Staged to Sell—Fast

If you’re thinking about selling your house quickly, don’t depend only on the brisk traffic other homes in your area may be experiencing. Do everything you can to make a great first impression.

That means staging—a tactic that could make your house up to 17 percent likelier to sell.

Minimize. Staging is all about making the experience of first-time visitors as elegant and natural as it can be. So, minimizing clutter and obstacles is key. Cleaning up is just the start, though. Clear off all unnecessary clutter off shelves, countertops, dressers, tables and any other surface in the home. Think about a single flower vase with fresh flowers, one short stack of books or one centerpiece (on the kitchen table, for example).

Systemetize. Everywhere possible, create symmetry—with books, throw pillows, bookends, even pictures and wall art. Order and symmetry tend to please the eye and leave a much better impression with viewers (and potentail buyers).

Clear a path. Through every room, make sure people have clearly-marked pathways to walk through, and make sure there’s nothing in the way. Arrange furniture so that visitors instinctively walk where you want them to.

Light the way. And don’t forget—light your house very well. A brightly-lit space is a pleasant place to be and makes people feel extra welcome.

Posted on June 25, 2020 at 5:10 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |

Avoid Maintenance Pitfalls


Sometimes, owning a home can seem like almost too much work. However, by staying on top of maintenance, you can avoid many of the problems that make for the worst emergencies.

Roof leaks. This may be the easiest expensive problem to avoid. There’s no trick to it. Simply inspect your roof often for missing shingles, cracks and curling—all three allow leaks that can damage wood and plaster inside your home very quickly. If any of these maladies arises, replace the offending material right away.

Clean the pipes. Another maintenance habit you should get into is degreasing your pipes—but not with corrosive drain cleaner. If your home has cast-iron pipes (as almost every home 50 years old or more does), acidic drain cleaners will destroy your pipes over time. While PVC is chemically impervious to acid, it’s still a good idea to simply treat your pipes every couple of months with a strong degreasing agent that flushes food-based grease, body oil and all the other debris that clings to it while leaving all pipes intact.

Regular checkups. Get your heating, ventilation and cooling system checked once a year for leaks and routine wear. Especially in hot climates, where A/C systems run every day, getting annual checks can extend the life of your expensive equipment.

Staying ahead of repairs before a crisis hits will save you time and anxiety. Get out and do it!

Posted on June 23, 2020 at 6:43 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |

Nostalgia: Buying a Historic Home


Old homes—the hardwood floors, the gingerbread scrollwork, the crown molding. Oh, if they only made them like they used to! Charms may abound, but there are intrinsic drawbacks with age. However, with the right preparation, the benefits of buying a historic home—defined here as 75 years old or more—can outweigh the liabilities very quickly.

Updates. When buying a historic home, go over the record of updates (if any) thoroughly. Has the electrical system been upgraded from fuses to a breaker box (at least 100 amps)? Has the cast-iron plumbing been replaced with PVC (where and when)? And what about insulation and R-value? Houses built before the mid-1940s typically had little or no insulation in the walls, so find out if any has been added during remodels or blown in behind the original plaster.

If any or all of these items have been updated, it will greatly increase the comfort and value of your home. Ask about them!

Water damage? With age comes entropy, which can mean water seepage over time. Make sure windows, floors, gutters, eaves and roof valleys are free from old (or new) water damage and ask to see records of repairs of any past damage.

Historic value. Ask your agent for a record of the home’s value the past 30 years. Most historic homes increase in value over time, of course. However, in older areas of town, that trend may slow significantly, depending on the condition of the home or the neighborhood.

If a historic home has captured your imagination, do your homework on it. It could be the very best find you ever imagined!

Posted on June 18, 2020 at 4:16 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |

Making Great Family Memories at Home


As America begins to open up, more and more options for going out are, too. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun together as a family at home, especially as the kids’ summer vacation really starts.

Game It. Board games, many which have been crowd-funded, have enjoyed a wonderful resurgence of late (you may have tried to buy one recently online, only to be informed that it would take weeks to arrive). The allure is more than desperation on the part of people shut into their homes. Games are interactive, lend themselves to fun conversations and can teach valuable reasoning and problem-solving skills. In addition, parents might even be able to beat their kids at a game, for once.

Bonfires. It’s almost universal—laughing, toasting marshmallows and maybe even singing along to a guitar around a fire makes joy for everyone. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive and you only have to travel to your backyard to make it happen.

Read Aloud. Oh, you want to blow your kids’ minds? Read a great book—Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, maybe a spy novel—aloud to them. Sounds geeky, right? It is, a little; but it’s also a novel way to relive scintillating stories together in a different medium from movies. And, it might just get those kiddos to read more. And that’s never a bad thing.

So go ahead, interact. Play. Read. In doing that, you’ll spend that time together doing something truly memorable.

Posted on June 16, 2020 at 4:53 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |

Seller Expectations in a Crazy Market


In this current market, what’s a seller to expect?

Success, that’s what.

Homes are still moving. Home prices in many, many areas are still rising. In fact, the median home price in the United States increased at an annual clip of 11.3 percent in the first quarter of 2020, hitting an all-time high of almost $266,000.

That means that while COVID-19 may have put a temporary damper on the economy, many buyers are looking at homes online and taking advantage of historically low mortgage rates to purchase homes they may not even have looked at previously at a surprisingly brisk rate.

What does that mean for sellers? It means they should list their homes with confidence and expect a steady stream of potential buyers, especially in historically hot markets. It also means that if you’ve decided to sell your home, while you should be as attentive as ever to right-pricing your home according to local market conditions, you should not be quick to accept the first offer that comes across the table. Buyers have more incentive to buy than ever, and that means that quarantine or no quarantine, you shouldn’t leave money on the table out of anxiety.

The statistics aren’t lying. Home prices remain strong, and homes continue to move. Now it’s your turn, as a seller, to make your move.

Posted on June 11, 2020 at 7:11 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |

Summer Lovin’— The Buyers


For buyers, summertime traditionally means three things for house-hunting: Eager sellers, great weather for browsing and big selection. Now, with interest rates at all-time lows, those big three just got even more enticing.

With school just getting out and the economy about to rev back up, more people are going to be selling homes in a market ripe for ready buyers. Why ripe? Because demand has been sidelined for several months now, which means eager sellers have been waiting for buyers to come knocking. They’re cruising the web and the neighborhoods, looking for deals and taking notes.

And now that mortgages are more affordable than ever, buyers have never had it better. Some people on the fence will dive in, and those who’ve been biding their time with down-payments in hand are ready to pounce.

So, if you’re a buyer, have your list of gotta-haves and should-haves in hand, and be ready for a competitive and exciting buyers’ market very soon. Homes will be hitting the MLS, and it’ll be up to you to jump on homes that look good right away. Enlist an agent that knows the market well and will make those extra calls for showings.

Now is the time to prepare for the rush on homes. It’s coming. Be ready.

Posted on June 9, 2020 at 4:25 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |

Give your Outdoor Space Some Love

Summertime ambience can add so much to a home.

Three things come to mind: Lounging, lighting and logging (OK, not logging, per se, but hang with us).

Lighting. One of the greatest inventions of the past 10 years is high-quality, inexpensive light strings for patios and decks. For about $40 per string, you can add the quiet glow of café-type lighting to your backyard, and the operation cost per light is minuscule.

Lounging. For less than $50, you can buy a high-quality hammock for use in your yard or camping trips. If you have usable trees with proper spacing, that’s perfect, but metal posts can be had for a few dollars more (oh, the naps). In addition, do-it-yourself Adirondack chairs provide the perfect complement to …

Firepits. We know, not logging—but it does often require logs, so we’re covered. Gather some chairs, get some marshmallow forks and grab an inexpensive black-metal firepit at the hardware store. Nothing sparks discussion, stories and fun like a good old-fashioned fire, and your backyard is the perfect place for it. Now go have fun!

Posted on June 4, 2020 at 4:45 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |

Saving for a Big Down-Payment


You’ve been thinking about buying a house for a long time or about getting a bigger place, but that 20-percent down payment idea is killing you. Don’t let it. You can do this. Here’s how to set the big and little goals necessary to achieve the dream.

First, decide now what your price range is, then set your down payment goal. Thinking about a $400,000 house? Easy math—you’ll need $80,000 in equity or hard cash to avoid paying private mortgage insurance for the life of the loan (and yes, do whatever you can to avoid PMI). If you already own a home, that journey’s a lot easier. If you’re renting, Step 2 is harder, but doable.

Second, establish a second savings account and then decide on either the set amount you’re going to put in every paycheck or a percentage of money earned. Don’t think you have room in the budget? Then you’re either never getting that house or you shackle yourself to PMI payments that you’ll never get back (and likely won’t even get tax credit for again).

Third, choose a percentage of every expenditure that you’ll put into that new savings account, too. Just spent 40 bucks on dinner? Put $4 into the account. Five bucks on coffee? Put a buck in the account. It’s a way to increase your savings or spend less on stuff because you know it’s going to cost you extra. Either way, you come out ahead.

The key is, stick with whatever you decide. Be disciplined. That down payment will pile up faster than you think.

Posted on June 2, 2020 at 6:45 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |

Party in the Yard- Green and Brown Thumbs Unite


When you think about it, there are only two kinds of people: Those who can grow things, and those who kill them.

They know who they are. They have the wilty plants with the yellow leaves scattered throughout their house and yard, and they claim they can’t grow a thing. Well, Mr. and Ms. Brown Thumb, yes you can. Take a couple of tips from the Green Thumbs around you, and soon you’ll be bragging about your yard instead of bemoaning it.

Mulch & compost. Organic mulch is for more than covering up weeds—it’s one of the most useful things you can have on hand for planting and replanting in your yard and house. Combine that with some organic compost, and you’ve got a one-two punch. Included in this dirty brew are peat moss, humus and good ol’ manure—anything that can add minerals and nitrogen to your soil. Use it as potting soil and to fill in holes around newly-planted shrubs, flowers, vegetable plants and seeds. The added soil mix provides a stable source of nutrition for your plants that will keep them alive and thriving.

Water longer and less frequently. Watering your lawn, shrubs and gardens isn’t always better, especially in hot weather. The key to successful watering, especially during dry spells, is to water for longer (at least half an hour per sprinkler station or spot in your yard) but less often. The greater water volume per sprinkling session allows the moisture to sink deep into the roots as opposed to sitting the surface and simply evaporating before it is absorbed by the plants.

There you have it. Do those two things, and you’ll start to see a turnaround almost immediately—even in the color of your thumbs.

Posted on May 28, 2020 at 7:18 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |

First-Time Homebuyer Wishlist


For the first-time homebuyer, the biggest temptation is trying to find the perfect house with everything from A to Z. But, if you’re like most first-timers, your eyes are bigger than your wallet. So, instead of shooting for A to Z, simplify your list to A-B-C:

A. Must-have
B. Should have
C. Would be nice to have

Your A-list might include things like “updated kitchen,” “three bedrooms, two baths” or “within 30 minutes of Rachel’s job.” Your B-list could have “updated kitchen” or “enclosed backyard.” Your C-list likely might have items such as “swimming pool,” “rec room” or “three-car garage.”

Whatever your priority list is, divide it up into these three columns so that when you are looking at homes, you’ve already agreed on what you have to have and what you can do without. It will give your search much more clarity, keep you focused on what you really value in a home and will end up saving you money when you aren’t springing for features you don’t really want or need. And, as a bonus, you probably won’t have to look at as many homes as you might have, simply because you’ll be able to weed many of them out with a quick scan on the computer.

So, take time to list your A-B-C’s. You’ll be so glad you took the time to spell out your priorities before you even start, and you’ll land what you’re really looking for that much faster.

Posted on May 26, 2020 at 4:38 pm
Colleen M. Gordon | Posted in Uncategorized |