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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!

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5 Trees That’ll Withstand the Worst Storms and Still Look Great

More curb appeal, less hassle. That’s what these trees offer.

Don’t spend your time during a storm side-eyeing the towering elm beside your driveway, worried it might fall.

These five arborist-approved trees stand sturdy through the strongest winds and drenching rains — and give your curb appeal extra oomph.

Tulip Tree

George Washington loved these towering trees (pictured above) and their (surprise!) tulip-shaped petals: The babies he planted at Mount Vernon are now 140 feet tall.

Although skinny, tulip trees are surprisingly strong, with a narrow profile and strong wood structure that resists powerful winds.

Thin leaves with slender petioles — the stalks joining leaf and stem — provide an added bad-weather bonus: Wind slides right on by, says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist at the Tree Care Industry Association. “They just flutter.”

But keep your tulip trees svelte. “The bigger it gets, the more likely it could fail in a higher wind,” says Andersen.

Bald Cypress

This stately conifer was born to survive serious flooding: it thrives in the Louisiana bayous (it’s also the state tree).”They have an amazing tapered trunk that’s exceptionally thick at the base,” and an extensive root system to match, says Woody Nelson, vice president of marketing and communications at the Arbor Day Foundation. “They’re super tolerant.”

But you don’t need waterlogged land to please a bald cypress. Hardy through zone 4, these trees will happily serve as your backyard centerpiece even when it’s dry.

Eastern Redbud

Beastly trees are best at surviving storms, but a yard filled only with tall trees is a dull yard indeed. Give your property a rosy hue with this small, decorative tree, whose pink buds attract butterflies and songbirds. (Coincidentally, another George Washington fave.) This small, sturdy option can fit into any yard, no matter how tiny. “We have members who will ask for 10 at a time,” says Nelson. “There’s always room.”

No tiny tree can withstand hurricane-force winds all by its lonesome, but the Eastern redbud is the best of the little guys. With a few taller trees to absorb the worst of the wind, your redbud will stand sturdy all storm season, says Andersen.

River Birch

Like the bald cypress, the river birch loves water — but it will survive just fine if your yard is clay, loamy, well-drained, soaking wet or anything in between. Unlike other birches, this variety resists pesky borers, keeping trunk and branches sturdy.

But the river birch isn’t simply flood-tolerant. Strong winds won’t topple this 70-foot beast. “It has a real dainty limb structure that bends, not breaks,” says Nelson. Just keep the limbs trimmed, otherwise its gargantuan size may become a drawback.

Oak Trees

“A slower-growing tree is a stronger tree,” says Andersen. “When wind blows on a small tree and the tree bends, it creates additional structures on the inside of the tree.”

No matter your style or yard needs, you’ll find an oak that suits. Live oaks feature curvaceous exposed branches, and the overcup oak is a gorgeous puff of green. As a rule, oaks tend to be slow-growing — a huge boon to storm-prone homeowners.

The result? Strong, supportive branches able to withstand serious storms. And with most oak trees topping out at around 60 feet, “the tree itself is not a giant sail,” Andersen says. To ensure sturdy oaks, buy small, not large. “If you’re transplanting a larger tree where the majority of the roots have been severed, it’s more susceptible to failure,” she says.

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A Guide to a Mediterranean-Style Kitchen

Whether you’re tackling a kitchen remodel with the help of a kitchen designer, architect or contractor, being able to pin down your favorite style will help get your project off to a smooth start. If you love a casually elegant, earthy look inspired by the sun and sea, Mediterranean style might be right for you. Read on for the need-to-know details about this popular kitchen style, including key elements, color palettes, fixtures and finishing touches.

Mediterranean-Style Kitchens at a Glance

Mediterranean-style kitchens are warm and welcoming, with an emphasis on natural materials such as wood, brick and stone. While traditionally Mediterranean kitchens have featured warm hues and heavy wrought iron details, today’s iterations often take a lighter approach, with plenty of white space to offset the rich tilework and natural wood. Here are some common elements to look for:

Whitewashed walls
Tile floors and back splashes
Natural stone counter-tops and details
Rough-hewn wood beams
Richly ornamented details such as patterned tile and carved wood

What You Won’t Find in Mediterranean Kitchens

While Mediterranean-style kitchens can incorporate contemporary touches, the focus is on classics that have stood the test of time. Here’s what you won’t see:

  • An abundance of modern, mass-produced materials
  • The latest trends
  • Highly polished finishes such as chrome
  • Delicate furnishings and decor
  • Bright or pastel color palettes

Earthy Color Palette

Rich hues inspired by the warm earth and sparkling sea look striking in a Mediterranean kitchen, especially against a calming backdrop of white and natural wood.

Colors for Mediterranean kitchens:
Neutral backdrop. Alabaster, parchment, straw, stone
Warm and earthy. Clay, cinnamon, chili pepper, flax, umber, bougainvillea, terracotta
Oceanic. Azure, cerulean, cobalt, turquoise, moss, sea green

Dark Wood

Natural wood with a deep, rich hue, such as walnut, looks right at home in a Mediterranean-style kitchen, particularly when paired with warm white for contrast. Incorporate natural wood cabinetry, windows, shelving, range hood details, counter stools — or all of the above.

Materials With Patina

Brick, stone and reclaimed wood bring welcome texture and a sense of history to a Mediterranean-style kitchen. Look for reclaimed-wood beams and furnishings, natural stone counters and rustic brick or stone flooring for an old-world look and feel.

Colorful Tile

Whether used on a floor or a backsplash, colorful tile is a must in Mediterranean kitchens. Look for hand-painted patterned tile, or work with a pro to create a design using solid-colored tiles in geometric shapes.

Design Detail: Statement Lighting

Oversize lanterns, classic candelabra fixtures and pendants can all work well in a Mediterranean kitchen. Look for lighting made from materials with a bit of natural patina, such as wrought iron, hammered metals and reclaimed wood — and for maximum ambiance, be sure to include a dimmer switch.

Design Detail: Arches

Mediterranean-style homes made from stucco or adobe often feature elegantly curving arch details. In the kitchen, consider the addition of an arched breakfast nook, windows and window seats, doorways or wall niches to add architectural interest.

Finishing Touches

Help your Mediterranean kitchen radiate warmth and welcome with the right finishing touches. Look for rugs in rich hues or natural fibers; leather stools; open shelves; and decorative objects in ceramic, wood and warm metals such as brass and copper.

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10 Home Sale Deal wreckers to Avoid

For many, a new year may mean a home purchase or sale. If you’re planning on being on either side of the closing table in 2015, you will need to avoid these 10 deal-wreckers, as provided by
1. Not understanding the length of the process.
Buyers and sellers often err in thinking that the home buying or selling process is shorter than it is. There are a thousand things that can hold things up – sellers can be slow on formally accepting an offer, buyers have trouble selling their old house, financing is held up, repairs need to be made, etc. Make sure to allow two to three extra months to complete the deal.
2. Tipping your hand.
As with any negotiation, not having a good poker face can ruin the deal for you. Try to contain your enthusiasm for a house, as sellers and their agents can try to take advantage of it. Also, don’t let your love for a property cloud your good judgment.
3. Assuming the appraisal and the actual value are one in the same.
Yes, appraisals are meant to be objective estimates of value. Different appraisals can come up with different results. Sellers should have their agent perform a comparative market analysis to get a better idea of their home’s true worth before putting it on the market, while buyers should request a similar service from their agent.
4. Skipping loan pre-approval.
This is a crucial step for buyers, and one that may seriously affect your chances of getting a good home quickly. Obtaining preapproval for a mortgage will give you a better idea of how much you can safely borrow, and will allow you time to correct any problems. It also marks you as a serious buyer, and sellers with a potentially hot property should never settle for anything less than proof of pre-approval.
5. Trying to time the burst of the bubble.
Trying to time a purchase or sale with when the real estate bubble is going to burst is nearly impossible. And, in most parts of the country, the bubble is still intact. In reality, real estate bubbles don’t “pop” anyway: they deflate and then inflate again with market fluctuations. Buyers and sellers should realize that real estate is always a long-term investment.
6. Living outside of reality.
When buying a home, if you only follow your heart, you may be in for some nasty surprises later on. Your dream home may be your dream home, but make sure to consider the big picture, including the commute, area schools, taxes, homeowner association and other quality-of-life-affecting aspects of home ownership. That fantastic house may not be worth the other trouble it creates in your life.
7. Hiring the wrong real estate agent.
This one can really affect the buying or selling process. Always interview several agents, and make sure to obtain references. Don’t only look at large companies or top-producing agents. Also, seriously think before hiring a friend or family member who is an agent. Remember also that an agent who suggests the highest listing price or has the lowest commission is not necessarily the best choice. If you remember the mnemonic SEED – smart, empathetic, experienced and dedicated – you will usually be happy with your agent.
8. Not knowing the contract.
Since the contract is a legally binding document, not knowing what you’re signing can be a very big mistake. Review it carefully before signing, and make sure it contains everything it should, including who is paying for what and any verbal commitments. Make sure your agent takes an active part in the construction and negotiation of the contract. This is one step that can cause you large amounts of time and heartache if done wrong.
9. Timing the transaction incorrectly.
As you may imagine, two mortgages can be extremely difficult to manage. If you are selling your current home and buying another home, keep in mind that the sale of your current home is the most important transaction. If you have a choice, secure the sale of your old home before you sign a contract for the new home.
10. Not doing a criminal search.
Agents in many areas of the U.S. are not obligated to tell buyers if there is a sex offender or other criminal residing in the neighborhood. Ask your agent to provide you with this information, if possible, and also do your
own research. Check with the local sheriff’s office to find out how to access sex offender and other criminal databases.

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Conducting Your Own Home Inspection

Although there is no substitute for a professional home inspector, you can do some preliminary work on any houses you are interested in buying, which may save you time and money in the long run.

The house is perfect. It’s in a great neighborhood, close to work, close to school. It has the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms. It doesn’t have ugly tile or shag carpeting. Before you start salivating too much, take pause and remember these tips for doing a preliminary inspection, as presented in a recent USA Weekend article.

Inspecting The Outside

Stand in the front yard. How does the exterior look? Does the yard and exterior of the house look well-maintained? A messy or shabby exterior does not necessarily indicate serious problems, but it can be a sign that the owners may not be highly dedicated to maintaining their home.

Now look at the house. Does it stand straight and tall? Does the roof make a strong horizontal line? Walk around the house and look closely at the places where the house meets the foundation. Look for any signs of rot or cracking. Any of these things can indicate the need for a lot of structural work. Also look at the driveway and sidewalks. Are they seriously cracked? This may indicate how strongly the house is situated, as well as the volatility of the soil.

Finally, take a look at whether the landscaping, driveway, sidewalks and gutters are pitched away from the house. If not, proper drainage of moisture may not occur and may cause rot or erosion.

Inspecting The InteriorWhen you enter the house, pay attention to the details. Make sure the front door handle is secure and the front door closes with a solid thud. Test all kitchen cabinets, opening and closing each cabinet and drawer. They should all move smoothly and close squarely.

Also make sure to turn on the water in every sink to assess the water pressure. Also take a good look at faucets and other fixtures; they should be in excellent condition. In the bathrooms, touch all tiles in the shower and tub areas to make sure there is no movement. If any tiles move, there may be rot behind them, which could be very costly. Take a look at the grout and caulking and make sure it isn’t cracked or gaping.

When going up or down stairs, make sure that railings and banisters are secure; they shouldn’t wiggle when you grab hold. Open and close all doors to make sure that they move smoothly and close securely. Finally, if the house has a basement, it should not smell mildew or musty.

Taking a critical eye to your dream home might be tough, but you may be grateful you did. You should always get a professional home inspection, but if your preliminary inspection turns up problem after problem, you may not want to go any further!

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Get Your Asking Price

Before You Begin…

…ask yourself, “Will this project enhance my life?” If the answer is yes, then consider these three factors to determine whether the project will enhance your financial situation as well.


Finish any unfinished rooms or convert any convertible rooms, such as the basement or a recreational room. Not only does this give an increased amount of usable space, but it can also be used as a sale point, since these are expenses that the buyer won’t have to incur. Offer a free media room. With deals, you can probably have one installed for around $5,000. Media rooms are something many house shoppers see as a neat luxury, and could be the difference between someone going for your house or someone else’s.


You can make the mortgage on your house more desirable by buying down the interest-rate. This is something fairly easy to offer someone, and it certainly makes it harder for someone to take an offer with someone else where they have to pay a higher interest rate. Rather than offering a cash-specific incentive, you can offer something like a vacation. Again, this makes your offer stand out from other offers. Offer seller financing. This is actually not that difficult to do if you can make the deal work, and can actually end up earning you some money. Talk to your realtor about the possibilities.


Offer to pay their HOA fees for a year. This is a practical buyer benefit. If someone is carefully looking at their budget, then not having to include these fees in their monthly expenses can be a big deal. Offer to pay off some of their debt. If this is done as part of the loan program, then it could lead to the buyer qualifying for a larger loan, or a better interest rate. If just a side agreement, then again, it could mean lower monthly payments, which can be extremely important to the buyer. Finally, you can always offer to pay the closing costs. These tend to be something that is a big hit to buyers’ pocketbooks, and is something people don’t adequately budget for when shopping for a new house.Unfortunately, other than the few aesthetically appealing things people can do to spruce up their house, real incentives tend not to be cheap, but they can mean the difference from having to drop your asking price by quite a few thousand, or actually getting what you want! The key to choosing which incentive to go for is to think about what incentive works best for you, and then think about what kind of audience you are playing to.

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Simple Inexpensive Improvements that Add Big Value

Residential Renovations that Reap Rewards: A Guide to Inexpensive Home Improvements

Whether you are selling or dwelling, home improvement can add a pretty penny to the bottom line or can help you fall back in love with your abode. There are plenty of inexpensive tricks that can provide some incentive to perk up your investment, without a complete overhaul. We have compiled a list of the top 10 boosters to get the beautification process rolling.

1. Modernize the Mess Hall

As the hub of family interaction, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Brighten the cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or some updated hardware. Add a new faucet or light fixtures to rejuvenate the space or change the window coverings for a more modern feel. Buyers are always interested in the kitchen, so try a quick facelift that will turn up the heat on your bottom line.

2. Spa Sparkle

Shine up the bathroom to offer a clean and calming spa-like refuge from the daily hustle. A quick fixture change, a new toilet seat and fresh accessories can be all you need to brighten up the bathroom. The bathroom is second in line to the kitchen to potential buyers, so use a discerning eye. A fresh coat of grout in the shower or maybe even a new pre-fabricated tub can do wonders. Open up the space with a pedestal sink and lay new vinyl sheeting or individual tiles right over your existing floor to inexpensively revive underfoot.

3. Ardent Appliances

Hopefully, the avocado green electric stove is long gone, but if your appliances come in a variety of colors, it may look just as unsavory. Experts agree that a mismatched kitchen may leave a bad taste with buyers. If new appliances aren’t in the budget, look to re-facing. Some appliance doors can just be flipped inside out for the opposite color, so all you need is a screwdriver to update. You can also request new fronts and tops from the manufacturer to create the streamlined look.

4. Room Conversion

If you have an extra playroom or den, consider yourself in line for a windfall. When selling your home, increasing the number of bedrooms can significantly increase your profits. The only difference between a den and bedroom is a closet; so invest in the storehouse to up the ante.

5. Machine Clean

Spruce up neutral carpets with a professional cleaning, brightening the room and clearing any unwanted odors or stains. If your carpet is blemished, try placing area rugs or large furniture over the worn spots. It may seem like you are hiding the problem, but most experts agree that replacing the carpet for a house on the market isn’t worth the investment.

6. Light Up Your Life

Lighting can dramatically affect your mood, so brighten things up! Breezy window coverings allow you to control how much natural lighting you’d like to let in, a strategically placed table lamp or a dramatic chandelier can add character, while making your rooms appear larger and more open.

7. Straighten Out Your Storage

Older homes present the ever-present storage problem. Create space by utilizing closet organizers or wire and laminate shelving in the pantry, closet and garage. Purging some old junk in a yard sale or through donations can remove some clutter, while making the space look bigger.

8. Nuts and Bolts

Potential buyers sometimes take a look under the hood to assess the amount of wear and tear a house has endured. Hiring a professional to check, fix and update electrical wiring and plumbing can confirm to the purchaser that your house is healthy on the inside and out.

9. Opportunity Knocks

Still opening the front door with a flimsy standard-issue knob? Choose a hearty piece of hardware that emphasizes sturdiness, while a bold color that says, “look at me!” Refinish the front door with a bright hue or faux finish a steel door to look like wood for a refreshing first impression.

10. Groundwork

The front yard is the first thing that potential buyers see, so don’t miss out on your chance to pique their interest. Focus on a clean cut, straighten up the lawn edges, freshen the landscaping and add some color spots or striking shrubs for impact.