Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Declutter, Clean and Get that Home Inspection!

Getting ready to sell your house? We asked our global Coldwell Banker network for their best advice for those prepping their homes. Check out what they had to say.

Get Inspected

“Get the home inspected and address any necessary repairs now before it becomes an issue during negotiations.” says Susan Heckman, Marketing Coordinator for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. At the same time you should also check with your town to ensure there are no open permits on your home.

Believe me, I know how scary the word inspection is but this is one of those things that will hang over your head until it gets done. Make the appointment and get it off your mind now.

Curb Appeal Matters

The first impression of your home is incredibly important. Buyers who have the ability to do a “drive by” will and if what they see on the outside doesn’t look good then chances are they are going to skip on checking out the inside.

“Buyers sense “Pride in Ownership” from the moment they drive up and want to be the people who love their home. Make it feel like a place to “come home from work to”, “raise a family in”, “retire into.” It’s important to demonstrate the benefit of the features, not the features themselves. That’s what HOME is all about. Convey the dream.” –Alec Schwartz, Coldwell Banker Preferred

Stand in front of your house and determine what areas of your front yard and home look tired. For some it might just require quick fixes. For example, “a quick coat of paint will make your entrance sweet and inviting” says Teresa Congioloso withColdwell Banker Pryor Realty, Inc.

Whatever it is that your home needs start thinking about it now. “Start clearing away the outside from any winter debris. Getting the home ready for a beautiful spring yard takes time, and shouldn’t wait until its already spring to start” says Lauren Lehr from Coldwell Banker Conroy Marable Holleman. Once you do the work have your real estate agent come over and take the listing photos, that way your hard work is captured on camera and your home is presented to potential buyers at it’s very best.

Pay attention to every detail from small things like the mail box all the way up to your landscaping. Here are some ideas on how to improve your curb appeal for less.

Transition into Spring

Andrea Geller, with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, suggests removing all signs of winter. “Once you have removed dead foliage from the outside, bring your attention to the inside. Get rid of auxiliary heaters. If you live in a condo make sure the hallways have been cleaned of trails of salt from boots. The remnants of winter in the common areas give the impression to potential buyers that the association does not properly maintain the building.”

Take this time to swap out your seasonal decor. For example, put away the heavy blankets and bedspreads, swap out boot trays for throw rugs and consider adding some bright floral arrangements.

De Clutter AKA Minimize

“Remove the clutter, potential buyers for your house need to be able to visualize it as their home. By removing a few items of furniture you don’t necessarily need, some extra kitchen appliances from on top of the counters, and pictures. As strange as that last one sounds, your buyers don’t need to feel as though the eyes in the pictures are watching them!” says Scott Vinson II with Coldwell Banker Royal Realty.

As you declutter, you can pack away items you won’t need until after your move and donate or trash things you no longer want.

A Fresh Coat of Paint Goes a Long Way

Painting is one of the best things you can do to prepare your home for sale. According to HomeGain’s Prepare to Sell 2009 national survey, the average price to paint interior walls is $500 to $750, but that increases a home price by an average of $1,500 to $2,000 — which can be a 250 percent return on investment.

“Don’t be afraid to use color” say Matthew Rathbun from Coldwell Banker Elite  While neutrals are the safe route to go, nice flat colors and accent walls give a home character. Gray has becoming an increasingly popular trend as well.

Clean Up (Or Hire Someone to Do It!)

Imagine walking into a home smelling last night’s dinner, seeing mold on the bathroom tile and pet hair dust balls the size of desert tumbleweeds? Yuck!

A clean home will help your home sell much faster. If getting down and dirty just isn’t your thing then you can always hire someone. If you plan on doing it yourself, “remember the small details like based boards, door trim and light switches” says Lisa Heglar from Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. We also suggest getting your carpets professionally cleaned.

Set a Budget

Items that you put off fixing or upgrading may be back on your radar now that you will need to present your home in it’s best light. Before you go breaking that piggy bank and completely remodeling your kitchen check out this post on How to Limit Spending When Getting a Home Ready to Sell

Get Inspiration from Other Sellers

Unless you are a professional interior decorator, staging your home will not come naturally. Check out what hundred of other homeowners just like yourself have done to make their homes “market ready” by browsing through these thousands of photos.

Let Us Help

Last but certainly not least, our favorite tip came from Matthew Rathbun fromColdwell Banker Elite …

“Blue, lots of blue, starting with the sign in the front yard.”

Any questions, please give me a call, Chris Maroc 914-215-2025

16 Genius Storage Ideas You Probably Haven’t Thought Of

Here are some awesome ideas to get you get organized and find a “home” for all of your things.

When your home has a place for everything it is magical. You open up cabinets to neat piles of Tupperware. Your closet is organized with shoes, belts and accessories organized in a way that would give Carried Bradshaw envy. Your garage is neat and each tool is hung with care while your children’s toys are lined up and ready to be used at their convenience.

Let’s be serious, there are very few who can actually say their home has enough space for all of their things. In the battle of you vs square footage, you rarely feel like you come out on top. Here are some awesome ideas to get you get organized and find a “home” for all of your things.

Underneath Steps

Don’t let that space underneath your stairs go to waste. Depending on the size available you may even be able to create a small office like the image in the bottom left.

Images via shelterness, artemendoza and homedit

Inside Cabinet Doors

The inside of cabinet doors are hidden which makes them a perfect place for storage. We especially love the idea for the spices below.

Cabinet Door Storage

Images via iheartorganizing, Houzz, Instructables & thesepreciousdays

Up!

Look up and you will be amazed at all of the places you can find to store things. From the garage ceiling to the space above doors, it is important to use every inch without making a room feel cluttered.

Images via dgdoors, accentondesign, flor & marthastewart

Underneath Your Counters

If you have a smaller kitchen you know what it is like to open up a cabinet and have things fall onto you…it’s miserable. Clear up some space by taking advantage of the area underneath your counters.

Under Counter Storage

Images via thedesignfile, kellysthoughtsonthings, stashvault & kitchenstuffplus

10 Things You Need To Know Before Moving With Pets

Moving? Let’s be honest, moving is stressful. But, imagine if you can’t read, understand all of the chatter around you and all you see is the chaos of boxes, your home in an upheaval and stressed out humans everywhere. Sounds even more stressful, right? That’s why it is vital to look after your furry friends during the moving process.

Moving doesn’t have to be a dog-gone cat-astrophy. The good news is that with a paw-ful of wise tips you can ease their trauma. Here are ten tricks that have been approved by Dr. Sara Sheltren, veterinarian at the East Padden Animal Hospital, in Vancouver, Washington to keep Fluffy and Fido cared for during the moving process:

  1. Before Moving Day: Become familiar with pet rules and regulations. Landlords and homeowners’ associations may have specific pet rules. Become familiar with your new area’s leash laws, pet ordinances and/or pet licensing requirements. Your pet may need additional vaccinations, medications or certain certificates depending on where you are moving. A call to the local animal control facility should answer your questions.
  2. Talk To Your Current Vet:Your veterinarian is a great resource. If you have an animal that dislikes traveling, your vet can suggest behavior modification techniques or medication that can make traveling less stressful for your pet. When talking to your vet, also discuss getting Fluffy or Fido micro-chipped. Dr. Sara Sheltren, a veterinarian at the East Padden Animal Hospital says getting pets’ identification microchips can be a vital step in reuniting pets with their owners.
  3. Find A New Vet: Find a new vet in your new area before moving day. Your current vet may be able to make recommendations for colleagues he or she knows in your new area. When finding a new vet, it is recommended to set up an appointment as soon as you move in order to get established. It always important to make sure you are comfortable with their practice before they are needed in an emergency.
  4. Get Medical Records: Before you leave your old home, make sure you get a copy of all of your pet’s medical records to give to your new vet and be sure to find the closest emergency animal hospital and keep that phone number handy.
  5. Update Your Address: Don’t forget to have new identification tags with your new address and phone number made for your pet’s collar, and if your pet has an identification microchip, remember to update your contact information in the database. Dr. Sheltren also recommends carrying a picture of your pet with you in case they get lost.
  6. Keep Things Normal:Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time so that your pet thinks everything is normal. This will keep their stress level down. If you are moving with cats, it can help to bring out their carriers out a few a weeks before the move. Put their favorite treats and toys inside their carriers so they can get used to it before the big moving day. Don’t pack the food away! Keep your pet’s food, water, bowls, medication and any other important supplies (like that favorite squeaky toy) off the moving truck and with you.
  7. Moving Day: During the actual moving day, where boxes and furniture are being moved, pets should be removed. Find a friend who wouldn’t mind pet sitting or find a place away from all the noise of moving such as a doggy day care or cat care center. If you can visit them during a spare moment, it can help reassure the pets that nothing is going on.Keeping pets locked away in a room during moving day can make them anxious from all the noise and new people that might be in your home. If you must keep them locked away, find a quiet room, water bowl and put a HUGE sign on the door.
  8. Travel with Your Pet:Unless your move is long distance or international, your pet will likely be traveling by car with you nearby. By driving them yourself you can care for them and give them a sense of familiarity as they move. To prepare your pet for this trip, drive for short distances with your pet to prepare them before the final move. Also, remember to plan ahead for any special carriers your pets may need for transportation. There are even special seat belts for large dogs.
  9. Air Travel: If you are moving your pet by air or internationally, check all rules and regulations far ahead of the day you plan to leave and remember to keep your pet’s special documentation at hand.
  10. After Moving Day: Don’t let pets roam around the neighborhood until they are acclimated. Take them out on a leash to explore their new territory and show them how to get home. If you let them out in a new place right away, they might get lost or run away due to stress. Make sure your pet’s new identification tags are secured to their collar.

Now snuggle up with your furry friend and enjoy the new home! Any questions, please call me, Chris at 914-215-2025.

INSIDER TESTED TIPS FOR HOW TO GET RID OF STUFF BEFORE A MOVE

THE URGE TO PURGE: AN INSIDER’S TAKE ON LIGHTENING YOUR LOAD BEFORE YOU MOVE

We’ve noticed that with the onset of the busy moving season comes an onslaught of blog posts ayardnd articles offering tips on Making Your Move Easier. And the vast majority of them urge you to Purge! – by having a yard sale or donating unwanted clothes to a worthy organization. A few might suggest using one website or another to attract more attention – and will then without another word on the subject move on to Inform the Post Office of Your New Address!

We like to be more thorough. And because we are fully engaged in the business of moving, we can be. And sometimes – like right now – some of us are knee-deep in the process of moving ourselves.

Emptying a 3-Bedroom House Without Starting a Fire

On all the moves I’ve been on in all the years I’ve been a mover I can count on one hand the number of times the customer didn’t comment on their disbelief at how much stuff they had. My reply was always a commiserative “yes, I know, it’s unbelievable.” Now I find myself on the miserating side and, after a month of packing and selling and donating and giving things away for free, I wonder why I don’t just pile it all up in the backyard, burn it and have a beer.

After a full month of purging and only three more weeks to go before I vacate this house I look around and feel that I haven’t accomplished a thing. There’s still stuff everywhere. It’s a miracle this house didn’t sink right into the ground while we were here. I have gotten rid of a bunch of stuff through various avenues, however. And my giddiness at my (admittedly modest) success compels me to lay out a few things I’ve found to work (or not).

Your mileage may vary, but perhaps the following will make the run-up to your own move a bit less taxing.

“Have a yard sale!”toys

We’ve gone about this three ways. The first time, we decided at 10pm to have one the next day. So in the morning after wolfing down our frozen waffles we hauled a bunch of furniture and boxes of toys and clothes out into the yard. Surprisingly we made almost $40 – due in large part to the woman who was across the street all day remodeling the home she and her husband just bought. Aside from her and a friend we convinced to come take a look, though, the time and effort brought little.

Our street, mind you, is not a busy one. More traffic might bring more people and more sales. We advise, however, a little more planning.

We announced the next yard sale on craigslist, on the recommendation of the friend who came to the first one and, evidently, felt sorry for us. We also painted YARD SALE with an arrow and our address on large pieces of heavy paper and hung them on telephone poles along the surrounding busier streets. (TIP: a sign written with a Sharpie on regular letter-sized paper is barely visible let alone legible to someone driving by; go big on this or don’t go at all.)

We had a fair few people come by. Most of them slowed down to glance out their window at our yard full of stuff, then continued on down the street and around the corner and out of sight. Still, we made about $60 on the day – half from the woman still remodeling across the street and none from the few people who responded to our craigslist posting.

Our final yard sale strategy has involved leaving everything out there every day for a week on the off chance someone will drive by, see something they like and come knocking on our door offering us cash for whatever caught their eye. This has brought a windfall of dollar bills – from my four-year-old son’s perspective.

Verdict: People are picky about how they spend their singles; you’ll have to put out a vast selection of junk if you want to get rid of any of it.

“Sell your stuff online!”

We’ve tried a few things in this vein, with some decent success for the effort. Craigslist has not been good to us – for months I’ve been trying to sell, among other items, the two Lightning McQueen beds my sons have outgrown (one physically, one emotionally). I got a few inquiries over those months but no takers. I did sell a child seat once. But overall my luck has not been good.

Two weeks ago I got on eBay for the first time ever and listed one of those beds for $35. On the second try it sold for $41. Thank you and good riddance. If I had more free time I’d figure out the shipping on the other items I am putting up for auction; for now I’m staying local and offering free pick-up. Less work, but for a smaller market. I just don’t have the time to go crazy for a $15 Hot Wheels Big “O” Race Track with chargeable car.

What has worked well for us so far involves a Facebook page for a local ‘Moms On A Budget’ club. The competition is fierce; these women sell anything and everything and no sooner have you posted a picture of the desk you’d like to get rid of than three other posts appear, one for a lamp, one for a decorative mirror and six for a total of eleven pairs of “new” shoes, all at deep discount prices.

We created an album of the items we want to sell and keep adding new photos. This means all our stuff can be seen at one time AND each time we upload a new photo or someone comments on an item our album gets bumped to the top of the page, ahead of all the shoes. The drawback so far is having to constantly check for new messages by people interested in this, wanting measurements on that and asking if you will hold that other thing until they can come by after work/school/the country club – and then hoping they don’t flake, which so far has been much more an issue on craigslist.

Verdict: Online selling saves both time and your back compared to setting up a yard sale.

“Donate your unwanted clothing!”

We get these plastic bags in the mail all the time from various vetsbagorganizations asking us to leave our used and unwanted clothes and various other items out by the curb on a specified day for pick-up. These groups seem to be predominantly veteran-related – which sounds great I guess. Unfortunately none of them has offered to haul away the sofa and love seat I can’t seem to pawn off on anyone and I’d rather not have to bring it myself to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. But I would do this sooner than I would leave it for the garbage man. As a society we already produce way too much trash. And there is always someone out there who can use the things you can’t.

Verdict: Giving stuff to people who can use it is clearly more time-consuming but immeasurably more gratifying than giving it to people who will just bury it in the ground or dump it in the ocean.

Whichever route you decide to try, take my advice and get to purging early.

Seriously, no matter how many times you might hear it, you really have no idea how much stuff you have until you have to move it.

Any questions, please call me, 914-215-2025, Chris

Your Home’s October Honey-Do List

Your Home’s October Honey-Do List

Get your home ready for the spookiest month of the year with this list of to do’s.

It’s official. Summer is over, the kids are back to school and the leaves are beginning to change. October is upon us–the month of crisp fall weather, spooky traditions, and cozy moments at home. Here is what you need to know to get your home ready for the spookiest month of the year.

1. Don’t Fall Behind on Your Garden – Just because the summer months are over, it doesn’t mean that you have liberty to neglect your yard. Spruce up your garden by planting chrysanthemums which bring an added pop of color to the fall landscape. Add a few dried corn stalks to a lamp post or mailbox for natural decor. As for those potted plants that have been living outdoors all summer, start transitioning them indoors now.

2. Reorganize the Garage/Attic – It’s time to tuck the beach toys behind the rakes and shovels. Bring the Halloween decorations down from the attic and stock up on on-sale gardening products for next spring. As always with any reorganization project, be sure to evaluate how much use particular items got this summer. If necessary, donate unused or unwanted items and trash broken tools and supplies.

3. Collect Your Costumes – Decide on a costume early, before the stores are picked over and supplies are low. Try on all the moving pieces to make sure everything fits and make plans for cooler weather, if necessary.

4. Spooktacular Halloween Decor – Halloween is all about making your home spooktacular.  That said, it can be easy to do a little too much.  Not to worry, we’ve got the guide to decorating for Halloween without going overboard.

5. Touch Down! – That’s right. We’re telling you to watch football. But, before you wave the white flag and surrender to your Barcalounger in front of the flat screen all day Sunday.

6. Champion your Meal Calendar – Now that school is in full swing, your family calendar is crowded with soccer games, Halloween parades and piano recitals. Getting everyone to the dinner table at the same time is an epic challenge. Make dinner prep easier by mapping out your meal plan a week in advance. If you know football practice may run late on Monday, make extra portions on Sunday night for easy heat & eat the next day.

7. Get your Fireplace Ready – This is the time for cozy nights at home by the fire. Make sure your fireplace is ready for those cooler nights.

8. Get Cozy! – Switch out your lighter bedding for warmer, cozier linens. Swap your light down blanket for a heavier duvet, add a faux fur throw blanket at the base of the bed and use linens made of cozier material like flannel or wool. Looking for inspiration for a cozy fall bedroom?

9. Weather Proof your Home – Before the colder months set in, check weather stripping on windows and doors. Also be sure to caulk cracks and gaps in siding.