Home Seller

11 Things in Your Home That Gross Out Potential Buyers

Kid making gross faceNowadays staging your home for potential buyers is a must-do. Experts suggest thinning furniture to make rooms look bigger, removing family pictures so potential buyers can imagine their family in the home and trimming back overgrown trees to ensure your home has curb appeal.

But the devil, of course, is in the details — and the follow-through. Your house is not expected to be in catalog condition, but potential buyers won’t forgive some frankly disgusting stuff that you might have overlooked in your haste to pretty things up.

With some expert help, we've gathered the top issues in your home that are causing you to unwittingly gross out your potential buyers. Some of these problem areas are quick fixes, while others will take a little more planning and effort to resolve. Start addressing the ick factor now and you'll be wowing your buyers in no time.

1. Dirty bathrooms

OK, this one shouldn't come as any kind of surprise. But just in case you didn't already know, your unkempt bathroom is really grossing people out.

Rings around the tub, orange grime on the corners of the shower floor and toothpaste spit in the sinks are not just visually unappealing, but also make potential buyers wonder how well the house has been maintained. It’s crucial to keep everything pristine while your house is on the market.

Pro tip: After cleaning and sanitizing your sink, tub, and toilet, run a microfiber cloth along your baseboards to catch any dust that's almost certainly collected there.

2. Water stains

Water stains on the ceiling or moldy, rotting wood around the windows is guaranteed to be gag-inducing (and have your potential buyers wondering what other moldy grossness is lurking in your walls just out of sight). Fix stains — and fast.

The key here is repaired — not concealed. Concealing problems will open up all kinds of problems later.

3. Your shower curtain linerShower Curtain

You know what we're talking about: Nobody wants to see your discolored or mildewed liner when they take a peek at the shower to evaluate where they will, you know, get clean.

Toss your liner into the washer with a cup of vinegar and a few towels; run a short cycle for five minutes, then let everything soak for an hour. Complete the wash cycle and hang the liner up to dry. Or better yet, skip the mocha lattes for a couple of days and splurge for a new liner.

4. Pet hair

Nothing says "buy our home" like tufts of dog hair floating across your living room tumbleweeds-style. An easy solution: Vacuum daily. If you're strapped for time (or just plain lazy), invest in a set-it-and-forget-it robotic vacuum.

If you get a call about a potential buyer who wants to view the home say, in the next five minutes, tap into this trick from cleaning pro Lily Cameron, at One-Off Cleaning Services: Grab some rubber gloves and run them over the surface you want to clean (like your couch).

When rubbed against fabrics, rubber generates a lot of static electricity, so it will quickly gather all the pet hair on your upholstery. Some of the most popular rubber items that will do the trick are gloves, shoes and even balloons — which are a particularly entertaining way to get your kids involved.

5. Carpet in the dining room

This one is a real gem. How clean can a dining room carpet be when food is constantly falling on it?

Granted, if you have wall to wall carpet you probably don't want to deal with it right at this moment, but if you have an area rug under the table, save yourself the time and effort of cleaning it every day and just remove it. In fact, stagers will love that solution as the room looks bigger without the rug!

6. Carpet in the bathroomCarpet In Bathroom

Even worse than food in the carpet is, well, the kind of stuff you'd find in the vicinity of a toilet. Plus, carpeted bathroom floors are a breeding ground for mold and mildew, due to the room being a high-moisture area.

Unless you've splurged on mildew- and stain-resistant carpet (which will likely be lost on your buyers, anyway), rip up your fuzzy flooring, pronto.

Carpet in general can be a source of problems, especially if you own pets and prospective buyers have allergies or asthma.

7. Fuzzy toilet seat covers

We can't believe this is still a thing. But alas, here we are, and guests will certainly be grossed out for all the same reasons as above. These things are germ magnets, given their proximity to the throne. Banish them and don't look back.

8. That Squatty Potty

They're all the rage, but let's be honest: These toilet stools, which promise "a royal squatting experience that simply can't be imitated," carry with them some rather explicit associations.

They have a medical-device and unsanitary look that makes people think of hospitals, senior citizens centers, and, well, other unsavory connotations. Children's potty chairs, while more colorful, create the same impression.

Your best bet? Hide 'em before your home is shown.

9. Old sponges and the likeDirty Sponge

Old sponges won’t instill your potential buyers with confidence that your home is clean and well kept and should most certainly be tossed after a week or so of use anyway. Hide all cleaning cloths when potential buyers are around.

10. Your slow-draining shower

Believe it or not, many buyers like to turn the water on in the bathroom to make sure everything is in working order. If your drain is clogged, invest in some Drano or hire a plumber to investigate the source of any backup.

11. Sticky cabinets

Our experts tell us that tacky (as in sticky) cabinet surfaces —typically the result of grease buildup from months and years of cooking — are a major cringe-inducer for potential buyers.

Make sure to wipe down not only your countertops, but also the your cabinet fronts and the top of your hood range before potential buyers view your home. And prevent future gunk by replacing the filters in your hood regularly and using your stove's fan (and/or opening windows) when frying food.

The bottom line - gross is never good when you are trying to sell your home. Paying close attention to those little details can make a big difference to potential buyers and how quickly your house is sold.

Six Reasons To Consider Downsizing

Big Home and Small HomeThe kids are grown and out of the house, retirement is on the horizon and suddenly your home feels like a pair of shoes that are two sizes too big. Could it be time to downsize your home?

For some people, the idea of downsizing may not sound appealing at first, but it’s important not to confuse downsizing with downgrading. In fact, a closer look at downsizing reveals that a smaller home may feel more like an upgrade.

1. Bigger is not always better

For some, moving up in life means buying a larger house, but typically it comes with  larger mortgage payments and more square footage to maintain. If you currently own a large, older home, moving into a smaller home could mean new construction with little maintenance and lower mortgage payments -- not to mention newer appliances, large open spaces and walk-in showers.

2. Work smarter, not harder

Let’s face it, homeownership is a lot of work. As most homeowners know, there is always something that needs updating or maintaining. The more rooms there are and the larger the yard is, the more time, effort and upkeep are required to keep your property in tip top shape. And if you raised a family in your home or own pets, your home can show quite a bit of wear and tear. With a smaller home and less acreage, there are fewer rooms to paint, less outdoor maintenance to stay on top of and more time for relaxing on the porch with a drink and your favorite book.

3. Save money

Ok we admit, this is probably the first thing that came to mind when you started to think about downsizing. But, have you thought about just how much money you could actually save? Decreasing your mortgage payment could allow you to pay off bills or car payments faster and increase contributions to your retirement account. And a condo or smaller home could reduce your utilities costs, property taxes and insurance. And here’s the best part … if done right, you could use the proceeds from your current home to pay cash for your new home and eliminate a mortgage payment all together -- and maybe even have some left over!

4. Declutter once and for all

A larger home means room for more “stuff” -- and we have a tendency to accumulate. Grown children often leave their childhood bedrooms and playrooms filled with discards; collections from long-ago hobbies overflow in basements and closets. Even the most organized home owners can struggle with keeping a home decluttered. Downsizing to a smaller home is the perfect time to simplify your life by donating or disposing of all those unused items that have taken residence in your home over the years.

5. Less stress

Tired of shoveling snow, cleaning out your gutters, or dealing with a broken water heater? Downsizing to a condo or townhome is a way to eliminate some of the worry in your life. Condominium or Home Owners Association fees typically cover maintenance items like snow removal, roofs, pest control and lawn care. Large complexes often have recreation facilities which can enable you to save on gym or swim club memberships.

6. More fun

Today’s condo and townhouse complexes are full of social activities and even spa-like amenities. Myriad groups and clubs help you to meet other residents and establish yourself in your new neighborhood quickly. With walking trails, fitness centers and community activities, your new home could feel more like your favorite vacation spot.

Ready to reap the benefits of a smaller home? Contact us to get started. We are happy to help you downsize into some of the best years of your life.

Odors - Silent But Deadly For Home Sales

PigEwww … what’s that smell? While most of us will refrain from voicing such a thought in a public setting, it’s easy to envision a small child blurting out the accusation.

Aromas can leave a potential buyer with a negative impression and a memorable smell that might make them think twice about purchasing the home.

A smell can be overwhelmingly nostalgic, triggering powerful images and emotions before we have time to edit them. The scent of fresh baked apple pie may remind you of your long-deceased grandmother or a certain perfume may remind you of a girlfriend from 30 years ago.  

The sense of smell is one we often take for granted. We tend to focus on what we can see, touch, taste and hear. But in real estate, just as seeing ants in a home will turn off a buyer, so will experiencing a home that smells of cat urine or cigarette smoke.

So how do you make a home smell like somewhere buyers would want to live?

Neutral smells sell

Providing a neutral canvas allows buyers to imagine their life in the home. A strong odor in a home that doesn’t fit their lifestyle can ruin the entire scene. The best smell for a quick-selling home is no discernible smell at all.

How to create an odorless home

When exposed to an odor for a lengthy period of time, what once may have registered as an obtrusive scent turns into one that no longer registers as offensive.

This phenomenon, known as “nose-blindness,” is a real thing and much more than just a gimmick to sell more air freshener to those that are stinky-scent paranoid. So as a home owner, you may have become nose-blind to your home's odors. 

Odor control may be one of those uncomfortable conversations that needs to be had between an agent and seller before the home listing becomes active.

According to a survey done by the housekeeping channel, the top five worst odors in a home include (in order) the smell of rotting garbage, pet smells, mold, body odor and tobacco. Luckily, some of these odoriferous issues have an easy fix.

Garbage

Smelly garbage can? Take out the trash and scrub the container thoroughly with a strong cleaner. A simple (and obvious) action that usually resolves the problem. While the house is on the market, make sure trash gets taken out more frequently to prevent this unwanted smell.

Body odor

A bedroom that smells like a post-game locker room for the New England Patriots is not going to help a house sell. Thorough cleaning, swift removal of dirty laundry and a set of charcoal odor absorbers for each pair of often-worn shoes will help avoid this offensive smell.

Mold

Moisture-induced problems are often more difficult, as they cannot be combated without determining and remediating the source of the moisture -- which may not only be time consuming, but also a expensive.

Often mold remediation companies, structural engineers and home inspectors can be great resources for determining the cause and the appropriate treatment, depending on the scope of the problem and the types of mold and other potentially aggravating allergens.

What all odors have in common is you must remove the source of the stench first; otherwise any other steps are a waste of time, money and energy.

Pets

These issues can be tough, because when it comes to our pets, most pet owners are not willing or financially able to board their four-legged family members while their house is on the market.

What to do? Be more diligent about grooming Fido, brushing Fifi and scooping out Frisky’s litter box. Consider washing "well loved" dog toys and beds also, as they may be adding to the odor problem. 

For odors that permeate carpet and upholstery, a sprinkle of baking soda can be very effective. Let it sit and then vacuum with a HEPA filtered vacuum. This solution can work wonders. However, if the carpets have pet damage, both the carpet and pad may need to be replaced. In addition, the subfloor may need to be treated or even removed.

The nose knows. The moral of the story is to figure out what's causing any odors in your home and resolve the issue;  don’t try to mask odors with scented candles or freshly baked cookies. 

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Septic Systems a lot of us have them, but nobody wants to talk about it....

 

Living in North Reading we all may be different, but we all have one thing in common; we all have septic systems.  Septic systems although not extremely complex, do cause a lot of anxiety and stress.  Generally, speaking we do not fully understand how it functions, and have no idea what a Title V means and why sellers of Real Estate serviced by a Septic System must have a Title V.  I have decided to bring this “stinky subject” to the forefront to help educate us and to decrease anxiety around the subject of septic systems.

If you are selling your home, that is serviced by a septic system you cannot sell your home without a passing Title V inspection. The inspection is conducted by a licensed inspector both by the state and the town where the system is located. A list of licensed inspectors is available at the Board of Health or call our office and we would be happy to provide you with the approved list.

The Inspector will determine whether your system “passes”, “fails” or “conditionally passes” (requires repairs).

What is a conditional pass?

A conditional pass means that your system will pass if a certain condition is met. A repair or replacement of the distribution box is the most common condition that needs to be met. The inspector would write up his official Title V report with the conditional pass notes outlining the needed replacement of the distribution box. Once the repair is finished the board of Health will issue a Certificate of Compliance which indicates a passing Title V at closing.

The septic system failed, now what?

If the inspection fails, your system must be repaired or replaced.

Failed septic systems can be handled in a real estate sales transaction in two ways. First, the seller can undertake the work and complete it prior to closing, with a full sign off from the Board of Health.  Or, the parties can agree to an escrow holdback to cover the cost of the septic repair plus a contingency reserve,

(generally, one and a half times the total amount), the work is undertaken after closing. Some lenders do not allow for septic holdbacks so make sure your Realtor or Attorney inquires with the buyer’s bank or mortgage company prior to closing.

Prevention is always the best approach with anything and this includes your septic. All systems should be pumped, generally every one to two years. The person who pumps your system should do a quick visual inspection to make sure everything is operating correctly.

I hope you have found this article informative and useful, if you have more in-depth questions about septic, please reach out to your Board of Health or your septic professional. Please feel free to call us at Farrelly Realty Group 978-664-3700 if you have any questions or Real Estate needs.

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Outside Maintenance Checklist For Sellers - Curb Appeal (Part 2)

Exterior View Of A HomeIn our prior post focused on the exterior of the home, we covered 17 items on a 30 day list of maintenance tasks associated with the front of your home and the roofline. To fully maximize your home’s exterior curb appeal, however, the side view and backyard must not be ignored. In this post, we'll offer you the remaining tasks for a month's worth of daily maintenance tasks for exterior curb appeal.

Walking the exterior (the side view)

Buyers interested in a home with a yard are likely to walk the exterior of the property. Give proper attention to the home from every angle.

18. Lawn: Seed or patch scant areas and ensure the lawn is well manicured and cleanly edged in spring, summer or fall. If it’s winter, clear snow and ice to expose dry pavement for safety, and sweep away remnants of salt and sand. Neatness counts!

19. Banish the tools of labor: While your yard should look like an oasis, you don’t want buyers to see the evidence of all the work  involved. Remove and neatly store hoses, rakes and garden tools out of sight. 

20. Critters: Nature lover or no, it’s best to keep wildlife away from property you’re trying to sell. Remove bird feeders to minimize rodents.

21. Fence: If your property has a fence, walk the perimeter with a critical eye. Replace any damaged areas and freshen up paint if needed. Lubricate gate hardware so it operates easily. Since a possible buyer will pause to open the date, be sure that the area around the gate is neat and well-kept.

22. Trim and window sills: Wood rots over time and must be replaced. In particular, look out for spongy window skills and peeling paint and replace trim with new wood or fabricated wood.

23. Windows: Realtors agree that sparkling windows (in and out) are a basic must for selling a home. If you don’t want to climb ladders or hire a window washer for the exterior, keep both feet safely on the ground with cleaning products that attach to your garden hose.

The backyard: An oasis or a hiding spot?

An inviting backyard can help a possible buyer visualize themselves in your home. Maximize your assets with a backyard cleanup.

24. Deck or patio: Brighten up your deck with a pressure wash for the flooring and rails. If you have a patio, the paver stones benefit from a power wash to remove dirt, moss and growth.

25. Outdoor furniture: Remove any furniture that’s worn, faded or mismatched, and keep the space neat and uncrowded.

26. Grill: Cover the grill and remove any grilling utensils or cleaning tools.

27. Back door, side door or sliding doors: Give all exterior doors the same attention as the front entry door – clean, polish hardware and make the glass sparkle!

28. Lighting: Be sure it’s in working order and clean or replace any pitted or unsightly fixtures.

29. Bulkhead: If your basement has a bulkhead, lubricate the mechanism so it opens smoothly.

30. Poop matters: While over 50% of Massachusetts homes include a dog (source: Dogtime), you don’t want a potential buyer to step in the evidence of yours. Be sure you’ve cleaned up after your dog and store the pooper scooper away with the garden and yard supplies.

The key to tackling any big job is to chip away at small tasks. Tackle one item on this list each day to get your home sales-ready! If you need help with specialists to help you through the process, contact us or see our preferred vendors listings.