The power of scent can be simply captivating. It can evoke a memory, an emotion and attraction. Scents can also be used to help sell your home.

During an open house, a nice, subtle aroma can work wonders on potential homebuyers. Before you start baking cookies and pies, consider the fact that even sweet scents aren’t appealing when there’s a lingering odour in the house.

Start With A Deep Clean

Bad smells from pets, appliances, stale clothing and shoes can instantly deter, but so can lingering kitchen and laundry scents. Instead of covering up these musky odours, give your home a deep clean before booking your open house and don’t hesitate to toss those smelly items out altogether.

Once your home is clean, then you can start thinking of what scent to use to sell your home. Different smells have different effects on different people, but there are a few universally appealing aromas you might want to consider.

Don’t Overwhelm The Senses

But be careful, too much of a good thing can be very bad. Strong smells—even if they’re from our list—can be appalling to potential homebuyers. Scents should never be overpowering nor distracting. The last thing you want to do is make potential homebuyers feel nauseous while walking throughout your house.

Eric Spangenberg, former dean of Washington State University’s College of Business says the key is to stick with simple scents. In a 2012 study, Spangenberg compared the impact of a simple orange scent on shoppers versus a blend of orange, basil, and green tea. After 18 days of testing, Spangenberg and his team discovered shoppers in the orange scented store spent 20 per cent more than shoppers in the store with the blended scent.

6 Scents That Can Help Sell Your Home


The smell of oranges isn’t just good for mall shoppers, according to an Australian report, the smell of citrus increases the value of a home.

Pine & Cedar

Fresh pine and cedar leave the home feeling (and smelling) crisp and clean. Instead of using chemical cleaners, incorporate a few branches into a centrepiece for a more authentic aroma.

Fresh Herbs

Not all herbs have a refreshing scent. Consider using mild herbs like basil and lemongrass to attract potential buyers.

Baked Goods

But not just any baked good, brownies seem to be a favourite for homebuyers.


In keeping with the sweet scents, cinnamon is another favourite for homebuyers. After all, who can resist the sweet smell of cinnamon buns?


Vanilla is another fresh and comforting aroma that appeals to the masses. Consider lighting a vanilla candle in high trafficked rooms or misting vanilla essential oil around the house.

Most Disliked Smells

Just as smells can leave positive impressions, others can leave negative ones. Take roast chicken, for example, the value of a home decreased for potential buyers when this scent was smelled during an open house.

Source: Toronto Storeys

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Build a DIY Deck or Patio

If you’re not sure where to begin with your backyard remodel, why not start with a deck or patio? This feature will instantly give your yard major appeal, and it adds resale value to your home. Lay down a concrete patio with this easy DIY project or build a wooden deck that you can adorn with cute chairs.

Lay Down an Outdoor Rug

Need something to jazz up your patio space without big renovations? Consider a large outdoor rug! Not only is this a good way to include a pop of color in your backyard, but it’s also an inexpensive way to change up a space without having to go through the process of painting or staining a deck.

Create a Stone Path

A garden isn’t necessary for this DIY backyard transformation idea! Put down materials like mulch, bricks, or stones to create a clear path from your house to the pool or playhouse in your backyard. You can also include a little flair to your pathway by adding yard decorations like glow-in-the-dark rocks or garden stakes.

Construct a Tree Bench

Utilize that big tree in your backyard makeover by building a tree bench! Some protective eye gear, wood pallets, and a saw are just a few of the items you’ll need for this crafty outdoor bench idea. When you’re finished, paint it your favorite color and add some decorative pillows for a shaded reading spot!

Set Up a Trellis

A trellis is an excellent idea for adding a little charm to your yard. Create your own trellis out of metal poles or wooden boards, and plant climbing roses on either side to grow a garden to new heights.

Create Shade with a Pergola

A pergola is a fantastic idea for your dream backyard. Clear out an area on a deck or in your yard and build your own pergola with this guide from DIY Network. Planning to spend a lot of time outside with your backyard remodel? Add curtains for extra shade to create the ultimate outdoor living room!

Invest in a Fountain

Need some ideas for a small yard? Invest in a fountain! These backyard items are great for adding a water feature to your outdoor space without costing too much or taking up lots of room. Tuck the fountain away in a small garden or place it on an end table to show off your decor.

Use a Stock Tank Pool

This outdoor feature is not only an inexpensive way to cool down during the hot summer months, but it also adds some backyard fun that the kids will love! Place it on a concrete patio or custom-built stone platform to protect your grass from water damage.

String Up Some Mood Lighting

If you’re looking to have one of the most beautiful backyards on the block, invest in outdoor lighting. Drape string lights down from a pergola or across your outdoor living space to give it a starry-night feel. You can also line any patio or garden path with torches and lanterns for soft lighting.

Get Crafty with Your Fence

Cool backyard ideas don’t have to be expensive to have that “wow” factor. All you need is a drill, several different sizes of multi-colored marbles, and a rubber mallet for this cute DIY project. Your backyard will be illuminated with color when the sun hits just right!

Paint a Fence Mural

Designing a unique mural on your fence is another great way to make over your backyard on a budget. Just be sure to determine what paints you’ll use and the scale of the mural first in order to properly prepare the fence for your masterpiece.

Grow Your Garden Vertically

Whether you’re looking to expand your garden without taking up horizontal space or searching for small backyard ideas, wall planters are terrific for changing your outdoor area on a budget. The experienced carpenter will love this custom DIY vertical planter. But if you’re looking for something simpler, drill plastic planter boxes or pots into a wooden pallet to place against your house.

Try Xeriscaping

Reduce water usage when you xeriscape your green space. This budget-friendly backyard landscaping idea is easy to do, requires minimum maintenance, and saves you on the water all while giving your yard major appeal and adding value to your property!

Make a Space for Outdoor Dining

If you love entertaining guests, having family barbecues, or working outside, then a table is a must for your green space! Buy a patio set that comes complete with table and chairs, or build your own outdoor table out of a few wine barrels and wooden boards for DIY yard decor.

Include Comfy Seating

Outdoor seating is one of the most important features to include in your backyard transformation. Large outdoor pillows, benches, and rocking chairs are all fantastic pieces to create a cozy space for you and your guests to relax. For a great cheap outdoor seating idea, make your own day bed with a wooden pallet.

Heat Up with a Fire Pit

The best backyard designs are the ones that include a fire pit! Show off your DIY skills by building your own fire pit out of wall stones with this simple tutorial, or find a metal one that’s also budget-friendly. Make sure that you include ample seating around your fire pit for roasting marshmallows!

Don’t Forget a Hammock

A hammock is a fun backyard idea that both kids and adults will appreciate. Suspend a hammock between two trees and fasten the ropes with either industrial hooks or tree straps. Affordable hammocks with stands are also an option if a sturdy tree isn’t available.

Create a Relaxing Meditation Space

Give your outdoor living space a facelift with a calming meditation space. Find a secluded spot in your yard and set up large pillows and blankets for lounging and a table for incense. If your relaxation station is near a tree, hang decorative ornaments or a swinging chair for some extra flair.

Set Up a Backyard Theater

Grab the popcorn and appreciate the outdoors with this backyard makeover idea. Add a few blankets, large pillows, and string lights for a comfortable theater ambiance, and hook up a projector and screen to watch all of your favorite flicks right in your yard! This DIY screen is a cheap and easy way to create the ultimate backyard viewing experience.

Flip Burgers in an Outdoor Kitchen

Let your backyard be the supreme spot for entertaining guests with a kitchen! There are plenty of ways to build an outdoor kitchen that fits within your budget. Add a charcoal grill and table on a patio for a simple look. Or install a kitchen kit under a pergola, which includes an island, grill, storage, and refrigerator.

Invest in a Portable Bar

Say goodbye to making multiple trips inside with a bar cart! Load your cart up with glasses, small appetizer plates, a pitcher for lemonade or water, and an array of snacks to have a convenient fueling station right in your backyard. And if it starts to rain, you can easily transport it inside to keep the party going!

Add Some Kid-Friendly Fun

Jungle gyms, swing sets, and treehouses are basically a backyard decor necessity when you have little ones. Create a tire swing with some rope, a sturdy tire, and pillow for added comfort. Or build a treehouse to give your children a playspace they can call their own.

Set Up Some Lawn Games

Complete your yard makeover by setting up lawn games. Croquet, bocce ball, ladder golf, and bucket ball are all awesome ideas for including recreation in your backyard green space. This DIY backyard project is a cinch and will provide immediate outdoor fun for you and your family!

Plant Bright Flowers

When it comes to simple backyard ideas on a budget, you can never go wrong with flowers. This is ideal for adding a natural pop of color to your landscape. Plant hydrangea bushes or tulip bulbs along the fence if you have a major green thumb. Or go to your local plant nursery and buy a few pots to fill with your favorite blossoms.

Whether you want to upgrade your yard with fun water features or create the perfect area to chill out, there are tons of cheap backyard ideas to make your outdoor living space a hangout spot everyone will love


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Tackle some of your home improvement projects before you get settled into your new house.

You’ve just bought your dream home. Now’s the time to add some personal touches to make it your own, like painting the interior walls and installing new flooring. Most people complete these home renovations right when they get a new home. In fact, 53% of homebuyers took on a home improvement project within three months of buying, according to the 2013 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preference report, put out by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Why not get started before you move in? An empty house means your furniture won’t be in danger of spilled paint or other damage — plus you or your contractors can take advantage of an open space. And most importantly, you and your family can limit exposure to renovation dust and odors that can be hazardous to your health.

So, as tempting as it is to move in right away, try tackling these three home improvement projects before the moving trucks show up.

  1. Painting Walls
    Changing the color of the rooms in your home is a simple project that can personalize your home for little cost. But take precautions, warns Michael Anschel, owner of Otogawa-Anschel Design + Build and CEO of Verified Green Inc., a green consulting and training company, both based in Minneapolis.
    Unless you use low- or no-VOC paints, he explains, you are polluting the indoor air with volatile organic chemicals — such as benzene or formaldehyde — that you really don’t want to breathe in.
    “There’s a low-level smog that’s a byproduct of most paints,” Anschel says.
    Low- or no-VOC paints are available in many colors and price points, so making them a priority is easy.
  2. Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeling
    Remodeling the kitchen is a priority for 47% of homeowners when moving into a new home, and 44% update the bathroom, according to the NAR report. There are many simple ways of personalizing and revitalizing outdated looks, like adding new appliances, countertops and vanities, changing out fixtures and hardware, or replacing or refacing the cabinets.
    But if you’re going to install new or refaced cabinets and you’re going to finish them on site, make health a priority. The formaldehyde used in cabinet glues will be released into your home (what’s known as “off-gassing”) for a long time, so choose cabinets labeled NAUF, which means “no added urea formaldehyde,” Anschel suggests.
    During finishing, contractors and homeowners should properly ventilate the house and wear a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) respirator — “not just a bandana,” he adds.
  3. Flooring Installation & Refinishing
    In a new-to-you home, you might be lucky enough to find something salvageable underneath that old carpeting. But in many cases, the floor will need to be refinished. If you do it yourself, take precautions when prepping, sanding and applying the new finish. Open all the windows and put up barriers to contain dirt and debris for easy cleanup.
    Note that a water-based finishing system will produce significantly less smog than an oil-based system, which will off-gas for six months to a year, Anschel says. A water-based system, on the other hand, may off-gas for only 48 hours.
    If you’re looking for a rustic matte finish, try a Rubio Monocoat, he suggests. “It’s a floor finishing system that has no VOCs and is very durable.”
    If you opt for installing new carpet, be aware that it actually gives off a lot of fumes. “It’s one of the big nasties when it comes to off-gassing,” Anschel says. Look for wool as opposed to synthetics and a floor underlayment with low VOCs. If the house already has carpet, be sure to get it professionally cleaned (you don’t even want to think about the dead skin cells and mites that might be lurking within).

Moving can be stressful enough — make it less complicated by getting some of your home improvement projects out of the way before all the boxes and furniture get in the way.

Source:Sears Home

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Keep it Together

To maintain organization in your office, keep important documents together, properly labeled, and easily accessible. Install open shelving on an entire wall and place organizational containers strategically, keeping the ones you'll need most frequently at arm's reach and lesser used items up higher.

Hidden Assets

Instead of buying a custom-built desk, build your own. To make a small room live bigger, designate an entire wall to be your desk area. Install sliding shelves to keep your printer, scanner, and paper products out of sight. Consider finishing your desk with privacy curtains to disguise what's under your desk.

Think in 3D

Rather than shoving your desk against a wall, make use of its every dimension. This stylish yet functional combination creates both a room divider and a three-sided storage solution with space for exposed media items and works of arts.

Colour Coordinate

A mix of magazines, books, and media can look cluttered if jumbled on a shelf. Streamline the presentation by concealing them in containers or behind fabric panels.

Space Saver

Try leveraging a closet to create an efficient yet incognito work space. Reposition shelving to make room for files, computer equipment, and reference books. The best part? When work is done, hide the office behind closed doors.

Separate Work Stations

If you have the room, incorporate separate work stations into your office. Keep your computer equipment in one area, and make a work space at another desk.

High and Low Storage

Think like a chef and store the items you're most likely to use at arm's reach. Reserve high shelves for books that see less action and low shelves for heavier books. Your library is an intimate reflection of your personality, so intersperse with photos, artwork, or other interesting items for a personal display.

Top of Form

Know your Needs

Before designing your office, evaluate how it will be used. If you need lots of open space to spread out your work, incorporate a large desk into your design. Make a desk like this using two sawhorses topped with a thick sheet of plywood

Smart Stack

If space is at a premium (which it likely is), save room by stacking some books horizontally rather than vertically. Titles are a little more difficult to read when stacked this way, but the approach adds visual interest and creates a place to perch a collectible or two.

Make it work for you

Turn a small space into an automatic office in three simple steps. Convert a small dining room table into a desk, hang magnetic shelves, and use storage containers to keep things organized.

Something Old, Something New

Use basics found around your house to create a storage-packed office. Top a table with an easy-to-assemble storage unit and trim with crown molding. Keep your office essentials in small purchased boxes and store other important paperwork in file cabinets.

Paperback Rider

It's simple to store hardback books on bookshelves, but it's even easier to store compact paperbacks in handy wicker baskets. Baskets also give you the convenience of storing other small items in them all while creating a clean, organized look.

Over the Top

Anytime you've exhausted your horizontal storage space, just look up! Chances are you have ample room to build vertically. Additional shelves and cubbies secured on top of a desk allow for extra baskets, display items, and picture frames to perch openly.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens

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1. Excess Hangers

Hangers are clunky and can occupy valuable closet space, so don't hold on to more than you need. Designate a hanger for all of the items you like to hang, then ditch the rest. If you buy something, make it a rule to get rid of one item before hanging the new one. 

2. Out-of-Season Items

Warm, fuzzy boots are the epitome of coziness come winter. But in July, your bulky boots are taking up precious storage space. Stash out-of-season items in the basement or under your bed, then switch out items as the weather changes.

3. Anything That's Not on Brand

Whether you wear all black, prefer skirts to pants, or have a thing for sparkles, you know your own style by now. Rid your closet of items that don't match your personal brand. As a bonus, having a distinct style makes it a lot easier to get ready in the morning -- everything you own goes together flawlessly!

4. Bulky Coats

Coat closets exist for a reason. House bulky parkas, umbrellas, and outdoor blankets in your entryway or an extra closet. This will not only free up space in your bedroom closet, but also stop dirt, salt, water, and other debris from tracking into your sleep space.

5. Items You Haven't Worn in a Year

We all have those items we never wear, whether a gift or clearance rack steal that was impossible to pass up. No matter the history, purge any item that is too big, too small, stained, or threadbare. As a general rule, if you haven't worn an item in a year, it's time for it to go.

6. Luggage

We'd all like to take an impromptu vacation, but there's no need to keep a suitcase so close. Instead of storing luggage in your closet, stash it under your bed or in the basement or attic. But don't let that empty space go to waste. Suitcases are a prime storage spot for out-of-season items or extra linens.

7. Outdoor Accessories

Keep hats, scarves, and mittens in a cute basket by the door instead of shoved into a closet drawer. You'll never forget to bundle up again.

8. Jewelry

Pretty jewelry can double as art if it's displayed correctly. Keep necklaces on a tree and rings in a chic dish -- but keep them out of your closet. Closet space is typically tight, so you might knock valuables over when pulling out a long dress or grabbing a bin from the top shelf. Storing jewelry on a vanity is a much safer option for small accessories.

9. Your Wedding Dress

Whether you're holding on to your wedding dress for the next generation or for sentiment's sake, find somewhere other than your closet to store it. Most gowns need special storage and take up too much space. Wrap the dress in a garment bag, then place away from the light in a hall closet or under the bed. 

10. Pets

Keep your furry friends (and any animal toys or beds) out of the closet. Dog hair and black pants do not mix, nor do a cat's claws and leather boots.

11. Food Gifts

Keeping food gifts in your closet invites a host of pesky problems. Moths, mice, and other critters can show up uninvited to wreak havoc on your wardrobe. Better to be safe than sorry -- store food items in the kitchen.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens

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Grant K. Gibson had two challenges when it came to remodeling the historical Edwardian condo he shares with his partner, Marc. “I wanted to hit refresh and make the place feel a bit more current and modern, but every design decision I made also had to be filtered through a small-space test,” he says. “When square footage is precious, you pull out every trick you have to help the rooms feel more spacious.”

His first move was painting the entire place, including the millwork and trim, the same shade of white—Super White from Benjamin Moore. “I loved all the moldings but I wanted them to disappear into the rooms rather than outline them, which can make spaces feel smaller.” Then he created a unified color palette for furnishings, textiles, and light fixtures: black, navy, and slate gray. He also anchored each small room with a large statement piece, such as a king-size upholstered bed in the bedroom—a strategy he uses in diminutive spaces to make them live larger. Grant used this technique to anchor the small living room with an 8-foot sofa and matched its heft with two cocktail tables. In small spaces, he prefers a pair of tables (rather than one large piece) for flexibility and interest.

1. Streamline Your Space

While Grant’s refresh visually expanded the home, it also honored the original architecture. He incorporated plenty of traditional details like Shaker-style cabinetry, white subway tile, black hexagon tile floors, and antique brass hardware. The repetition of these elements created a certain effortless flow. To make the kitchen appear taller, Grant extended white cabinets to the ceiling. The lack of knobs reduces visual clutter, and shelves provide display space where a window prevents another cabinet. "Design should always take lifestyle into consideration," Grant says. “If you’re in a small space, you must streamline everything for the sake of continuity and visual calm.”

2. Take Advantage of Visible Storage

In a kitchen without a typical pantry, Grant stores food in the wall cabinets and keeps the pretty items—his dishes—on a shelving unit across from the sink. "There was a moment when I considered opening the kitchen into the living room by removing a wall." Grant says, "but I'm noticing more of a return to traditional layouts. I think people are realizing they don't always want to be able to see the dirty dishes in the sink from their sofa." Grant's kitchen design is as practical as it is attractive: like the Louis XVI-style leather chairs, the glass-top table is easy to clean.

3. Create (Faux) Open Spaces

Wherever possible, Grant tricks the eye into thinking tight spaces are more open. In the living room, a large ocean photograph (snapped with his iPhone) and mirrors on the interior door provide a sense of depth, almost like windows. Just like in the kitchen, this small space gives the illusion of being larger than it actually is.

4. Pick an Accent Color

Part of Grant's design strategy is to give the eye something to focus on in each room. "When everything is the same color, the eye has nowhere to land," Grant says. "Black accents grab the eye." To keep the small bath feeling as open as possible, Grant tucked the vanity into an existing nook, and traded a claw-foot tub for a walk-in shower with a steel-frame fixed panel instead of a typical glass door.

5. Choose Meaningful Decor

In addition to decorating specifically for small spaces, Grant also encourages his clients to decorate with items that remind them of special trips. “Maybe it’s artwork or an interesting textile to make a throw pillow,” he says. His advice: Look for things that have quality and a story. “The key is to buy something that touches you.” In the bedroom, a black pocket door Grant doesn't use makes a dresser-top display of art, cologne bottles, and travel mementos stand out.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens

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Declutter the Bathroom

If you have 5 minutes: Put away anything on the countertops, and pull the shower curtain closed to conceal any bathtub clutter.

If you have 10 minutes: Straighten any open displays, and relocate items that don't belong in the bathroom. Don't worry about what's behind closed doors.

If you have 15 minutes: Dive into the vanity cabinet and any other storage space. Toss items that are outdated or unused. Corral items by type into baskets or bins.

Declutter your Pantry

If you have 10 minutes: Stack and store items as they are, but align rows of cans and boxes for a neatened appearance.

If you have 15 minutes: Regroup food by item type. Toss anything that is expired. Wipe away any spills or dirt on shelves.

Take an hour and... Pull everything out of the pantry and do a deep reorganization. Look at your pantry configuration and what you need to store to determine what should go where. Keep the items you use frequently in the most accessible places. Give the shelves a good scrubbing before placing items. As you put things away, make a list of any storage accessories (such as trays or baskets) that would make your storage more efficient, and keep your eyes peeled for those items when you are out and about.

Declutter your Bookshelves

If you have 10 minutes: Straighten books, and dust the very edges of the shelves and any items on display that look dusty.

If you have 15 minutes: Do a quick bookshelf sort. Recycle magazines that are out-of-date. Pull books that you know at a glance need to be donated. Dust the shelf edges and around empty space, and move display items to dust around and under them.

Take an hour and... Pull everything from the shelves. In addition to recycling magazines and pulling books to be donated, reorganize books in alphabetical order, by subject, by color, etc. Dust the full shelves before placing books back in their rightful spots. Rearrange books and decor for a refreshed look.

Declutter your Closet

If you have 5 minutes: Hang up clothes that are on the floor or draped over your designated drop spot, such as on a chair or a stool.

If you have 10 minutes: Reorganize the hanging bar in your closet by item type, placing all your shirts in one section, pants in another, and so on.

If you have 15 minutes: After you organize the hanging bar, target one other area, such as a bin on the shelf in the closet. Come back as you have time, such as five minutes before hitting the hay, to organize the next section until you've worked through the whole closet.

Declutter your Kitchen Cabinets

If you have 5 minutes: Simply straighten the insides of open shelving or your most frequently accessed cabinets and drawers. Bringing order to the things you use most often will make daily routines easier.

If you have 10 minutes: Spend a little time doing the organizational tasks you always think about when you're cooking but don't have time to do in the moment, such as relocating your cooking utensils to a drawer closer to your range.

Take an hour and... Do a quick sort-and-toss. Put items you never use into a donation box, and toss gadgets that no longer work or are past their prime.

Declutter your Kids’ Room

If you have 10 minutes: Make a game of it. Challenge your child to pick up as many items as possible in five minutes. If you have little ones who aren’t old enough to pick up, spend a few minutes before they go to bed picking up a few things.

If you have 15 minutes: Target one area to clean up, such as a disorganized dresser, a messy desk, or a haphazard bookcase.

Take an hour and...  Pick an area that needs a purge, such as a toy collection or the clothing closet. If your child is old enough, have him or her work with you to identify items that can be donated or tossed if they are broken or no longer usable.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens

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1. You don't make enough money

You might think you make enough money to buy a home, but crunch the numbers first and see what your costs would actually be — a mortgage calculator can come in handy here. You need both upfront and ongoing money, says Roger Ma, a New York, NY agent. “Upfront money includes having enough for the down payment and closing costs and enough left over for an emergency fund,” says Ma. “On an ongoing basis, a buyer’s salary will need to be enough to pay for mortgage interest and principal, HOA fees, homeowners insurance, and taxes.” These costs, according to many financial planners, should be less than 28% of your gross income.

2. You have too much debt

Let’s say you do make enough money to afford to buy a house and make your monthly mortgage payments. You also need to factor in any debt you might have. Hint: If all your credit cards are maxed out, you may want to get those bills under control before entering homeownership. Lenders typically want your total debt load (which includes your potential mortgage payment) to be less than 36% of your gross income. “Take a hard look at your spending habits and change them to improve your chances of being able to support a mortgage,” says Casey Fleming, author of The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.


3. You don't have enough savings

If you’ve saved enough for the down payment, you’ve made it over one big hurdle. But you need more than just that. What if your home needs an emergency repair? Would you have the money to pay for it, or would a surprise expense put you in debt? “Expect the unexpected,” says Josh Moffitt, president of Silverton Mortgage Specialists in Atlanta, GA. “Your air conditioner may die on a sweltering holiday weekend, or a sewage pipe could burst in the basement.”

And then there are those costs that aren’t necessarily unexpected but that you might not have considered. “Not only does a prospective buyer need money for closing costs and the first few months’ mortgage payments, they also need money for moving costs,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. “They need money for furnishings and decorating the new house. They need money to pay the property taxes upfront at settlement.” As you can see, you don’t want to drain your savings on just the down payment.

4. You haven't been on the job long enough

Most mortgage lenders like to see that you’ve been working the same job for at least two years. In fact, they calculate your average income based on your job history for the last 24 months. Being on the job that long shows a certain stability, and changing jobs or having an income gap signals insecurity. “A major job change, such as moving from salary to commission-based pay, may cause your income to fluctuate and can add to uncertainty about your readiness to buy a home,” says Moffitt. “Even if you qualify based on expected income, what if you don’t make that money in your new position?”

5. You have poor (or no) credit

A bad credit score indicates some sort of financial problem, such as skipping out on paying a bill or two, filing for bankruptcy, or carrying too much debt. “Take a close look at your credit report before making a decision to buy,” says Moffitt. “A mortgage lender may have questions about payments, loans, or other debts and may make suggestions that could require time to resolve. If it takes six months to fix, you might not be ready to buy just yet.”

Having little or no credit history can also be problematic. David Hosterman, the branch manager with Castle & Cooke Mortgage in Colorado, offers a tip: “We take into account ‘alternative credit trade lines.’ These types of credit are anything from rental history, car insurance, utilities, monthly subscription services, and cell phones. We are looking for a pattern of good credit with those companies for 12 months or longer.”

6. You're not sure what type of home you want

You might have thought only about buying a single-family home, but you have more options than you might think. For example, you could buy a duplex and earn some rent money by living on one side and renting out the other. Perhaps a condo or townhouse might better suit your needs — and be an easier transition from apartment living. “Each has unique considerations for upkeep and responsibility. It’s hard to say, ‘I’m ready to buy’ without knowing what each type of home has to offer,” says Moffitt.

7. You're not ready to stick around

Unless you’re pretty sure that you’ll want to stay in the area for the next three to five years, you’re not ready to buy. “If you buy a house and have to sell the next year, you’re likely to lose money because appreciation won’t catch up to the closing costs and postpurchase expenses during that short time,” says Moffitt. If your job is in limbo, or you’re considering moving a few hours away to be closer to family in the near future, it’s wise to hold off on buying a home.

Source: Forbes

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When the time comes for a first-time home buyer to tell a real estate agent what they desire in a home, will they know what to say besides simple things like a two-story home with a walkout basement in a quiet neighborhood.

There's much more to a home than that. One of the really great things about giving your agent a list of amenities and features is that your agent can utilize technology to find that perfect home for you from that list.

Using a List to Search Properties

Most MLS systems that agents use to find homes contain search parameters. Some will let you exclude certain types of criteria, which might be more helpful to you than you may first think. If, for example, you absolutely do not want to buy a home with carpeting, your agent can exclude all homes with carpeting from your search requirements. You might want to consider carpeting only for the bedrooms and installing hardwood-like floors elsewhere.

The more closely you define parameters, the fewer homes you may find that are available to you. If you include too many parameters, you may not find any homes at all. If is best to be more general and less specific. Plus, bear in mind that information exported is only as good as the information imported, and some agents might leave blank certain fields.

Location, Location, Location

This is the first rule of real estate. Location is the most important yet the most often overlooked rule. If you have to choose between a home with all of the amenities you want in a bad location or a home in a good location with only some of the amenities, choose the home with the good location. You can always add amenities, but you cannot change a bad location.

Narrow your list to your top 3 to 5 neighborhoods. Talk to the neighbors to find out if these areas are indeed where you might want to live. Let your agent know the ZIP codes you would like, or define the area by street boundaries so your agent can draw a map search.

Examples of Types of Locations:

    • View of coast, city or hills
    • Waterfront: River, ocean, lakefront
    • Greenbelt
    • Golf course
    • Suburban
    • City
    • Raised elevation or mountains
    • Cul-de-sac
    • Dead-end street
    • Gated community

Construction, Exterior, Style, Roof, and Yard Amenities

We all have some idea of what our perfect home would look like. But again, you'll get better results from excluding certain types than by choosing too many particulars.


Home Construction

    • Adobe
    • Brick
    • Concrete block
    • Log
    • Metal
    • Stone
    • Straw
    • Wood

Home Exterior

    • Brick
    • Cement siding
    • Lap siding
    • Metal siding
    • Vinyl siding
    • Shingle
    • Stone
    • Stucco
    • Veneer
    • Wood

Style of Home

    • A-frame
    • Bungalow
    • Colonial
    • Contemporary
    • Cottage
    • Dome
    • Log
    • Mediterranean
    • Ranch
    • Spanish
    • Tudor
    • Victorian


    • Composition shingle
    • Concrete tile
    • Metal
    • Rock
    • Shake
    • Slate
    • Tar
    • Tile
    • Wood


    • Size of lot
    • Swimming pool/sport pool
    • Spa
    • Sauna
    • Steam room
    • Fireplace or fire pit
    • Built-in BBQ
    • Outdoor kitchen
    • Courtyard
    • Patio: Covered or uncovered
    • Deck
    • Tennis courts
    • Trees and landscaping
    • Gardens
    • Lawn
    • Automatic sprinklers/drip/misting system

Basic Home Amenities, Types of Rooms and Flooring

Rather than picking a specific age of the home, try choosing a range of years. If you do not want a newer home, you can ask your agent to limit your search to homes built prior to a certain year. Bear in mind that if your cutoff is homes built before 1990, you will not receive a home listing for a home built in 1991.


Type of Home (Single Family -- Attached or Detached, Duplex, Halfplex, Condo, Townhome, Manufactured Home)

    • Age of home/year built
    • Number of bedrooms
    • Number of baths
    • Number of stories or levels
    • Orientation (direction home faces)
    • Utilities: gas / electric
    • HVAC: Central heating & air conditioning, propane, gravity, floor or wall
    • Parking/garage
    • RV parking or boat storage

Types of Rooms

    • Number of masters / junior masters / ensuites
    • Loft
    • Den
    • Bonus room
    • Great room
    • Home office area
    • Home theater
    • Media room
    • Family room
    • Gym/workout room
    • Library
    • Butler's pantry
    • Sunroom
    • Downstairs' bedroom
    • Basement
    • Guest quarters
    • Wine storage


    • Carpeting
    • Concrete
    • Bamboo
    • Stone
    • Tile
    • Laminate
    • Cork
    • Vinyl / linoleum
    • Manufactured wood
    • Marble
    • Wood
    • Waterproof vinyl planks

Specific Home Amenities and Features

Home buyers often desire certain features in 4 areas of the home: the kitchen, master bedroom, baths, and dining room. In addition, a growing number of buyers prefer to have home energy features, including accessibility features. Although some of these can be added after purchase as a home improvement project, sometimes the cost to do so is prohibitive.

Here are more specific amenities and features to consider:

Kitchen Features and Amenities

    • Appliances: Built-in or freestanding - stainless / colored / cabinetry match
    • Counters: Granite, marble, ceramic, stone, wood, laminate or synthetic
    • Islands and wet bars
    • Dining bars
    • Under cabinet lighting / recessed lighting / pendants
    • Farm-style sinks, dual or triple sinks, metal, steel, cast iron
    • Warming drawers, wine refrigerators, trash compactors
    • Remodeled / updated

Dining Features

    • Space in kitchen/breakfast nook
    • Dining/family combination
    • Dining/living combination
    • Formal dining room
    • Outdoor kitchen

Master Suite Amenities and Features

    • Large vs. small
    • Balcony
    • Outside access
    • Private patio
    • Remote area or sitting room/office
    • Ground floor vs. the second floor
    • Surround sound
    • Fireplace
    • Wet bar
    • Dual walk-in closets

Bath Features

    • Dual/triple sinks
    • Built-in dressing vanities
    • Vanity shelves & mirrors in showers/tubs
    • Jetted or sunken tubs
    • Separate shower
    • Rainshower heads
    • Stone/tile surfaces
    • Outside access
    • Skylights
    • Heated floors
    • Remodeled / updated

Home Energy Amenities and Features

    • Attic fans
    • Ceiling fans
    • Dual or triple pane windows
    • Programmable thermostats
    • Single flush toilets
    • Window shutters
    • Solar heat
    • Solar plumbing
    • Solar Screens
    • Storm windows
    • Tankless water heater
    • Skylights or sky tubes
    • Whole house fan

Accessibility Features

    • Extra-wide doorways
    • Ramps
    • Grab bars
    • Lower counter heights
    • Walk-in tubs and showers

Source: The Balance

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Dining Room Staging Tips That Are Quick & Easy!

A dining room can be a tricky space for traditional or virtual staging.  Some dining rooms are small, have very little light or are part of a shared space along with a living room.  When staging a dining room it needs to invite a buyer in and linger at the table.  A dining space should look comfortable and have good lighting.  Here are 6 Dining Room Staging Tips to help buyers envision that special place for family dinners or entertaining guests!

1.) Let There Be Light. If your dining room screams dark and gloomy, bring in the light!  If there is at least one wall of windows hang a mirror on the opposite wall to reflect natural light when staging the space.  Placing a pair of tall, skinny lamps on a console table or sideboard with a mirror hung above will make your dining room glow!

2.) Create A Dining Space. Buyers need to see a dining room, so create one!  A round table pushed close to a wall or a dining table on one side of a large living area will work for small spaces.  Utilize the surrounding space and hang large artwork or a grouping of pictures on nearby walls.  Make a statement when staging the space and show buyers the possibilities.

3.) Update The Look. If your light fixtures are outdated, purchase inexpensive new ones to instantly update your dining room. Gold or brass fixtures are OUT!  Go for brushed silver or bronze rod iron.  Remove outdated wallpaper and repaint personal paint choices with warm neutral tones which is always key in staging a home to sell.

4.) Good Traffic Flow. When staging a home it is important to show off the spaciousness of a room.  If a dining table seats 8 or more take a leaf or two out of the table and show 6 seats at the table.  Place the other 2 chairs on each side of a large window or one on each side of a buffet or china cabinet.  Buyers need to be able to move around the room and not feel blocked into a space.

5.) A Focal Point. A dining room is an easier room for buyers to envision laying out furnishings but you want to still capture their attention.  A large vase with fresh flowers centered on the dining table and colorful artwork on walls is key when staging this room and helps create a focal point which is easy on the eyes.

6.) Avoid Overstaging. It is not necessary to compeletely set the dining table with all your china, glasses, silverware, placemats and the like.  Again, you want to create a pleasing focal point in the dining room but setting the table is too much!  Overstaging a room can possibly stir up negative thoughts and make buyers feel the home is too fancy to live in.

Source: Virtually Staging Properties

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  1. Update the front entry choose simple yet unexpected projects to you’re your house stand out. A new full-view storm door allows the freshly painted door to become the focal point of this budget-friendly makeover.
  2. Oversized house numbers stenciled onto the concrete are an easy DIY project: Use a copy machine to enlarge printed numbers to your desired size, then laminate the paper so your stencil holds its shape. Cut the numbers out with a crafts knife; you will use the negative of the numbers as stencils. Measure and line up the stencils, then apply outdoor paint with a foam pouncer.
  3. Create a Living Monogram Wreath to create a new way to incorporate clean and vibrant plants! Take plywood to use as the back, 2-inch cedar boards, and chicken wire. Then spray-paint, and fill with sphagnum peat moss and succulents. Hooks on the back make it easy to remove, clean, and add new plants.
  4. Replace barely-there light fixture with an inexpensive galvanized metal fixture to add a new look to your entrance!
  5. A coat of metallic spray paint and a stenciled "Hello" give the mailbox new life and make guests feel welcome.
  6. Design and install a custom railing that fits the entry and brings the stairway into compliance with building codes. From steel cords, to cast iron, the options are endless!
  7. to customize an inexpensive sisal doormat, apply painter's tape stripes, then sprayed on one color at a time, allowing each coat to dry between applications. The options are endless with the use of different colour combinations and patterns!

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

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According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey released Thursday, home prices in the region have jumped the most in all of Canada.

The data shows the average price of a home sold in the first quarter of 2019 was $258,110.

That is a 12.4 per cent increase over the same period last year, when the price was $229,671.

Other notable price increases for Ontario cities include Kingston at 10.3 per cent increase, and a 10.7 per cent increase in London.

Year-over-year prices for condominiums in the Windsor-area jumped 19 per cent to $219,582 from $184,477 in the first quarter of 2018.

There was a 13.5 per cent increase for prices for two-story homes – from $227,207 in 2018 to $257,785 in the first quarter of 2019.

Source:CTV Windsor

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Because no wall in your home should be left as a blank canvas, we’re looking at trending interior paint colors for 2019 to get you inspired before the summer season is over and we go full-throttle into fall. From which paint colors will work best in which rooms throughout your home to paint color ideas for accent walls to create conversation-starting visual interest in any room, take in the 10 best paint color ideas to try for the year ahead and beyond.

And we bet you’ll be surprised at some of the latest paint colors to make Pantone’s yearly forecast and how easily you can introduce them into your home as sometimes all it takes is a fresh coat of paint to reenergize a room. To make it easier for you, we surveyed Décor Aid interior designers for their takes on the latest paint colors to give a go.


Warm and inviting creamy shades of hazelnut paint colors are sure to never go out of style nor ever clash with existing furnishings as it makes for one comforting go-to of a hue.

For hazelnut paint color ideas in your home, take a quick survey from room to room and consider which spaces need to be brightened up and catch more light as varying shades of hazelnut are great for bouncing light off to make a room appear larger than it is.


Though dove gray is one of the most classic paint colors when looking for modern alternatives to stark neutral paint color ideas, there’s something a tad moodier about 2019’s lilac undertone injected options.

For one, the addition of lilac works to make gray hues warmer, more gender neutral and cheery. And as some of our designers favorite home interior colors revolve around varying shades of gray, an option boasting lilac tones makes for a refreshing alternative that also happens to be subtle enough to not tire of it easy. We recently made a strong case for the hue on an interior design project in Brooklyn that came alive with a warm, minimal feel.


Officially called ‘night watch’ and one of Pantone’s top 2019 paint colors, the hue is basically a new take on rich hunter green that hasn’t looked so viable since its last time in the interior design spotlight in the 90’s.

From muted to moody, this deep green color trend can work to emulate the feeling of lush botanicals and the healing power of nature in your home while setting the tone with a strong foundational hue.

For hunter and bottle green paint color ideas, our interior designers suggest that this trend should be reserved for well-lit, large rooms as its intensity can overpower small spaces and make them look darker. And as always, when considering bringing in the latest paint colors in your home, think about what works with your lifestyle, taste, and design direction as no paint color trend is worth sacrificing your own personal aesthetic.


Pastel derivatives in chalky, muted tones, have a soothing appeal that brings with them an understated vibe that’s perfect for gender neutral rooms and common areas like kitchens and bathrooms as they’ll do double duty and conceal everyday scuff marks and nicks. Plus, muted pastels make for a warm backdrop for minimalist design.

We love how the kitchen featured above combines the latest paint colors and a dramatic marble backsplash in complimentary tones that are sure to make it more memorable than a standard black and white kitchen.

Go for similar muted pastel paint colors if you’re looking for the unexpected without having to commit to a bold color trend or the latest paint colors being touted as an ‘it’ hue as you’ll tire of it in the long run, and run the risk of having similar paint colors as your friends and neighbors.


Evoke the spirit of Miami with zesty hues. For those with wanderlust and an earthy spirit, soft clay paint colors are great alternatives to beiges and browns as they’ll lend any room a certain sunny zest and casual elegance. Think terra cotta, caramel, clove, and burnt orange home interior colors that have more personality than any neutral ever could.

For this interior design trend, we suggest going for the latest paint colors that boast unusual takes on clay tones to make any room a feature in your home or go for an accent wall or backsplash and see how effectively the hue can elevate a room and your mood with ease.


For the traditionalist with a casual approach to interior design, charcoal blue, ice blue, gray-blue, and a very pale powder blue are great options when looking for paint colors that are far from every day yet subtle enough to not take over a room.

With an endless amount of alternative blue paint color ideas available, there’s no limit to the number of routes you can go with this exacting tone. Just be sure that any blue home interior colors you go for remain soothing and spare to avoid a heavy-handed hue that will make a room feel smaller, darker, and stuck in an 80’s nautical time warp. In general, when going for hues known to leave a strong initial impact, tone it down with a more muted, and subtle color palette to get the longest run from your selection.


For those looking for a pop of color and an alternative to gold, deep mustard is great for instantly creating rich focal accents and make for smart paint colors for accent walls and even trim.

Do go for muted and moody mustard home interior colors to create provocative depth, and to highlight décor and art brilliantly as sometimes the best paint color ideas are applied in small doses.


A non-color of sorts, mist home interior colors may come from a blend of muted pastel blue and green with a gray and lilac undertone, but it’s far from an easter egg hue.

Instead, think of this color trend as a blank canvas for décor of all colors and styles as its a much more interesting starting point than standard beiges and whites, plus, like muted pastels, a misty hue will work to cover up blemishes with ease.


An update to the popular 70’s era mousy browns and rust paint colors, mushroom looks fresh again thanks to a newfound appreciation for everything natural yet moody.

One of our favorite fashion and paint colors for 2019, shades of mushroom are also gender neutral, timeless in appeal, and unique enough to have guests taking note for their own homes. Plus, it looks great with natural furnishings and finishes as seen in the room above.


The perfect gray-beige and a rich alternative to all white walls, pewter paint colors provide an almost blank canvas that’s anything but bland.

Though it should have been a standard before it was shortlisted as one of the best paint colors for 2019, this is one color trend not to be underestimated. In fact, our interior designers suggest taking pewter paint color ideas throughout your home rather than just one room as its one shade that works with everything, everywhere.

Source: Decor Aid

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  1. Boost curb appeal. This is something you always hear, and with very good reason. Many people thinking of touring your home will do a quick drive-by first, often deciding on the spot if it is even worth a look inside. Make sure your home is ready to lure in onlookers with these tips:
    Power wash siding and walkways
    Hang easy-to-read house numbers
    Plant blooming flowers and fresh greenery
    Mow lawn, and reseed or add fresh sod as needed
    Wash front windows
    Repaint or stain the porch floor as needed.
  2. Welcome visitors with an inviting porch. Even if you have only a tiny stoop, make it say “welcome home” with a clean doormat, potted plants in bloom and — if you have room — one or two pieces of neat porch furniture. Keep your porch lights on in the evenings, in case potential buyers drive by. Illuminating the front walk with solar lights is a nice extra touch, especially if you will be showing the house during the evening.
  3. Get your house sparkling clean. From shining floors and gleaming windows to clean counters and scrubbed grout, every surface should sparkle. This is the easiest (well, maybe not easiest, but certainly the cheapest) way to help your home put its best foot forward. You may want to hire pros to do some of the really tough stuff, especially if you have a large house. Don’t skimp — this step is key!
  4. Clear away all clutter. If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go, end of story. It’s not easy, and it may even require utilizing offsite storage (or a nice relative’s garage) temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble. Clean and clear surfaces, floors, cupboards and closets equal more space in the eyes of potential buyers, so purge anything unnecessary or unsightly. But it’s my style! Guess what? It may not be the style of those seeking to buy a house in your neighborhood. So even if you have an awesome vintage-chic look going on, rein it in for the sake of appealing to the most number of people. You can bring your personal style back into play in your new home.
  5. Strike a balance between clean and lived-in. Yes, I know I just said to get rid of all your clutter (and you deserve a big pat on the back if you did it), but now it’s time to judiciously bring back a few elements that will really make your home appealing. Think vases of cut flowers, a basket of fresh farmer’s market produce on the kitchen counter or a bowl of lemons beside the sink.
  6. Style your dining room table. The dining room is often a blind spot in decorating the home. Between dinners, a large dining table can look bare and uninviting, so styling it up with visitors in mind can increase the appeal. An oversize arrangement can look too stiff and formal, so try lining up a series of smaller vessels down the center of the table instead.
  7. Take a good look at your floors. At the bare minimum, give all floors a thorough cleaning (and steam clean carpets), but consider having wood floors refinished if they are in poor shape. If you don’t want to invest in refinishing floors, the strategic placement of area rugs can go a long way.
  8. Rearrange your furniture. In the living room, symmetrical arrangements usually work well. Pull your furniture off the walls and use pairs (of sofas, chairs, lamps) to create an inviting conversation area.
  9. Choose sophisticated neutral colors. Now is not the time to experiment with that “fun”-looking lime green. But that doesn’t mean you need to go all white, either. Rich midtone neutrals like mocha and “greige” create a sophisticated backdrop that makes everything look more pulled together.
  10. Create a gender-neutral master bedroom. Appeal to everyone with a clean, tailored master bedroom, free of personal items and clutter. You can’t go wrong with clean, crisp linens, tasteful artwork and a blanket folded at the foot of the bed.
  11. Open those closets! Open-house visitors will peek inside your closets. Closet space can be a make-it-or-break-it selling point for buyers, so show yours off to their full advantage by giving excess stuff the heave-ho. Again, this is really important, so even if you need to store a few boxes elsewhere, it’s worth it. Aim to have 20 to 30 percent open space in each closet to give the impression of spaciousness.
  12. Clean up toys. Of course there will be families with children looking at your home, but just because they have kids too doesn’t mean seeing toys strewn everywhere will sell them on the place. When people are house hunting, they are imagining a fresh start. Show them that in this house, it is possible to have a beautifully organized kids’ room, and they might be swayed.
  13. Use “extra” rooms wisely. If you have been using a spare bedroom as a dumping ground for odd pieces of furniture and boxes of junk, it’s time to clean up your act. Each room should have a clearly defined purpose, so think about what potential buyers might like to see here. An office? A guest room? Another kids’ room? Whether you buy inexpensive furnishings, rent them, or borrow some from friends, making a real room out of a junk room will have a big payoff.
  14. Try a pedestal sink to maximize space. If you have a small bathroom but a huge cabinet-style sink, consider swapping it out for a simple pedestal version. Your bathroom will appear instantly bigger.
  15. Use only perfect personal accents. Especially in the bathroom, it is important that anything left out for visitors to see is pristine. If you have a gorgeous fluffy white bathrobe, hanging it on a decorative hook on the door can be an attractive accent —but if your robe is more of the nubby blue floral variety, you might want to hide it away. Look at every detail with a visitor’s eye — bars of soap should be fresh and clean, towels spotless, the garbage always emptied (you get the idea).
  16. Entice people to explore the whole house. By placing something that draws the eye at the top of the stairs, in hallways or in corners, you can pique curiosity and keep potential buyers interested throughout a whole home tour. A piece of artwork, a painted accent wall, a window seat, a vase of flowers, a hanging light or even a small, colorful rug can all work to draw the eye.
  17. Show how you can use awkward areas. If you have any room beneath the stairs, or a nook or alcove anywhere in your home, try to find a unique way to show it off. By setting up a small work station, a home command center with a bulletin board, or built-in shelving, your awkward spot becomes another selling point.
  18. Beware pet odors. Really, this can be a big one! If you have pets, get all rugs steam cleaned and be extra vigilant about vacuuming and washing surfaces. Also be sure to keep any extra-loved pet toys and doggie bones hidden when tours are scheduled.
  19. Create a lifestyle people are looking for. Generally speaking, you want to play up what your neighborhood or area is known for. Have a house in a quiet, grassy suburb? Hanging a hammock in your backyard and a bench swing on your porch could be the perfect touch.
  20. Stage the outdoors too. Even if your condo has only a teensy postage stamp–size balcony, play it up with a cute café table and chairs, a cheerful tablecloth and even a little tray of dishes or a vase of flowers. When people look at this scene, they won’t be thinking “small,” they will be thinking, “What a charming spot to have breakfast!”
  21. Think seasonally. Make sure your garden is in beautiful shape in the summer, and that any extra features you have, like a pool or a fire pit, are cleaned and ready to go. Take advantage of the cozy vibe of the season in autumn and winter, by building a fire in the fireplace and simmering hot apple cider on the stove.


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Glam the Front Door

Adding pizzazz to your home's front entrance is an easy, low-cost way to up your home's curb appeal. Try painting your door a pretty hue that coordinates with your home's color. "Make sure there is a contrast between the front door and the facade of the home," says Kristine Ginsberg, owner of Elite Staging and Redesign in Morris County, N.J. If your house is gray or white with black shutters, consider painting the front door red, she suggests. Other ways to beautify your home's exterior are adding appealing house numbers to your entrance and hanging a pretty wreath on the door. For extra pop, place a potted plant or two by the front entrance.

Approximate cost: A gallon of paint for the front door will cost as little as $25. Metal house numbers can be purchased for less than $4 each, while a potted mini evergreen like boxwood or a dwarf Alberta Spruce could run you less than $20.


Manicure the Lawn

Tending to your lawn is a do-it-yourself task that can add instant curb appeal to your home. Get out the lawn mower, cut the grass regularly and conquer those weeds. "I think it's always a great idea to edge your lawn for a professional look," Kristine suggests.

If you need to green your lawn in a hurry for an open house or for showings to potential buyers, you can spray your lawn with a green lawn spray paint that's especially formulated for grass, is nontoxic and is environmentally safe. You can do it yourself, or hire a professional lawn painting service.

Approximate cost: No cost to you, unless you bring in a professional to cut or green your lawn. If you artificially green your lawn on your own, you can get a quart of lawn paint, which covers up to 1,000 square feet, for less than $30. Lawn sprayers are available at a variety of price levels, but some are sold for less than $20.

Tend Those Beds

Groomed garden beds tell buyers that a home has been well maintained. Start out by weeding your planting beds and removing any debris. Buy a few bags of mulch and spread enough of it to cover the width and length of your home's front beds. The mulch will give your landscaping a fresh appearance and will keep weeds to a minimum while retaining moisture for your plants.

Try planting some annual flowers like pansies, black-eyed Susans, impatiens and petunias for quick and long-lasting color. The flowers can be bought already in bloom in low-cost flats of 12 to 48 flowers at garden and home improvement stores. "Annuals grow quickly, are inexpensive and bloom longer," Kristine says.

Consider planting brightly colored annuals in the spring and summer and plant flowers with autumn hues (reds, oranges and yellows) in the fall, suggests Joanna Seidler Farber, a Realtor associate with Davis Realtors in East Brunswick, N.J. "Changing it up every so often gives a fresh new feel and look," she adds.

Approximate cost: A 2-cubic-foot bag of mulch can be purchased for $3 or less. Online mulch calculators, like the one available from the National Gardening Association, will help you calculate how much mulch you need to purchase. Meanwhile, a flat of annuals could cost you less than $20, depending on the type of flowers purchased.

Wash Off Dirt

Turn the nozzle on your garden hose to its strongest setting and use the water to blast dirt and debris off sidewalks, your driveway and the front of your home. Be careful not to dislodge or get any water underneath your home's siding. You could rent a power washer at an extra cost, but you probably don't need to go to the trouble — a simple garden hose can do the job, and a power washer can be too powerful and could damage siding.

"If you do use a power washer, don't put it close to windows or doorways," suggests Stephen Boehler, owner of Mr. Handyman of NE Monmouth County in New Jersey. "The pressure can remove caulk and other materials sealing your home."

Cost: Absolutely nothing (minus the cost of water), if you use a garden hose. Renting a power washer will run you about $40 to $75 a day depending on your location and the quality of the equipment. If you'd like to purchase a pressure washer, there are various options available for between $120 and $150 at big home improvement stores.

Tidy Up the Driveway

Buyers won't be impressed by your garbage or recycling containers, so store those on the side of the house (preferably behind a bush, a small fence or a screen) or in the garage. Take care of minor cracks in your driveway by patching or resealing it yourself. Determine how much sealant you'll need by using the length and width of your driveway to calculate its square footage. Then match that up against the product's use recommendations. "Plan on getting 10 percent extra because some areas will absorb more than others," Stephen says. "You can always return unopened pails of sealer."

Stash your car in the driveway or down the block to give your driveway and the approach to your home a neater appearance.

Approximate cost: To DIY seal an average 1,000-square-foot asphalt driveway should cost about $100 to less than $150, depending on the quality of the sealant used.

Make the Windows Sparkle

Clean windows inside and out to make your home sparkle. If your home's windows tilt out, it's quite simple to wash exterior windows. Otherwise, you might need a friend or family member to steady a ladder while you do the work. Try washing outside windows by spraying them with a garden hose to remove dirt and cobwebs. Then sponge them down with a small amount of vinegar or detergent diluted in warm water and rinse. If you need to wash your windows from the outside and your windows don't tilt out, try using a long-handled brush.

Approximate cost: Next to nothing, if you wash the windows yourself. But if your windows are high up and you need to rent a ladder, a 14-foot ladder will cost about $25 to rent for four hours from a big-box home improvement store.

Update Light Fixtures

Removing builder-grade or outdated front door or garage light fixtures will instantly brighten your home's curb appeal. "This is often done by homeowners with a great success rate," Stephen says. "Make sure the breaker inside the electric panel is shut off for where the light is being installed." Before touching any wires, test them with a live-wire testing device, he suggests.

If you don't want to go to the expense of buying new light fixtures, you could try painting or spray-painting your old ones for a fraction of the cost. "If you have outdated light fixtures like 1980s gold, the quickest fix is to paint the light fixture black," says Cindy Lin, general manager/founder of Staged4More Home Staging in South San Francisco.

Approximate cost: A 12-ounce can of spray paint costs less than $8, while attractive wall-mounted exterior lights can be purchased for less than $30 each. A live-wire tester costs less than $20.

Trim Trees and Bushes

Your home needs to be visible from the curb in order to have curb appeal, so cut overgrown bushes and trees, removing branches that block walkways, windows, the driveway and views of the home from the street. "People need to see the front of the house," says Kristine.

Except for very large tree limbs, you most likely can use a pair of hedge or pruning shears for the job. If you don't have your own pair of shears, look into borrowing a set from a friend or neighbor to keep costs down.

Approximate cost: Nothing, if you own a pair of shears, have extra time or have friendly friends or neighbors. If you need to purchase your own shears, expect to pay between $10 and $50.

Source: HGTV

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With so much information readily available online, clients sometimes ask, "Why should we hire a real estate agent?" They wonder (and rightfully so) if they couldn't buy or sell a home through the Internet or regular marketing and advertising channels without representation, without a real estate agent. Some do fine on their ​own, but many don't. Here are 10 reasons why you might want to consider hiring a professional real estate agent.

  1. Education and Experience
    You don't need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire a real estate professional who does. Henry Ford once said that when you hire people who are smarter than you are, it proves you are smarter than they are. The trick is to find the right person. For the most part, they all cost roughly the same, so why not hire a person with more education and experience than you? We're all looking for more precious time in our lives, and hiring pros gives us that time.
  2. Buffering Help
    Agents take the spam out of your property showingsand visits. If you're a buyer of new homes, your agent will whip out her sword and keep the builder's agents at bay, preventing them from biting or nipping at your heels. If you're a seller, your agent will filter all those phone calls that lead to nowhere from lookie-loos and try to induce serious buyers to write an offer immediately.
  3. Neighborhood Knowledge
    Agents either possess intimate knowledge or they know where to find the industry buzz about your neighborhood. They can identify comparable salesand hand these facts to you, in addition to pointing you in the direction where you can find more data on schools, crime or demographics. For example, you may know that a home down the street was on the market for $350,000, but an agent will know it had upgrades and sold at $285,000 after 65 days on the market and after twice falling out of escrow.
  4. Price Guidance
    Contrary to what some people believe, agents do not select prices for sellers or buyers. However, an agent will help to guide clients to make the right choices for themselves. If a listing is at 7%, for example, an agent has a 7% vested interest in the sale, but the client has a 93% interest.Selling agents will ask buyers to weigh all the data supplied to them and to choose a price. Then based on market supply, demand and the conditions, the agent will devise a negotiation strategy.
  5. Market Conditions Information
    Real estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will govern your selling or buying process. Many factors determine how you will proceed. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do.
  6. Professional Networking
    Real estate agents network with other professionals, many of whom provide services that you will need to buy or sell. Due to legal liability, many agents will hesitate to recommend a certain individual or company over another, but they do know which vendors have a reputation for efficiency, competency, and competitive pricing. Agents can, however, give you a list of references with whom they have worked and provide background information to help you make a wise selection.
  7. Negotiation Skills and Confidentiality
    Top producing agents negotiate well because, unlike most buyers and sellers, they can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction and because they are skilled. It's part of their job description. Good agents are not messengers, delivering buyer's offers to sellers and vice versa. They are professionals who are trained to present their client's case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.
  8. Handling Volumes of Paperwork
    One-page deposit receipts were prevalent in the early 1970s. Today'spurchase agreements run ten pages or more. That does not include the federal- and state-mandated disclosures nor disclosures dictated by local custom. Most real estate files average thicknesses from one to three inches of paper. One tiny mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands. In some states, lawyers handle the disclosures—thank goodness!
  9. Answer Questions After Closing
    Even the smoothest transactions that close without complications can come back to haunt. For example, taxing authorities that collect property tax assessments, doc stamps or transfer tax can fall months behind and mix up invoices, but one call to your agent can straighten out the confusion. Many questions can pop up that were overlooked in the excitement of closing. Good agents stand by ready to assist. Worthy and honest agents don't leave you in the dust to fend for yourself.
  10. Develop Relationships for Future Business
    The basis for an agent's success and continued career in real estate is referrals. Few agents would survive if their livelihood was dependent on consistently drumming up new business. This emphasis gives agents strong incentives to make certain clients are happy and satisfied. It also means that an agent who stays in the business will be there for you when you need to hire an agent again. Many will periodically mail market updates to you to keep you informed and to stay in touch.

Source: The Balance 

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