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Sellers

September
30

If you're looking to maximize your sale and minimize your effort, you need to work with a real estate professional. In a sellers' market like today's, it can be tempting to list your house on your own – known as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). But the truth is, a real estate professional can save you time and money by managing every step of the process, from pricing your home to reviewing documents and handling negotiations.

Before you decide to sell your house on your own, here are five reasons why working with an agent is your best bet to maximize the sale of your home.

1. First impressions are everything – and an agent knows how to make a great one.

Prepping a house for sale requires a significant amount of time and effort, even though it may seem simple at first glance. Doing it right so it stands out takes expertise and an understanding of what buyers are looking for. An agent considers things like:

  • Should you take down any personal art or pictures?
  • How much landscaping should you invest in to boost your house's curb appeal?
  • What wall colors are most appealing to buyers?

An expert real estate advisor relies on their experience to answer these questions and more so you don't invest in the wrong things. Your time and money are important – you shouldn't waste either.

2. Agents have tools to maximize the number of views your home gets.

Put plainly, the more buyers that view your house, the better your return will be. In our current market, homes are receiving 3.8 offers on average per sale, according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). While that's promising for the sale of your home, it's important to understand your agent's role in bringing buyers in.

Agents have multiple tools at their disposal – from social media to agency resources – to ensure your home is viewed by more prospective buyers. Leveraging the tools available to your agent and your agent's expertise may help boost your sale price as well.

3. An agent won't miss anything in the fine print.

Your agent can also save you time by taking any guesswork out of navigating the required documentation. Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory, meaning the number of legal documents you need to juggle is growing.

Because there's so much to take care of, it can be hard to truly understand all of the requirements and the fine print. That's where an expert advisor can truly shine. They've been through the process before and can be your guide to avoid any costly missteps.

4. Expert advisors know the market and how to price your home.

Another way your Badger Realty agent maximizes the sale of your home is by making sure it's priced right. Real estate professionals have the experience and tools to compare your house to recently sold homes in your area. They also understand the market at large and can factor in any upgrades you've completed to your home. Combining these factors is the key to making sure your home is priced to move quickly – and at a competitive price.

When you FSBO, you're operating without this expertise. Even with your own research, you may not find the most up-to-date information and could risk setting a price that's inaccurate or unrealistic. If you price your house too high, you could turn buyers away before they're even in the front door. This could also cause problems when it's time for the appraisal.

5. Your agent will be an expert negotiator.

In addition to their experience navigating sales, real estate professionals understand how to negotiate every aspect of a deal. They also know all the parties that will be involved with the sale, including:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible.
  • The buyer's agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer.
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house.
  • The appraiser, who assesses the property's value to protect the lender.

An agent relies on their experience and training to make the right moves during the negotiation. They'll know what levers to pull, how to address each individual's concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion. Selling your house as a FSBO means you'll need to be prepared to have these conversations on your own.


Bottom Line

Selling a house takes time, effort, and expertise – don't go at it alone. Connect with one of our full-time Badger REALTORS® to make sure you have an expert on your side to make the most of your sale.

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April
25

wheelbarrow for Home improvement I try to target my ramblings towards the Saturday crowd. If we are expecting a snowstorm, I won't bother talking about how nice and sunny it is as I'm writing. In this particular case, you should be enjoying a "warm-enough" spring day after having just endured a pretty lousy week of weather. We are in mud season after all so it was to be expected. Suffice it to say, spring is on the way. Yes, we all know there is the imminent threat of that April snow, but at this point we can handle it.

Every year the spring season brings with it a new "crop" of homes for sale and this year (we're hoping) will be no different. The agents and brokers love to see the new inventory so they can better service their buyers and the buyers benefit from the new bounty of choices they have. The trick, from the seller's side, is to make your home stand out above the rest and make that solid first impression. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

One of the more commonly overlooked areas of the home are the light fixtures both inside and out. There are usually a bevy of little critters that have made your overhead light or porch lamp their home for the season. While you are up there and have them apart, take the extra minute to use some glass cleaner and make them shine. Let's be honest, you're not going to do this again next year and if you sell the home, you'll never have to do this again!

Staying on the outside of the house, make sure your mailbox and front door (and garage door for that matter) are clean and well painted. This is a great time to touch-up those trouble spots or just repaint the whole surface. This is one of those great DIY projects that offer a great ROI for very little effort. Also, take a peek at your house numbers. The brain surgeons that painted my house last summer re-nailed my numbers upside down. I became "19" instead of "16". Make sure your numbers are easily seen from the street and in good condition. We don't want to make the pizza guy guess!

"I always remind my sellers about the importance of that first impression," says Badger Peabody & Smith Realty (formerly Badger Realty) agent, Stacie Goodrich. "The garage door, front door and other street-facing walls literally are the first thing a buyer sees. Why wouldn't you want that area to be perfect?," she continued.

Get the porch, driveway and patio free from "debris" as well. Sweep up the leaves from last fall and any big piles of dirt left over from the sand truck. Although not the most environmentally friendly thing to do, hosing down the driveway will create a neat, clean look as well. (My dad loves this project!) Our driveway, growing up, was always spotless. Be careful with attacking your lawn too early with a rake though. Although this is a great way to "clean-up" the yard and improve the looks of the house, you can damage your lawn by raking too early in the season. Check with your favorite garden center in the valley to see if it is safe.

If you are feeling adventurous, grab the ladder and make sure there are no damaged shingles up on the roof. This is also a great time to clean out those gutters and make any repairs or re-connections to ensure everything is flowing correctly. Who knows, you might even find that lost frisbee from last summer.

Since we're focusing on projects outside of the house, this is a great time to spend some time in the garage. If you are like me, you simply park the truck and head into the house all winter long. The sand, salt and slush just falls on the floor and creates a heck of a mess throughout the winter. Take this opportunity to sweep, clean, hose-out, or whatever is necessary to get the garage looking sharp. If the weather is nice enough, you can even spend an hour or so organizing and sorting.

Shovels, sleds, snow blowers and other winter items can be put up over-head or stored back in the shed. If your grill is in storage, this is a great time to get this out and make it more accessible. Patio furniture and even items for your pool are good candidates to be taken out of storage now as well. This not only gives the outside of the home a more friendly and welcoming appearance, but it makes the shed and garage much more roomy and clean looking.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a huge fan of spring cleaning. I use this time to cull out any clothes I haven't worn and any appliances or other items around the house that simply do not get used. It is a great time of cleansing and a great opportunity to make your house shine when it first hits the market. We're excited about the ongoing strengthening of the real estate market in the Mount Washington Valley and are looking forward to a busy season. Enjoy your weekend, and get to work!

March
7

I think it's in the Bible where it says children should be seen and not heard. Today I'm going to extend that advice to those of you currently (or about to be) selling your home. The reality is that most of us are not trained salespeople. We don't have the years of experience and smooth savvy of "Big Tom Callahan". We have encouraged sellers in the past to allow their real estate professionals to handle the showings and the subsequent questions. I'd like to share a few items today that might help keep you out of trouble if your agent is not around and you're stuck talking with those potential buyers.

First and foremost I would never encourage anyone to be dishonest. There are certain things that you are required by law to disclose about your home and there are other things that you may just feel more comfortable telling those potential buyers so your conscience is clear. I support both of those fully and any real estate agent worth their salt is going to support you on them as well. Hiding something or risking the deal falling through due to a hidden (required) disclosure is not going to do anything for anybody. So be honest.

Moving on from that high horse, let's talk about some phrases from which you should steer clear. The first is "our home is in perfect condition". Let's be honest, even if you just nailed the last nail on the last piece of trim in your brand new house, it already has imperfections. "Every house has items that can be adjusted, repaired or simply improved on," notes Badger Peabody & Smith Realty (formerly Badger Realty) agent, Peter Pietz. "Don't risk foot-in-mouth disease with this phrase because someone will most certainly find the flaw," he continued. Just focus on material facts about the home and maybe its history. Stick to our old friend Joe Friday's quote: "Just the facts ma'am" (although I just learned he never actually said that. - look it up!).

It's been on the market for x days/weeks/months is another phrase you'll want to stay away from. This is actually information that is publicly available so you don't need to feel obligated to blab it. This is especially true if you've been sitting on the house for a few months now (not very likely in this market!). A home being on the market tells the buyers two things. It is potentially a white elephant and there's something wrong with it and/or they will get a smokin' deal and can throw you a low-ball offer. This is another reason it is always (always!) the best option to not be at the home during showings. You can't say the wrong thing if you're not there.

I don't care if you slap on a brand new roof every 6 months. Don't say that you have never had a problem with a leaky roof. The trick here is to not talk about things that have never happened. We have never had funky neighbors. We have never had an issue with pests, flooded basements or racoons in the attic. Any statement like this is just begging to come back and bite you in the bum. I don't know the legal ramifications of lying about things that are actually wrong with the house. I just know if you say the basement never flooded and the day after closing there's 3 feet of water down there, you're going to wish you had kept your mouth closed.

The buyers don't need to know (read: don't care at all) about the grand plans you had for renovating x, y, or z. As soon as you start pontificating about knocking that wall down to make more room or adding a window over there to get more light, you're causing trouble. Not only are you boring the buyers (note up above where we learned they don't care about your plans!), but you are also highlighting areas that need improvement. You are basically highlighting the areas of the home that you like the least and are showing the buyers how much work they will have to do to make the house "right".

Lastly for today, if you actually DID do some fancy renovations, the buyers don't care how much you spent. Bragging (or lamenting) about the cost of the hardwood floors or the appliances simply shows desperation on your part. It signals to the buyers that you are working really hard to justify the price you have set. At the end of the day the buyers are only going to offer what they feel the home is worth to them. This is one of the primary reasons we always encourage homeowners to clearly evaluate the remodeling project they are undertaking. If you are doing it for yourself, go nuts and let that freak flag fly! If you are intending to sell, make all of your decisions based on that generic potential buyer.

As I wrote each one of the paragraphs above, I kept hearing in my head "Sellers should never be home during a showing". I stand by that statement as I sit at the end of the article. Real estate professionals are trained and experienced in handling the sales process. Equally important is the fact that you are paying them to provide this service for you. Go for a hike or get some errands done, but don't be there. Let them do their awesome work and chances are very good that your home will sell faster without you being involved. Happy hiking!

February
23

Honestly, I do feel bad for the folks who are dangerously cold, without power or water or generally unable to handle frigid temperatures. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But for the rest of the Texans (and others below the Mason Dixon) I can't help but chuckle to hear their stories of horror and dismay that the temperature dropped below 80 degrees! For those of us born and bred in the northeast, we know a thing or two about cold.

My coldest day on ski patrol at Loon Mountain was 28 degrees below zero. We didn't take too many runs that day, but we completed our sweeps and even helped a few injured folks off the slopes. I actually rode the gondola with a guy who paid for a full-priced ticket! It turned out he was on vacation and was determined to ski regardless of the weather. I was proud of him.

The cold snap in Texas made me think of all the "green" they enjoy for most of the year down there. When my parents migrated to Florida, they waved goodbye to any notion of a white Christmas. But what about those of us who enjoy all 4 seasons? What are we to do when we're trying to sell a house, but want to maintain awesome curb-appeal any time of the year. Today we'll take a gander at a few tips you can use to keep your yard hopping regardless of the season. Let's roll.

While I'm not a huge fan of wasting water, a good power wash is a wonderful thing. We got one about a year ago and it is amazing what you can clean (or ruin!). Caked on mud comes right off the mountain bikes as easy as pie. It also helped when I re-stained the deck. But for the curb appeal side of things, consider your driveway. Leaves and branches are a great source of stain on your concrete driveway. You don't have to make it shiny-new, but taking a layer of grime and pine tar off will do wonders for the general appearance of your home. Power washers are also amazing at cleaning up walkways and retaining-wall blocks. I assure you, once you get that thing in your hands, you'll find loads of things to clean. Maybe just keep it away from the kids and pets!

Vegetation is a bit of a challenge in the northeast. That said, we have our fair share of evergreens that can keep your yard looking healthy and happy. Although I've never done this, I always wanted to plant bulbs in the fall so I could enjoy them in the spring. This is a great way to have your yard do the work for you. Otherwise, invest in plants, shrubs and trees that will provide an array of beauty options. Trees that explode with colors in the fall are amazing for pictures and general cozy feelings (Is that just me?). And never stick with just one option. The most attractive yards always incorporate multiple types of plants and vegetation.

I know I've lauded the benefits of hardscaping before, but it bears repeating when it comes to year-round curb appeal. Cobblestone, pavers, mulch, river stone, boulders and loads of other options can keep your yard looking awesome without the maintenance. Of course none of that matters if it's all under a blanket of snow. But when it melts, your investment will shine through and look amazing. This sort of yard decoration eliminates water waste (that you just made up for with your power washing), maintenance and stress. Talk to a landscape architect (or general smarty-pants) today and see what options are available for varying budget sizes.

Growing up we had a 25 foot high hill on one side of our front lawn. As a teenager, I hated this hill because it was a pain in the neck to mow. Though it was fun to sled and ski on in the winter though. If you have a "trouble-spot" like this on your property, consider converting it to a more usable space. You could build in a terraced garden on that slope and eliminate your need to keep mowing uphill. If you have a low spot that always floods in the spring, consider a rock garden or at least fix the drainage. "Whenever you try to sell your home, you don't want to have to think about the potential buyers coming by on an "off" day," notes Badger Peabody & Smith Realty (formerly Badger Realty) agent, Diane McGregor. "Get these spots remedied before you list your home. You'll be glad you did" she continued.

We didn't really touch on the house itself today, but suffice it to say you will need to give the outside a once-over before that first showing. It IS possible to do some touch-up sanding and painting in the winter. Just pick a warm afternoon and go after those peeling spots on the window sills. Cleaning your windows is always an option and always a great idea. Removing dead branches and other shrapnel from previous storms will show the buyers that you care for your home and aren't just huddled in the basement next to the woodstove all winter.

Freezing temperatures and power outages are no joke. I lost power in my new house the month I moved in and my only heat source was my Rinnai heater. I woke up with my cat under the covers and an inside temperature of 46 degrees. I'm young, healthy and got dressed quickly and went to work! Others are not so fortunate. Help out if you can and stay warm and safe yourself! It's a wild world out there.

October
26

My friends in Colorado just got a healthy foot of snow (even in town!) so the idea of moving right now is not the least bit attractive. The last couple times I have moved, we have been super fortunate with decent weather and relatively easy access to the house/garage. A couple "moves" ago, we hired a company to do the moving and I can't express enough how magical that whole experience was. Simply filling our car with some "breakables" and waiting for the truck to arrive at the new house was sublime. Let's take a look at some of the things you should keep in mind when planning (or executing) your move.

Since we're currently living in "crazy time", I recommend you check with the building or neighborhood where you are moving to. Some of these HOAs and condo associations have silly (IMHO) rules about which days you can move. On the more serious side, some of them are also not allowing moves as the virus numbers keep growing and "shelter-in-place" orders are being reinstated. Just call ahead and confirm your plans. It would be simply awful to have all of your stuff in a truck, just sitting in the driveway until the next day because you failed to plan ahead.

It should go without saying you should research the moving company. Get references. Actually CALL those references. And maybe even pick their brains a bit about how they have upped their game during the pandemic. Are they implementing sanitizing tactics? Are they doing internal testing of staff? Will they be wearing masks and gloves? In reality, moving someone's home is a tough job. Combine that with wearing gloves, mask, whatever other precautions are required and you have a simply awful job. I guess I only say that to encourage you to have some (lots of) compassion for these folks. They are most certainly earning their paycheck these days.

My favorite part about moving (and spring cleaning) is the decluttering. This is probably the best time you will ever have to cull out the "fat" and rid yourself of loads of stuff you simply don't need. If you're going "big" and getting rid of larger items (bureaus, beds, furniture) I encourage you to call the donation place ahead of time (assuming you're not selling this stuff). Sometimes they have certain days for larger items and, once again, you don't want to be stuck with a couch in the back of your truck overnight. Aside from those items, they'll be happy to take your stuff most anytime.

While not directly related to the "move" itself, call ahead and get yourself setup with utilities and Internet service. "It's always a good idea to start the cable/utilities process early when moving to a new home," notes Badger Peabody & Smith Realty (formerly Badger Realty) agent, Tara Peirce. "Getting the ball rolling early is a great way to remove one more item from your long list of to-do's during and after the move," she continued. Tara is right. We all know those services can be backlogged for weeks on end. Most of us are on cell phones now, so communication is not the issue. Getting the Internet, gas, and electricity all sorted out can be more time consuming. Get started early.

If you are able, pack your stuff yourself. There's obviously some concern about the virus "lasting" on cardboard and plastic surfaces for up to 3 days. Pack your items yourself and sanitize the boxes when you're done. That way you know they were clean when they were packed. A quick sanitization at the new house and you're off and running. Some have warned against using plastic bins since the virus can linger longer there. Use your best judgement with this one. Those plastic bins are a life-saver for me so I'm not sure I could do without them.

While we are talking about sanitization, be sure and get to the new home a couple hours before all of your items show up. Commit to a deep and thorough cleanse of the house so you are starting from a good place when all of the stuff arrives. We all know as soon as that couch is placed, we won't see the floor underneath it until the dust bunnies start to mate. Start fresh and once all of your "life" is placed and put away, you don't have to think about trying to clean. Trust me. You'll be ready to simply sit on that couch and start streaming your favorite show. (Aren't you glad you got the Internet hooked up early!?)

Lastly, try to involve as few people as possible in this process. The number one way this virus is spreading is through small groups of people meeting indoors. It is going to be more work for sure, but at least you can rest easy knowing the people who are helping you are healthy. For those of us who don't own much furniture at all, this process is actually better with no one else around. You can take your time and test out different placements for your stuff and you only have to buy pizza and beer for one!

Moving can be a stressful time and is, without question, a ton of work. With a little planning and a lot of grunt work, you can be in your new home and comfy within a few hours. Happy migration.

October
17

I went to a new breakfast place last week and ended up leaving before I even ordered my food. While a bummer, (I was starving!) it was another lesson in the importance of first impressions. They failed on so many levels I won't detail them all here. The primary issue was, it just didn't "feel" like a place I wanted to eat. After telling my story to a few friends, I was quickly assured I had made the right decision. Today we're going to talk about that "first impression" when you are selling your home. Let's dig into your curb appeal, shall we?

We're in that time of year when curb appeal is at its easiest. You have countless options with pumpkins, corn stalks, halloween decorations and a myriad of other fall accoutrements. At our house, we have a 10 foot tall scary, inflatable "tree" holding a jack-o-lantern on the front lawn. This weekend we'll add some "cobwebs" around the bushes and these stupid, electronic rocks that howl and laugh at you when you walk by (My roommate is a halloween nut!). But that's really not what is going to help you sell your home.

That first impression is going to be key. "I encourage all of my sellers to physically get in the car and circle the block. Then approach their home with the most critical 'fresh' eyes they can muster," notes Badger Peabody & Smith Realty (formerly Badger Realty) agent, Eileen Difeo. "The goal is to scrutinize as much as possible. Look for peeling paint, dead grass, dirty windows, etc. Anything that will detract from the beauty of your home," she continued.

Eileen is right. If you can find a "flaw", there's no doubt those potential sellers will find it as well. Touch up the paint on the gate, fence, windows and doors. The simplest path here is to find those old paint cans in the basement and simply match what is already there. Remember, we're simply talking about that first impression. Nobody is going to walk around the house closely inspecting every inch of the exterior window finish. Your goal is to simply eliminate the glaring issues. We're not being deceitful here, we are simply touching things up.

Trim your bushes and shrubs while you are at it. A quick walk around the home and up the walkway will "tell" you what needs to be done. If anything touches you while you are on the walkway - clip, clip, clip away! You could even go as far as to add some greenery if you currently have none. Some fall plants (I'm told chrysanthemums, flowering kale and celosia are all great options) can really spruce up the front of your home. We're approaching the season of no "green" at all, so take advantage of this time now.

As you all know by now, I don't "do" clutter. This goes for the front walkway as well. Be sure it is well swept and free of debris. This goes for leaves as well, especially during a showing. We struggle with weeds in our driveway here (It's large concrete slabs so the weeds creep up between them.) and if that is your plight with your walkway, try and handle that as well. I certainly don't encourage toxic chemicals for this task, but there's some creative, safe ways to handle them. Just ask someone smarter than me!

The front door of your home is another important consideration that, honestly, never really crossed my mind. I honestly don't think I have ever lived in a house where we actually used the "front" door. That said, just be sure all the doors of the home are in tip-top condition. It's a super easy task to paint any or all of them for sure. You could even replace the hardware if yours are tattered and tired. This is also a fun time to change the color of that door. Assuming it matches the rest of the trim and you're not creating a fun house, add a little life to your front face.

Since it is about to start getting dark around noon, lighting is going to become very important for your home's appearance. My primary suggestion is to ensure that the walkway is well lit. Make sure none of your lights are "out" and add additional lighting if you have any questions about what is in place. You can pretend it is halloween night and you don't want any kids tripping and falling on your property (Unless, of course, they spill their candy! Then it's perfect.). This not only makes things safe for you and your guests, it will look amazing after dark as well. For those late-night drivers-by, you'll be glad you made the extra effort.

Cleaning up your curb appeal is a critical first step when selling your home. Your agent is going to bug you to take care of it anyway so beat 'em to the punch and handle it this weekend. It will be one less thing to worry about on your selling journey and it will make a big difference in your home's appeal.

October
4

So you've decided to sell! Excellent choice. For all the reasons we've been talking about over the last couple weeks, it seems to me that this really is a great time to put your home on the market. We have talked about what upgrades you could do to attract potential buyers as well as how best to show your home through static pictures as well as virtual tours. You've got this! Today, I'd like to focus on the ever-present cloud of unrest that appears to be lingering over our heads since the new year. What are the steps we can take to sell our home during a pandemic? Honestly, there are some great ways to "tweak" your home and get it sold! Let's dive in.

This first one is going to make a ton more sense in about 8 months. That is to upgrade or at least tidy up your outdoor space. As most of the top half of our country is already feeling fall creeping in, outdoor space is not going to be all that important in a few weeks. That said, this pandemic has forced most of us to spend a ton more time at home and thus we all need a bit of respite from the inevitable cabin fever. You don't have to rush out and throw a hot tub in your backyard (although, I can tell you they are amazing after a day on the slopes!) but small changes can make a big impression on buyers.

For those of us up north, adding an in-ground fire pit and even one or two of those gas heaters can change the personality of your backyard overnight. The propane heaters are a very hot item right now, so you may want to start looking. Restaurants are gobbling them up faster than stores can keep them in stock. In keeping with that warmer tone, add a couple area rugs to your outdoor space as well. It makes it more comfortable overall and you can keep your cozy slippers on! Anything you can do to make that space warmer and more welcoming during those chilly evenings is going to help.

The next area we have covered pretty extensively over the last few weeks. That doesn't diminish the importance of this area at all. You really do need to have a dedicated space for work and school. "I strongly recommend sellers stage at least one room as a work space for office or school," notes Badger Peabody & Smith Realty (formerly Badger Realty) agent, Peter Pietz. "Nearly everyone we talk to these days puts that at the top of their 'needs' list when looking for a home," he continued.

And being able to close off that space is equally important. If your home doesn't have the actual space for multiple work spots, consider room dividers as an alternative. These can be quickly taken down if you need the full room, but create a spot where one person can be gabbing on the phone with clients while the other is learning algebra (gag!). Just having the potential for multiple work locations is important to buyers. Look around your home and see where you can create these spots.

Every morning, for the last 10+ years, I spend 10-15 minutes doing some yoga and stretching. I honestly don't know how anyone over 40 can make it through their day without stretching! I'm fortunate that I don't need much space for this. It's literally just my mat and me. For today's buyers, it might make sense for you to highlight the potential of a room for workouts. Simply adding a couple workout mats, some free weights and some sort of cardio trainer (bike or treadmill) is enough. You don't need to pick up the phone and order that "all-in-one" gym you saw on late-night TV. Just make the space available for a workout with some basic equipment. This is also a perfect room to make dual-purpose with an office and a gym!

If you are fortunate enough to have some sort of in-law suite, first of all, I'm jealous. I have looked for homes with this feature before and they are a smidge out of my price range. That said, if you DO have this space, now is the time to spruce it up and highlight it. Not only are people much more likely to invite guests over if they have external (or at least separate) space, lots of people are out of work and are looking for additional sources of income. The in-law suite is the perfect solution for both. Whatever you can do to make this space fully self-sufficient will make a huge difference. A kitchenette, a bathroom, and even a small laundry unit will help your guests feel more welcome and comfortable.

It does not appear that we're going to be "back to normal" anytime soon. If you are thinking of selling, give your real estate professional a call and start looking around your home for areas that could be improved and highlighted for today's buyers. You'll be glad you did!

September
27

As I'm writing this, I'm doing laundry and thinking about all the cleaning and unpacking I've still left to do. A week-long adventure in Moab, Utah left us with lots of red-dirt/dust covered..., well, everything! 4 days of camping and a full-ride of just over 80 miles. The time in the desert gave me lots of time to contemplate work, life, my bed and hot showers. Yes, after that much time in the heat and dust, a hot (or even cold!) shower becomes the thing of dreams. I also came to appreciate, even more, my ability to work from home.

The home office has obviously become a hot topic over the last 9 months. Today I want to offer some encouragement to those sellers who are currently thinking of ways to make their home stand out. With a "normal" budget like most of us have, there's only so much you can do to your home to accommodate buyers' specific needs. Let's take a closer look at how best to satisfy that work-from-home buyer.

First of all, the need is real. Realtor.com® did a survey this summer and found that listings with a home office were able to get a 3.4% price premium and sold 9 days faster than those without. It turns out, for most of us working from home, the kitchen table is simply not going to cut it. So if you are selling and already have a dedicated office space, let it shine! Be sure to promote it in your listing information and photos and find a way to highlight it with your agent. If you don't have a dedicated home-office, keep reading.

One thing to keep in mind as you start strategizing about how best to sell your home and highlight specific features is that bedrooms still outweigh a home office. Don't simply start chucking beds out the window and running to Ikea to (try and) build a new desk. If you pigeon-hole a room into ONLY being an office space, you run the risk of turning off a chunk of potential buyers. Instead, focus on making rooms dual-purpose. You can certainly incorporate a desk and work space, but replace the bed with a sleeper sofa. In much the same way that we talk about painting walls in plain, white tones to keep the home more generic, ensuring a room can be seen as both a guest room and office is a much better strategy.

Another concept is to make the most of your closet space. Guests will certainly want to have space for their clothes and luggage so don't jam all of your office supplies in that spot. Make sure closets and drawers are available for guests, but make use of the office/desk area for the rest of your work stuff. This is also a great area to incorporate those under-bed storage bins. They stow away perfectly. They hold lots of stuff because they are so long. And they can be used for both the office equipment and the guests belongings.

Another strategy that we are seeing gain more popularity is setting up an office under a stairway or having it inset into a wall. The idea here is to take advantage of any space you can without having to compromise the number of available bedrooms. The "Harry Potter" spot is one of my favorites. The space is typically a complete waste. All it has to fit is the desk since the chair can "extend" into the room. And a simple door allows you to close off the space (and the mess) when it is not in use. It is also often a "tall" space since it follows the stairs up so don't hesitate to build shelves or cubbies in that upper part of the wall.

When incorporating those more creative locations, don't skimp on lighting. If you are building this out yourself (or having it done) chances are you will have exposed studs and access to power. Make sure that spot has plenty of light built in so if the user is not on a computer, they are able to see what they are working on. This is especially important for younger "workers" as many of them are now "schooling" from home. My favorite part of this spot is the ability to close the door and hide the inevitable mess that will be in there.

Lastly, give the office space some flair. "Adding pops of color, plants, flowers and other warm or fun features gives the office some personality and allows that area of the home to shine," notes Badger Peabody & Smith Realty (formerly Badger Realty) agent, Edward O'Halloran. "If we're going to have to work from home and spend significant time in that space, it should at least be welcoming and enjoyable to be there," he continued. Edward is right. And showing off the whimsical side of that home office is sure to attract the attention of buyers.

Adding a home office or office "space" to your home has become an almost necessary part of living in these times. If you are going to be selling your home, you really need to highlight that feature to attract a larger audience of potential buyers. Don't cut your nose off to spite your face and sacrifice bedrooms entirely, but give the idea some serious consideration and see what creative solutions you can come up with. Happy remodeling!

September
22

I'm a huge fan of change. You've heard me drone on and on about decluttering your home. One of my motivators for that process is the inevitable change that happens as you start to clean things up. Your spaces become more open. You have less junk lying around collecting dust. And you generally feel better. The other reason I love change is it livens things up. I enjoy rearranging furniture, painting a room or just moving things around the house (so your roommate stubs his toe while walking back to the kitchen!). It's fun, amusing and keeps things exciting. Let's take a look at some other ways you can keep things fresh in your home and continue loving where you live!

So, the furniture one is still my favorite. We move chairs around our TV room all the time, just to see how it "feels". You can change up an entire room by just getting creative with placement. The best part about this project is it is free. You can also keep trying new combinations to see what works. Whatever you do, don't listen to anyone who tells you the "right" way to set up your room. Try a bunch of new layouts and stick with your favorite. You might realize you don't need some of the items in the room or you may find a new excuse to hop in the car and go shopping!

Level up your TV room. It's cute when people say they don't watch TV or own a TV. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life. Go find some new friends! We are all loving the invention of the television (and the Internet (Thanks Al Gore!)). Now, more than ever, we are enjoying the distraction they provide since we're limited on the amount of "real world" activity we get. I've been enjoying a gin and tonic while watching reruns of Cheers! It's like going to a bar without all the viruses! I recommend grabbing a (big) flat screen TV and having it hung by a professional. You'll appreciate the clearer picture and adding a center channel sound bar will simply change your life.

Another fun and easy project to change things up is to attack one room at a time. Chances are, you have a spare room that you don't use very often. I recommend getting creative and painting this room over the next rainy weekend. You can go nuts with the color if you want because you can always re-paint it. Doing this with a "spare" room means you are not under any deadline. "I recommend leaving the wall plates removed, the light fixture in the closet and the drop cloths spread all over the floor while you work," notes Badger Peabody & Smith Realty (formerly Badger Realty) agent, Rachael Brown. It's also a great idea to try different colors. Most paint stores will sell you a small sample which you can use to test a couple different colors before you commit to one. You could even paint each wall a different color just to keep it fun!

This next suggestion is the least fun of all, but one of the most rewarding if you're a clean freak like myself. Clean all the stuff you never clean. If you have kids that are old enough to be bribed, start bribing! Spend a day (or at least a morning) cleaning those things that never get cleaned during the normal cleaning cycle. We're talking about under the beds, couches and kitchen appliances for starters. Then we can migrate to the ceiling fans, baseboards and even light fixtures. This weekend I attacked our gas grill on the deck. Most of these areas are neglected because they are rarely seen or focused on. You'll be surprised (horrified) at how grimy they get.

We've recommended this one to sellers looking to spruce up their kitchens for the showings but it works for those looking to re-love their homes as well. Paint your kitchen cabinets. This can be done in the garage or basement so you can take your time. Your cabinets don't "need" doors all the time. You might even love the look and swap out some of your standard doors for glass ones! This is also a great opportunity to move things around your cabinets (so much easier without doors) to see if you like a different layout. Lastly, you might even find the motivation to clean them while you're in there!

I love my home and love the freedom to get creative and move things around. Free yourself from the rut of leaving things as they've always been and add some spice to your life and home. You will love the opportunity to clean and freshen up. You will love the new layouts and colors. And you'll be frustrated because you can't remember where you put the small plates and mugs!

September
15

I've found myself going through the Netflix show "Weeds" again. I'm a huge fan and this is likely the third or fourth time watching it from stem to stern. One of the characters (Conrad) made a comment last night about being 36 years old and being able to fit everything he owns into a duffel bag. The last time I moved to a new home, I was kinda proud of myself for being able to fit everything I own into my Tacoma (with a cap on the back). It really goes without saying that we all have too much stuff. Today I'd like to explore the process of downsizing and see if it nudges you in the direction of limiting (and eliminating) the wasteful stuff we all seem to collect.

Reasons for downsizing can vary as much as the process itself. Sometimes the kids are finally out of the house and it doesn't make sense to heat/cool that much space. While it is somewhat convenient to have some extra rooms for office space, crafts and hobbies, guests or anything else, you have to determine if the extra space is worth the extra cost and hassle. Another reason for downsizing is simply the desire to have a smaller footprint. I'm not advocating for everyone to live in a "tiny house", but I'm quite thankful the days of the huge, soul-less McMansions are over. Let's get started.

If you are moving to a new (to you) smaller home, I strongly recommend getting a floorplan of the new space. With those measurements you will be able to accurately "place" your existing furniture without all the guesswork. Of course everything looks much different when you are actually IN the space, but this is a fantastic starting point. You can go the nerd route (my preference, for sure) and grab some software that will help you with this. It's a great way to get a 3-D image of the space in each of the rooms and allows you to place furniture however you want, move it around, move it between rooms, etc. That is obviously far more efficient than doing that on paper or with your actual furniture. I did this while I was building my house and it was a total life saver.

While you are arranging the furniture, this is the perfect time to start making a list of the items you no longer need. You will quickly realize how many duplicate items you have throughout the home that will no longer be necessary in this smaller space. If you are doing this with some decent advanced notice, you can plan your yard/garage sale now, before it gets too chilly. Of course donating items is another great idea and a nice way to "pay it forward". Considering you now have what many consider "excess", it's great to share some of your wealth.

When you first start working through your home, it's a good idea to start small. "When downsizing, starting with a laundry room or even a closet is a great way to get the ball rolling," notes Badger Peabody & Smith Realty (formerly Badger Realty) agent, Diane McGregor. "You won't feel overwhelmed by all of the decisions and you won't have to make those 'big' decisions right off the bat," she continued. Diane is right. Starting with a garage or basement is a huge undertaking and can be a bit much to handle as you begin this process.

If you are fortunate enough to have a garage, this can be the perfect spot to start migrating things and getting them ready for transfer. Some will be donated, some will be sold, some may end up at the dump and the rest will end up in the moving truck. If you have a staging spot, it can be a great way to test the waters as you begin removing items from the home. I think most of us would be amazed at what we don't "need" when push comes to shove. As you start putting things in this staging area, you will likely become even more motivated to eliminate more "stuff" from your life. This tends to be the most rewarding part of the downsizing process. Doing more with less. Congrats!

Downsizing can be stressful and can feel like you are giving up items that have been part of your life for years or decades. Try not to get too worked up about eliminating things and focus on the bigger picture. You are going to be in a cozier place. Your monthly expenses will likely be going down. And you're going to be happier with less stuff. All "wins" in my book. Happy trimming!

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