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How Smart Home Improvements Can Boost Your Home’s Appeal

Selling a home yourself, without a big real estate agent’s network to help you, comes down to marketing your asset to bring in the best offers. You need to know your buyers and their needs. Millennials make up the largest group of today’s home buyers. They’re educated, tech-savvy and more environmentally concerned than older buyers. They use smart phone apps to manage their lives and they’re starting families at a time when their salaries are still relatively low, so they may need to live frugally after buying a house.

You can appeal to these buyers with smart, eco features that help the new owners save money.  But younger buyers are not the only ones interested in green technology. According to research from Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC), consumers are making the connection between smart energy and slowing climate change, and they’re more interested in smart-energy-enabled products. So how can you use smart home devices to sell your home?

FSBO And Smart Home Devices

To market your home’s eco smart home features, make an inventory of everything that fits the profile, starting with these, and include them in your property listing to capture the interest of buyers.

Heat pumps: Heating and cooling systems that rely on heat pumps are much more efficient than older systems. In fact, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, air source heat pumps are roughly two to three times more efficient than creating heat by burning fossil fuels like oil or natural gas. If you’ve installed heat pumps in your home, quantify the savings over a typical utility bill and use it as a selling point.

Smart thermostats: Make sure to tout the money savings and convenience of smart thermostats like the Google Nest and Ecobee. They can automatically adjust heating and cooling to minimize costs, and they’re easily controlled in an app. According to Nest, smart thermostats can save 10 – 12% on heating and 15% on cooling, on average.

Leak detection: The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water a day at home, and water costs have risen 30% in the past decade, so new homeowners are looking for ways to use water carefully. Water monitors from Phyn, Moen, Belkin and can alert the homeowner in an app if there’s a leak and even shut off the water automatically.

Home energy monitoring: The Sense home energy monitor is like a fitness tracker for the home, telling you what’s on and off, and how much electricity various devices use. You can use it to find and replace energy hogs like incandescent light fixtures and old pool pumps before you put your house on the market so you can tout the home’s energy efficiency. Homeowners can also make goals in the Sense app to stay on budget and set alerts to know what’s happening in the home (Is the sump pump running? Did I turn off the coffeemaker before leaving the house?).

Smart lighting: Most smart lighting systems use LEDs, which consume a fraction of the electricity compared to incandescent bulbs. They’re a great way to lower your home’s overall energy footprint while adding smart home appeal. For instance, the Phillips Hue lighting system can be controlled and scheduled in a smart phone app or by a smart assistant to suit the family’s individual schedule.

Smart sprinklers: Lawn irrigation systems can waste an enormous amount of water. Rachio smart sprinklers make every drop of water count. They use weather monitoring to schedule watering when it’s needed – no more sprinklers running in the rain! – and it connects to existing sprinkler systems to keep overall costs under control.

Solar panels: Solar is a major investment in the energy efficiency of your home. If you’ve installed solar panels, turn them into a selling point. Don’t assume that potential home buyers will think through the significant financial savings from solar. Put together an analysis of the potential energy savings over the next 10 years and include it in your listing. Your solar app should help make this kind of analysis easy.

Thinking about additional cost savings improvements, don’t forget to mention if you’ve installed windows that are rated for high efficiency or extra insulation that helps keep utility bills low.

When you add up all the smart, eco features in your home, you may just find it’s the dream house for today’s buyer.

This article was contributed by Carol McGarry, Director of Communications at Sense, the smart home energy monitor that provides real-time insights into the home, inspiring people to save money and live more responsibly. Find out more at


Green Home Improvements Take Root with the Right Buyer

Taking steps, no matter how small, toward a sustainable lifestyle can feel incredibly gratifying – which is probably why we’ve seen such large growth in sustainability movements in recent years. Whether you want to eat, dress or commute more sustainably, there’s an abundance of information out there on what kinds of positive changes you can make.

In this article, we’ll be looking at eco-friendly upgrades and changes you can make within your home, not only to become more energy-efficient and sustainable, but also to hopefully save you some money long-term.

Energy-Efficient Lighting

When it comes to going green, turning off the lights when you exit a room is an age-old piece of advice, but there are other lighting-related methods to conserve energy and maintain a well-lit household.

Energy-Efficient Windows

When we think of windows and sustainability, the first thought that probably comes to mind is natural lighting. And while it’s true that windows are a great asset for lighting up your home during the daytime, certain upgrades can be a smart investment and result in even more energy-efficiency (and therefore, more savings in your pocket!).

If you have the means and are interested in upgrading your home, consider installing smart windows. This sophisticated tech may be an intimidating investment at a price range of $50 – $100 per square foot – contrary to standard windows, will run you more around $10 – $15 per square foot – but the reflective glass in smart windows can cut your energy consumption down by about 12%.

Smart windows change color according to the amount of sunlight on a given day, acting as their own kind of blinds. This feature will help keep your home cool during hot summer days and let in more sunlight on colder ones, ultimately cutting down your energy costs.

However, as such a big investment smart windows really only make sense if you’re confident that the house you’re in is a long-term home. If you’re planning on moving or downsizing in the near future, you may want to try out smaller changes to make your home more eco-friendly.

One of those changes can be something as simple as replacing or updating your window seals. Making sure that unwanted air isn’t getting in or out of your home will help streamline your home’s heating and cooling and should still help out with overall energy efficiency.

Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

Perhaps one of the easiest and smartest ways to go green in your home is by simply switching out your lightbulbs. Energy-efficient bulbs not only have a longer lifespan than traditional incandescent, but they can also cut down energy consumption by 25% up to a drastic 80%.

So, the next time your lamp burns out and you need a replacement, keep an eye out for these energy-efficient bulbs:

– Halogen incandescent

– Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

– Light emitting diodes (LEDs)

Natural Lighting

We’ve discussed several methods beyond natural lighting to improve your home’s sustainability, but at the end of the day, natural lighting is still a key component to cutting down on artificial light and saving energy.

For those rooms without windows – typically bathrooms – skylights are a great option for making the most out of the daylight. Similar to any major installation, skylights will run you a pretty penny upfront but can save you loads in electrical over time.

Most skylight installations average $1,500 – $2,500, though the price is dependent upon what kind of skylight would suit your home and your individual preferences.

Consider Solar Panels

If you’re really looking to go all-in on the sustainable home movement, solar panels can be a great start. Although they’ll cost you a hefty $13,000 – $22,000 on average, solar panels have been shown to increase the value of homes in addition to saving you money long-term.

However, before making the investment it’s important to research and learn if solar panels are an option well-suited for your home. Typically, these fixtures are only worth the money if you’re living in a sunnier climate where you can generate enough electricity to justify the upfront costs.

Additionally, depending on the size and structure of your home, solar panels could just be difficult to install. It would be best to contact a specialized solar panel installation company and have a professional come out to audit your home to give you an estimate specifically for your house and its location.

Eco-Friendly Bathroom Updates

With all of the energy and water consumption that occurs in a bathroom, some small changes can make a huge difference. Let’s take a look at some easy tweaks you can make toward sustainability.

Water-Saving Shower Head

Low-flow shower heads are a great way to reduce water waste in your home – particularly heated water, which is a costly energy expense in many households. For the most efficiency, you’ll want to look for shower heads that have a water flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm or gallons per minute.

Low-Flow Toilet

Of all the eco-friendly changes in this article, low-flow toilets are perhaps the most polarizing. They do after all, have a reputation for being pricey and worst of all, low performance. Less water must mean that low flow toilets can’t flush as powerfully, right?

Wrong. Although these are the most common misconceptions that mar the low-flow toilet’s image, recent models are actually given Maximum Performance ratings, or MaPs, to evaluate the effectiveness of an individual model.

The payoff is also well worth it in terms of saving water and the planet – low-flow toilets can cut your water usage anywhere from 20% – 60% annually. Replacing even just one low-efficiency toilet in your home can make a huge difference.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Improvements

Another room which eats up a lot of water and energy is the hub of the house: the kitchen. Upgrading your appliances and faucets is a great way to streamline your home’s energy usage.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

The same way you might want to consider updating your shower head or windows, an upgrade to your kitchen appliances can help you save energy without sacrificing quality. Energy Star certified appliances abide by strict EPA guidelines and are more eco-friendly than standard appliances due to their energy-efficiency.

Whether you’re looking for a new refrigerator, dishwasher or even an energy-efficient air purifier, Energy Star appliances will have you covered.

Low-Flow Faucets

Just like swapping out your shower head can save you an abundance of water each year, a low-flow kitchen faucet is also a sustainable home improvement to reduce your water waste. You can typically purchase quality, low-flow fixtures for as little as $10 – $25 from your local home improvement store and reap water savings of up to 60%.

Energy-Efficient Heating And Cooling

Heating and cooling accounts for a large quantity of energy consumption in most homes. Here are some different ways you can scale that consumption down.

Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats have risen in popularity in recent years and for good reason. With their scheduled temperature settings, these smart thermostats can adjust to your schedule in order to increase energy savings. A programmable schedule may pull back on AC while you’re out of the house or adjust temperatures when you’re asleep.

You can also always manually adjust your home’s temperature to best fit your comfort level, but for those of us who spend a good chunk of time away from home, a programmable thermostat could be a smart and simple way to save money on heating and cooling.

Ceiling Fans

If you’re interested in updating your ceiling fans or making the switch to a greener fixture, Energy Star also carries various residential ceiling fan models – all of which meet the EPA’s guidelines for energy efficiency.

Upgrade Doors

When it comes to increasing the value of your home, you probably know the importance of an attractive front door. Not only can a new front door increase curb appeal, but the right one can also be much more energy-efficient.

The same way that you want your windows to have reliable seals, you want your front door to as well. Energy Star-certified doors come with tight fitting seals, usually installed with magnet strips to create a seal that cuts down on air leakage around the edges.

Add Extra Layer Of Insulation In The Attic

Your attic is the easiest place to install more insulation – not only because it’s typically the most accessible, but also because you don’t even have to use the same insulation that’s originally installed. Ensuring that your attic has well-distributed insulation can improve the energy-efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling, and in turn, your own comfort.

The Bottom Line

No matter how many changes you can or can’t make to your home, it’s important to remember that there is no one right way to be sustainable. Any small changes you can make are a great step toward helping our planet and can make a difference.


Dream Kitchen Draws in Buyers

The kitchen is the heart of the house, and home buyers will be looking at its style and layout when house hunting. You want to be sure that your kitchen is looking its best and this means being current and on-trend. An updated kitchen can help your home sell faster and for a potentially higher sale price.

Whether your kitchen needs a renovation prior to putting it on the market or you just want to give it a small refresh, here are some kitchen trend ideas that will help your house stand out.

Kitchen Backsplash Trends

Hexagon Tiles

If you’re selecting a new backsplash tile, consider a hexagon shape. This shape is trending in a big way for everything from large tiles for floors to smaller tiles for shower pans. Hexagons can get a little busy, so be sure to select a simpler color scheme to keep it from being overwhelming in your space. The hexagon itself should serve as the pattern instead of getting an intricate design on the tile.

Stacked Squares

If you want a more traditional tile look, go for a square tile. Hang it in a grid style so the edges line up vertically and horizontally. This is a trendier layout than the offset or brick patterns that were more popular in the past few years. Be careful if you’re doing this DIY because it can be easy to get off the pattern. Make sure you have a straight edge you’re working off of.

Kitchen Cabinet Trends

Wood Finishes

While white cabinets will never go out of style, wood tones are really trending right now. Wood cabinets are tricky because wood tones so frequently go in and out of style. However, if you are planning to sell your home soon and need to replace the cabinets, you can focus on the wood tones that are really trending right now. For 2021, very light, almost natural-looking wood is the trendiest tone.

Pop Of Color

Painting your cabinets is a great way to update your kitchen without spending a ton of money. Colored cabinets – especially lower cabinets – are still trending hard. While a lot of bold, earthy tones are trending, your safest bets for selling your home quickly would be a charcoal gray, a deep, muted navy, or a deep forest green. Make sure that the color coordinates with both your flooring and countertops for the best look.

Kitchen Faucet Trends

Brushed bronze

Brushed bronze hardware is really having a moment. If you like warm-toned metals, this is a great option. However, it’s not the gold tones of the ’90s – be sure that you go with a matte finish to keep this look current. Angled and flat-edge faucets look much more modern as well compared to the intricate designs of the ’90s.

Black Matte Metals

Whether you go for a modern or rustic look, a black matte finish is both dramatic and trendy. Be sure to select a pull-down style faucet to complete the modern look. If you select a black faucet, try to add black accents in at least two other places in your kitchen, whether in the hardware on your cabinets, light fixtures, or other accessories.

Kitchen Storage Ideas

Open Shelving

Open shelving has been trending for a while, and for a good reason: it instantly makes a kitchen feel more light, open, and airy. If your space doesn’t have much storage, consider if there is a spot where you might add a floating shelf or two. Open shelving along the side of a cabinet or near a window are popular options. If you have plenty of upper cabinets, consider taking one or two down – especially near the sink or in a corner – and replacing them with stacked open shelving. When deciding on open shelving, plan to use that space to display your nicer, less-used items since they will be in full view for everyone.

Organized Pantries

Real estate photographers don’t often shoot pantries, but that might be changing. Thanks to the “Get Organized With The Home Edit” show on Netflix, people are obsessed with beautifully organized pantries. Prior to listing your home for sale, take an afternoon to purge and clean out your pantry. Donate or dispose of anything unwanted. Replace food in color-coordinated bins and baskets for a magazine-worthy look. You don’t need to spend anything or much for this project, but it can definitely excite potential buyers! If a buyer sees that you’ve taken the time to replace the wire shelving, they know you have cared for the home.

Kitchen Lighting Trends

Statement Lighting

In the past, it was common to put small, flush mount lighting in the kitchen. Now, it’s popular to add large, statement lighting. As kitchens have become more open and more of the center of a home, you want to treat them like the centerpiece that they are. Whether it’s an oversized lantern, an eight-armed modern chandelier, or even a large drum shade, statement lighting is a way to make a kitchen feel really special.

Pendant Lighting

If you have an island or a peninsula, consider adding pendant lighting overhead. Pendants draw attention to your island as a focal point without overwhelming it. The wires or downrods also help draw the eye upward, making the space seem bigger. In general, you want to have a pendant every 30 inches. Select a metal tone that coordinates with your cabinet hardware or an accent color to match the accessories in your space.

The Bottom Line

Preparing your home to sell can be a stressful experience. While full kitchen renovations typically provide only a 60% return on investment, minor renovations recoup an average of 80% of their costs. Keep these numbers in mind when deciding which kitchen trends to strive for – and which to skip.

Get more home inspiration on the ForSaleByOwner blog.


Selling A Home In A Retirement Community: What You Need To Know

When you moved into your “55+ community,” you might have intended to stay for the long haul. But plans change — and if you’re now looking to sell your property in a retirement community, you probably want to save money on the deal.

Real estate agents typically take 5% – 6% of the sale price, which could mean as much as $15,000 in commissions on the sale of a $250,000 house. Listing your home as “for sale by owner” could help you cut down on costs because you won’t have to pay the buyer’s agent. But there are some extra steps you’ll need to take when selling in an active-adult community. Here’s what you need to know.

Research Your Community’s Guidelines On Selling

Most communities that cater to older homeowners are deed restricted, which means there are clauses that limit how you can use your property. Check with your homeowners association for details. Your community might have rules surrounding who can buy your property, such as:

> Home buyers must meet age restrictions, and children might not be allowed as permanent residents.

> Buyers might also have to answer questions about their health and finances.

> Some communities don’t allow “For Sale” signs in the yard.

> Open houses could be allowed, but usually without signage.

> Prospective buyers might need to park in designated areas when touring the property.

> Pets may or may not be allowed.

Age is usually the most important restriction. That’s because at least 80% of owned units in a 55+ community must be occupied by at least one homeowner who’s 55 or older, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Determine What Similar Homes Are Selling For

Coming up with a listing price is something of an art form: You want to make enough from the sale to pay off your mortgage balance and pocket the profits, but you also want to set the price low enough to attract enough buyers or set up your listing for a bidding war.

Generally, you’ll attract more buyers to an age-restricted community if you live in an area with a large population of seniors. In 2018, more than half the 65+ population was concentrated among California, Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and North Carolina.

But you don’t have to live in one of these states to net a good selling price. Start by researching recent sales of comparable homes in your community. The homes should have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms and a similar square footage.

Calculate the average cost per square foot. For example, if a home measures 1,500 square feet and sold for $250,000, then it cost $167 per square foot. You can also use free online resources to determine your home’s value or scour local tax records for recent sales data. Use all of this information to guide your listing price.

You also stand to get top dollar if you list your home when more people are hunting for properties. In most areas of the U.S., the best time to sell is during the first two weeks of May. Listings go for about 6% more at this time of year, and homes sell 18.5 days faster than any other month.

Prepare And List Your Home

Once you set a price for your home, it’s time to prepare your home for potential buyers and put it on the market. To make your home more attractive to buyers, take some time to:

> Clean and declutter the interior and exterior.

> Replace light bulbs and add lamps to improve lighting.

> Make small cosmetic repairs.

> Paint the interior walls with warm, neutral colors.

> Hire a professional to take photos of the home.

Next, write a property summary and create a property flyer. It should highlight the features of your retirement community and help buyers imagine what it would be like to live there. You can hand these out to your open house guests or use them while marketing (more on that below). The flyer should include these details:

> Property address

> Asking price

> Monthly fee for the retirement community

> Large, colorful photos

> A brief description of the home

> The cost of annual or monthly property taxes

> Your name, phone number and email address

> Recent upgrades and special features

> Square footage and number of beds/baths

> Neighborhood amenities

Market Your Home

When marketing your home to prospective buyers, you’ll need to go where your buyers are — while following your community’s rules. Here are some ideas:

> Post signs in the yard: If your community allows it, stick a “For Sale” sign in your front yard with your contact information. Consider purchasing a phone number solely for this purpose and creating a unique email address to handle incoming messages from buyers.

> Post on community bulletin boards: Where do the seniors in your area usually gather? For example, bulletin boards at gyms, golf courses and churches could draw attention to your buyer demographic, or you can advertise in your local newspaper.

> Use snail mail for flyers: Mail out your property flyer to your friends and neighbors, who might know of someone looking to buy property in your community.

> Respond by phone: When you start hearing back from potential buyers, follow up via phone call to answer questions and provide more information. This is a personal touch that seniors might appreciate.

> Create A Website: Seniors might prefer to check out videos of available properties before scheduling an appointment to view them. Attract them by creating a website for your listing and including photos of your home and a video for virtual walkthroughs. The website should include all the information from your property flyer.

> Don’t forget your other online options: While some seniors avoid the internet, others are active on social media. Create a Facebook page for your listing and invite others to share it via their social media channels.

You might need to schedule private listings or host a few open houses before you receive offers. From there, you can negotiate the selling price, sign a purchase and sale agreement, and speed toward closing day.


Get Ready To Move While Selling With These Packing Tips

Moving is a big task for everyone. Whether you’re doing it all yourself or hiring professionals, there’s plenty you can do to get ready for moving. Organizing your things beforehand will make unpacking easier when you get to your new place. Packing things in the right place ensures you’ll be able to find them when you need them.

We’ll break this down into stages. First, we’ll talk about what to pack while trying to sell, then we’ll move to talking about what you should pack after it’s sold. We’ll also cover the supplies needed for packing.

What To Pack Up When Trying To Sell My House

Pack up things you don’t regularly use. Consider nonessential decorations or off-season items. As you pack, label the boxes and store them out of the way, like in the garage, basement or attic. For any items you no longer want, donate them to charity, have a garage sale or sell them online.

Go through every room in your house. Open every closet and drawer. Start pulling out the nonessentials and packing them away. Focus on removing as much clutter as possible. If you find things you haven’t used in years, it’s time to get rid of them, especially if they’re things you haven’t unpacked since you last moved.

One thing that may be difficult for you is to pack away personal keepsake items. Things like family photos and decorations you strongly identify with may make your house your home. But remember, you want buyers to envision themselves in the house. Putting away your family photos may be hard, but think of it as the first step to transitioning homes.

When Should I Start Packing After Selling My House?

As soon as you sign a purchase agreement, organize and start packing. You want to settle into your new home quickly and with as little chaos as possible. Remember that the last things you pack will likely be the first things you want to unpack.

Now is the time to decide what things you absolutely need up until moving and what can get packed up. As you get closer to the moving date, think in shorter terms. Ask yourself “What do I need for the next month?” Then “What do I need for the next week?”

When the move is super close, pack up a personal bag with a few changes of clothes and toiletries. If there ever was a time for paper plates and takeout, it’s now.

What Supplies Do I Need For Moving?

Here’s a few supplies that will help you make sure your stuff arrives to your new home undamaged:

  • Cardboard boxes: You’ll want plenty of boxes of varying sizes. You can purchase boxes new or look for used ones for free online. Many stores often will give you used boxes if you ask for them. Reusing boxes will save you money and is better for the environment.
  • Packing tape: You’ll need plenty of packing tape to keep your boxes closed.
  • Bubble wrap, packing peanuts and newspaper: You’ll need these to keep your items secure in the boxes. Use the bubble wrap for more fragile things like ceramics and glass. Newspaper or old paper bags can be used to protect less fragile items.

What Tools Do I Need For Moving?

Whether you’re doing it all yourself or hiring help, it’s still a good idea to have a few of these on-hand:

  • Furniture dollies: While not absolutely essential, a few furniture dollies will come in handy if you’re moving large furniture pieces. This is doubly true if you don’t have much help.
  • Hand truck: A hand truck is helpful for moving stacks of boxes. If you need to move a large appliance, like a refrigerator or freezer, a heavy-duty appliance hand truck is necessary.
  • Blankets and ratchet straps: If you’re loading anything into a moving truck, the last thing you want is for it to crash around in the back of the truck. Secure rows of items with ratchet straps. Protect furniture and appliances from damage by placing blankets in between them and other items.
  • Box cutters: These are essential for opening boxes and breaking down cardboard. This will help you unpack, but will also help when you need to wrap large or awkward items in cardboard.

Wrapping Up

Moving is a big undertaking. Taking small steps along the way to organize, pack and prepare will make the process much easier. Having the right tools and supplies will also help streamline the move. Be sure to declutter and stage your home for viewings. This will help you get the best offer on a fair market price.

Want to read more content on selling your home? Visit the blog.


Home Improvements That Will Increase Home Value

So you’re ready to sell your home, and you want to do whatever you can to make it stand out. But which home improvements and renovations should you focus on? Which ones will help your home sell faster, and which will help boost its final sale price?

Great questions! When it comes to renovations, there is a high degree of variability when it comes to increasing your return on investment (ROI). Finding the right projects that offer big ROI when it comes time will help you make sure your home gets sold fast and at the best possible price.

Certain renovations, such as enhancing your home’s kitchen and bathrooms, will often pay off in quicker and better offers. Others, such as adding a new pool or home office space, usually won’t. It’s all about value and cost vs. reward.

What Adds Value To A Home?

Buyers can certainly be picky, but luckily there’s a lot of research out there about what the majority of them are looking for. Open floor plans and stainless-steel appliances? You bet. Teal green wallpaper with flowers on it? Not so much.

Here’s a look at the best ways to spend your time and money when preparing your home for sale and which improvement projects you should probably avoid.


When it comes to updates that will entice buyers, kitchens are king. Mark Cianciulli, a real estate agent and co-founder of The CREM Group in Los Angeles, California, said that owners should focus on their kitchens when spending money on remodeling.

“One of the most popular requests from buyers pertains to the kitchen,” Cianciulli said. “Buyers are looking for spacious and modern kitchens.”

You can spend a lot on gut renovations to your kitchen, which will increase attention and offers from buyers. But, don’t expect a $40,000 kitchen renovation to add $40,000 or more to your home’s sales price. You usually won’t see a direct payback.

The numbers tell the story: A major kitchen remodel that costs an average of $66,196 will add an average of $41,133 to your home’s resale value, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report. That’s a return on investment of 62.1%. A more expensive upscale kitchen remodel costing an average of $131,510 will add an average of $78,524 to your home’s resale value for a slightly smaller return on investment of 59.7%.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take steps to improve your kitchen. Cianciulli said you can upgrade your kitchen on a more limited budget by replacing older appliances, adding granite countertops or building a new island. These smaller touches won’t cost as much but could have a big impact on your home’s final sales price and how many offers you receive.

A minor kitchen remodel costing an average of $22,507 will boost your home’s resale value by an average of $18,123, according to Remodeling magazine. That’s a far higher return on investment of 80.5%.

Curb Appeal

With most things in life, first impressions are everything. Getting new buyers in the door to tour your beautifully updated home starts with making sure the outside is as welcoming as it can be. Jim Kabel, owner and general manager of Case Design/Remodeling in San Jose, California, said that any improvements you can make on your home’s exterior are well worth your dollars. That’s because when potential buyers drive up to your home, its exterior will make that all-important first impression.

If your home’s yard is choked with weeds and cluttered with fallen leaves or peeling paint is visible, buyers will immediately wonder how well you’ve kept up the home’s interior, and that’s no way to attract a strong offer.

“One of the places that age shows most easily is the exterior of the home,” Kabel said. “Freshening up your front entry is one of the most affordable and effective ways to make significant improvements to your home.”

Repainting your home’s exterior, repairing cracked driveways, pulling weeds and planting bright flowers can all boost your home’s curb appeal and its resale value, Kabel said.

The results of Remodeling magazine’s survey also show that projects designed to add value to your home’s exterior generally provide some of the best returns on investment.  For instance, the magazine reported that replacing an old front door with a new steel front door will only cost an average of $1,826 but will add $1,368 in resale value. That’s a solid return of 74.9%. Replacing a garage door pays off even more, with an average project costing $3,611 adding $3,520 in resale value, or a return on investment of 97.5%, the highest in the Remodeling magazine survey.

The magazine said that replacing your home’s exterior siding will bring an average return on investment of 75.6%, while replacing vinyl windows will bring a return of 73.4%. Replacing wood windows will bring an average return on investment of 70.8%.

Adding Living Space

Adding additional living space will usually pay off, too. If you add a primary bedroom suite, complete with its own bathroom, you’ll boost the number of buyers interested in your home. This is especially important in 2021, when people are spending much more time in their homes, both working and living. We’re all spending a lot more time with our families at home and pondering whether or not we have enough space.

As with kitchen improvements, though, you need to be careful as you don’t want to overspend on adding living space. If you do, you won’t see a good return on your investment when you sell.

Tod Colbert, president of Weather Tight, said that owners don’t want to add so much space, or upgrade their homes so much that they become the most expensive in the neighborhood.

“The remodel needs to be in line with the neighborhood,” Colbert said. “A $100,000 kitchen in a starter home will not return value. It might help the home sell faster. Buyers will gladly take it. But few will want or be able to pay for it.”

The same holds true for bedrooms. Colbert said that a room addition will usually be a positive if you don’t overbuild for your neighborhood.

“Just don’t add 3,000 square feet to a house in a neighborhood with 1,500 square-foot bungalows,” he said.

Adding bedrooms could open your home to a greater number of buyers. More people will be interested in your home if it has three bedrooms instead of two, for example. That said, don’t expect to recoup all the money you’ve spent on adding a bedroom when you sell.

Remodeling magazine reported that a midrange master suite addition, costing an average of $130,986, will only add an average of $77,785 to your home’s resale value. That’s a return on investment of just 59.4%. Meanwhile, an upscale master suite addition costing an average of $271,470 will boost your home’s resale value an average of $136,820, a return on investment of just 50.4%.

Again, though, the real value of a primary suite addition lies in increasing the number of offers you do receive. Buyers like primary suites and are more likely to bid on homes that have them. And, if you add that primary suite long before you sell, you get the added benefit of enjoying that space for yourself.


When asked which rooms are the most important when selling a home, most agents point to kitchens and bathrooms. It makes sense to remodel or upgrade your bathrooms before putting your home on the market.

Buyers today want spacious, bright bathrooms. You might love the pink tile from the 1950s, but unless you catch that midcentury modern buyer that loves period specific original finishes, you could be out of luck. You might consider replacing an old tub, switching out that old toilet and giving your bathroom a fresh paint job. Adding extra storage space in the room can help, too.

“Upgrading your bathroom is the easiest way to communicate to buyers that your home is move-in ready, even if they feel the need to perform other cosmetic changes,” said Jed Lewin, a real estate agent with New York City-based Triplemint. “Most people can live through a kitchen renovation, but everyone needs access to a working bathroom. Not having to renovate it after they purchase will make your home more attractive to the greatest number of buyers.”

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report, a midrange bathroom remodel that costs $20,420 will add $13,717 to a home’s resale value. That’s a return on investment of 67.2%. A larger-scale upscale bathroom remodeling job that costs $64,743 will add an average of $38,952 to your home’s resale value, for a return on investment of 60.2%.

Again, though, you don’t have to spend too much money to boost your bathroom. Fresh paint, new toilets and a new sink could make your bathroom look more appealing to buyers and drive up the number of solid offers you’ll receive. You don’t need to break the bank to make it more appealing to a broader buyer group.

Floors And Paint

Jake Lizarraga, writer with Interior Charm, a blog focusing on home design, says that owners shouldn’t forget about their home’s flooring when considering improvements. Hardwood floors are big pros for buyers today. And if those floors are scuffed or saggy? That will turn off potential buyers. Keep in mind that if you have carpet you might strike gold and find some lovely hardwood floors if you pull it up. Pull a little bit up in a corner to see what you’re working with underneath before you rip it all out.

Another important, cheap touch is paint. Lizarraga said that painting your home’s walls with fresh, neutral colors will make your space look bright and airy. That’s a low-cost way to make a good first impression on buyers.

“Floors and paint, especially if you’ve chosen kooky colors or wallpaper or your floors are old and scratched up,” Lizarraga said. “Returning your home to a bright and neutral environment allows the buyers to imagine how they would live there, rather than you.”

What Home Improvements Do NOT Add Value?

According to Remodeling Magazine’s latest cost versus value survey, even the projects that offer the biggest bang for the buck — installing a steel front door, adding a wooden deck and making minor kitchen remodels — won’t add more than 85 percent of the cost of doing the remodel to the value of the home when you sell. As discussed, not all projects are created equal when it comes to ROI. Let’s look at a few specific ones to steer clear of.

Five Home Improvement Projects To Avoid

1. A Major Home Renovation

Do you hate your kitchen and want to gut and renovate it? That’s a good idea if you’re doing it to enhance the enjoyment of your home. But, if you’re taking on such a major home improvement project to boost your home’s sales price, be careful. Odds are high that you’ll never see a return on your investment.

That’s because major home improvement projects – whether you’re gut renovating your kitchen or building a new bathroom – rarely return all that you spend on them. You might spend $30,000 only to see your home’s sales price jump by $10,000 or less.

That’s why real estate agents recommend smaller, less expensive fixes when getting your home ready for sale. Again, it’s all about ROI.

It’s important to remember where you live. Clemens von Reitzenstein, founder of New York City-based remodeling and project management firm Brace Enterprises LLC, said that homeowners in the city should be wary of wasting money on expensive renovations.

Say you’re selling a high-end condo in Manhattan. Whoever buys your building might instantly redo any work you put into your home, Reitzenstein said. That’s because buyers in urban areas are often focused on location more than the interior look of a home. After buying your home, they won’t flinch at spending money to rework that bathroom or kitchen remodel.

You might wind up pouring a lot of money into a kitchen remodel only for the new owners to rip out those granite countertops and replace those new appliances. The renovated kitchen might play little, if any, role in convincing that buyer to purchase, Reitzenstein said.

2. Tech That’s Too Smart

Teris Pantazes, co-founder of Settle Rite Home Services in Baltimore, said that buyers like to talk about smart home technology. But if this tech is too futuristic, it might turn some potential buyers away.

Pantazes pointed to technology such as smart ovens and LED light bulbs that play music and change color. They might be interesting, but some buyers might be turned off if they think this technology is either too intrusive or overly complicated.

“The major risk is that technologies you have chosen will not become adopted, and buyers are left with a built-in Betamax player,” Pantazes said. “Don’t push the envelope if you’re looking for returns.”

3. In-Ground Swimming Pools

Timothy Wiedman, retired associate professor of management and human resources at Crete, Nebraska-based Doane University, said that an in-ground swimming pool might be a smart move for homeowners who have young children who like to play outdoors.

But in general, Wiedman says, in-ground swimming pools won’t bring much of a return when you sell your home. A pool might actually turn away buyers, he said.

Wiedman pointed to a friend who lives in Southeast Michigan. This friend’s mother decided to sell the home in which she grew up. That home had an in-ground swimming pool.

“Several buyers liked that big, old house with its beautiful hardware floors and extensive woodwork,” Wiedman said. “But they didn’t want the maintenance costs and liability issues associated with an in-ground pool.”

The real estate agent representing the house suggested that the owner fill in the pool and cover it with grass. The result? It sold quickly after the pool was gone. The lesson here is to do the research. You may think “Who wouldn’t want a pool? They’re great!” While that may be true in some areas of the country, the numbers show it’s not universal. Study the area and buyer trends before pulling the trigger on renovations.

4. Expensive Outbuildings And Decks

Benjamin Ross, real estate agent and investment specialist with Mission Real Estate Group in San Antonio, Texas, said that spending big money on unlivable space is usually a mistake when selling. Outbuildings and outdoor decks are nice, but they won’t bring much of a return, and they usually won’t convince otherwise hesitant buyers to make an offer.

“The price of your home is determined by how many livable square feet your home contains,” Ross said. “Adding a lot of upgrades and unlivable space can mean a big loss for the homeowner come sale. Unfortunately, many unsuspecting homeowners lose money all the time.”

Adding “bedrooms” to a basement without egress windows is another example of this. While you might think it’s just fine for your teenage kids, those bedrooms won’t count when you go to list the house for sale.

5. The Other Bedrooms In The House

Speaking of bedrooms, updating the ones that aren’t the primary is something to avoid. While spending on primary bedroom suites could pay off when it’s time to sell, doing the same on the other bedrooms in your home, including kids’ rooms, probably won’t, said Jennifer Murtland, team leader with Team Synergi, a real estate team that serves the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky regions.

That’s because parents make the decision on what home to buy. They want their kids to have pleasant, clean spaces, but they don’t need these bedrooms to be as spacious as the main bedroom.

Doing more than cleaning, decluttering and painting these extra bedrooms probably won’t pay off when it’s time to sell.

“These rooms need to be clean and nice, but with a limited budget and time they can be skipped,” Murtland said.

What To Fix Up When Selling A House?

Before renovations, consider the maintenance related items that need attention right away. In a bathroom, for example, replace or repair old, leaky faucets and put down new grouting if necessary. Also consider caulking around areas like the toilet, shower, and sink to help keep moisture out. Finally, repair or replace damaged and chipped tiles on the floors, walls and other surfaces.

Bottom Line

Renovations with an eye on selling are all about ROI. Use this information to make smart choices. Not all renovations are created equal when it comes to prospective buyers and impact on the sale price. Do your homework, make a plan and start building that value into your home before you sell.


Hosting An Open House: Tips For Marketing Your Home

Once you’ve listed your home online and posted your yard sign, an open house can be a great way to add marketing exposure to your sale. During their home search, two out of every five buyers attend open houses at some point. In addition to advertising, an open house can help you manage showings and might even lead to a bidding war. Here’s what you need to know to attract more buyers to your showing.

1. Do The Research

Before you stage your home and create your advertising campaign, take a look at homes for sale in your area. Tour open houses if you can, paying attention to the staging and features. How do the real estate agents talk about the home, and how do buyers react? Use this information to help you prepare.

2. Stage For Success

If you haven’t cleaned, decluttered and depersonalized already, then now is the time. Be thoughtful about how you want your home to appear and what it will take to get it there. Start big by evaluating any major upgrades or repairs you’ll need to make and then work your way to cleaning and arranging furniture.

Just before the open house, consider taking your pets to a friend’s house for the day and hiding your valuables, medication and other personal items. Some sellers even set out refreshments for a cozy touch.

3. Set A Date

Open houses are typically held on weekend mornings. As you research other homes for sale in your area, find out when they’re holding open houses. Schedule yours for the same day so you can benefit from the foot traffic.

4. Advertise Your Home

There are a few ways to advertise your open house, and it starts with posting signs in your front yard and around the neighborhood. You can also advertise in your local newspaper, on public bulletin boards and even at apartment complexes. Then, move to your online advertising:

  • Advertise online: As much as 90% of buyers use the internet to find a home, so your online ads will be critical. You can create a home listing at free websites such as Craigslist, Yahoo! Classifieds, and Google Merchant Center. Remember to include your home description, photos and the date and time of your open house.
  • Use social media: Many buyers find their next home through word of mouth, so social media should be your go-to platform. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok can put your advertisement in front of thousands of potential buyers – and best of all, it’s free. A few weeks before the open house, post your home description and photos on the social media accounts you typically use. Include the date and time of the open house, and make the post shareable so your friends can help spread the word. Your social media sales kit can also give you some direction here.

5. Invite Your Friends, Neighbors And Co-workers

You can do this both online and in person. First create an open house event on Facebook and invite your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to help you spread the word. If you’re not connected through social media, then invite them in person or via email. You might even hold a special preview for them to help you prepare and give honest feedback.

6. Create A Property Summary

Make a property flyer – also called a property summary – and leave it at the entry of your home. Make sure it highlights all of the features that make your house unique and helps buyers imagine what it would be like to live in your neighborhood. Here are some ideas of what to include:

  • Property address and at least one photo of the exterior
  • Asking price
  • Your name and email address
  • A brief description of the home
  • Recent upgrades and special features
  • Property taxes
  • Square footage and number of beds/baths
  • Neighborhood amenities and school information

7. Think Outside The Box

Getting attention takes creativity, even in a seller’s market. Setting a theme that matches the style of your home’s architecture can set your open house apart from the others. Some agents have seen success renting drones to advertise for open houses. See if a local store will give you permission to set up shop with your drone and hand out listing flyers to onlookers.

8. Be Professional

Homebuyers know they’ll work directly with you as a FSBO seller, so make yourself available at the open house. But it’s important to emotionally disconnect from the home and treat it as an asset you’re selling. Make your visitors feel comfortable by allowing them to explore the house, ask questions and provide feedback at their leisure.

9. Follow Up

Create a sign-in sheet that visitors will fill out when they arrive. Ask them to leave their name, email address and phone number. Not everyone will leave their information – but those who do are more interested in buying. Follow up with your visitors a few days after the open house, and offer to answer any questions they have.

What tips would you share with other home sellers to make their open house a success?

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Keeping Your Staged Home Maintained And Clean

Once you’ve decluttered, depersonalized and arranged your furniture, you’re ready to start showing your home. But how do you maintain a staged home and keep it in show-ready condition for buyers while also living in it?

When it comes to maintaining a staged home, it helps to be proactive. Creating your own checklists and schedules and delegating chores to members of the family who are willing to help is a great way to get started.

Messy homes give buyers the impression that the owners don’t care about the house and don’t take good care of it. Some minor daily maintenance will go a long way to keeping dirt from piling up and small behaviors like returning items to drawers will help you prevent clutter.

Do staged homes sell better?

There are no guarantees when selling a home, but you should always aim to put your home’s best foot forward. Staged homes eliminate clutter and personal items in order to let potential buyers imagine themselves living in the space.

According to Forbes, “a staged home will sell for 17% more on average than a non-staged home, and 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less. That is statistically 87% faster than non-staged homes.” If you want the best shot at selling your house quickly and for top dollar, you should stage the home and keep it clean in between viewings.

Can you live in a staged home?

You can absolutely live in a home once it is staged, but be prepared for a potentially stressful situation. When you first stage your home, you’ll be doing a deep clean and purge of excess and personalized items. This is great if you plan to have a big open house or a full weekend of showings, but after the initial burst, showings usually come in one at a time, and often at the last minute.

You will need to keep your home as clean as possible and clean up as you go. Also, plan to develop a quick cleaning routine so that you’re able to get your home ready for last-minute showings. It might help to establish a staging area – like the attic or garage – to put a couple of big boxes to hold things you want to remove from your house. Just remember, potential buyers could open any closet door or check out the garage or attic, too.

It is equally as important to be realistic with your real estate agent about your availability for showings. A lot of real estate agents use apps to allow buyer’s agents and sellers to coordinate showing requests. Many agents will pressure you to accept any requested showing. However, if you have a strict work schedule, kids on a tight bedtime routine, or any other specific needs, you need to be clear in advance so they can mark those times as unavailable on the schedule. And if something comes up, you don’t have to accept a time, no matter what your agent says.

Cleaning Checklist

Here are some tips and tricks to help you keep your staged home maintained to sell once your home is decluttered and ready to present to potential buyers. Remember – hopefully you won’t have to do this for long.

  1. Plan Your Week

Many areas of your home don’t need to be cleaned daily, so try designating those areas to specific days of the week. Maybe you clean the hardwood floors on Monday, the tile on Tuesday, baseboards on Wednesday and glass surfaces on Thursday.

This is a great system for keeping your home at a certain base level of clean, but also be prepared to do some spot cleaning right before showings.

  1. Stay On Top of Landscaping

The front of your home is the first thing that potential buyers will notice. No matter what season it is, make sure that you have stunning curb appeal and buyers can easily access the front door. Keep the grass mowed and the sidewalk clear of leaves. Keep fresh flowers on your porch and don’t forget to water them. Sweep of the porch and shake off the doormat as needed.

  1. Keep the Entryway Clear of Clutter

Place mail, shoes and jackets in the proper place every time someone enters the home. Get out of the habit of tossing items on the table or ground and leaving them there to build clutter. You never know when you might need to quickly evacuate for a showing, so having this space clean and clear will make that process much easier.

  1. Clear and Wipe Down Surfaces

Every night before bed, take 10 minutes and remove items that don’t belong on your countertops, tabletops and vanities. This keeps the home looking cleaner and when you wake up in the morning there’s nothing to put away. Also take the time to wipe off countertops and the kitchen or dining table so there aren’t crumbs. Crumbs won’t make or break the sale of your house, but you want potential buyers to see a clean slate and not think the house is a mess.

  1. Keep the Floors Clean

Doing some light sweeping and vacuuming on a daily basis is extremely valuable. If you live a busy and active lifestyle it may be a good idea to invest in a robotic vacuum to take care of some of the mess while you’re at work. That way if a buyer calls and wants to see your home that evening, it won’t be a mad dash to get home and clean. Regardless, try to sweep up after any messes immediately to make getting ready for showings easier.

  1. Cover Up Lingering Odors

Avoid cooking smelly food in your home while it’s on the market and dine out for those foods instead. Run your garbage disposal with a little white vinegar or half a lemon to help kill odors. Always take the kitchen trash out with you when you leave for a showing.

If you have pets, don’t forget to manage their needs as well. Make sure you empty litter boxes regularly, scoop the poop in the yard and regularly bathe your furry friends. You can also add aromas that buyers find pleasing but don’t overdo it. Strong air fresheners can bother people’s allergies and make it seem like you are covering up a problem.

  1. Clean Dishes and Remove Garbage

Never leave dishes out when potential buyers are coming. Empty the sink and the drying rack. It’s actually best to put your drying rack away under the sink as they often look kind of gross and take up a lot of counter space. You want your kitchen to look clean and spacious and a drying rack can make it feel cramped and dirty.

You might also want to consider using paper plates while showings are going on if doing dishes becomes a problem for you. Always take out the trash before a showing and get in the habit of dumping any small trash cans, such as in the bathroom, into your larger kitchen trash can regularly. You don’t want your buyers focusing on your used tissues instead of on your beautiful bathrooms.

  1. Pick Up Your Clothes

Keep the laundry constantly moving throughout your home. Wash clothes as soon as you have enough for a load. Clothes should either be stored in a hamper or in your closet or drawers. Don’t leave clothes on the floor left or lying around because it shows buyers that there isn’t enough storage room in the home. Expect that buyers will look in your laundry room, so clean up the bottles or supplies that you have on the shelf and don’t leave dirty or clean clothes laying around.

  1. Make Beds Daily

You can instantly make the bedroom look put together when you make the bed. Make the beds neatly and place pillows each morning, so you don’t have to worry about it if there is a last-minute showing. If your kids have a lot of stuffed animals, arrange them neatly on the bed or place them in a basket in their bedroom.

  1. Keep Bathroom Clean

Make sure to wipe down the shower and surfaces daily so you keep mildew away. Pull shower curtains closed, but be prepared that buyers will likely peek inside. Be sure to use a toilet brush to clean your toilets regularly and put down the seats. Hang or stack towels. Many agents recommend picking up any bathmats so that potential buyers don’t get them dirty with their shoes and so that they can see the floors better.

  1. Store Personal Items

Store personal items out of sight whether it’s shampoo, jewelry or medication. You don’t want to distract the buyer or risk anything going missing from your home. Try to clear off the counters in your bathrooms of all toiletries as well as any dresser tops or vanities that might have a lot of small items on them. Consolidate and minimize for a streamlined, buyable looking home.

  1. Prepare the Living Areas

One of the most important rooms to many buyers is the family room. Take the time to lovingly arrange any blankets or pillows on your sofa. Put remote controls in a basket or drawer and clear off the coffee table. Make this space feel homey and inviting – but not like you just walked into the other room to get a snack – to make potential buyers feel at home.

These crucial tasks could make or break the sale of your home, so have the whole family pitch in to do their part. Consider making a game out of cleaning or have a reward system. Remind them this situation is not permanent, but it could be good practice for when you move into your new home.

Remember that you’re in competition with many other homes for sale and buyers need to be able to visualize themselves in your home despite your occupancy. Focus on these tips to keep your home in good condition and show-ready.


Real Estate Tips for First-Time Home Sellers

The housing market was on fire in 2020, as record-low mortgage rates helped drive home sales. And due to a smaller inventory and higher median listing price – which grew by 15.4% in November compared to last year – it’s a great time to sell a house and get top dollar. If you want to make the most money on what is probably the biggest investment of your life, consider selling your home yourself.

While you’ll need to devote time and energy to this process, following pro real estate tips can help you save when selling your home. Many homeowners pay the selling agent and listing agent a commission that adds up to 6% of the selling price. On a $350,000 house, that’s $21,000 – and going the FSBO route can potentially cut that cost in half.

All you need is some marketing know-how, an entrepreneurial spirit and the help of ForSaleByOwner. Here’s how it works.

Clean and Declutter

You want home buyers to fall in love with your home – but clutter can be distracting and give potential buyers a poor impression. It’s a good idea to deep clean and organize your home before putting it on the market. According to a 2019 HomeLight report, this step could add up to $4,310 to the home’s value. Plus, you might enjoy the space more while you’re still in the home.

Tackle each part of the house: the basement, living room, bedrooms and so on. Go through your items and put them into three main piles: keep, sell or donate. Create an organization system for the items you keep, and give the entire home a deep cleaning.

Stage and Photograph the Home

Home staging – which involves arranging the furniture and decorations in your home to emphasize its strong points – makes it easier for the buyer to visualize themselves there. You can hire a company to handle the staging, and according to a National Association of REALTORS® report, home sellers say it added up to 10% to their home’s value.

After you stage the home, hiring a professional photographer can also help your home sell quickly and even get a better deal. Listings that include high-quality photography sell for $3,000 – $11,000 more.

Determine Your Asking Price

Using our Pricing Scout, determine your property’s worth. This tool gives you an estimated market value and summary of nearby comparable sales.

You can also consider a “do-it-yourself” comparative market analysis to make sure you’re on target. Home sellers should gather information about home sales from the past 3 – 6 months, limiting the search to homes within a half-mile radius. Calculate the price per square foot to help guide your listing price.

Prepare and Repair

Home buyers have high expectations, and your property needs to “wow” to stand out. Check your property inside and out and identify problem areas for repair or upgrade, then prioritize those issues within your budget.

While home buyers usually hire a home inspector, home sellers can also hire one of these professionals to help plan the repair process and estimate costs involved.

Market Your Home

The best homes have compelling property descriptions and drool-worthy pictures, strategically placed to give the listing maximum exposure online. ForSaleByOwner can help you create a stellar marketing plan and find a listing package that works for your situation and budget.

When setting up your marketing strategy, review online listing options (including MLS) and decide which is best for you. Then, craft an appealing ad that highlights your home’s best features and shows high-quality photos of its amenities.

Don’t forget to put “For Sale” signs outside, blast the listing on all your social media channels, and ask your friends to share.

Schedule Showings

Sit down with a calendar and organize your showings schedule. Try to offer as many time slots as possible for buyers, and make sure your home is spotless and pets out of sight. Advertise your open house dates, share them on social media and make a plan for gathering feedback from visitors to improve future showings.

Negotiate the Sale

You’re getting close to selling your home! A buyer is interested and now it’s time to negotiate. Use our Find a Pro feature to locate a real estate attorney who can help you with all the paperwork coming your way.

In your mind, decide on a minimum price you’re willing to accept and if you’re going to negotiate online or in person. Update your comparative market analysis if your home has been on the market for a while, and come up with a negotiation strategy, including any concessions you’re willing to make.

Close the Deal

You’ve got an offer on the table. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the legal forms in our Real Estate Forms & Guides section, though your attorney will complete the paperwork and provide state-specific forms, disclosures and contracts. Contact your mortgage company to determine an exact payoff amount.

During closing, you’ll be working with your buyer’s inspector and appraiser. They may come back with an amended offer once. This is part of negotiations.

Once you’ve all agreed on concessions and price, verify all details in the contract have been met. Use our Find a Pro feature again to hire a title agency to close the sale and provide a closing venue. You and the seller should agree on a closing date, and make sure you have a plan for covering closing costs.

Once the nitty-gritty is out of the way and you’ve got a closing date, it’s time to take care of you! Hire a moving company, cancel your utilities and gather any warranty paperwork for the buyer. All that’s left is handing over the keys and starting your next adventure!

You can sell your home on your own successfully as long as you have the right tools, and we’re here to help you out! Learn more real estate tips about selling through ForSaleByOwner today.


10 Low-Cost Ideas To Help You Sell Your Home

For many homeowners, the inability to afford an expensive remodel or update interferes with listing their home confidently, or even at all. But it’s not always the major renovations which catch buyers’ attention – the finer details can be equally important. Consider this list of affordable tips to sell your home before hanging up your for-sale sign.

1.    Improve Your Curb Appeal

They don’t call it “curb appeal” for nothing. Simply improving the functionality and look of your home’s exterior and landscaping can serve as a great first impression for potential home buyers.

Make sure your gutters are up to snuff by checking for loose parts or clogs. You also want to be sure there are no broken or missing flashing materials, which help prevent leaks behind your gutters. Check that your garage door is in working condition and that none of your home’s window shutters are crooked or dangling. Lastly, mowing the grass and trimming up your hedges are other easy ways to spruce up your yard.

Estimated Costs

Completely replacing your home’s gutters can be expensive, so you’ll want to replace parts if possible. A 10-foot gutter starts at around $6, with downspouts starting closer to $8.

Garage doors can cost as much as $1,000 on the high end, but you can get a decorative garage door hardware kit for as little as $19. And if you or a loved one are particularly handy, much of the mechanics behind fixing a garage door can quickly be DIY’d.

2.    Make That Front Door (And Doorbell) Stand Out

When it comes to life and open houses, we all know that first impressions matter. Although many of us don’t always enter our homes through the front door, prospective buyers will.

“While the REALTOR® is fiddling with the lockbox, trying to get the door open, the buyer is standing there looking around,” says stager and interior designer Deborah Goode of A Goode Start Decorating and Home Staging in Annapolis, Maryland.

So be sure to update your home’s front door and walkway by fixing any cracks or peeling with spackle and a fresh coat of paint. You should also double check that your front door’s locks and doorbell are all in working order so that your home seems move-in ready.

Estimated Costs

Exterior paints typically start at $30 per gallon and doorbells are $10 and up.

3.    Evaluate Every Entrance

As important as your front door is, it’s not the only one that will get the once-over.

“Doors offer a huge bang for the buck visually,” says Chris Neumann, director of operations for Pyramid Builders in Annapolis. Neumann suggests that homeowners consider updating their interior doors, or at the least, replace their door hinges and knobs. “And replace any junky bi-folds with double-swing or heavier solid-core doors,” he adds.

Estimated Costs

Bronze door hinges can cost $3; solid-core, unfinished pine interior doors start at $99.

4.    Look Down

As buyers walk in and remove their shoes or wipe their feet, their eyes will be drawn to your home’s flooring. While blemishes such as stained carpets, raggedy rugs and scratched floors could be enough to put off a potential buyer, they’re easy fixes that you can tackle before an open house.

Estimated Costs

Carpet steamers can be rented starting at just $60, and while the price of area rugs varies greatly, your local hardware or furniture store will most likely carry them starting at around $100.

5.    Select The Right Scent

If you’ve ever wandered around the candle aisle at the grocery store, then you know how compelling or comforting different scents can be. Be sure to eliminate any nose agitators and avoid the dreaded question: “What is that smell?”

If you have any pets, make sure that their necessities are clean – for cats this means clean litter boxes. For any small caged animals, such as hamsters or guinea pigs, this means clean cages. And if you’re living in your home during the selling process, make sure that your pets are bathed before any showings – just to ensure that potential buyers won’t mistakenly associate your home with a wet dog smell or any other unsavory odor.

You should also clean out your refrigerator – people may be nosy! – and banish the kids’ stinky sports equipment to the basement or garage.

Once you’ve gotten rid of any potential for house stink, choose a scent to you love to use throughout your home. Whether you use a candle, room spray or plug-in, just be sure not to go overboard combining different scents or by using too much fragrance.

Estimated Cost

Scented candles can cost $10; plug-in odor eliminators start at $17.

6.   Quick-Clean And Spot Treat

Walls are an excellent canvas, but they also clearly display age, dirt, indifference, even foundation issues. Fix any scuff marks, nail holes and paint cracks. “Remove all peeling wallpaper and repaint in neutrals to maximize the natural light,” says interior designer Jana Abel, president of J. Abel Interiors in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Estimated Cost

Spackling paste starts at $18; interior paint costs $28 a gallon and up.

7.    Have A Place For Everything

When it comes to showings or open houses, potential buyers are there to look at your home and imagine what it’d be like living there – which can be hard with clutter reminding them of the current homeowners. “I always advise my clients to take out at least a third of what they have in closets,” Goode says. Make sure anything that’s not on display — shoes, coats, papers, pots, pans — is tucked away and neatly organized.

Estimated Cost

Attractive bins and baskets cost $20 and up; basic shelving systems start at $200.

8.    Check Your Drawers

The same way you wouldn’t want to get caught with an ill-working doorbell or garage door, you don’t want a potential buyer opening a cabinet or drawer and having it stick or get jammed. So, if you have a lopsided utensil drawer that you’ve learned to live with, just know that it’s something your buyers might not be able to.

Although new cabinetry can be pricey, simply fix any bent drawer tracks and slides, or replace dangling pulls and tighten screws and handles.

Estimated Costs

Basic rail-drawer-track kits start at $3; decorative cabinet knobs start at $4 each.

9.    Make Your Appliances Shine

While it may seem like a no-brainer to clean your home before welcoming people over, the kitchen is a space which oftentimes gets overlooked. Remember to scrub down your refrigerator, microwave, oven, stovetop, sink, and any other appliance included in the sale of your home. Buyers will want shiny new appliances, not evidence of last week’s tuna casserole.

Estimated Cost

Most cleaning products start at $4; elbow grease is free.

10. Finish With Some Finishes

Bathroom gut jobs can be pricey, but replacing finishing elements such as faucets, showerheads, towel racks and toilet paper holders can significantly brighten a room. “If you have polished chrome faucets or shower valves, you can pick up any chrome accessories and they will match, unlike satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze,” says Abel. New shower curtains, hand towels and bathmats will also help the room look updated and clean, she adds.

Estimated Cost

Showerheads can cost $40 and up; bath towels start at $10; faucets are $70 and up.


How Can I Sell My House Fast?

This day and age, most home buying business occurs online. So, make a good and lasting impression by posting high-quality photos of a clean and depersonalized home.

Also be sure to take photos during the daytime, when lighting is the brightest and most natural, and consider borrowing a friend’s DSLR camera or even hiring a photographer for those sharp and professional looking photos. Check out our article on real estate photography for more tips on how to stand out in the online market.

Should I Stage My House?

While home staging is usually advantageous for selling your home, it’s not always a necessity. Check out our article on home staging to see what works for you.