Monthly Archives: June 2018

The Worst Mistakes You Can Make Before Selling Your Home

The Worst Mistake You Can Make Before Selling Your Home


If you’ve ever gotten ready to sell a home, you know that in order to fetch top dollar, you need to get your place in good shape. But that costs money—hiring contractors, painters, and other pros—so you might be wondering: Why not save some cash by tackling a few of these fix-its myself? 

That’s fine and good if you know what you’re doing. But unless your DIY skills are fairly advanced, experts agree that this is one of the biggest mistakes a home seller can make. If you bungle the job, you might end up making things worse, and shelling out even more money down the road.

“You have to ask yourself: Is it likely to do more harm than good?” says Dan Bawden, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers.

To help you separate the tasks you can tackle from those best left to the pros, here are some DIYs to avoid when preparing to sell your home.

Drywall repair

If you have rooms that need a fresh coat of paint, go for it, says Bawden. But if you have cracks in the drywall from a shifting foundation or a little depression from years of doorknob slams, it’s worth it to hire a pro.

“In my house, I wouldn’t do the Sheetrock,” says Bawden. “I’d hire someone to fix plaster or drywall. If you don’t get the texture just right, when you paint the wall, the repair is going to stick out like a sore thumb.”

You don’t want your “fix” to look worse than the original problem. Contract out the drywall repair, then DIY the paint job afterward.


“I’ve been in the construction business for years, and I don’t mess with anything inside an HVAC,” says Bawden.

The heating and cooling systems in your house are complex, and often connected to both electrical and gas. Making a mistake could mean blowing out the entire system, setting you up for a much more expensive repair in the end.

Furthermore, you’d better believe that potential buyers are going to have their inspector go over the HVAC as thoroughly as possible. Even something relatively simple such as installing a smart thermostat can fry your wiring if done incorrectly. When it comes to your heating and AC, approach with caution.

Dishwasher installation

Unlike installing a refrigerator, stove, or washer and dryer (which can often be a simple DIY task), installing a new dishwasher is complicated.

“The complexities involved with setup, such as installing water and drainage lines under the kitchen sink cabinet, are best handled by a professional,” says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter plumbing.

Doing this job wrong could mean flooding your kitchen, which will ruin your floors and more. And besides, most big-box stores offer installation for a fairly reasonable price if you’re buying new units, or a plumber can handle it for $150 to $500.

Tree removal

“Even if it’s not a really massive tree, you’d be surprised how hard it is to dig around the roots,” says Bawden.

It’s also dangerous, especially if you don’t have the tools professionals would use to remove the upper part of the tree before taking out the stump. Do you really want to be that person who puts a tree through your own roof because you were too cheap to hire a tree removal professional? (No, you don’t.)

Siding and window fixes

Bawden cautions against DIY siding or window replacement, because water can seep into the walls if you don’t reseal the layers properly. It might not be noticeable at first. In fact, you may sell the house not even realizing there is a problem, but down the line, mold and water damage will start to appear.

Not only is that bad karma, it could also be what Bawden calls “lawsuit city.”

Advanced electrical

While replacing a light fixture or ceiling fan could be fine to DIY, experts draws the line at any electrical work involving the breaker box. Not only could you hurt yourself, you could also create a fire hazard, especially if your home isn’t brand-new.

“Older homes do not usually have safety devices like ground fault circuit interrupters, making it especially dangerous,” explains Shawn McCarthy, owner of Handyman Connection of Colorado Springs.

“You reach the limit pretty quickly,” agrees Bawden. “Anything that involves running new wires or repairing faulty wiring should be left to a professional.”

Aside from the risk of fire or injury, serious electrical work done by an unlicensed electrician could have code problems, meaning you’re likely to get a thumbs-down from the inspector later anyway.

Roof repairs

Even if it’s just a little fix that the average DIYer could easily do (e.g., hammering down a shingle or two or replacing chimney pipe roof flashing), be cautious.

“It’s very easy to get disoriented,” says Bawden, especially on a peaked roof. This is why even pro roofers always use a harness in case of falls, so unless you take similar safety measures, steer clear.


Some plumbing tasks are doable: Fixing a running toilet or snaking a slow drain should be in pretty much anybody’s comfort zone. The problem with attempting bigger DIY plumbing tasks, though, is that you often don’t quite know what you’re getting into. Disassembling leaky or blocked undersink pipes, for example, seems simple enough. But according to James, “Pipes are complex and very tricky to reassemble, particularly when they’re in close proximity to other plumbing components and machinery, such as dishwashers or garbage disposals.”

He notes that what might appear to be a straightforward problem, like low water pressure or a fractured pipe, could actually be a symptom of a larger issue with your system. Plumbing has a way of getting out of hand—i.e., broken pipes, flooding, and worse.

The post The Worst Mistakes You Can Make Before Selling Your Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Should You Take Your House Off the Market? 6 Signs It’s Time


When you first put your home on the market, hopes are high that a buyer will step forward. But as the weeks and months drag on with no bites, what then? Does there come a time when you should reverse gears and unlist?

Taking your home off the market isn’t an easy decision. Once you do, your listing will go from “active” to “withdrawn” in the multiple listing service—a status that basically means your home is no longer for sale, explains Aaron Hendon, a real estate agent at Christine & Company in Seattle.

But here’s the good news: Pulling that “For Sale” sign from your front lawn may actually be a smart move. Here are six signs it’s time to consider taking your house off the market, and why it might be wise.

1. Your financial circumstances have changed

If your personal finances have changed since you listed your house, you may need to postpone selling it. There are a number of life events that can negatively affect your finances:

  • You were laid off. As a result, you can no longer qualify for a mortgage to purchase your next house.
  • Your employer reduced your hours. This can hurt your debt-to-income ratio, one of the key factors mortgage lenders look at when assessing loan applications.
  • Your car broke down. Large emergency expenses such as this can derail your next home purchase if you have to dip into your down payment money to pay for the repairs.


2. You’re getting only lowball offers—and you’re not willing to negotiate

Hopefully, you listened to your real estate agent’s advice when setting your list price. But if you priced your home too high, and you’re not willing to budge, odds are good it’s going to sit on the market, which can make it more difficult to sell.

“If your house is still for sale after a month, buyers are going to assume something’s wrong with it,” says Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA.

The exception? “Luxury homes sometimes take longer to sell, because you need a specific type of buyer, but luxury home sellers are generally not under time pressure to sell,”says Jane Peters, a real estate broker and owner of Home Jane Realty in Los Angeles.

3. You discover a problem in the home that needs to be fixed

Many purchase agreements have a home inspection contingency, which gives buyers the ability to walk away from the sale (without forfeiting their earnest money) if they find there are issues with the house that the seller isn’t willing to address. This is one of the most common reasons why deals fall through, considering a certified home inspector will evaluate about 1,600 items that make up a property’s foundation, structure, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems.

Consequently, if a buyer terminates a sales contract because there’s a physical issue with your house, it often makes sense to take your house off the market while you fix the problem.

4. You have to make a home improvement

Sometimes, homes just don’t sell because they can’t compete with other comparable homes that are on the market. For instance, this could occur when you list your home at the same price as the guy across the street but your neighbor’s house has a brand-new kitchen—and yours doesn’t.

“Buyers look for something that’s move-in ready and not a money pit, so if you’ve got a house with a very dated kitchen and all the neighbors have renovated ones, it’s probably time to focus on that,” says Jim Paulson, owner and broker at Progressive Realty Corporation in Boise, ID.

Withdrawing your listing can give you time to make a big home improvement, Peters says. But make sure you know which features today’s buyers are clamoring for before you go swinging a sledgehammer and relisting your home. Generally, revamped kitchens and bathrooms add the most value to a property. Hot tubs, not so much.

5. There’s too much competition, and too few buyers

No surprise: Whether a home sells or not depends on the law of supply and demand. When there’s a glut of homes for sale and buyers are flooding the market, this creates a buyer’s market. In that type of economic climate, you might have trouble selling your house regardless of whether it’s in tiptop shape or priced aggressively.

Note: Today, it’s a seller’s market in most major U.S. cities, but there are markets where buyers have the advantage. In Chicago, for example, homes are selling in a whopping 108 days, on average, and for roughly $16,000 below list price.

6. You have a lousy agent

If your agent isn’t responsive, or doesn’t have a good explanation for why your home isn’t selling, you might want to consider a new one, says Teresa Stephenson, vice president of residential brokerage for Platinum Properties in New York. Taking your house off the market while you look for one, and canceling the listing agreement with your agent, would give you time to find a real estate expert that’s right for you.

You can find agents in your area at, where you’ll see such details as their years of experience, number of homes sold, clients’ reviews, and more.

The post Should You Take Your House Off the Market? 6 Signs It’s Time appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Capture That Vacation Vibe: Sell Your Home by Stealing These 8 Hotel Design Secrets

You know the feeling you get when you check into a high-end hotel—the kind with sumptuous bedding, chic décor, and breathtaking views? The feeling of never wanting to leave?

That vibe comes by deliberate design: Everything in that hotel was artfully staged to create a welcoming, luxurious environment to make guests feel pampered.

Now, imagine a potential buyer walking into your home and feeling those same feels. If you can re-create a high-end hotel experience in your house, buyers will swoon.

After all, you’re not just selling a home—you’re selling a lifestyle! Here’s how to captivate buyers by capturing the vibe of the best hotels.

1. Glam up your entranceway

Photo by Houzz 
There are no second chances when it comes to first impressions. That’s why hotels spend so much money on lobby design, says Alex Venditti, real estate agent and executive vice president of the Alex Venditti Group with Coldwell Banker in Washington, DC.

Venditti, who’s appeared on several HGTV design shows, including “House Hunters” and “Designed to Sell,” says hotels definitely influence residential design—starting with the lobby.

“At most fine hotels, you walk into an area with a beautiful, round, elegant table with a huge spray of flowers on it, which automatically provides a very welcoming, comforting feeling,” he explains.

Make sure buyers get that same emotion when they step into your house: Re-create that chic lobby atmosphere in your entryway by adding a table with an overflowing vase of flowers, lamps, and some seating.

2. Arrange your belongings to tell a story

You probably know you should depersonalize and declutter your space to appeal to as many buyers as possible. But you don’t have to wipe the slate clean; you can use your treasured objects to woo house hunters, says Staci Patton, principal and hospitality leader at DLR Group in Minneapolis, which provides interior design services to hotels.

“One of the things we try to do in hotels is make it feel like the home you always wanted,” she explains. “Think about your home as an experience.

“Create interesting focal points by having some historic books out on a table,” she suggests. “If you have a beach home, maybe the story you’re telling is about exuberance, happiness, and a coastal vibe, so you can build upon that.”

Just be careful to distinguish between artful vignettes and annoying surface clutter, Venditti cautions.

“Our rule of thumb with design is that we only have two to three objects on every surface—five, maximum, if it’s a very large surface,” he says. “That’s the ideal number that doesn’t distract from the eye, and it’s very reminiscent of a fine hotel room.”

3. Choose your hues carefully

Bold jewel tones are hot right now, but before you slather a deep teal or regal purple on your walls, know this: Most upscale hotels prefer neutral yet luxurious palettes—harmonious shades such as warm grays, taupes, rich browns, and even blacks, Patton says.

“Hotels want to ensure that their investment isn’t going to be thrown out the door in the next two years,” she says.

And potential buyers want the same—rather than a house with walls they know they’ll have to immediately paint over.

Patton’s company uses lots of glass and black metals that create a European chic feeling; Venditti suggests sticking to two or three colors maximum throughout your home.

4. Dazzle potential buyers with plush bedding

Photo by Chalet
For an elegant look, Venditti suggests replacing the duvet covers and pillow shams in the bedrooms with hotel stripe bedding—all-white linens embroidered with one stripe of color—and a couple of throw pillows that tie in.

Don’t want to sell a car to pay for a crisp set of Frette sheets? Patton has a few frugal tricks that work equally well.

“In upscale hotels, the duvet is almost doubled back over at the end of the bed, which looks so welcoming,” she says. “You could do that by putting two or three inexpensive duvets into one duvet cover. Immediately, you’ll get this really thick, fluffy duvet.”

5. Transform your bathroom into an oasis

Photo by Oakley Home Builders
If you plan to redo one of your tired bathrooms before listing your property, stick to classic materials.

“You’ll never go wrong with Carrara marble for your walls and shower, with a smaller version of it for the floors,” Venditti suggests. “That’s something people are used to seeing everywhere—from old grand homes to your chicest Manhattan hotels.”

If you’re on a budget, choose similar-looking porcelain or ceramic tiles, Venditti says. Just make sure to keep a soothing, simple palette of whites.

“When you do all-white towels, hand cloths, and washcloths, you’ll create a very spalike feeling,” he says.

6. Create the illusion of space with lighting and proportion

If you’re challenged with a dark space or low ceiling, mirrors are the easiest and least expensive way to create an illusion of depth and light.

“I love when people use really large mirrors—even floor-to-ceiling ones, which can be very dramatic,” Patton says.

Incorporating glass side tables and coffee tables also opens up the space, Venditti adds.

“If you’re using solid wood pieces with huge, dark legs, you’re cutting up the feeling of the entire space,” he explains. “Glass helps buyers see the vision of the room.”

And when it comes to art, Patton says, bigger is better; undersize works can actually make a room feel smaller.

Finally, a gorgeous hotel-like home needs the right lighting to bring it to life, Patton adds. Consider recessed lights in the ceiling, or wall sconces.

“When you walk into a room that’s evenly lit, it makes the space feel much more inviting and comfortable, and it increases the scale of the room,” she says.

7. Continue the vacation vibe outside

Photo by Francesca Morgan Interiors 
Transform your deck with comfy seating and a separate space for dining so that buyers are reminded of alfresco dinners on hotel patios. Set up white candles in large hurricane lamps and casual vases of fresh flowers for an added touch of luxury.

“If you have the ability to do flowing, sheer white drapery on the doorways that are going out to that area, that’s also very reminiscent of vacations at hotels,” Venditti says. “And the lighter you can keep the colors for outdoor furniture, the better. If you’ve got a dark weave, then top that with white cushions.”

8. Use biophilic design

Photo by Alisa and Lysandra Interiors
Finally, try incorporating the latest hotel trend: biophilic design, which takes its inspiration from the outdoors.

“If you’re on the coast … it’s much more authentic to look at what’s around you—the sea, grasses, palms—and pull those in as references for patterns on pillows,” Patton says. “Or use other textural materials like a really rich grass-cloth wall covering, or a fantastic large-scale piece of art that captivates a coastal scene.”

Even if you’re not on the beach, look to the outside to see what you can bring inside.

“Some of the most successful homes are the ones that showcase a lifestyle,” Patton says.

The post Capture That Vacation Vibe: Sell Your Home by Stealing These 8 Hotel Design Secrets appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Do you really need a Realtor?


With the increased ability to search for homes online or place your home for sale on a popular website you may be wondering if you still need a realtor. The short answer: “Yes”, the long answer: “Yes, absolutely!”. Here’s why:

Access to the MLS 

You can take a spin through any number of real estate sites and come up with a list of homes you’d like to tour. You can rely on word of mouth in many of the tight knit communities we serve, to let you know who is selling a home in East Palestine or get the word out about the beautiful piece of land you’re selling in the Beaver Local School District. What you can’t do is find homes listed for sale but not advertised or marketed. A buyers agent has access to the local MLS where they are able to see every home listed for sale with an agent in the area, regardless of how it is advertised. If you’re thinking of selling your home without an agent, keep in mind that only an agent can list your home on the MLS, and that’s where every buyers agent is gathering homes to show their client.

Real Estate Agents are Trained Negotiators

Realtors are trained negotiators, which means they can help work out sticky contract issues and help a sale continue forward, as long as it’s in your best interest. They also know how to spot trouble before it’s too late – from title issue that can pop up to anticipating delays with financing, an agent can see the warning signs that could postpone the closing or derail the sale all together, and more importantly, help you correct them. 

Their Network

Buying or selling a home requires a lot of moving parts. A real estate agent knows the right people to help make it happen. Need a home inspector in Calcutta, a mortgage brokers in Wellsville, or a home stager in Cranberry Township? They know the people to help your purchase or sale go smoothly. Selecting the best people in the business isn’t just luck of the draw, it is their business.  

They’re Nearly Always Available

Realtors know that things can come up anytime of the day so they’re available when you need them. If you’re feeling anxious about that offer you just put in, your agent is there to talk you through it. Confused about which offer to accept on your home, you’re agent will be there. Do you have a burst pipe in a home you just purchased and don’t know what to do – you’re agent will have you covered with a great plumber and a little piece of mind.

Objective Opinions 

Buying and selling a home can be an emotional experience. A realtor has an objective eye to make suggestions about what could be improved in your current home to increase the chances of a sale, or where to bend on negotiations for a new home, all while keeping your best interest at the forefront.

If you think working with a realtor on your next home sale or purchase might be the right choice for you, we’ve got a few to recommend.