Do It Yourself: Easy, Cheap Ways to Increase the Value of Your House

If you’re trying to sell or rent your property, it’s especially important that it looks and feels great. This could mean paying someone lots of money to build improvements, or to decorate, but it doesn’t have to be that hard, and it certainly doesn’t have to be that expensive. Here are a few simple, inexpensive things you can do yourself.



Believe it or not, a little cleaning can have a huge impact on the look and feel of your property. Make sure that it is spotless before anyone comes to look at it. In addition, many people don’t realize that the appearance of the house and yard from the street is one of the most important aspects of the property. Make sure that your yard and landscaping, as well as the appearance of the house itself, are perfect. If you can’t or don’t want to do it yourself, you can always pay someone else to do it, but most of these things are easy for anyone to do.



You’ll be surprised by how much a coat of paint can change a place. If it feels a little tired, dirty, or run-down, try some paint in a generic color that everyone will like. It’ll feel like a completely different house, and it will only cost you a couple hundred dollars and a few hours.



Hopefully you won’t need to replace any major systems in your house, but replacing things like faucets and fixtures is easy, and will only cost a few dollars. Even replacing a light bulb or two can change the feel of the house. One hundred dollars and three hours of replacements can increase the sale price of your property by thousands of dollars.


Looking for more DIY ways to improve the value of your property? Contact us.

Negotiation: Selling a Home for the Highest Price

Selling your home is never an easy thing to do. There are so many things to do, but one of the most important things is to negotiate a price that is as high as possible. Here are a few helpful tips about negotiating the selling price on your home.


Everything is negotiable

When negotiating, it’s important to remember that there is very little that is off-limits, within reason. Of course, you’ll want to negotiate the price, but also consider who pays closing fees. Perhaps you need to close sooner, or the buyer needs a little more time. You might even consider financing the property yourself, which adds even more to the list of things that you can negotiate. Make sure that you consider all of these things. Negotiate for anything you want, and exchange anything you don’t.


Take your time

If it’s possible, don’t be in a hurry to sell your home. Even if you just want to get rid of the place, taking that approach towards the sale can cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Take your time with the sale. In addition to preventing mistakes and allowing you to make good decisions, it can also strengthen your position. Generally, the person who needs the transaction to happen more quickly is the one who gets stuck with the bad deal.


Don’t give anything for free

When you negotiate, don’t ever give anything away for free. First of all, if you have something that they want, they’ll be willing to exchange it for something you want. Why not take it? But more importantly, once you’ve given something for free, they’re likely to start feeling entitled to things, and may even get upset when you don’t give them other things.


Are you trying to negotiate a high price for your old house? Contact us.

12 Do It Yourself (DIY) Tips You Need for Surviving Home Ownership (Part I)

Did you ever realize that owning a home is similar to newborns? Neither of them have an accompanying instruction manual. Sometimes you’ll wish you had one—especially if you’re in an unavoidably, tricky situation.

You could always dole out handfuls of money to a home contractor or another choice is to “wing it”. Yet the smart thing is to have a basic understanding of dealing with repairs yourself. This first part of the do it yourself (DIY) tips will help you save the green stuff as well as time.

Repair a Leaky Faucet

Listening to that constant “drip, drip, drip” can be vexing! Most of the time, it’s due to a faulty washer that’s inside the handle. Before attempting to fix the faucet, you must shut off the water valve that’s underneath your sink. Next, plug the drain with a rag so you won’t lose any parts; take off the top screw cover, take out the screw and then remove the handle. Using a wrench, take apart the stem; then lay out the parts on your counter in the order they came out. This is so you’ll remember how it all goes back together later. Inspect plastic cartridges and rubber parts to make sure they aren’t cracked. If you find one that is, bring it to your local hardware store for an exact replacement part. Now, in reverse, put together the parts you’ve got on your counter.

Finding a Stud

If you don’t have a stud finder, don’t worry, you can still locate a stud in your wall; you just need to use logical thinking. Usually studs are 16 inches apart; so when one is located then it’s simple to find the other studs.

Remove the plate of an outlet and pinpoint which side is affixed to the stud. Another option is to look for a stud in one corner of the room since that’s where studs always are. From this point, measure 16, 32 and 48 inches out; at each of these points you should find a stud. To avoid speculation, drill a small hole at the top of your baseboard molding. This test hole can be patched up with a bit of caulk.

Digging a Hole

Okay, everyone knows how to dig a hole—but you want to do it without being electrocuted. Depending on how far down you have to dig, you could end up cutting into a buried power line. So, before your dig that hole, dial 811 on your phone to inform your local utility companies. Someone will come out in a few days to mark all of your buried lines.

Search for Termites

Here’s something you’ll never see coming and these little bugs aren’t easy to find. You must play detective and explore places such as the attic and crawl spaces—anywhere that you can see the wood framing of your home. Examine these areas carefully and be on the lookout for branch-like, raised tubes; when these “tubes” break open they unveil yellowish- or cream-colored insects. These little wood eaters could also be hiding where your siding and foundation meet. Survey this area for little dirt clumps or salt-sized droppings beside pinholes. If you spot just one dropping or termite in or on your home, it’s time to call your local bonded and licensed exterminator.

Guarantee the Lightbulb Has a Long Life

We’ve all heard that “pop” when a lightbulb burns out. This is caused by a bent or dirty small brass tab in the lamp socket which interacts with the bulb. But did you know you can prolong the life of the lightbulb by cleaning it? Turn off the circuit breaker or unplug the lamp. Wash the tab with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip. If the tab is bent, use a screwdriver and gently unbend it so it’ll make contact with the bulb base.

Drilling Through Tile Without Splitting It

Yes, it can be done! You need a hammer and drywall screw to start. Set the drywall screw tip precisely in the spot you want to drill your hole. With the hammer, tap the screw very, very gently to puncture the tile; this will make a divot. Next, put a masonry bit in your drill and lay it into the divot to keep the bit in place while you drill your hole. Simple—no fuss, no muss!

Know Which Circuit Breaker to Switch Off

If there ever comes a time when you want to install a dimmer switch or hook up a generator, you must know which circuit breaker to turn off. You’ll need to make sure your breaker box is labeled properly. Have someone plug lamps into the outlets in each room and inform you when each one goes out as you flip a switch. Use a permanent marker and write on the metal next to every breaker what the switch is for. Label each switch as explicitly as possible—“kitchen without fridge”, “bathroom lights only”, “microwave” and so forth.

In our next blog, we’ll discuss the other five tips for surviving home ownership. Please contact us if you’d like more information or have questions.

Fifteen Fun and Weird Real Estate Facts That Will Surprise You

Being in real estate is a serious business; just one transaction could alter your client’s lives forever. While we’re working hard to assist our clients in selling their home and buying a new one, we’ve come across some fun real estate facts—some of them are even downright weird! But we’re not keeping these fun facts a secret. So take a break from looking for that perfect home and enjoy reading these facts.

The real estate value of the White House is nearly $110 million.

Prior to the days of central heat, a housewarming party wasn’t just an excuse to celebrate. It was actually a way to keep the house warm. As a gift to the new home dwellers, the neighbors would carry over firewood and help start a fire in the home’s fireplaces. This kept the home cozy and was thought to keep away any evil spirits.

In the U.S., there are five times more empty houses than homeless people.

In California, if a person has passed away within the past 3 years in a home you’re attempting to sell, it’s viewed as a material defect. This death needs to be revealed to your potential buyer unless the person died of AIDS; then you shouldn’t divulge the information because it’s considered discrimination.

If you’re selling your home in New York, it’s required legally that you report if you think your home is haunted.

When was the highest home equity since 2007? It was in the first quarter of 2014 at $10.8 trillion. That means the normal household’s net worth was firmly invested in home equity.

In Ohio you must have a hunting license to trap a mouse in your home.

The Chrysler Building’s architect was in a competition to see who could build the highest building in the world. As it was being built, the architect concealed a 125-foot long steeple inside. After the competitor’s building was erected, the steeple was driven up through the Chrysler Building which made it 119 feet higher.

In Pennsylvania there is a cleaning regulation that forbids a housewife to sweep and hide dirt or dust underneath a rug.

In order to build their new data server building in North Carolina, Apple paid an elderly couple $1.7 million for an acre of their land. Thirty-four years ago, that same couple bought that property for $6,000!

Sunday is really the best day to put your home on the market. Traditionally, you’ll have more buyers come through your door if you list your home on a Sunday in the spring or fall.

During 2009, there were fewer marriages than foreclosures in the U.S.

Red front doors mean more than “welcome” and a great curb appeal. In Scotland, a red door denotes that your home is paid for. In China, painting your front door red means abundance and good fortune. Lastly, in India, having a red door means a newlywed couple lives there.

Since 2005, homeless people in Utah have been receiving free homes. This cuts continued homelessness down by 74%.

This one is more fun than fact…. As you’re moving into your new home, leave the old broom in your old home. The broom holds dirt from your previous home—figuratively and literally speaking—so leaving it behind will hopefully earn you some good luck in the new house.

We hope you’ve appreciated this “lighter side” blog this week. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Negotiation Tips for Buying a Home

If you’re in the process of buying a home, you know how important the price is. The cost of a property is one of the main influences on whether or not you are able to buy it. Luckily, the listed price is far from the final price. In fact, you can lower the price considerably, by using a few negotiation tips.

Take your time

In almost every case, the party that has more time gets a better deal. Try not to be in a rush to close on the property. Make sure you don’t have any deadlines. If you do, the seller will use it against you. If you find out that the seller has their own deadline, don’t be afraid to take your time. As they become more eager to sell the property, the price will come down.

Always ask for something in return

Don’t make any concessions without asking for something in return. It doesn’t make sense to let a chance to gain more from the deal pass you by, and giving an opponent something for nothing can create a sense that they deserve free things from you. This definitely isn’t a position you want to be in.


Many people negotiate by talking about what they want as much as possible. In reality, this is the opposite of what you should do. Give the seller plenty of time to tell you what they want. Whenever you listen, you gain knowledge, and knowledge is the best tool you can have when it comes to negotiation.

Looking for more information about negotiation or buying a home? Contact us.

Home Selling Tips: 4 Steps to Decluttering with Kids

The number one recommendation that real estate experts offer when asked about home selling tips is simple: declutter. Getting rid of excess belongings will make your home appear larger and more inviting, which often translates to selling faster and for more money.

But if you’ve got kids in the house, decluttering often seems like a monumental task, if not an impossibility. Between toys, video games, clothes, shoes, papers, and art supplies, kid stuff seems to take over the house, and if you’ve got more than one child, the “stuff” seems to multiply exponentially.

But decluttering is essential and important, so follow these simple steps, and house hunters will hardly know that children live there.

  1. Go through everything and get rid of broken toys and outgrown clothes. Be prepared, because this is a big task, but well worth it in the end. You’re not going to want to take these things with you anyway, so why not do it now and reap the benefit? The several garbage bags full of stuff you’ll take out of the house will motivate you to keep going too.
  2. Pick out one weeks worth of clothing and put the rest in storage bins. Remember, it’s only temporary, and putting extra clothing away will free up closet and drawer space to hide other items.
  3. Put half (or more) of the toys that are left in storage containers. Take these and the ones with clothing and put them in a storage unit or ask to use some space in a nearby friend or family member’s garage. Things will be close by if the children get tired of wearing the same things or miss some of their other toys. You can easily swap them out for different ones.
  4. Invest in double-duty furnishings. When someone wants to see the house, you never want to say no. So if your house is a mess, you want to have places you an easily stash toys and clutter. Think about getting a coffee table with some sort of built in drawers or storage in it for the living room. A bench with a lift-up seat by the door can hold shoes, hats, and other things that get dropped by the entryway. And a toybox with a lid can make cleaning up bedrooms fast and easy. There’s a little bit of a financial investment for these items, but remember they will be going with you to your new home, and you can put them to good use there.

Decluttering with children in the house is definitely a challenge, but it is possible. If you’re trying to sell your house, it’s well worth the effort. For more tips on selling your home, contact us.

Listing information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. This IDX solution is (c) Diverse Solutions 2013.
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