Thursday, August 27, 2015

Soar With School Strategies

Selling a house can be stressful at any time. With late summer comes relief from extreme heat and a return to school for the kids. New routines, new schools and new friends are all part of the excitement of learning, but they can be stressful. 

When your house is on the market, it can be challenging to maintain an organized house with all these changes! Once the school season hits, smart sellers are prepared for the return to school in several ways.

This is important when buyers may be stopping by at any moment.

So how exactly does a seller keep a house showcase ready with all these changes in routine?

Your Home, Their Home

It may sound crazy to some people, but I have met families where the parents try to keep the sale of the house a secret for one reason or another. This is pointless as even if you are selling without a sign in the yard, the kids will figure it out when buyers start showing up. If they happen to be out during visits, they will definitely realize once you start packing for your new location!

The best way to get their understanding and cooperation is to let them know. With their help, the constant state of readiness for buyers will be less challenging.

Imagine having them find out after the decision to sell is made. They may feel betrayed, disappointed and intentionally sabotage visits by making a mess!

From their point of view, they may have friends in the area or favorite secret spots that they may wish to enjoy to the fullest while they can. They may want a way to note fond memories in the house. They might like to take pictures of their rooms, friends or the neighborhood as mementos. This process is all best done with openness and honesty.

Their Rooms

The late summer is a great time for a purge. Once school starts, your kids will have many other demands on their time. Especially if the kids are entering or changing schools. 

Back to school might also be the perfect reason to update their rooms for a more grown up and neutral look. This will help you with your staging in order to make your house more appealing to buyers without children, who have children in different age groups or different sexes from yours.

Some of the best ways to neutralize would be to:

Remove any themed wall papers, borders, posters, wall hangings and anything suspended from the ceiling.

Limit large collections of dolls, toys or other collectibles to two or three favorite pieces and put the rest in off site storage – or donate or sell them. This may be just the reason to goodbye to the childhood collection that has just been sitting there gathering dust!

Repaint to cover the Barbie pink or Superman blue from the walls and replace it with something more appealing to all ages. 

Find something gender neutral like soft yellows, greens or beiges. Neutral does not have to be boring. With a little creativity - such as using stripes to create some interest, your child may even like the new look. Stay away from anything pink or blue until you get to your new house.

If your kids put up a fuss, remind them that this is temporary and play up the opportunity for them to decorate in your new house.

Play Areas

If your kids are lucky enough to have a dedicated play area, it may be time to repurpose the space for something else. Here, too, get your kids to sort out what they still use and store it off site. Donate or sell anything that has been outgrown or has lost favor.

Depending on the type of space, a guest bedroom or home office would be the most advantageous way to go to impress buyers. 

Let your kids know whether or not they may still use the space once it is repurposed. 

If you decide to let them use it, have an understanding that it must be visitor ready whenever they are not occupying the room.


When kids are in school, they will inevitably come home with art, assignments, report cards, awards and trophies that you will want to display. 

Resist the temptation to place these items on bulletin boards, the fridge, shelves or other surfaces. To buyers, this will only be distracting and unwelcome clutter.

Instead, come up with a plan to celebrate in another way. For every one, three, five (whatever you decide is a good number) achievements, you will go out to a special event – whatever activity your kids enjoy.

Be sure they understand why you are not putting these great achievements on display. If you can, tell them or show them where they will be placed once you get to your new home.

Study Areas

If you have a dedicated study area for your kids, come up with a strategy to keep it neat and organized. 

A storage chest or ottoman may be the perfect place to quickly stash school supplies or ongoing projects prior to a showing. 

Get some stylish decorative boxes to store small items like pens, USBs and chargers to keep them contained and out of sight. 

Have a plan for keeping any large or extended science projects in check.

If your children should find visits too disruptive to their studies, keep a schedule on hand of the hours for local libraries and have a plan to take them there, if needed.

Cooperative Cleaning

Make sure your kids understand how important it is to keep their rooms neat and clean while your house is up for sale. You don’t want to be scrambling to get the whole house ready if you suddenly have buyers coming in a half hour! Even if you have to bribe them with merit points or prizes, get them to:

  • Keep their floors clear
  • Make their beds
  • Keep their bathrooms presentable and clean
  • Hang their clothes or put them in drawers or hampers

Offer cash bonuses (if needed) for doing extra chores around the house or yard to keep the house ready for viewing at all times.

Multiple Showings

If you are having multiple showings or an open house, it might be wise to get the kids out of the house. Use this as an opportunity to reward them for all of the hard work they have done to keep their rooms spotless!

Another suggestion would be to send them to friends’ houses or have a friend or relative watch them for a while. Libraries, parks or even a mall offer great and free diversion.

Extra-curricular Activities

If your kids participate in sports or other activities after school or on weekends, be prepared. Have a plan in place with other parents, friends or family members to pick up or drop off your kids in the event that you suddenly need to concentrate on a showing. Make sure to keep the activity's staff informed in advance to avoid any guardianship issues at pick-up time.

If you have come to the realization that it is time to move right now to have a better life - and minimize disruption of the school year, but your house isn’t prepared, we can help. 

If you are juggling too many responsibilities to sell your house yourself this fall, then there are people who specialize in the sale of properties "as is" - usually within a week to resolve the situation quickly. 

Contact us for details.

Next time we will look at must haves for the luxury home.

So thanks for reading my post. I'm so glad you're here! 

And I really look forward to getting into more great stuff in future posts -- so that you can 

Turn Your House To $OLD!

Feel free to ask me any questions through the contact info below. I would be very happy to help.

Linda  623-335-2662

Article Sources:

Lynda Bathory

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reno? Oh NO!

Everyone knows that renovations are a great way to add value to a property. But did you know that there are some renovations that will actually devalue your house?

A Change Is Sometimes NOT as Good as a Rest

Even if you think what you are planning is to you the most beautiful thing in the world, like styling after that beautiful little Mediterranean stucco house you stayed in on your memorable second honeymoon to Greece, it may not be right for your neighborhood. Your “upgrade” may end up devaluing your property – and perhaps all the houses on the street!

A friend of mine moved into a neighbor hood with lovely Victorian row houses. They were not all in great condition. 

Most of the owners were painstakingly restoring them to resemble the famous “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco. Neighbors coordinated colors, shared the name of good contractors, collaborated on projects to get consistency (and better deals). The street was transforming into something notable and beautiful.

The last time I visited, Darth Vader had moved into the neighborhood! One of the houses was just bizarre!  EVERY exterior surface was covered with black aluminum siding, or black paint and there were giant antlers over the front door! I wish I would have taken a picture.

Actually, you know what? 

I Googled it for you! 

This is an older picture, (Google needs to pass by again!) so the bricks and stone aren’t black, and there are no animal bones on display. 

But I think you get the idea.

Pool Your Money

Some home owners mistakenly believe that adding a swimming pool will turn their suburban home into a luxury estate. 

While a pool is almost expected in certain southern neighborhoods, your geographic location should dictate whether this is a wise consideration for the sale of your property. 

Chances are that most buyers will not be impressed. 

They require a lot of maintenance, eat up yard space and are a danger to small children. Almost certainly, they will not increase the value of the property by the amount of the cost.

If you are selling without a pool, let the new owner decide if they will take the project on.

Personal Preference

Everyone has heard that the best color to paint a house for sale is beige. Most people find it inoffensive. 

Even if they have plans to paint another color, most people can live with beige for a while.

Not only is it important to have a neutral paint job, it is important that the job be well done. With all the modern tools available, it is generally unacceptable to get paint on windows, trim or floors. 

Any change in color should be crisp and clean!

Another thing to avoid is fashion trends. It may be all the rage right now, but what will a buyer think next spring if your house doesn’t sell this fall? Do your best to be modern, but stay on the conservative side. Remember the 1990’s when faux finishes were all the rage? 

Well, try explaining this kitchen to your buyers!

Luxury Limits

It’s tempting to follow the advice interior design magazines. The images they share are beautiful, dramatic and often extravagant. 

It is important to remember that they are selling sensation and seduction, not necessarily practicality. No doubt there are suppliers are sponsoring the photo shoots.

While this chandelier is a beautiful conversation piece and is bold and fashionable luxury, try having a conversation with the person dining across the table!

Save bold statements for your next place and keep the house you are selling as neutral as possible!

It is also worth avoiding any materials that may have a limited popularity time. This is particularly true for wall tiles and some floor treatments. It is important to remember that renovation stores make sales by changing inventory and coming up with new materials. You can never really know which trends will have staying power.

Avoid custom finishes, too.

While you may think it is clever to use all your old pennies on the floor, a buyer may be seeing dollar signs when thinking of how they are going to have to remove it!

Focused Upgrades

It’s tempting to change just one area, or room in a house. This is particularly true if one area has unusual wear and tear. If you have some kitchen cabinets that need changing, it is probably wise to redo the whole kitchen.

If the rest of your house is in great condition, this may not be a bad idea. However, if the whole house needs work, you may be better off spending the money in a way that will give a better overall impression. Consider spending that kitchen budget on repainting the whole house or refinishing scuffed floors. A new kitchen in an otherwise old house will not add value. If the whole house needs updating, the new owner may be thinking of moving walls in the process and may just demolish that kitchen!

Another variation of this is to change the character of only one item. 

This ultra modern staircase looks a little odd next to the traditional wainscoting and door of this house. 

Chances are if someone is looking to buy in a historic home neighborhood, they are looking for historic characteristics inside and out. 

Here to, as with the pool, let the buyer decide to add modern elements to a traditional home, if that is their taste.

Permit Protection

We took a look at this in last week’s article, but it is worth repeating. Un-permitted work is not about you winning against the municipality, or you saving the cost of a permit. It is you working against yourself. It brings about all sorts of questions about professionalism and working to code.

If the un-permitted work you performed didn’t void your home warranty or cause issues with your insurance coverage, there may be trouble if you try to sell. Lenders and appraisers may lower the value of a property with un-permitted renovations.

Home inspectors have access to all sorts of resources and if it is found that you have un-permitted work, it will create issues for you and may cause your buyer to walk away from the sale. 

If you can't bear the thought of going through a construction project, or you have come to the realization that it is time to move right now to have a better life, but your house isn’t prepared, we can help. 

If you are juggling too many responsibilities to sell your house yourself this summer, then there are people who specialize in the sale of properties "as is" - usually within a week to resolve the situation quickly. 

Contact us for details.

Next time we will look at how to sell your house when you have kids.

So thanks for reading my post. I'm so glad you're here! 

And I really look forward to getting into more great stuff in future posts -- so that you can 
Turn Your House To $OLD!

Feel free to ask me any questions through the contact info below. I would be very happy to help.

Linda  623-335-2662

Article Sources:

Lynda Bathory

Friday, August 14, 2015

When Wright Goes Wrong

Everyone has heard of someone who has lived through a renovation nightmare. If you are one of the unlucky, you may be reading this to get it right the next time around.

There are many steps to consider when planning a renovation. Savvy homeowners know (or find out) what they are getting into. Whether you are doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor, you have to understand all the implications. That way you can do (or supervise) the project and know when something's getting out of hand.

It’s really important to do some preliminary research. Everyone has heard the old saw
I don’t know what I DON’T KNOW.

This is never as important a concept as it is for renovation and construction!

You want to be informed enough to know what questions to ask. If you read last week’s post, you already have a good idea of how to hire a good contractor.

That’s an important first step, but wait! There’s more!

Research Your House

It may sound silly, but one should never assume that “things will be fine.”

Know your house, your neighborhood, and your city.

Your House

Before you finalize any plans for renovations, make sure you are not planning to cut through electricity, ventilation ducting, gas lines, plumbing or load bearing walls. 

If you live in a historical house, you may be required to upgrade systems to modern standards. This is often the case with electricity. If the wiring isn’t copper, it may need to be changed. The same is true for old outlets - you may need to change to new three-prong outlets.

Some may be “grandfathered” – meaning exempt from a new law or regulation.

You want to make sure everything is – or will be - up to code.

Your Community

If you live in a community with an HOA (Home Owners Association), it would be wise to verify that the work you are planning will be compliant with any regulations.

Your City

Some people think they are outsmarting the law by not getting proper permits for work. It is a small expense and time expenditure to be compliant – particularly if you are doing the work to sell your house. Nothing could be worse than having an inspector determine that the work was unpermitted.

If something serious goes wrong and you've done work without a permit, your homeowner's insurance will not cover it.

Historical Homes

If you live in a historical home, there may be regulations as to how work may be done. Even if your home had “modern” work done in previous decades, you may be required to “restore” your house to its traditional character if you have new work done.


Money is always a key component of any work to be done. If renovating is new to you, set aside 20% as a contingency. The worst case scenario would be that you didn’t need the money and you get to go on a trip to reward yourself after it is all done!

Setting An Unrealistic Budget

That being said, people often underestimate what a project is going to cost. Make sure you understand the implications of removing or moving walls, redoing electricity, plumbing or any other systems. Find out what experience your contractor has had with the unexpected, how it was resolved and how much it cost. Adjust your budget accordingly.

Consider what upgrades you may want to include – like wiring for alarm systems or home theaters, etc. if you will be opening walls. Even if you do not have or want these things for yourself, it may be a good investment to add the wiring for them if you are planning to sell.

The Material World

Sometimes people think they can get more done if they skimp on materials. Tere's an old saying: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Don’t jeopardize your project by buying cheap or second quality material. 

It’s going to come back and bite you in the asset when you least expect it.

If you can’t afford to do the project with good quality materials, scale back the project or wait until you have enough funds to do it properly.

Selection Seduction

I am as guilty of this as are most renovators. We go into the renovation centers and get seduced by the cool, bright and shiny new products. The only issue is that they are totally unsuited for the work we are doing!

  • Don’t put wall tile on the floors just because you fell in love with it. Wall tile may be too slippery to walk on!
  • Don’t choose the paint finish you love – buy the one that is suited to the room use and conditions. Suede or velour paint is not meant for the kitchen backsplash!
  • Don’t buy the discounted damaged drywall because you think you are saving money. You may end up paying more to have the seams properly jointed.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

If you have professionals doing the work, have them come and measure to ensure that the work will be done without any surprises.

Sometimes it may be possible to reduce the cost of a project by keeping standard dimensions in mind. For example:

Does your design call for an 8 foot 3 inch surface? Standard sheet goods are eight feet long. That extra three inches may cost you big if the material has to be specially crafted or if the workers carefully have to make an invisible joint.

Ask them to notify you if anything you are planning is off-standard. A small change may be worth it to you - or not, but the advantage is in knowing how you are spending your budget.

While they are at your home measuring, make sure they take into account any problem points in the house. Is that ginormous Sub-Zero fridge going to fit through your front door? Is it going to pass through the halls and turn the corners? Come up with a plan before it gets stuck.

You Only Prep Once

When you have your plans in order and before the actual renovations start, make sure that your house is properly prepared.

Do any areas of the house have to be sealed off for the work? 

Have you made plans for alternate kitchen or bathroom requirements?

If you need to move things out of the way, do so before work begins and you have to rely on some frustrated carpenters to move your precious antiques.

Have you indicated or marked any surfaces that will NOT be gutted or removed from the renovation area? While this may be a source of comedy relief on those TV renovation shows, it can be very costly to a real property owner.

The Right Tools

Whether you are doing the work yourself or have hired a contractor, make sure that the proper tools are being used. Why?

  • You could hurt yourself
  • The worker could hurt themselves
  • The materials may be damaged and become unusable
  • The tools may be damaged

In all cases, it will probably cause additional expense and delay your project.

Homeowners’ Choice

You are the king of your castle, but don’t let that big crown swell your head into making a bad decision.


Again, don’t be seduced by fashion or your own desires. A grand chandelier may not be the appropriate fit in your new powder room. When choosing components be realistic and consider your budget and the size of the space. Current taste favors a spacious interior rather than overpowering, or crowded elements.

Lopsided Renovating

It may be tempting to follow the latest trends in interior design. However, putting an ultra modern kitchen into an otherwise Victorian home may not give the result you are expecting. If you are planning to sell, other people may not appreciate the contrast in styles. In addition to perhaps being a jarring juxtaposition, what is “hot" right now may not be next year. 

Fashion can be fickle so consider if your design carefully!

Another form of unequal renovation is to fix one room to the nines and not renovate or repair anything else. Again, if you are planning to sell, don’t count on “wowing” buyers with this one grand gesture. You may have better results by having the whole house painted, as an example, than redoing just the kitchen.

Downgrading Work

Under renovating can be as big a mistake as over-improving. 

Everyone knows that windows can be a huge expense. If you have to change all the windows in your house at the same time, my sympathies are with you. However, there are some creative strategies to keep you from making the “mistake” of settling for the windows you can afford:

  • Find a manufacturer that has a standard style that will NOT be discontinued and gradually replace all the windows over time starting with the worst ones.
  • Buy nice windows for the front of your house and something more economical for the rest.


It’s really important to consider the time and the pacing of your renovation. Are you truly prepared to be using the bathroom to wash your dishes ---for a month? Consider the implications of the renovation and troubleshoot before trouble happens. 

What can you do to minimize the impact and stress of the project?

If you are redoing your kitchen, will you prepare and freeze food in advance? Use disposable plates and cutlery? Dine out? They are all good choices – you just need to decide what’s right for you!

In addition to the seemingly endless duration of any project, consider family and community events. Did your relative plan to visit in the middle of your proposed project? Are you really starting to redo your kitchen…three weeks before Thanksgiving when you are hosting ALL your friends and family??? Will roads be closed for an event or construction during your deliveries?

Timing often goes hand in hand with another often overlooked component of renovations:


One of the most possibly tragic mistakes during a renovation is an accident or injury.

It is crucial to remain safe during the renovations – particularly if you have children. One of the biggest mistakes during a renovation project is not considering the impact on kids. Not only is the disruption to their routine stressful to them, often this work involves products that may be dangerous, noxious or toxic. Make sure to keep materials out of their reach and use zero (or low) VOC products when possible. If you can, keep the kids away till the work is done.

The other time safety becomes a critical factor is when projects get behind schedule. Often workers are asked to work extended hours or overnight to get a project back on track. This is a disservice to everyone. Most mistakes happen when the workers are tired and may also have accidents. If they are tired, they may not be giving you their best work.

Be sure to leave yourself a time buffer so that if things should go wrong, you have extra time at the back end of a project. Don’t believe those shows where they are installing kitchens or painting the morning of an open house. Just imagine if a buyer or their agent brushed up against fresh paint! It doesn’t happen that way in real life. If a buyer was injured due to unfinished construction, the owner would be sued.

If you can't bear the thought of going through a construction project, or you have come to the realization that it is time to move right now to have a better life, but your house isn’t prepared, or if you are juggling too many responsibilities to sell your house yourself this summer, then there are people who specialize in the sale of properties "as is" - usually within a week to resolve the situation quickly. Contact me for details.

Next time we will look at what renovation projects don't add value to your house.

So thanks for reading my post. I'm so glad you're here! 

And I really look forward to getting into more great stuff in future posts -- so that you can 
Turn Your House To $OLD!

Feel free to ask me any questions through the contact info below. I would be very happy to help.

Linda  623-335-2662

Article Sources:

Lynda Bathory

Top 25 Biggest RenovatingMistakes