.

This important demographic is looking closely at options such as condominium apartments or bungalow communities. Many are also considering rental units.

Boomers aren’t alone in pursuing smaller homes. Young people and immigrants will also continue to drive demand in the future.

No Granite? Don’t Let That Be a Deal Breaker!

If you’re looking for the perfect house, that huge wish list you’re carrying around may be holding you back – and ultimately could cost you your dream home.

Even the casual HGTV watcher will be familiar with “granite obsession.” Picture this: A real estate agent is showing a couple a house that has great curb appeal in their chosen neighborhood, at a price they can afford. It’s perfect. Or is it?

“Hate that fixture,” the husband says, as the couple checks out the dining room.

They pause in the kitchen.

“This has to be completely redone,” he says. “No granite countertops.”

She agrees. The husband and wife nod knowingly at each other, and the real estate agent, who has heard it all before, says to himself, “Granite obsession.”

Despite the home’s obvious advantages, the couple can’t see the forest for the trees … or rather the house for its décor.

Instead of obsessing over paint colors, fixtures and granite countertops, the couple should be asking their real estate agent about the neighborhood; discussing recent energy-saving upgrades and the home’s electrical system; checking for leaks or cracks that may signal a roof repair or foundation problem; and deciding if the floor plan and room sizes will meet their lifestyle needs.

The couple should ask if window coverings are included and if the appliances are in working order. And even if these are not to their tastes, the couple will save a lot of money if they can live with the status quo and not have to buy new appliances, fixtures or drapes immediately.

Got questions?

Ask your real estate agent. He or she can recommend home inspectors, contractors, designers and others you might want to ask for a second opinion.

But don’t hold out for granite, hardwood or high-end appliances. You may never get a second chance at your dream home.

Nine Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Attractive

These days, staging your home involves more than decluttering and inexpensive fix-ups. You can spend big bucks. Or not. The following tips can help you add value to your home:

1. Listen to your real estate agent. He or she views hundreds of houses a year and knows what works.

2. Watch the trends and incorporate them in simple, effective ways. In 2012, buyers will be looking for extra storage and great laundry rooms. Declutter all your closets and add inexpensive but attractive storage in the laundry area. Fresh paint and attractive baskets can go a long way.

3. Position one of today’s colors – any shade of blue from cobalt to turquoise, for example – against neutral walls, either by painting an accent wall or by adding hints of color with accessories.

4. For accessories, try light woods, brass and stone.

5. Switch down your lighting – dimmers create a warm, romantic mood in bedrooms and dining rooms.

6. Hardwood floors are still number one, but sisal and seagrass carpeting are becoming popular.

7. White or off-white kitchen cabinets are still in. Painting cabinets may be labor intensive, but you may avoid that “dated kitchen” label.

8. Stainless steel appliances remain popular, but building them in to match kitchen cabinets is very now.

9. Move out all but essential pieces of furniture. Buyers want to imagine their possessions in your home.

How to Prepare for the Spring Housing Market

Spring is the time of year when sellers and buyers gird up for what has traditionally been the most important season for buying or selling a home. Following are some ways to prepare:

Sellers

  • Sellers should be aware that there’s a lot of competition for buyers in the spring. That means sellers should do everything possible to differentiate their home from others, including the following:
  • Polish windows and floors, rake the yard, mow the lawn, and add flowers in containers.
  • Wash blinds and curtains and have carpeting cleaned.
  • If a seller has spent the winter renovating to sell, new pictures should be taken to show the renovated space to best advantage. Be sure to add the new information to the feature sheets and advertising of real estate agents.
  • Consign dark linens and towels to storage and add bright or pastel accents in baths and bedrooms.

Buyers

Buyers should have a good idea of what they want, how much they can spend and the neighborhoods they’re interested in. Buyers should also:

  • Have a network of experts in place, such as a real estate agent, lawyer, home inspector and mortgage broker.
  • Obtain a copy of their credit report, and if there are errors, clear them up.
  • Approach several lenders for preapproval.
  • Decide before shopping for a home the most they’re prepared to pay, and resist the urge to pay more.

How to Leap Those First-Time Buyer’s Hurdles

First-time home buyers have plenty of obstacles to overcome.

There is an intricate maze of details that need to be carefully navigated.

Following are five obstacles that first-time buyers have to overcome when looking to buy a home:

Down Payment:

Saving enough for the down payment is not sufficient. Closing costs must also be considered. Closing costs are additional fees such as the lawyer’s fees, escrow charges, appraisal fees, financing fees and utility adjustments. A good rule of thumb is 2% of the purchase price will cover the closing costs. So for a $200,000 home with a 5% down payment, you would require $14,000 to cover both the down payment and closing costs.

Mortgage Preapproval:

Many first-time home buyers overlook the preapproval process. This mistake can cost you your dream home. Visit a mortgage professional to see what kind of mortgage you qualify for and closely examine the actual cost of the money you must borrow to purchase a home.

Use a Real Estate Agent:

Some home buyers think they can go it alone. Buying a home is a complex legal process, and buyer representatives have the knowledge and know-how to make your home-buying experience a happy one.

Know the Difference Between What You Need and What You Want:

It is fine to dream big, but the home-buying process can be very frustrating when you have a $200,000 budget and $500,000 taste. It is essential to the buying process to identify what your home must have and what you would like it to have.

Believe in Yourself:

It seems that when you are buying your first home, everyone has an opinion about the purchase. This can be confusing because unsolicited advice clouds your decision. Believe in your ability to assimilate the facts, look at the property and decide what to buy.

 

Selling Your Home? Here’s How to Make it Lovable

Today’s buyers love vibrant red and orange accent walls, usually in contrast to earth-toned neutrals. They also love stoves with super-quiet exhaust fans, kitchen islands, and recessed lighting combined with hanging pendant fixtures.

In the bathroom, they love glass and stone finishes with brushed nickel faucets and floating vanities. And don’t forget the open floor plans that blend kitchen, dining room and family room into a single open space. Seducing today’s buyers is almost a necessity in today’s real estate market. But how far should you go to cater to buyers’ wants?

It depends. Unless you’re selling a luxury property, you don’t have to buy a professional-grade stove. However, you may want to consider trading your outdated avocado appliances for stainless steel and buying an inexpensive island on casters to make the kitchen feel more modern.

Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, so it makes sense to spend the majority of your renovation dollars to upgrade these spaces. In the bathroom, new fixtures, a soft color for the walls and sconce lighting will make a world of difference. Add fluffy white towels, flowers and candles, and you have a spa that buyers will love.

A fresh coat of neutral paint is always a cost-effective solution. And an accent wall can make a space look bigger, warmer and more up to date.

Carpeting is out and exotic woods and travertine floors are in. However, your buyers will likely be as impressed with less-expensive flooring options.

 

How to Help Your Agent Sell Your Home Quickly

While your real estate agent may be working flat out to sell your home, you – as the seller – also have an important role to play.

It’s up to you to prepare your home for sale.

While your real estate agent may suggest, recommend and even cajole, selling your home is your job, and no one else can do it for you.

You have only one chance to make a first impression.

It’s so true.

A recent survey indicated that more than 60% of buyers knew the property was for them the minute they walked in the door.

So make sure you put a lot of your effort into that first impression.

Cut the grass or shovel the snow to make it easy to get to your front door.

Repair stairs and railings and remove all the usual clutter.

For a great first impression, paint the front door a color that coordinates with your trim and add new hardware.

De-clutter the foyer and make it a grand entrance. A mirror over a hall table reflects light and gives your entrance a finished look.

In the living areas, remove some of your furniture and paint the walls a neutral color to give them a spacious feel. Use lighting, even in the daytime, to brighten dark corners. In the bedrooms, organize your closets to make them seem roomier.

Kitchens and bathrooms can sell – or not sell – your home. If you can afford it, replace outdated appliances and fixtures. If you can’t, go for a good first impression with uncluttered, sparkling-clean counters.

In the bathroom, new fluffy towels and accessories may help visitors overlook the dated vanity.

While it’s listed, your home should always be kept clean, tidy and smelling fresh. Help your real estate agent and you’ll find that between the two of you, 60% of buyers may just find your house is “the one.”

Five Ways to Take Advantage of a Down Market

Real estate remains a bargain in much of the United States. For many home buyers this is the ideal time to jump into the housing market with a long-term investment strategy. Following are five tips to help you take advantage of a down market.

Use a Buyer’s Agent: A buyer’s agent can help you navigate a rapidly changing marketplace and let you know how to maximize your real estate dollar.

Get Preapproved for a Mortgage: Sitting down with a mortgage professional before you begin your search will help refine what you are looking for. This will allow you to set your budgets and narrow your search criteria. Note that a mortgage prequalification is not the same as a preapproved mortgage.

Make a List of Your Needs and Wants: Understand what you need and what you want. Wants are the things you can live without but you would like. Sitting down with your real estate agent will help speed up the home-buying process.

Invest for the Long Term: Buying in a down market offers affordable prices and greater home selection. Long-term investment in real estate is the surest way to maximize your initial investment.

Be Patient and Ask Questions: Down markets allow home buyers to be more patient. Surplus housing inventory means that there are fewer buyers competing for homes, allowing buyers to ask questions and ensure that they are selecting the home that is going to be right for them.

With real estate bargains in much of the United States and with market improvement across the country, this is the ideal time to jump into the housing market.

Why It Pays to Use a Buyer’s Agent

These days, a click of the mouse can open a world of dream homes to you.

But when you’re facing down a determined seller or trying to figure out what to offer, it literally pays to have a buyer’s agent on your side.

Real estate is all about negotiation.

On one side there’s the seller and his or her listing agent, who is bound by a legal agreement to represent the seller’s interest.

On the other side is the buyer – you – who wants to walk out a winner,

having paid a price you’re comfortable with for a home you love.

To get there, you’ll need comparables to establish a fair price; an educated perspective on the local real estate market; connections to home inspectors, lawyers and mortgage brokers; and someone who is bound by a legal agreement – a buyer’s agreement – to represent your interests and yours alone.

That would be the buyer’s agent. He or she puts you on level ground with the seller.

In tough negotiations with multiple offers, you need someone who will advise on strategy and is required by law to treat everything you share in confidence.

In “as is” situations or home inspections that turn up expensive surprises, you need a professional to advise you.

Even when things are going smoothly, another perspective is often important.

An agent can also negotiate unemotionally and professionally on behalf of the buyer.

Effectively, your buyer’s agent is your new best friend. Don’t leave home without one.

Selling a Property Quickly? What You Should Do

If you’ve just purchased your dream home and have to sell it because you’ve been transferred to another city or you’re overmortgaged and sinking fast, there are a few things you should not do.

First, don’t go it alone. Second, be careful not to overprice your home.

Sellers are often tempted to sell their homes themselves, particularly if money is tight.

It’s best to resist the temptation, though, especially if you are in a hurry to sell a home.

It’s a fact that homes that are sold by their owners often take longer to sell than those sold through a real estate agent.

As well, selling yourself takes up a lot of your valuable time.

And time, as they say, is money.

Overpricing is the main reason many homes are slow to sell.

Sellers often have an exaggerated idea of their home’s value.

They may be blind to its faults and overestimate its good points.

For a reality check, visit neighborhood open houses.

It’s also wise to review local listings for prices of similar homes in your area.

Your best bet to move that house quickly is to find a local real estate agent who can bring special expertise about your neighborhood.

Such an agent will have networks of contacts who may be looking for properties in your area.

Sellers should listen to their real estate agent.

The agent will know the comparables and be able to advise you on changes that could make the property more salable.

The real estate agent will also study comparable properties to establish the true value of your home.

That way you can price it correctly and develop a marketing strategy that will work for you.

Should You Make Those Repairs Before Selling Your Home?

Just how much should you invest in repairs to sell your home?

It comes down to how desperate you are to sell and what changes are needed.

Significant structural problems or major electrical or plumbing repairs must be disclosed to potential buyers. If you are unaware of these problems and they are discovered during the home inspection, they will have to be fixed at your expense or you’ll have to hand over an equivalent amount to allow the buyers to fix them themselves.

So if you are aware of significant repairs that need to be made, why not avoid the hassles and fix them before the “for sale” sign goes up?

For less significant changes, you can make repairs. But be aware you won’t necessarily recoup your investment. Don’t overspend. Many an unwary homeowner has made changes that effectively price him or her out of the neighborhood, meaning it’s become a good house in a poor neighborhood.

Buyers looking in the area may not be prepared to pay for state-of-the art windows or a slate roof. They may be impressed, however, by an uncluttered home with a fresh coat of paint.

Alternatively, you can decide not to make changes, betting that your proximity to transit or a deck with a hot tub will sell your house despite its flaws.

If this sounds good, be prepared to wait for a buyer who wants a fixer-upper.

And be aware that in its current condition, your house won’t go for top dollar – even to do-it-yourselfers.