Clean and Clear: Tips for Selling Your Home

The time has come to sell your home. You’ve hired a realtor, and you’re about to place the ‘For Sale’ in your front yard. What you might not realize is that there are many steps you can take to both increase the value of your house and decrease the time it takes to sell it. Spending a few hundred dollars on repairs and cleaning supplies could possibly add thousands of dollars on the value of your house. If you are unsure of what areas need to be cleaned, don’t hesitate to ask your realtor or close friends. Sometimes, when you’ve lived in a place so long you miss the small needed corrections that potential buyers would notice. In simple terms, people are interested in homes that are clean and clear. Listed below are many simple, yet helpful tips that you can use to help sell your home.


  • Be sure to clean the carpets, especially worn down places and places with possible odors.
  • Wash all windows and doors. Clean all the house appliances.Remove grease spatters and polish all fixtures throughout the house.
  • Organize all the closets.
  • Replace old or stained tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms. Purchase new rugs and mats for the bathrooms.
  • Remove all smudges off door knobs and light switches
  • Be sure to mow the lawn regularly, and mulch where needed (especially the front yard).
  • Repair any leaks, cracks, or rattles that you hear throughout the house.
  • Tighten loose fixtures. Repair any cracks that might be in the molding.


  • Have a yard or garage sale to help remove unwanted clothes, furniture, appliances, etc.
  • Replace light bulbs with higher wattage bulbs to make rooms seem brighter and bigger.
  • Paint rooms that have dark or dull colors with light colors, such as white or off-white.
  • Remove any unneeded furniture from every room.
  • Take down pictures that you might keep on your refrigerator.
  • Organize even rarely used spaces in the house (like the garage, attic, or basement).
  • Make sure that shelves don’t have too much piled on them.
  • You should be able to see the baseboard in each room.
  • Make sure that all curtains are open and window shades are up.
  • Remove old or broken screens from windows and doors.

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Buying a Second Home

You are on the market for a second home. Before you rush off to buy that tempting beachfront cottage or the mountain condo right on the ski trail, consider pausing to take a few precautionary steps. When buying a second house, it is far too easy to make rash, emotional decisions that can have stern consequences down the road.

If you don’t have time to read one of the countless books about buying a second home or to hours of research, you can get a summary of the information here. The wealth of information on this topic can be narrowed down to a few logical points to keep in mind.

Location is key. Even if you plan on using a second house only for yourself, make sure you purchase in an area that the property will still appreciate in value. Someday you may want to rent it out if you need the money or get bored with the place, so making an investment in a good area is important. Also, you may want to be sure the location is relatively near your present home to make quick weekends possible and to stay regular on upkeep for yourself or renters. Real estate agents have a variety of market research that can clue you in on renter’s preferences.

Do the math. Just as there are a lot of expenses you aren’t always able to anticipate with your current house, there will be an equal number of ones that come up with a second house. Only it will be harder to manage because you will be further away and not there as often. Costs such as garbage, insurance, landscaping, dues, and taxes need to be calculated to see if you can and want to afford a second house.

Do your research. Do not only visit the house itself, visit the surrounding community as well. Stay there a few days, talk to the neighbors, and get a feel for the area. No matter what time of year it is, ask for pictures of the house from all seasons, it is amazing how different a house can look when not graced by blossoming flowers and trees. Research the area also; finding out about weather, construction, and crime rates can impact the desirability for yourself and future renters.

Cool down before you buy. Don’t get caught up in the moment of a beautiful house. Too often people make rash decisions on second houses, because they are either afraid someone else will buy it before them or they think the house is one-of-a-kind. Houses, especially second houses and vacation getaway houses, will probably still be available months after you look at it, and there is never a shortage of them. You need to think about how much time you will realistically spend there, or if it will be like a gym memberships that gets constant use until March. Also, take into account how far away it is, in other words, if you will actually want to make the drive and if it will even be cost effective to go very often.

After all these things have been considered, you have given yourself a few weeks or months to think about it, and you still want to buy, then go for it and don’t look back.

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Why You Should Get a Home Inspected Before You Buy

Buying a house is probably one of most important purchases you will make in your lifetime. No matter how perfect the house, neighborhood, property, or even the cost may be it is always beneficial to get a home inspected before you buy it. Some things, like termite infestations in the foundation, lead paint on the walls, or dying trees near the house, can potentially cause serious damage to the house or your family. While it can be moderately pricy to have different inspections performed on a house, it is better to spend hundreds of dollars before a purchase than thousands after it in repairs.

As a future homebuyer, you need to understand what a comprehensive inspection entails, what things to keep an eye out for, and where you can find an expert home inspector. Having a home inspected gives future homeowners a peace of mind about their purchase because then they know everything about the house from an unbiased source. Also, if an inspector finds something wrong with the house it can be taken into consideration in the final price of a sale or it can be fixed by the seller before the sale.

The three primary objectives a home inspector has are to evaluate the physical condition of the house, identify repairs, and estimate the lifespan of major components in the house. In evaluating the physical condition of the house, inspectors will take into account the foundation and structure, the performance of the mechanical systems, and the construction and makeup of the entire house. The major components of the house that are given estimated life spans are traditionally the electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, finishes, equipment and structures. Knowing these factors about a house can save thousands of dollars down the road in premature repairs.

A good home inspection will usually cost between $200 to $500, depending on the size, age, and location of the house, and traditionally lasts about three hours. Within three to five days of the inspection, the inspection agency will provide a thorough report detailing all of their findings.

For an extra fee, inspectors will usually be able to extend their investigation to study a few extra risky items, such as swimming pools, trees, older homes, and the deep-down effects of pests and mold. Homes older than 35 years, and especially ones older than 80 years, should be given special attention either by your home inspector or an older-home specialist. A pool inspection is relatively inexpensive, around $75 to $125, and can surprisingly save a lot of money by catching problems located in the filters, heaters, vacuums, covers, diving equipment, or expansion joints. A tree inspection can cost a bit more, in the $150 to $350 range, but the damage a dead tree falling on your house can cause both to your home or your family could end up costing you considerably more.

You can find an experienced home inspector in the yellow pages, the internet, or through your real estate agent by clicking here. Home inspection is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your investment and to ensure the safety of those you love.

Consumer Savvy Tips – Don’t buy a home without a home inspection
US Department of Housing – Home Inspection
Bankrate- Inspection Horrors

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