Will your house pass the “Mother-in-law” test?


prod1392123_hol07.jpgI often get asked by folks how they can increase the value of their home, help it sell faster, and make it more enjoyable to live in.  Can you guess what the best AND least expensive thing you can do for you home that achieves all of these goals? 


If you home is on the market, or will be very soon. . .prepare!  If you are expecting orders in the next few months or are planning on putting your home on the market, either for sale or for rent, you have plenty of time to get your “ducks in a row” and make life so much easier down the line.

Exterior:  Here in the south, we enjoy things that are lush and green. . .but hopefully not when it is the side of your home!  Power washing, when done properly helps your home look and feel squeaky clean and usually needs to be done every other year, every year if you have a light colored home.  Make sure you don’t have weeds or vines growing in any crack or crevices, years down the line this can cause significant damage to your home, which, after all, is probably the most significant investment you have. . .the old expression “and ounce of prevention is better than a pound of “cure”” really comes into play here.  Trim foundation plantings so that none of them actually touch the house. . .which also helps with bugs who use those branches as handy bridges into your home.  Keep your lawn mowed and edged and your driveway in good repair and clean (once you power wash the house, give the walk and driveway a rinse).  Regardless of the time of year, even if you don’t have a green thumb, have colorful plants in your beds or at the very least, next to your front door, it adds curb appeal for starters as well as set the tone for what the prospective buyers can expect to see in your home.  Pansies this time of year are great with chilly nights and can be picked up pretty inexpensively at the local home improvement store already in cute pots if you don’t want to mess around with getting your hands dirty.

Buyers need to be treated like guests. . .or like your mother in law!  Imagine having your mother-in-law over for a “white glove test”, or, if it’s a little scarier, you entire class reunion!  Whatever can motivate you to go through your closets, cabinets and drawers to eliminate things you don’t need, don’t need to move and that obscure or distract from how much great storage you have in your home.  Goodwill is a great charity and would love donations (which you can write off if properly documented) or perhaps your church or local charity group.

Replace your air filters once a month and make sure your filter grill and vents are CLEAN, this helps a buyer see that one of the most expensive systems in the house is in good working order and that you have been caring for it.  It also makes your home less dusty and smell even cleaner, one step above and beyond: get your duct-work cleaned, it is imperative if you have pets or smoked in the house, amazing that folks forget that dirty air is pulled through there and what a difference cleaning the system can make.

Windows, baseboards, bathrooms, light fixtures, light switches, bathroom vent fans, tops of door frames and floors should be as clean as possible.  A few hours of elbow grease will be well worth it in the long run, buyers worry about deferred maintenance and cleanliness “If this is what I can SEE is wrong with the house, what about what I CAN’T see?”. . .and buyers always think worst case scenario and high dollar repairs when they see “little things” that you can remedy before your home is even on the market.

In short: a down and dirty shopping list to make your home clean in a jiff?

-Charcoal air filters. . .sometimes they look like bags of little white stones, which absorb yucky smells and are great next to diaper pails and pet beds, and are non-toxic and give off no smell (so it you are anti foo-foo smells, this might be the way to go), they aren’t pricey unless you get into the plug in variety which can be anywhere from 19.99 to hundreds of dollars.

-Fresh air filters, change them every time you pay your rent or make your mortgage payment. . .no if’s, and’s or butts about it.  The very thick ones tend to make heat pumps work harder than they have to, taking more power to draw air through it, while the very thin fiber glass variety seems to let too much dirt through, find something in-between like a white slightly fuzzy “wavy” one, makes it easy to see when it’s dirty and they are still reasonably priced.

-Fresh baking soda in the fridge and freezer, even if you aren’t leaving the appliance with the house, just like on the MTV show “Cribs”, everyone wants to know what’s in your fridge, so clean it out and make sure it smells nice.  While you’re at it, run your oven on self clean also.

-Lay off the super scented air fresheners and candles.  I happen to love scented candles but not everyone does and if I should call to set up a showing for your home, I would shutter at the thought of walking into a home where a candle has been sitting there, lit with no supervision, not the time to worry about fire hazards.  Think clean–scents like “fresh laundry” or lemon, sage, or otherwise fairly light and clean always seem to be a hit and make your house seem even cleaner!

-Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, my personal favorite when it comes to cleaning.  Your doors should all be clean, this is a great tool especially around the door knobs to get grimy finger prints off and make the best impression, if you’re like me, once you get a few smudges off walls and doors, you might go a little wild looking to scrub even more.

-Touch up paint and Spackle.  If you have taken down photos (very effective to take down all photos, helps a buyer imagine themselves in your home, living there, which will hopefully help them want to buy it) or art, you need to plug the holes in the wall and touch up the paint.

-New welcome mat and fresh potted something next to the door.  It helps add curb appeal, makes your entry nice and tidy and sets a great tone for the showing.  Small investment, big payoff–a step above, a fresh paint job on the door with shiny new hardware like new door knocker, new handle and a matching kick plate.  A new light fixture would will be nice if you can afford it, simple ones start at only 20 bucks so a small investment that can pay off in dividends.

-and something that SHOULDN’T be in your home for a showing. . .YOU.  Trust your agent as well as any other agents working with buyers to show your home in its best light.  It makes buyers uncomfortable to be talking repairs, offers, down payments, etc. with you, the seller, standing next to them.  Give them the space to really enjoy your home, talk options with their agent and have a little privacy to try your home on for size. 

When you leave your home, open the blinds,  turn on all the lights, turn off the tv and perhaps put on some simple music (classical is a little “done”, for open houses, I personally use some low-key acoustic guitar cds which are unobtrusive) and spritz a little air freshener, make sure the house is picked up (beds made, toilet seats down, sinks clean and empty, garbage taken out, etc.) then enjoy a drive around the neighborhood or a visit with friends or neighbors.  I know as an agent that it is tough to live like that (I’ve been there and done that), especially if you aren’t a neat-nic or have kids or pets, but it’s a team effort and you’ll be glad you did, it’s an easy leg up to have on other homes also on the market and for the small investment, well worth your time. . . if you can afford it, it might be worth having a cleaning service to help you stay on top of things.  I have been in the most simple of homes and the most extravagant, but those that were clean and welcoming were my favorite regrdless of what treasures they held or what views they had.  Keep that in mind. . .help your home find a neat new family to enjoy it.

Happy New Year to everyone,


http://www.McKenzieSellsHomes.com    http://www.910Homes.net

About McKenzie Johnson

I am a Real Estate Broker with over 13 years experience in the industry. A fan of anything the color orange, long walks on the beach eating dried cuttlefish, four legged friends, new adventures in cooking or travel. A REALTOR and real estate consultant living and working in North Carolina with information to share. I would love to demystify the process for you. . .I think real estate is a tremendous investment for just about everyone. . .not just for the financial aspect, but also the idea of owning a piece of the American Dream, a chunk of earth, literally, with your name on it. I love what I do and who I get to meet through my job, the most rewarding part is handing a family their very first set of house keys! I hope you will find helpful information here, and it is just that, information, please don't take it as gospel, just my take on real estate and the world around me. For additional information and how to contact me, visit my website www.910Homes.net. I serve the Onslow County area which includes the military bases: Camp Lejeune, New River MCAS, Camp Johnson, Camp Gieger and more.

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