Property Appeal: What Makes a Home Safe?

Location. Layout. Landscaping. A host of home features affect a property’s appeal. One quality that tops many “must-have” lists is safety. What should buyers look for if they want a home that offers the best safety possible for themselves and their families?

Several features can improve the safety of a home to make it more desirable. As a bonus, these devices can also reduce the cost to insure a home. If you want to modernize your home with innovative safety measures or are looking for a new home with the latest safety features, consider these list toppers.

Smart Devices

The internet of things has taken home security and convenience to a new level. Homeowners are empowered with a host of tools and systems to keep their homes safe. In fact, technology has become so prevalent that few items aren’t equipped with smart features. Appliances offer improved safety and efficiency. Garage doors offer additional security. High-tech lawn systems prevent overwatering and flooding. A few devices are particularly desirable for homeowners interested in boosting the safety of their surroundings. These include:

Water alerts: Did you know one of the most common homeowners insurance claims is water damage? Smart leak-detection sensors can now prevent these calamities. They alert homeowners of leaks so they can take immediate action to prevent damage.

Fire detection: What happens if no one is home to hear the smoke detector? A smart fire detector will alert a homeowner via a Wi-Fi-connected device anywhere in the world. This can improve emergency response times and minimize damage.

Burglar deterrents: Smart technology has enhanced security on many fronts. Homeowners can deter thieves with timed lighting, access smart door locks to maintain tighter security, and monitor video surveillance from anywhere.

Wondering what features make the most sense for your market? Contact our office. We can review current trends and determine what safety features to look for in your next home.

Remodels: What’s Good for Resale and What’s Not

You want to get the best price for your house. You’re willing to do some remodeling – if it will deliver significant ROI. What’s worth the effort? Here are three projects worth considering and three that you can skip.

The kitchen: Kitchens sell homes. If your culinary center is looking worse for the wear, it will likely turn off potential buyers. Updating your kitchen is a good way to increase the value and appeal of your home.

Bathrooms: These areas are also high on buyers’ priority lists, so they should be on yours, too. Focus efforts on the master bath and the powder room.

Curb appeal: First impressions are important and the front of your home is the first thing buyers see. Make efforts that will boost curb appeal, such as repainting the exterior, adding plants, and sprucing up the entry with a new door. These projects can often be completed at low cost but offer high return.

Pools: While you may enjoy countless hours of fun in your pool, this feature probably won’t pay for itself in home value increase. In fact, it could be a turnoff for some buyers.

Wine rooms: While they may sound elegant, wine rooms or other original-design spaces are often too niche. Their limited audience makes them a poor investment choice.

Removals: Just because you never use that fireplace doesn’t mean you should demolish it. Removing features is typically not a good investment. Potential buyers may wish it were still there, and you aren’t likely to recoup the cost of removing the feature.

For expert input on your remodeling efforts, contact our office. We can discuss the projects that could get the best return on investment and what I’ve seen in demand in your market.

5 Buyer Turn-Offs to Avoid This Summer

When you’re in the process of selling a house and moving, you have a lot on your plate. You might be job-searching, researching your next home, and doing everything you can to keep your kitchen spotless for the next showing.

With so much going on, it can be easy to let seasonal maintenance items slide, but this would be a mistake. It’s crucial to care for these items to keep your home in top shape. The exterior provides the first impression of your home, so put forth the effort to boost your curb appeal. Here’s how.

1. Manicure the yard. Keep your landscaping tidy. Sweep walkways, cut the grass and pull weeds. A well-kept yard with attractive flowerbeds and an inviting front porch are appealing to buyers. Dead tree limbs, piles of leaves and overgrown lawns are not. In fact, they can be instant turn-offs.

2. Clean the gutters. This task is easy to forget about, but its neglect can lead to significant issues. Clogged gutters can cause drainage issues that damage your landscaping and your foundation. If buyers see puddling water and piles of debris on the roofline, they won’t get a good impression of your home. Let them know it’s a well-cared-for property by keeping gutters clear.

3. Check for critters. Uninvited guests are a sure turn-off for buyers. Make sure no pests have made your home their own this season. Inspect any attic, basement and crawl spaces. Cover vents with wire mesh and plug any holes or cracks that could allow animals access to your home.

4. Wash the windows. That’s right – this isn’t just a spring-cleaning project. To attract buyers, keep those panes sparkling all summer. Be sure to wipe them down after storms to keep windows looking sharp.

5. Stay in season. You never want to let your home look out of season. It gives the impression that you no longer care about the home and it is not well maintained. Be mindful of what is in the yard, on the deck or sitting on the front porch. Keep furniture, plants and decor in season. Let potential buyers know your property is well cared for by staying on top of these seasonal tasks.

Hey, That’s My Stuff! How to Avoid Mover Scams

4,100 consumers filed moving fraud complaints in 2017, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. How can you avoid negative experiences? Be aware of common scams, and take steps to protect yourself from these fraudulent activities.

Get it in writing: It might be tempting to get a quick quote and schedule your move over the phone. Don’t do it. This is one of the easiest ways to get scammed. Since you have nothing in writing, the movers can easily charge whatever they want once they begin, and they may hold your belongings hostage until you pay an outrageous amount. Always schedule an in-house walk-through to get an accurate quote, and get the agreed-to amount in writing.

Read the fine print: When you sign a contract with a mover, read all the fine print. Make sure you understand the terms of payment before you sign. Unscrupulous movers may include terms that allow them to hijack your belongings after demanding more money. If you’ve signed anything that allows for these practices, the police will be unable to intervene.

Vet the movers: Before you agree to work with a moving company, research its reputation. Contact the Better Business Bureau to check the company’s rating. Ask for recommendations from friends. Read online reviews. Ask movers for proof of registration, proof of insurance and an office address. Take the time to vet the mover, so you know you are working with someone you can trust.

Try a hybrid approach: Consider renting and driving the truck yourself, and hiring movers for loading and unloading only. This will keep your possessions under your control to prevent hijacking scams. (It can also reduce the cost of the move!)

5 Things You Need to Know about Your Future Neighborhood

Are you currently on the home hunt? You probably have a list of needs and wants. Have you included anything about the neighborhood?

In addition to bedrooms, baths, and interior upgrades, it’s a good rule of thumb to ask a few questions about the potential neighborhood you may want to call home. When you’re thinking about buying, here are some questions you can ask to help determine if the neighborhood will be a good fit for you.

1. Is the area well-maintained? Take a walk around the block. Drive through the neighborhood. Are properties well-maintained? Are roads in good condition? The appearance of the lawns, homes, and public spaces can reveal a lot about the area.

2. Are there any rules and regulations you need to be aware of before you commit? Do you mind if your renovations and landscaping are restricted by homeowner association bylaws? Find out if the neighborhood has any rules and regulations, and what they are.

3. What is the reputation of the school district? Even if you don’t have children, the school district’s status can affect property values. Get the scoop on the district’s rankings in academics and financial stability.

4. What’s the crime rate? Oftentimes you can find maps provided by the city that show what crimes occur in the area and how often. The FBI may also have reports available for the area. Do a little research to make sure you’ll feel safe in your new home.

5. What amenities are nearby? For some homebuyers, access to public transportation is important. Others want to live near parks, shops, or restaurants. Find out what amenities the area offers to ensure that you choose a neighborhood that suits your lifestyle.

3 Real Estate Myths Television Has Taught Us

Jim and Suzy Homebuyer just found their dream property for $50K and fixed it up in three weeks.

Stories like this have skewed viewers’ expectations of real estate reality.

Shows about home buying and renovation projects can be fun to watch, but we may not realize that they often don’t depict the realities of buying, selling, and owning a home.

Here are three common myths popularized by today’s TV lineup.

“Three homes will do.”

On TV, a couple looks at three homes and is able to find the property of their dreams. This isn’t how things work in the real world.

The number of homes buyers must look at before finding the right one for them differs in each situation. It’s not uncommon to look at 20 homes. It may even work out that you look at just one (but it’s not likely).

“I can afford that.” 

Shows that depict real estate purchases and renovations rarely reflect prices that are realistic for viewers. We may witness a bargain deal on TV and assume we could get something similar.

The fact is, markets vary greatly. The price of a home or a remodel in the area where the show is filmed may be completely different from what we can expect in our home town – either much higher or much lower.

“This will be a cinch.” 

While some DIY projects can be completed quickly, the amount of time most renovations take is longer than TV would have you believe. Homeowners shouldn’t expect to dive into a basement remodel on Friday and wake up Monday morning with the project behind them. Even if you hire professionals, they may encounter unexpected delays or simply need more time to do the renovation right.

If you’re considering buying, selling, or renovating, the more information you have, the better prepared you can be. Contact me for some professional input – I’m happy to help.

6 Must-Haves to Set the Stage for a Quick Sale

Is your home ready to welcome potential buyers? To create the best appeal (and fetch the best price), it is helpful to stage your home. Home staging refers to preparing your space to make it appealing to the highest number of buyers, with the goal of selling the home quickly and profitably.

While each house offers unique appeal, a few staging tips are helpful for nearly any home. To roll out the red carpet for your potential buyers, include the following must-have items.

Plants: Greenery makes a room feel warm and inviting. Use floor plants, tabletop plants or shelf plants to bring life to the corners of the room.

Candles: These provide a nice touch, but be sure to choose unscented or lightly scented. You don’t want to overwhelm visitors with an aroma or risk choosing a scent they don’t like.

Flowers: Add color and cheer to your yard and your interior with in-season blooms.

Throw pillows: Adding these to your beds, chairs and/or couches can provide a nice finishing touch to your décor that makes the space more appealing.

Towels: Coordinated linens in the bathroom create a clean, crisp, and luxurious atmosphere. Make sure towels are hung neatly and are in good condition. A brand-new hand towel can provide a nice touch.

Artwork: Neutral artwork on the walls is preferable to family portraits. Remember, the goal is to make your space appealing to as many buyers as possible. This means depersonalizing so they can envision themselves in your space instead of you.

Top Design Trends for Today’s Homes

Wondering what’s hot and what’s not for interior design? Whether you’re hoping to create a buyer-friendly look as you prep your home for sale or simply want to stay on trend, these finishes will help you keep your surroundings looking sharp.

On the walls: Neutral is still in, but cold whites are fading away. Designers are reducing their use of these cold tones in favor of softer whites. These trending paint colors help make modern spaces feel warmer and more welcoming.

In the kitchen: Designers are moving away from all-white kitchens to add splashes of color. Deep blues, greys, and greens are growing in popularity for kitchen cabinet choices. All the cabinets don’t have to be the same color, either. One hue may be chosen for top cabinetry and accented with another shade for bottom cabinets. Contrasting metals in the hardware and fixtures complete the trend.

Off the presses: Recent enhancements to printing processes and modern materials have increased the quality of faux finishes. This emerging technology is allowing homeowners and designers to achieve the look of stone and other high-end finishes for flooring at a fraction of the cost and with easier installation. Choices such as marble and concrete will likely see a downturn as they are replaced by faux options.

From the outdoors: Homeowners are looking to connect with nature in their décor. Wood finishes are a top solution. Wood offers beauty and flexibility to apply to a variety of surroundings and suits a broad range of tastes. Designers can also incorporate this material to create a lighter and airier space, which is what many clients are seeking.

For the future: Builders and buyers are more environmentally aware than ever before. Current trends include eco-friendly materials and processes that reduce a home’s carbon footprint. Contractors and homeowners are striving to make sustainable choices that have a positive long-term impact on the environment.

What do you think about these trends? Have your design preferences changed over time? If you’re looking for any of these in a new home or thinking of making changes to your home, let me know how I can help.

Modern Homes Are Getting Smarter by the Second

Innovative technology is transforming the real estate marketplace. As they design and select homes, today’s buyers are weighing options that were nonexistent for homeowners 20 years ago. Modern houses, enhanced with smart technology, have become more than rooms and walls. They are integrated systems of efficiency, entertainment, and security, designed to cater to a high-tech lifestyle.

These technological advances are adding value to homes in creative ways.

Convenience: Control centers allow owners to manage almost everything in the home remotely. They can turn up the heat, turn on the lights, or turn off the television from around the globe. With remote access, homeowners no longer have to worry about misplaced or stolen keys. They can even grant entry to others while they are away from home.

Security: Wireless technology and video surveillance options have transformed home security. Systems can be added without drilling holes and hiding wires. Cameras and video technology allow personal, remote observation of the home inside and out. In addition to securing their home against crime, owners can check on Fido, confirm a package delivery, or enjoy peace of mind that the kids arrived safely home from school.

Efficiency: Smart technology can provide greater efficiency for utilities, which can provide significant savings over the years. Improved temperature control technology, remote access to thermostats, and better utility sensors can create a highly efficient home.

Linkage: The internet of things has added multiple new features to homes. Homeowners can link smart appliances, security systems, and more to connect every facet of their lives. The connectivity a home offers can boost its value to plugged-in buyers who are seeking modern networking capabilities.

These smart technologies are becoming more affordable and more accessible. It’s likely that more and more buyers can expect to find high-tech options listed among standard home features.

If you’re considering a smart upgrade to your home, reach out to our office so you can get the best information to determine which innovations make the most sense for your market.

Real Estate Secrets: Why (and How) Kitchens Sell Homes

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s a bustling center of activity where people gather to cook, eat, socialize, and entertain.

As the central hub, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms of the home. This space will immediately attract buyers or turn them off. It’s much easier to look passed a small bedroom or an outdated powder room than to get over an undesirable kitchen. The kitchen must be designed to meet the needs of their lifestyle. If it’s not a good match, the buyer will likely eliminate the home as an option.

To prevent this from happening, homeowners can make strategic efforts that will improve their property’s culinary appeal.

Refurbish rather than replace: Cabinetry is a significant factor in a kitchen’s appeal. Since replacing cabinets is an expensive endeavor, many homeowners are reluctant to take on this project. Fortunately, other options won’t break the budget. Consider repainting the cabinetry or replacing only the doors. New cabinet hardware can also create a brand-new look.

Invest in appliances: Modern, matching appliances offer immense appeal. They look sharp, offer convenient features, and typically provide high efficiency to reduce utility bills.

Make it sparkle: Cluttered countertops have never helped sell a home. Buyers want to see the kitchen, not the mess. Keep counters clear and clean and ensure the entire space shines.

Consider the market: When considering kitchen improvements, homeowners should always consult with a trusted real estate agent to ensure upgrades are in alignment with their neighborhood, the target buyer, and current trends. Reach out with your questions. We are happy to help.

‘Dear Seller’ Letters Offer Unique Negotiation Strategy

You’re probably familiar with letters to Santa. You’ve most likely heard of letters to the editor.

But have you heard of a homebuyer letter? In some areas, buyers are including these communications when they submit offers to purchase a home. If the trend grows, these messages could become common documents among real estate paperwork. Here’s the scoop.

What is a homebuyer letter?

These notes are designed to make a buyer’s offer more personal and appealing. The goal is to encourage the seller to choose the writer of the letter over another buyer.

In hot markets, a seller may receive multiple offers at once and must then choose which offer to negotiate or accept. To make their offer stand out, buyers are using these letters. They are written to sellers to plead the buyer’s case, offering reasons the seller should accept this offer over others.

What is included in the letter?

The exact details vary from letter to letter, but many contain similar details. Buyers often mention the features of the home that they love, discuss how they plan to use the house, or reassure the sellers that they don’t plan to make significant changes to the home. This can prove helpful in situations where the seller has lived in the home a long time or the property has been in the family for generations. Buyers may also include personal information such as hobbies and professions to try to further connect with the seller.

Does it work?

Apparently, it can. Real estate agents have reported instances when sellers did not choose the highest bid because of a letter included with a lower offer.

Of course, this tactic is not guaranteed to work. For many sellers, the price is all that matters. And to others, the letters can come across as corny or inappropriate.

Is this a good strategy to use for your next offer? Should you polish up your writing skills and submit a homebuyer letter? Maybe.

Consult with your real estate agent to determine what’s best for your situation.

Home Seller’s Guide: Top Do’s & Don’ts for a Quick Sale

You want to sell your home quickly and for the best possible price, right? What’s the secret to achieving this goal? There are several. Use these do’s and don’ts to guide your home sale process.

What to Do

Get out of Dodge: When potential buyers view your home, they want to see your property, not you. Always leave the premises. The buyers will feel more comfortable and are likely to spend more time looking at your home and fully considering it if you are not there.

Put out the welcome mat: Go the extra mile to make your home show well. Declutter. Clean. Turn on all lights and open all window treatments before showings to create a bright, airy atmosphere.

Partner with a pro: A real estate agent knows what works best in your market. He or she can provide invaluable input to make your home stand out among the competition.

What Not to Do

Take it personally: A home filled with personalized décor can turn buyers off. Neutralize your home to make it appealing to the maximum number of buyers. This might mean removing family photos or repainting your bright orange bathroom.

Crowd the skeletons: When you declutter your home, don’t simply throw everything in the closets. Your storage spaces need to look large, useful, and inviting.

Overinflate: While you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, overpricing your home only delays your sale. Consult with a real estate agent who can help you determine the right price for your home based on features, location, and current market trends.

Moving? Avoid These Major Mistakes

You might say that moving involves a lot of … moving parts. It can be difficult to coordinate all the aspects of pulling up stakes and putting down roots in a new place. Considering these challenges, it’s no surprise mistakes are made. From minor inconveniences to major disasters, moving blunders make the entire process even harder. Here are some of the most common missteps to avoid during your next move.

Making it a DIY project: Many moves can be handled by the homeowner, but not all. Be honest with yourself (and your friends). Do you really have the strength, time, and skill to pack, load, unload, and unpack all of your belongings? Consider any fragile or valuable items. Keep in mind any oversized belongings. Movers come with a cost, but so does trying to handle a project beyond your capabilities. Personal injury and property damage often end up costing more than movers would have.

Allotting the wrong amount of time: How long will it take you to pack? Many people under- or overestimate this time period. If you don’t give yourself enough time, you will be rushed and stressed when moving day arrives and you’re not ready. If you start too early, you may have to unpack and repack things that you need before moving day. A good rule of thumb is to count the number of bedrooms in your home, then add one. This is the number of days it should take you to pack. If you have a lot of items that will require careful wrapping and storage, add another day.

Skipping the purge: Moving is the ideal time to get rid of things you no longer need. As you pack, make three piles: trash, donate, and keep. This requires a little effort and organization, but the process will make your move more efficient and will save you time, money, and hassles in the long run.

Forgetting to call a real estate agent: When it’s time to move, a real estate agent is one of your most valuable resources. This professional can sell your current home, find your new dream home, and walk you through the entire process. Agents have been through all this before and can provide resources and advice as you transition from one home to another. Don’t miss their input!

Why Is ‘For Sale by Owner’ Such a Bad Idea?

When it’s time to sell your home, you may wonder which route to take: partner with a real estate agent or go it alone with FSBO. Which will deliver better results? Here are three reasons you should avoid the FSBO path.

The paperwork is daunting: Buyer offers. Real estate contracts. Lender forms. Inspection reports. Closing documents. Not every homeowner is prepared for the piles of paperwork involved in a real estate transaction. Details and deadlines can easily be missed. Bad deals can be made. A real estate agent is familiar with all the documentation involved, will walk the seller through the process, and will handle much of the paperwork required.

The process is challenging: Buyers want to see your home when it’s convenient for them. Without an agent to show your home, it’s up to you to make all arrangements for showings. This includes getting your home ready for the market. What work should be done? What’s worth the investment of time and money? An agent could answer these questions for you. If you don’t have one, you’re on your own to prep your home, show it to buyers, negotiate offers, and get the deal to closing.

The cost is more than you think: A common reason for choosing FSBO is to try to save money. FSBO isn’t as cheap as you might think. You’ll have to cover all marketing costs, and you’ll have to devote your personal time to these efforts. And it might take longer to sell due to the limited exposure you can get without an agent marketing the home. To top it off, FSBO homes typically sell for less than homes listed by real estate agents. The net result: zero savings.

Negotiation: There’s More to it Than You Think!

When you think of real estate negotiations, what comes to mind? For most buyers and sellers, price tops the list. While this is certainly an important part of any real estate deal, did you know there are at least six others areas of potential negotiation?

Closing costs: In addition to the price of the home, buyers must pay closing costs that cover lender fees and other charges. Buyers may ask sellers to help pay for these costs with a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the fees.

Closing date: Do you need to close on a home quickly? Perhaps you need a little more time to search for your next home. There are also different advantages to closing at the beginning and end of the month.

Personal property: What will be included with the four walls and roof? Negotiations will be worked out on whether the seller includes the washer and dryer, kitchen appliances, and even items such as living room furniture or that pool table in the basement.

Contingencies: Many real estate contracts are contingent on financing or other home sales. The buyer may need to complete their lender requirements by a certain date or complete their current home sale before the contract is in full force. These details must be worked out and agreed to up front.

Home repairs: Most contracts include a stipulation that the buyers can complete a home inspection. Once the buyers receive this report, they can ask the sellers to fix items that were found to be in disrepair. Each of these items must be negotiated.

Home warranty: This can be provided as an incentive to buyers to offer peace of mind. It can be particularly appealing for older homes. It typically provides coverage for the home’s HVAC system, appliances, and other major items in the event that they need repair soon after the purchase.

Does this sound like a lot to negotiate? It is. Fortunately, real estate agents are expert negotiators and can handle all of these points for you! Your agent will identify your top needs and work hard to get you the best deal.

Why Flexibility Is the Watchword for Today’s Homes

Let’s roll back the clock to around 1900. If we take a tour of the average home, we’ll find layouts of about 900 square feet. Fast forward to the year 2000, and we’ll find that number has more than doubled, to just over 2,000 square feet.

However, the trend toward “bigger is better” has not carried into 2019. The past few years have seen a slow decrease in median home size. By the end of 2017, it was just over 2,400 square feet.

While this shrinking home size may be significant, what’s even more noteworthy is the change in style. Gone are the days of formal living and dining rooms. The trends for extravagant game rooms, wine cellars and media rooms also seem to have faded into the history books.

Today’s homeowners are seeking something different. They want rooms that serve multiple purposes and homes that serve multiple generations.

This latest concept offers a home within a home. A common layout includes a great room that serves as both living and dining rooms and a suite that adjoins to the main house. This attached one-bedroom living space includes its own kitchen and bathroom and can function as a teen suite, college student’s pad, home office, or in-law apartment.

The idea is that it can be whatever the homeowners need it to be. As parents age or adult children bounce back home, the layout offers suitable living arrangements to accommodate a variety of situations. It creates a space that allows the property to meet homeowner needs, not just for many years but for many generations.

Attention Sellers: What Buyers Want

Today’s television lineup is packed with shows about property ownership. From remodeling to purchasing to flipping homes, HGTV and other similar channels have inundated homeowners with ideas about real estate.

As a result, many buyers now have high expectations as they search for a potential home. They’ve seen the magazine-worthy houses on TV and that’s what they want to find when they view a home. Things should be picture perfect to grab their attention. Fresh paint, new kitchens and bathrooms, neutral décor, and modern conveniences top the lists of many buyers.

It’s important for sellers to keep these standards in mind as they prepare to place their homes on the market. To get that coveted buyer, sellers must give buyers what they want. If they are looking for a picturesque setting, then give them one.

Invest in upgrades for outdated interiors. Allow a professional to stage the home. Take the time to boost curb appeal. Ask a real estate agent for recommendations to decide what changes would make the best investment.

As sellers make these changes, one concept is essential to keep in mind: location. While upgrades can help sell a home, it’s important that sellers not price themselves out of their neighborhood. Remodeling and redecorating should be appropriate for the location.

If a seller builds an addition and updates a kitchen with all the bells and whistles, the home might be beautiful, but also overpriced. The seller may have created a $250,000 home in a $150,000 neighborhood.

Again, it’s important to consult with a local real estate agent who is familiar with the area. He or she can determine what projects should be completed to properly prep the home for the market.

With the right upgrades at the right budget, sellers are more likely to sell the home quickly and get top dollar for their property.

Want to sell your house faster? Do this

To some sellers, it seems perfectly natural to remain in the home when buyers view their property. After all, the seller can point out all the fabulous features and answer any questions the buyers have about the home, right?

Wrong. This is not the time for sellers to put on their hosting hats and welcome guests into the home. If buyers are coming by to see the property, sellers should vacate the premises. Why?

When sellers are around, buyers feel less comfortable. They are likely to feel rushed and will spend less time in the home, since their visit feels like an imposition on the sellers.

This is the opposite of what needs to happen to sell a home. Buyers must be made to feel as comfortable as possible. This will encourage them to take their time and truly consider the home for purchase. They will be more likely to notice those very features the sellers were hoping to point out, since they won’t be rushed.

Buyers also typically feel more comfortable asking their real estate agent rather than the owner questions about the property. They may have a concern the agent can address that the buyer would not be willing to bring up in front of the seller.

Sellers can also get more helpful feedback indirectly through the agent. For example, a bad odor in the home may be an issue, but buyers might feel rude bringing this up in front of the seller. If sellers can obtain honest feedback, they can use this to improve future showings and sell the home faster.

Downsizing Prep: Common Heirloom Errors

The kids have all moved out. As you approach retirement, you know downsizing is in your future. It’s time to start considering what that will entail.

Realistically, you won’t have room in your new home for everything that has accumulated over the past two or three decades.

Don’t make the same mistakes many downsizers do by holding on to items that should be purged.

Before it’s time to move, take stock of what is in your home. Have you kept anything for your kids that they really don’t want? Have an open conversation with your children to determine whether what you consider a precious family heirloom would simply be clutter in your child’s home.

Put the following items at the top of the list to discuss. These are three of the most common things parents keep that their kids would prefer never to inherit.

Books: Even if your children love to read, it’s likely they don’t want your old books (and they probably have their own growing collection they will have to purge some day). If you suspect any of your books are valuable, do a search online or contact a book antiquarian. Otherwise, consider donating the books to a library or used book store.

Fine dinnerware: Has your child ever used a cup and saucer for morning coffee? Would he or she use silver flatware? For that matter, have you used any of these dishes in the past year?

Children and grandchildren typically don’t want to store multiple place settings of porcelain dishes. Go ahead and sell them to the consignment shop or to a company that offers replacement pieces for consumers seeking specific patterns.

Paper piles: Do you have shoeboxes of greeting cards, letters, and photos stashed under your bed? Piles of paper are overwhelming and nearly impossible for others to sort through.

Before downsizing, go through these papers and say goodbye. Read through cards once more; then recycle them. Scan photos to create digital files, or frame your favorites to pass along. Then get rid of the rest.

Five Quick Staging Tips for a Faster Home Sale

Staging your home prepares your property for potential buyers so you can achieve a faster sale. Professional stagers and your real estate agent can help with this task. If you’re under a time crunch, use these simple staging tips to quickly get your home ready for viewing.

Declutter everything: All that “stuff” gets in the way of buyers seeing what your home has to offer. If you don’t have time for a full house purge, at least make sure all surfaces are clear and closets are neatly organized. Remember, you want your home to appear spacious, not crowded.

Spruce up the entry: Make a good first impression. Sweep the front porch. Clean outdoor furniture. Add a doormat and some potted plants. Keep the entry and walkway well-lit.

Rearrange furniture: You might be surprised at how easily you can transform your home with a little rearranging. Place furniture in symmetrical arrangements. Create inviting conversation areas. If you have a spare room that has become a catch-all, set it up as usable space. Arrange it as a guest room or office, so buyers see the room’s potential.

Clean from top to bottom: Your home should sparkle. If you have a lot of square footage to cover, consider having your home professionally cleaned. It will be worth the investment when buyers fall in love with your pristine space.

Minimize odors: Before showings, run some orange rinds through the garbage disposal. Remove odors in furniture and carpets with a dash of baking soda; let it sit for 10 minutes, then vacuum. Heat a pot of water and a couple cinnamon sticks on the stove for an hour to add a pleasing aroma to your space.