Stop! Pre-listing Tips to Use Now!

Many home sellers often overlook some easy and relatively inexpensive fixes that not only increase the visual aspect, but may add to the final sales price.  Major remodeling is costly and will not necessarily equate equally in the sales price, and sometimes will hinder if upgrades are too personal or specific.  These repair tips and maintenance items will appeal to the masses and will help a property sell quickly and usually for a higher sales price.


If your exterior needs painting or repairs, you want to take care of that!  This is the first impression that people will have of your home.  If the flowerbeds need weeding and paint is peeling, people will automatically assume that you do not maintain your home and that it is a fixer upper.  I have even seen buyers cross off homes just on curb appeal only!  Even if the paint is in good shape, you may even hit the door and trim again (especially around the knobs and deadbolt, this get scratched over time).  

Go throughout the home and scrub those windows inside and out.  You want them to sparkle!  Make sure you get help if it is a multi-story home!  Always be safe!

Be sure you clean all the clutter from the yard.  You want to put up any kids toys, mow the yard, trim the shrubs, and pull that grass or weeds from the flowerbeds.  You can place color flowers in the beds or in pots along the entry path or on the front porch.  This makes it warm and welcoming.  Sometime sellers will like placing them in pots so they can take to their new home!


You want to give your home a good thorough scrubbing.  I can not stress this enough.  Even hire someone to come in if you have to!   Really scrub the bathrooms and kitchen.  You want it totally spotless.  You want to keep it this way while your home is on the market, even after you have a contract.  Your home can still be shown and may even have a back-up contract accepted.

In the kitchen, you want to even clean the cabinets.  If the cabinets are in bad shape, you can repaint or restain to make a big impact.  This is fairly inexpensive and really makes a big impact on resale.  Take a good look at your countertops as well.  If they are badly worn or damaged, you may want to replace.  Sometime buyers will just focus on the worn or outdated countertop without seeing the potential the home has.  If you are going to replace, I usually will recommend replacing with a stone or granite type surface.  This makes a huge impact on making the home feel updated and you will usually get that money back on the sales price.  

You want to go through and at least touch up the paint through the home.  Every home- including mine- has little marks on the walls from shoes, furniture, or whatever.  Sometimes, I even wonder how it happens!  Sometimes you may even have to repaint the whole room or even the whole house.  Again, this is where I come in, I can tell you what colors will be best to appeal to the masses.

Flooring can really impact the sale of your home.  If you have carpet covering beautiful hardwoods, you may want to pull them up and show off that hardwood.  Hardwoods are really desirable right now.  If the carpet remain in the home, it needs to be deep cleaned.  I always recommend having the pros come in on this.  I don't mind DIY for normal cleaning, but the pros do such a better job and after all, the sale of your home depends on this!


The majority of the time, I will recommend the major remodeling wait until you get into your new home, UNLESS you have serious issues that need to be resolved prior to sale.  If you have a roof leak that has impacted drywall inside, you MUST take care of both prior to placing on market, unless you want to market as a fixer upper and price it accordingly.  A new roof will help the house sell!  A buyer will love the fact that it will be worry free for many years!  Basically any deferred maintenance needs to be taken care of now.  It will help you sell in the long run.

Have you saved enough for your closing costs?
By Chris
January 23, 2017

There are many potential homebuyers, and even sellers, who believe that they need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home or move on to their next home. Time after time, we have dispelled this myth by showing that many loan programs allow you to put down as little as 3% (or 0% with a VA loan).

If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have saved enough for your closing costs.

Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:

“Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage. These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

We’ve recently heard from many first-time homebuyers that they wished that someone had let them know that closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment.

Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services (insurance, search fees)
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting fees

Is there any way to avoid paying closing costs?

Work with your lender and real estate agent to see if there are any ways to decrease or defer your closing costs. There are no-closing mortgages available, but they end up costing you more in the end with a higher interest rate, or by wrapping the closing costs into the total cost of the mortgage (meaning you’ll end up paying interest on your closing costs).

Home buyers can also negotiate with the seller over who pays these fees. Sometimes the seller will agree to assume the buyer’s closing fees to get the deal finalized, which is known in the industry as ‘seller’s concession.’

Bottom Line

Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.

Housekeeping Tips

Hate cleaning your house? No one could blame you!  Before hiring a housekeeper or cleaning service, do yourself a favor and start with these items to save you money and keep your maid happy!

1. Clear the clutter first. 

Maria Stickney, the Housekeeping Manager at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, likes to clear the clutter out of a room, so she can start with a blank slate. She empties the trash, removes the linens, towels, and anything else left behind. In the bathroom, she clears the towels, bathmats, bottles, and everything on the counters or toilet tank. "This removes the temptation of just wiping around these items or picking them up and immediately placing them back down on a wet surface, which can leave ring marks," she says.  (From Good Housekeeping)

2. If you wouldn't touch it, they won't either.

Yes, housecleaners will scrub away that nasty buildup around the bottom of your toilet seat. But they also have a limit: They won’t pick up your dog’s poop.

Or—and yes, Megan Sentner, manager at Greenapple Cleaning in Ottawa, Ontario, says it’s happened—yours.

“Sometimes there are expectations that we can clean it, but we don’t,” she says. “We don’t expect our team to handle any waste above the usual cleaning of the bathroom or the toilet.” (From

3. Be Specific.

Unless you’re ordering a top-to-bottom scrubbing every week, your cleaners need direction. Is the bathroom looking a little grungy? Ask them to spend extra time on the shower. Request extra attention to your baseboards. Sic them on your son’s room, now that he’s finally off to college.

“If they don’t leave full instructions, there’s a chance they’ll be disappointed,” Sentner says.

If you’re new to the world of professional housecleaning, you might not know exactly what your home needs most. Most maid services will happily stop by for a consultation so you can learn exactly how dirty you are. (From

4. Check Insurance.

There are two basic type of housekeepers: independents who work on their own, and those who work for companies. With independent contractors, you might be responsible for issues of work eligibility and withholding taxes, which you won’t be if you hire through a company.

Either way, make sure the cleaner is bonded and insured, for their protection as well as yours. (Bonding will help if the housekeeper damages something in your home; an insured worker can keep you off the hook for liability in on-the-job accidents.).  You can also get added insurance through your local insurance provider. (From Denver Post)

5. Don't ask them to lift heavy objects.

Moving boxes and heavy furniture is definitely in the no category. You don’t want a housekeeper getting hurt. Different housekeepers and cleaning companies have different policies on what they will and won't do. “Moving things over 35 pounds is off-limits to cleaners,” says former housekeeper Karine Nelsen, who now runs Zephyr Clean in Idaho. "There's just too much of a risk for injury."  (From

Kidde Recalls more than 5 million combo smoke alarms!

Kidde recall: What you need to know

When's the last time you checked the smoke detector in your home?

This recall involves smoke/CO alarms with model number KN-COSM-IB and manufacture dates between June 1, 2004 and Dec. 31, 2010.

"When the alarm reaches the end of its useful life, it issues an end of life chirp every thirty seconds," Kidde says in an online post. "If the battery is replaced when the unit is at its end of life, and the test button is pressed within 10 seconds thereafter, the unit will no longer issue an end of life chirp."

So you may think your detector is properly working, only to discover in an emergency that it's not!

An estimated 3.6 million of these alarms were sold nationwide in the United States via the big-box home stores, electrical distributors and on Amazon. Price points were reportedly between $40 and $65. An additional 1.5 million units were also sold in Canada.

Kidde says it has received word of eight incidents with the recalled alarms failing to work. But thankfully there have been no injuries.

If you have one of these detectors in your home, contact Kidde immediately for a free replacement alarm (based on date of manufacture) or a discount on a new alarm.

You can reach the company toll-free at 855-239-0490 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at

Having working smoke alarms and integrated smoke and fire detection in your home alarm system are two simple ways you can protect yourself and your family from the threat of fire.

Think you can't afford a smoke detector? Call a fire station and ask for a referral to an organization that's giving away smoke detectors. Don't let money force you to put your family into an unsafe situation.


Renters Insurance

About a week ago, a young couple that I know had lost everything in a home fire.  They lived in a duplex and both units were total losses.  The young couple on one side, a family of 5 on the other, all had nothing except what they wore out of the home.

Most people do not have unlimited funds to purchase everything.  Imagine having to purchase all new clothes, a new cell phone, all new furniture, a new vehicle, new toiletries, new food, the list seems to go on and on.  One unit had renters insurance and one did not.  Many landlords recommend and some even require renter insurance.  All insurance companies can work with you to list items to determine coverage amounts.  Most policies are less than $30 per month.  So for a dollar a day, you have the protection for the worst case scenarios.  I highly recommend rental coverage.

Be careful out there and be prepared.