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Six Things to do if You’re Preparing to Sell Your House
Selling a house is stressful. There just isn’t any way to sugarcoat it. But there are steps you can take to make the process a little easier – and a little more successful. Here are six things you need to do if you are about to put your house on the market.
1. Fix it up
That loose stair that you’re used to skipping every day; those holes in the wall behind the couch that resulted from an ill-fated indoor skateboarding incident – these are great examples of things you will want to address before you take any further steps to sell your home.
Even things that don’t pose a physical danger, like the peeling paint on your front door, still need to be worked on if you want your home to sell. Speaking of paint, now is the time to turn your neons into grays – if you have a lot of brightly painted rooms, consider painting them a more neutral color. Yes, people should look past things like paint color, but they often don’t, and it could make or break your success story with selling your house.
Okay, don’t literally try to become invisible – what we mean is that you and the personal touches in your home should not be the most obvious thing a potential buyer sees. It may sound a little harsh, but the goal is to help the buyer feel as though they can make their own home in your house, which is hard to do if you have monogrammed throw pillows covering every inch of the couch.
You don’t have to go through your hallways and take down every single photo, but, at least when you know there will be a showing, try to make your home more neutral all around.
3. Keep it Clean
If you have kids and/or pets, you know how difficult it can be to clean your home in a moment’s notice after a realtor contacts you about a showing. If possible, try to schedule showings in advance, rather than having people stop by anytime. However, since you don’t want to miss an opportunity to show off your house to a potential buyer, you should also try to keep your house “showing-worthy” as much as possible.
You can even practice with your family – assign everyone a specific job, and then give them a signal to start cleaning. See how quickly you can get it done, and soon you will all be pros.
4. Take a Walk on the Wild Side
And by “wild side,” we mean your yard. You may be so used to the out-of-control hedges by your mailbox that you don’t even notice them anymore. But a buyer will definitely notice. Ask a friend or neighbor to walk around your yard and point out some areas that may need a little TLC before you put your house on the market.
Addressing the details outside of your home is just as important as addressing the details inside of your home. Keep the yard mowed, pull the weeds, and give your house the royal treatment to help others see its full potential.
5. Practice Some Feng Shui
Your house is set up to perfectly suit you and your family, which makes sense. However, one size does not fit all when it comes to furniture preferences. Take a look at your current living room arrangement, for example – are there any “bottleneck” areas that disrupt the flow of movement through your home? What about the couch and chairs – do they allow for conversation and group gatherings?
Even if you don’t use your home for these things, interested buyers might, so showing them how they can make this house work for them as well as it has worked for you is important.
6. Be Flexible
Everyone has their own opinion about what looks good, right? So you may spend three hours painting a room a neutral color, only to be told the house looks too plain. You may pull up weeds all weekend and learn that someone thinks your yard is too bare. The truth is, you can’t please everyone, so don’t take every piece of feedback from potential buyers to heart.
If you receive the same feedback over and over again, it would be wise to give it serious consideration. But if one person thinks your kitchen is too small, too dated, too blue, or not blue enough, remember that sometimes your house just won’t be a fit for everyone.
The right buyer is out there – if you put the work in on the front end, you and your family can reap the rewards down the line. Give your house its best chance to be seen for all its beauty, and consult your realtor for any other ideas they have seen work for their clients. Happy selling!
Seven things to do to jumpstart your spring cleaning this weekend
Oddly enough, spring cleaning is something most people—ok, some people–look forward to each year. Perhaps it’s because it includes the word spring. Otherwise, it’s just cleaning and who really enjoys that?
Maybe it’s about returning all the odds and ends to their rightful place and restoring order in your house, or the time-honored ceremonial cleansing of all the gray winter dreariness. Regardless, there are warm, sunny days ahead and we need to greet them with a clean house!
Some people do all their spring cleaning in one day—that’s their superpower. Others break it down into several days of mini projects. It all depends on how big your house is, how much deep cleaning it needs, and how much time and energy you have. Either way, here’s a list of seven things you can put on your to-do list and get done this weekend. Well, six things because number one doesn’t require any elbow grease.
So, roll up your sleeves, gather your supplies, and let’s go!
1. Choose a room
The most efficient way to clean your entire home is room-by-room, regardless of the time of the year. Why? You stay in one location instead of ping-ponging between rooms, you’ll gain a real sense of satisfaction when an entire room is finished, and it can serve as a good stopping point for the day, if necessary. As a general rule of thumb, you should work from top to bottom, so head upstairs if you have one.
2. Clear the clutter
This is where we get started! All that clutter you’ve accumulated during the year must go. Clutter is a problem that develops and grows gradually, so you probably don’t even realize how much it’s weighing you down—or maybe you do. Either way, when it’s back in its place, off to your favorite charity, in the recycle bin, or in the trash, you’ll experience a whole new freeing feeling. Yes, it’s that magical. Check out this four-step approach to organizing your clutter here!
3. Clean your curtains
Curtains decorate your windows all year long and probably barely move. Unless of course, they’re the functional kind. Still, it’s easy for dust, dirt, and odors to accumulate. And, since they’re often overlooked in routine cleaning, your curtains eventually look dull and dingy. Use a brush attachment to vacuum them gently. Then either-dry clean, steam clean, machine wash, or hand wash them, depending on the fabric. In some rooms, this might seem like a big project, but it’ll be well worth it when the sun can shine through!
4. Wash the windows
While we’re on windows, it’s time to clean them, too. Yes, inside and out—no cheating, please. Clean the inside of the windows with soap and water, and for best results, use a squeegee. Want to know how to clean those panes like an expert? Check it out here.
For the outside, we highly recommend a professional service. They do a fabulous job, they’re quick, don’t leave any streaks, and know how to multitask safely on a ladder. Best of all, they have insurance–or at least you’ll make sure they do before you hire them, right?
5. Make it light and bright
For the brightest light, be sure to clean your light fixtures, too. Whether it’s a chandelier, pendants, a wall sconce, or a table lamp, they’ll need some spring cleaning love. Did you know that built-up dust and grime can make bulbs appear up to 30 percent dimmer? If the shades or covers are dirty too, you reduce the amount of light even more. How’s that electric bill doing now?
Different types of light fixtures require different care, but if you take the time to make them shine, everything will seem a little brighter. Check out some helpful light fixture cleaning tips here.
6. To dust is a must
Dusting seems like the most basic part of keeping your house clean. But, with all those particles settling in every nook and cranny of your home, on every knick-knack you ever purchased, and for every day of your life, it can be a lot. Most hard-to-reach places are easy to skip but don’t give in to the temptation. Spring cleaning is about deep, thorough cleaning, so no shortcuts.
Dust ceiling corners, furniture, fans, molding, HVAC vents, shelves, décor, plants…if you see it, dust it! You might want to check out these seven common dusting mistakes before you tackle this one.
7. Steam clean your carpets
It’s recommended that you have your carpets professionally steam cleaned once a year, so why not make it part of your spring cleaning routine? You could also rent your own steam cleaner and go DIY instead, but you might want to check out this article first.
Some people think it’s nonsense, but carpets aren’t our specialty, so you decide. Either way, make sure you move the furniture and vacuum the carpet first. This will remove the top layer of dust and dirt so the steam cleaner can concentrate on deeper stains and grime.
Some area rugs can be steam cleaned, too, but check the manufacturer’s recommendation. If not, Atlanta’s own Sharian Rugs, Inc is a local and longtime expert in the fine rug business. Drop off your rug instead of having them pick it up and wait for one of their rug cleaning sales for the best price.
If you have hardwood floors, steam is not an option—ever. A damp mop works best. Check out other dos and don’ts for hardwoods here.
Spring cleaning is a time for renewal, a brand new start, a celebration of sunny, warm days to come, so get the whole family involved. The more, the merrier, and the quicker you get the job done!
How to plan and budget for a kitchen renovation
Whether you’re updating your home for comfort, safety, or to simply increase its resale value, it can cost a pretty penny. While experts say you can expect to recoup, on average, 56% of a renovation’s cost, the amount varies widely among projects.
Since modern families spend most of their time in the kitchen, updating its functionality is a popular investment. Minor remodels are estimated to pay an 81% return, while higher-end remodels are closer to 59%. Whichever you choose, it’s important to think about a few things before you give your contractor the go ahead:
How long do you plan to stay in your home? If it’s less than five years, keep your renovation costs at a minimum. But, if it’s longer than five years, give more thought to what would make it more comfortable for you and your family. Spending a little more now and being able to enjoy it for a considerable amount of time in the future may justify a bigger budget. While you may recoup less of its cost, the value of your enjoyment is worth something, too.
You don’t want to have the most expensive house in the hood, so a top-of-the-line kitchen in a modest neighborhood might be a mistake. While you want a quality remodel that improves the value of your home, it’s critical not to over-improve so that it significantly sets you apart from the rest of the neighborhood.
Making a list of your wants and needs will help you decide where to spend your money. You should choose quality cabinets and appliances, but might think twice about a wine fridge. Is crown molding a must? Do you absolutely need a double oven and a warming drawer? Remember that buyers won’t pay extra for “niceties” so unless they’re important to the overall functionality of the kitchen, they may need to be closer to the bottom of your list. Your priorities list will also come in handy if you run into some unexpected expenses and need to revise some choices or remove some improvements from the project.
In any home renovation, it’s critical to set a budget and stick to it. Remodels have the potential to cost more than you anticipated, but without a spending limit, you’re almost guaranteed to be overextended. As a general rule, labor will account for 20% of your project cost, Allow 35% for cabinets, 20% for appliances, and 5% for fixtures. The remaining 20% should be earmarked for other items, including unexpected issues that need to be resolved.
To keep your budget as low as possible, you may be able to handle some of the prep work yourself. We’ve all seen Fixer Upper—there’s no reason you couldn’t remove the cabinets, pull up the floor, and remove the appliances instead of paying a contractor to do it.
You’ll also want to keep a spreadsheet of all your expenses and check-in with the contractor regularly. While they should keep you informed of any overages, you don’t want to be caught off guard.
Consider how you’ll pay for your kitchen remodel. You may have money in savings or might be thinking about a home equity loan. You might also consider refinancing your home or even applying for a personal loan. Whichever you decide, be sure to have the funds available at the start of the project. You’ll likely need to pay your contractor for materials and pay for labor as the project progresses.
If your kitchen will be under construction, don’t forget to factor in the cost of eating out and maybe even another place to stay until the renovation is completed.
A kitchen renovation can bring new excitement into your home, but it can also be stressful. Create a budget, follow the plan, and closely monitor the project’s progress. In the end, you’ll have a kitchen that works for you and your family and the funds to comfortably afford it.