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Ways to Rid a Home of Pesky Pet Smells

A lingering pet smell can really put a damper on an otherwise appealing home. But there are proven ways to get animal odors out of houses. They’re worth learning since they are bound to come of use in a long career in real estate.

Start with the vacuum
Before we get into specialized techniques, you have to have the basics covered. That means a thorough vacuuming to pick up every remaining pet hair in the house. Pay particular attention to carpeted areas, since they have likely accumulated thousands of hairs over the years.

You’d be surprised how far a little vinegar can go in eliminating a lingering animal odor. As one contractor who swears by it showed in a video, pick up a pump sprayer and fill it up with vinegar. Since the smell was particularly stubborn, he sprayed the flooring and subflooring, as well as into the vents. However, be careful not to apply vinegar to materials that it could harm, such as marble, limestone or grout.

Baking soda
Generously spread baking soda over carpets, rugs and furniture that is affected by the pet smell. Spread it around with a brush to make sure all of the surface is covered. Leave it for 24 hours and then vacuum it up.

Enzymatic cleaner
A bottle of enzymatic cleaner, such as Nature’s Miracle, can be very effective for dealing with tough spots that have been hit with urine, feces or vomit.

The carpets may be hopeless
For particularly strong odors that have accumulated over years, the carpets are often a goner. They have to go. That is particularly true if the home is plagued by the smell of cat or dog urine. After ripping out the carpets, you should give the subfloor a thorough cleanse.

Painting over walls that have been damaged by pet urine or that have simply absorbed the smell of pets over time is always a good idea. In fact, there are oil-based paint primers specifically designed to kill pet smells. They smell very strongly themselves, so you should give yourself a lot of time between applying the paint to the subfloor, walls and ceiling before you’re showing the home.

Fresh air
Mother Nature can be a helpful ally in the fight against pet odors. Oftentimes a lack of fresh air will be as responsible for the bad smell as the animals themselves. If you can, open the windows to air out the home for a few days.

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How to Stage a Home During the Fall Season

Fall is here, which means home sales are typically a tad slower than during the previous few months. What does that mean for a hardworking real estate agent? You just got to work a little bit harder to sell those houses! Season-appropriate home staging is one of the most important things to focus on. Here are some ideas to consider.

Lights, lights, lights
As noted by ForSaleByOwner, it’s important to brighten up the home as the days get shorter. Leave lights on for visiting buyers –– don’t make them walk through a dark house, looking for the light switches. If the existing fixtures don’t quite provide enough brightness, consider getting a powerful lamp to put in a corner. You can get very effective lamps that are compatible with any style at discount stores such as Target or Wal-Mart.

Autumn-oriented curb appeal
There are flowers and plants that thrive in the autumn. That could mean adding some plants to the garden that will be at their best in the fall, such as Russian Sage, Caryopteris, or Miscanthus Grass. You could also add some potted plants that do well in fall to the porch. Pansies, for instance, can thrive in cool temperatures, as can Chrysanthemums.

Some moderate fall-oriented decor inside
Everybody seems to agree: A little autumn-themed decoration inside can go a long way. But beware of going overboard. A cornucopia on the dining room table is a nice touch, but stay away from Halloween-themed decor that might come off as childish or –– worse –– spooky!

Warmer colors
HGTV notes that as the weather gets colder, people are more likely to embrace warmer wall colors, such as a “rich shade of caramel or cream that’s neutral yet warm.” That color of paint will nicely complement darker shades of red and orange furniture.

When the weather is colder, people are going to react more favorably to decoration that invites them to cuddle up on the couch. Big rugs on the floor and more pillows and blankets on the couch will allow people to imagine themselves staying warm through the fall and winter.

Have a fireplace? Use it!
Lighting the fire is a nice touch, but if that’s not practical then simply highlighting a fireplace stacked with logs will do the trick.

Fall scents
Again, be sure not to go too far when you add scents to a home. However, a subtle autumn aroma can pleasantly enhance a visitor’s perception of the house. HGTV suggests burning an apple or cinnamon-scented candle.

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Top Smells That Help Sell a Home

There’s nothing worse than walking into a house and being welcomed with a questionable odor. Homeowners get used to smells their home may have after living there for some time and don’t realize that others will notice any smell the second they walk in. Before your next home showing, make sure your client clears the house of any lingering odors and replaces them pleasant ones that inspire pleasing memories.

Here are some ideas for freshening up a house with smells that will bring in the buyers:

Light the way
Candles are a no-brainer when it comes to making a house smell nice. If you want to go for something other than the usual scents like vanilla or sweet pea, try this one from Yankee Candle called, “Home Sweet Home” which is a mix of cinnamon, baking spices and freshly poured tea. Place candles strategically in the main rooms and light them before the buyers arrive.

Baked goods
Grab a roll of dough and pop some in the oven! For sellers who want to make potential buyers feel welcome and reminded of home as they walk in, baked goods are the way to go. Whether it’s cookies or a loaf of bread, the familiar scent will have buyers ready to move in. [Insider tip: bake some cookies and leave a plate for the home buyers to enjoy.

Do It Yourself
Concocting your own freshener can be as simple as taking a couple of items from the kitchen and tossing them in a pot. Citrus scents like lemon have been known to provide a simple aroma without being too distracting. For a DIY citrus freshener, simply slice a few lemons, mix them with some herbs or a stick of cinnamon on the stove and let the mixture simmer while you show people around.

Clean and refreshing
The air isn’t the only place you’ll find odors. While sometimes overlooked, clearing the floor of any odors it may have collected is necessary and a good deep cleaning creates a fresh scent all on its own. If your listing has carpet then take some baking soda and rub it into the floor. After allowing it to sit for several hours, vacuum it up. Voila! Your carpet will look and smell new again! After cleaning the floors, the baking soda can be placed in the fridge or pantry for some extra freshening up – like killing two birds with one box of soda.

Fresh air
Not only do plants act as air purifiers and easy decorations, they also add natural smells to the atmosphere. A few plants known to be fragrant are eucalyptus, orchids and geraniums. You can purchase a couple of pleasant-smelling plants, like these eucalyptus branches from Williams-Sonoma, and place them in the doorway, kitchen or living room to add some green while creating fresh, naturally fragrant air.

Bring the outside in
For the upcoming fall and winter seasons, try using a pine scent for your listings. Pine is a popular scent that will transport the potential buyers to a warm and cozy environment like a cabin beside a lake. A good way to bring that natural pine tree scent into a room without being too conspicuous is by using a car freshener. Place a clip-on car freshener onto the air vents and the scent will flow through the house without potential buyers realizing where it’s coming from.

Diffuse the situation
If you want to create a relaxing environment before a showing, nothing is more calming than the smell of lavender. Consider using essential oils, which come in many scents and serve a purpose like de-stressing, helping with sleep or getting rid of headaches. Incorporating essential oils into a showing is easy! Get yourself a diffuser, like the one found here from Bed Bath & Beyond, and some essential oils like lavender, chamomile or frankincense and the potential buyers will feel relaxed and at home in no time.


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10 Tips to Improve a Home’s Curbside Appeal

We have all been told not to judge a book by it’s cover, but often we just can’t help it. This is especially true for home buyers. A large majority of real estate agents report instances where clients have declined to look at the interior of homes based on the outside appearance. Deals can be stopped in their tracks based simply on curbside appeal.

But don’t take our word for it. Better Homes and Gardens suggests based on numerous real estate studies that landscaping can add between a 5% to 15% increase to a home’s value on average, so if you want to impress your next listing client then be sure to spend time looking into curbside appeal.

Luckily for you, we have ten tips that will ensure your client will make the best first impression possible.

Fresh coat of paint
A fresh coat of paint on your client’s home exterior can go a long way. Nothing says neglect like peeling and faded paint. Even on an old house, a fresh coat of paint makes a house look clean and cared for. When it comes to choosing a paint color, advise your client to not go crazy. Try to match the color previously used or use something relatively neutral to appeal to a larger audience. Want a bright color? Consider adding accent colors to shutters or the front door to add the desired pop and pizazz. Time to grab a brush and bucket of paint!

Get growing’
Landscaping can add tremendous value to your home. It is crucial, however, to cover the basics like making sure the client’s lawn is mowed and gardens are weeded. After all, a well-kept lawn is a sign of a well-kept house. Simple landscaping tricks can go a long way, as well. Adding dark mulch in gardens and around trees gives a house a richer look. Adding window boxes with bright flowers makes a house look instantly charming. Got client with zero time or talent for planting gardens. Suggest putting potted plants in the yard and along the front stoop to create a temporary garden that will still appeal to buyers.

Drive in style
We drive onto our driveways so often that we tend to forget what they look like. If your client’s driveway is cracked or streaky, fix it up. Have them fill cracks in and get the pressure washer out to get rid of old stains and dirt. If your client wants to go the extra mile, line the driveway with rows of tulips or other bright flowers. If they need a driveway makeover, think of filling the driveway in with stone or colored concrete. It might just give the house an extra edge on the competition.

Let the light in
A very simple way to increase a home’s curbside appeal is to spruce up the windows. Have your client grab a towel and some Windex, then wipe the grime off the windows. The sun reflecting off freshly cleaned windows makes a house look squeaky clean. Opening the curtains also makes a house look more inviting from the outside. Closed curtains can be off-putting, especially if the curtain colors do not match.

Make it right
Over time and with natural wear and tear, things start to lean. Your client’s mailbox might have started off straight but now looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa; a couple of shutters might be coming off their hinge and looking a little worse for the wear. Tell your client these little ‘eccentricities’ add up and could negatively impact the home’s value. You are their objective set of eyes so what you see and point out could add back thousands to the home’s selling price.

Let there be light
The brighter the better. Adding light fixtures to your client’s home can give it a warm glow that outshines other houses on the market. For example, adding two lights beside the front door draws attention to the front of the house and gives it a more luxurious look. At night, lighting is especially important. On a dark block, a house with lights lining the driveway or sconces next to the door will draw the attention of viewers. Not to mention, a well lit house is always safer.

Gutters are a pain to clean but even more of a pain to look at if they are in disrepair. Dirty or rusty gutters can make a perfectly nice house look horrible. In a perfect world, gutters should be something a buyer never notices on a house, unless he is specifically looking for them. If your client’s gutters are rusty or falling apart, consider having them replaced. Often, however, a coat of paint will do the trick.

Porch party
If your client has a patio or a porch, make sure that the furniture is an asset as opposed to an eye sore. An old, rotted swing can draw negative attention to an otherwise appealing front yard. You want buyers to be able to envision themselves enjoying an early morning on a comfy outdoor chair, not falling through a rotted swing. Attractive outdoor furniture can create relaxing, welcoming vibes from the moment a buyer looks at a house.

Tidy up the roof
Real estate professionals know the importance of keeping a roof in good condition. When a buyer sees a house with missing shingles and a shoddy roof, they see a house that needs a lot of work. Often, fixing a few shingles and making sure a client’s roof is in good condition can create a better first impression for buyers and appraisers.

Life happens, and sometimes things get left around the side and front of the house. Bikes, toys and baseball gloves get left in the front yard. Tennis shoes sit on the porch for weeks. A hose is left snaking through the yard and driveway, leaving an imprint on the grass to boot. That tattered greeting mat never made its’ way to the trash. Another easy way to increase your client’s curbside appeal is to just clean up! It’s easy to get caught up making the inside of the house look perfect and maybe working to plant a new bed of flowers or put a fresh coat of paint on the house. But don’t let your client forget the simple things — like take that skateboard into the shed!