5 Tips for keeping your pool sparkling throughout summer

Summer is a busy time, what with trying to keep the kids entertained, work, and often, out-of-town visitors dropping in.

The pool is most likely the home’s focal point right now and getting lots of use. While you may not have time to give it a routine, thorough cleaning, break it down into smaller tasks to keep your pool sparkling all summer.

Use the skimmer

When was the last time you cleaned the skimmer basket? Allowing debris to build up in the basket is a lot like allowing your HVAC filters inside the home to accumulate too much “gunk.”

What happens in the pool is that the debris blocks water flow which, in turn, strains the pump and the filtration effectiveness plummets. Effectively, it shortens the life of the pool’s pump.

Routinely using a long-handled leaf skimmer will help take some of the pressure off the pool skimmer. Skimming leaves and other debris from the surface of the water is the ideal job for the older kids in your family.

How’s the water level?

As pool season wears on, you’ll notice that the water level in the pool decreases. This is due to a number of reasons, chief among them is the activity in the pool (splashing, etc.). Evaporation also occurs, especially during hot weather.

Now that you’ve skimmed the pool, check the water level and, if needed, bring it back to the proper level with water from a hose.

If the water is suspiciously low, check the pump to ensure it’s working correctly and shows no sign of damage.

“To make sure a leak is not the culprit, fill a plastic bucket three-quarters full of water and mark it; place the bucket in the pool, then mark the pool’s water line on the outside,” suggests the pros at NCRealtor.org

“Let it float for three days, and if the pool water level has gone down past the bucket’s, you have a leak,” they conclude. If this occurs, call a pool professional.

Additional cleaning tasks

Even with the most conscientious skimming, stuff may end up at the bottom of the pool. This is when a pool vacuum comes in handy.

Clean the filter before each use. Then, turn your attention to the pool’s walls, looking for algae growth and calcium deposits. Us a stiff swimming pool brush to remove these substances.

Don’t neglect the filter

It’s always a good idea to leave a bit of dirt in the filter. Sounds crazy until you understand that it acts as a trap for other particles.

Too much dirt, however, and the water isn’t filtered properly. Check the pressure gauge and flow meter. When it reaches 10 to 15 pounds per square inch, there’s too much dirt and it’s time to clean the filter.

The pool’s pH level

The pH scale determines the level of alkalinity or acidity and it runs from 0 to 14. Pure water is considered neutral and has a pH of 7. Higher pH values are alkaline while those lower than 7 are acidic.

The ideal pH level for pool water is between 7.2 and 7.8. Most DIYers use test strips that can be purchased at pool supply stores or at some of the large home improvement stores. Within seconds, you’ll know what you need to add to the water to adjust its pH

Perform basic pool maintenance routinely throughout the summer to keep your pool sparkling all season long.

Shopping for a home? 10 tips to help you avoid impulse buying

When we think about the impulse purchase, most of us picture a grocery store. After all, retailers purposefully set up their stores to encourage us to pick up and purchase items on a whim.  

If you, like millions of consumers, like to shop for fun, if you are status conscious or if you find that you spend money without thinking about what you are buying or why you’re buying it, you may be an impulse shopper, according to Ian Zimmerman Ph.D. at psychologytoday.com.

It’s one thing to grab a candy bar at the checkout stand in the grocers, but to grab a new home? Not good.

We see the tendency often in our real estate business. Clients who have a wish list that they swear is set in stone yet fall madly in love with a home that offers few of the items on the list.

Let’s look at ways to avoid giving in to the impulse to buy a home that doesn’t match your wants and needs.

The wish list

The most important features you want in a home go at the top of your home-shopping wish list. These are the non-negotiables – the extra bedroom, perhaps, or a community amenity you need.

These items should be in big, bold lettering so that when you glance at your list, there’s no way to miss them.

Not all these tips may apply to your situation, so use them as a guide to help you shop intelligently for that new home.

  1. Many homebuyers insist that appliances be included in the purchase of their new home. If you are among them, we’ll need to find out how old they are. Then, be nosy – peek inside the oven and inspect the refrigerator. This will give you an idea of how well the homeowner has cared for them.
  2. After the kitchen, home shoppers tend to spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Check these rooms carefully to ensure they will fit your needs. If you use electrical outlets a lot, check that there are enough and that they’re in the proper place for your needs. A blow dryer plugged into a socket 3 feet from the mirror won’t cut it. Is there adequate bathroom storage and lighting? If not, how challenging would it be to add these features?

  3. Speaking of storage, does the home offer enough of it? Check the closets, pantry and other storage areas to ensure they meet your needs.

  4. Flooring is often a sticking point in a home sale. Whether it’s not the material you’d hoped for (carpet instead of wood, vinyl instead of carpet, etc.) or the flooring is damaged, it’s important to not overlook this inspection. Flooring is pricey.

  5. Don’t be so awed by the kitchen’s staging that you fail to ensure it meets your needs. Picture yourself using it – does it flow the way you need it to? Is there enough storage?

  6. Lighting is another often-replaced item in a new home. Determine if it’s adequate and how much of it will need to be replaced.

  7. The condition and age of the HVAC system and the water heater are important as well. This is another very expensive fix or replacement.

  8. How do the schools in the area stack up against others in the region? Even if you don’t have school-aged children, nearby schools can impact the home’s value.

  9. Check your wish list for items you must have. For instance, if appliances are on the list, find out if they’re included in the sale. Never assume and always ask.

  10. Never allow yourself to become so enamored with a home that you ignore major problems on the home inspection report. These don’t necessarily have to be a deal breaker. With the right agent, negotiations may bring about a solution.

This is a very cursory overview of ways to keep your wits about you when shopping for a home for sale.

You can find a more in-depth checklist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website. We suggest you print several copies – one for each home you view.

7 Plants That Provide Summer Color in Shady Gardens

Shade gardens can be such a pleasant surprise. In that spot where you think nothing will grow, there are plants that will not only grow, but flower and thrive as well.

Depending upon climate, there are tropicals, perennials and annuals that will flower throughout the summer in a shady location.

Astilbe

If you are looking for plumes of color for that shady spot, consider planting astilbe (Astilbe x arendsii). These perennials are quite easy to grow and will bloom from late spring and through the summer.

Astilbe flowers are white, pink, lavender or red, and are striking when grown in bunches or along a shady walkway. Give the plant rich soil and water to keep the soil moist. Astilbe is hardy to USDA zones 4 to 9.

Camellia

The only problem with choosing a camellia shrub (Camellia spp.) for your shady garden is trying to figure out which variety to grow, which color to grow and which flower form.

The Japanese camellia (Camellia japonica) is the most popularly-grown species in the home garden. With more than 2,000 cultivars, gardeners can choose those that bloom in double, semi-double or single flowers, in shades of white, pink and red.

Although the young camellia will thrive in deep shade, as it ages it will need a bit of morning sun to produce the gorgeous flower show.

Camellia is hardy from USDA zone 6 or 7 (depending on variety) to 10. Watch the Grumpy Gardener’s Guide to Camellias video for additional tips.

Heuchera

The National Gardening Association’s “Perennial of the Year” in 2012, Heuchera (Heuchera spp.) is commonly known as coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea).

Heuchera is popular not only because it’s so easy to grow, but for its mind-boggling diversity in form and color – with nearly 50 different species.

Dainty flowers provide color to the shade garden, in white, pink and red hues. Learn more about Heuchera and get tips on choosing the right one for your garden at wimastergardener.org.

Hosta

Don’t discount the value of brilliant foliage in your shade garden. Hosta (Hosta spp.) is a favorite, across the country. Although they die back in winter, the gorgeous foliage appears again in spring.

Check out ‘Autumn Frost” to provide a pop of color along a walkway or wall in the shade garden.

Grow the hosta in well-drained soil amended with lots of organic matter. It’s hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9.

Hydrangea

Is there a flower lover on earth who isn’t impressed with hydrangea blooms? The mopheads, with their huge, round flowers or the panicles that drip from the shrub – what’s not to like?

Best of all (at least for the shade gardener), is that too much sun is brutal on the hydrangea. In fact, a spot that receives morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal.

Hydrangea is a deciduous shrub and, depending on variety, may grow from four to 12 feet tall. Learn more about the different types of hydrangea and their care at Clemson University’s website.

Impatiens

This African native is, according to horticulturists at the University of Maryland, the top selling bedding plant in the country. The reason: it’s very easy to grow.

Impatiens come in 15 colors, from white to bright and will grow quite well in the shade. They do require moist soil at all times to keep blooming.

Impatiens are also lovely in containers and hanging baskets. This cutie is hardy in USDA Zones 6b to 11.

Lungwort

If you prefer to carpet the soil with in your shady gardening spot, choose a groundcover. Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.) is one worth considering.

Flowering in shades of purple, red, white or pink, lungwort is a clumping perennial. Most varieties grow nine to 10 inches in height and spread two to three feet wide.

Lungwort prefers slightly moist soil at all times. If the roots get too dry the plant will wilt and it will rot if the roots get too much moisture. The experts at Iowa State University suggest watering it every week to 10 days if there’s no rain.

Lungwort grows best in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 7.

Happy summer gardening!

A critical early step toward buying your dream home

Shopping for a new home can be overwhelming. Finding a real estate agent, looking at homes online, and applying for loan approval, there is a lot to do, and it can be difficult to know where to start.

Believe it or not, there is a first step that every home buyer should take–before they start interviewing real estate agents and before they look at even one home online.

Know What You Can’t Live Without

Make a list of everything you want in a home. If you are part of a couple, you should each have your own list.

When you have completed your home purchase wish list, take a look at each item. Ask yourself,

“Is this something that I really need in order to enjoy life in my new home?”

Then, get rid of anything that you know you can do without, and still be perfectly content.

The Tough Decisions

Now it is time to prioritize the wish list. The top two items should be those items on which you will not compromise, as living without them would make you miserable. For some folks that might be a gourmet kitchen or space for a garden.

The bottom two items should be those that you are willing to compromise on.

Now, compare your home purchase wish list with your partner’s. Anything that is on both of your lists is a priority and should probably be moved to the top.

Inevitably, though, there will be items each of you will need to compromise on, thus the little “bargaining chips” at the bottom of the list: sort of a “I’ll give you the garage in exchange for the fireplace” type of thing.

It’s Not Set In Stone

One thing that may surprise you is that this list will change as you begin to actually view homes. You may discover a feature in a home that you didn’t consider when you wrote the original list.

It’s very common that some buyers say they absolutely need to have a certain feature in a home yet the home they finally choose lacks that feature.

Don’t feel as if this list is set in stone, but do inform us if anything changes.

The wish list works well to help cut down your confusion when presented with an array of homes to view. It also helps your agent to keep focused and not waste everyone’s time by showing you homes that don’t fulfill your desires.

You’ve just taken the first step to make sure that your new home is one that fulfills at least most of your wishes. That house is out there. Count on it.

Redecorating the master bedroom on a shoestring

It doesn’t take a huge bank account to take your master bedroom from feeling like your college dorm room to the sanctuary from a noisy world that it should be.

And, it doesn’t take a lot of time either. Broken into chunks, you can redecorate your master bedroom over the course of one, two or three weekends, depending on how much time you want to devote during each session.

Here are some tips to get you started; tips that won’t break the bank.

Come up with a vision for the space

What does your ideal bedroom look like? Is it a quiet place in which to seek solitude? Or, is it a place where you enjoy the company of your children, reading, watching TV or roughhousing on the bed?

Think about how you use the room now and use that as a guide everything from paint color to accessories.

Paint is the foundation for everything else

If you’ve ever been presented with the dilemma of trying to decide on a paint color, you know how challenging it can be. Standing in front of the paint chip samples at the local Lowe’s or Home Depot, you’re presented with an overwhelming number of choices.

Then, consider that “Room colour, particularly in your home, can dramatically affect moods, feelings and emotions,” according to Dr. Julia Shugar  with Creedmore Psychiatric Center.

Babies cry more in yellow rooms and blue helps sell homes. The best way to help you decide on a color is to do some online research. Pinterest is full of ideas – just enter the color or mood you’re considering into the search-box and you’ll be presented with pages of tips.

We found some brilliant paint color ideas by searching “relaxing bedroom” at Pinterest. See the results here. Or let a psychologist walk you through the best choices at Food52.com.

Psychologists, by the way, suggest that the most invigorating colors are “saturated but not too bright, such as Kelly greens.” Saturation, by the way, describes the intensity of a color, according to the folks at Techopedia.com.

Color scheme

Once you’ve figured out the primary color of the room, it’s time to determine your color scheme.

Once you have new paint on the walls you will need to determine a colour scheme, designed around the paint color.

Schemes to consider include:

Complementary

Complementary colors come from opposite sides of the color wheel. For instance, blue paired with orange.

In decorating, it’s a good idea to choose one soft shade and one bold. For instance, a soft blue with a bold orange. Check out the slide show at BHG.com.

Monochromatic

Monochromatic color schemes involve using different shades of one color. For instance, paint the walls in Behr’s Forever Denim and use Rain Dance and Superior Blue as accent colors (for the bedspread, rug, accessories, etc.)

Prefer griege? Consider Sherwin Williams’ Repose Gray for the walls and then incorporate pops of Gauntlet Gray and Eider White.

Now, dress it up

Choosing accent pieces for the master bedroom is the fun part of the process. Curtains, bedding, a rug or two – they can all add immensely to the feel you’re looking for. They also add texture, softness and even edginess, depending on what you choose.

If you’re going for the look of a luxury resort hotel room, you’ll need loads of pillows to stack on the bed, a small table and a chair (or two) and artwork to carry on your color scheme.

And, speaking of artwork, paintings and photographs are fine, but consider three-dimensional pieces as well. Find inspiration online at HGTV.com, AllModern.com and NeimanMarcus.com.

If you’re considering the master bedroom makeover for a future home sale, contact us. We’ll give you an idea of which features will give you the highest return on your investment.

4 Tips to Maximize your Home-Selling Profit

One thing I know for certain: homeowners that sell their homes quickly and for top dollar are happy. Let’s face it, selling a home is hard work and nobody wants to be in that position for any longer than they absolutely have to.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to get in and out of the selling process quickly and with maximum profit at the closing table.

Tip #1 – How to Maximize Profit

While it’s important to clean and stage a home for maximum profit, it won’t get you anywhere if it’s akin to putting lipstick on a pig.

Squeaky doors, dripping faucets, torn window screens and damaged baseboards all add up to a price reduction. So before you get out the cleaning supplies (or schedule a cleaning crew) fix all the little things that – believe me – homebuyers will notice.

Then you can clean the house – from top to bottom. Make it look like you have a full-time cleaning staff with clean windows, floors and walls.

Clean and organize cupboards and closets – yes, they will look inside. Clear the countertops of anything that isn’t decorative.

Tip #2 – Think like a Homebuyer

Buyers won’t jump through hoops to get information about your house. Most give up after one phone call. While your agent has a lot to do with this, you can do your part as well.

Don’t make it difficult for potential buyers to view the house. Make the home available for showings; even at the last minute and even if it’s not a convenient time for you.

Does your agent answer the phone or return phone calls promptly? You should know this before you even hire an agent. It should be part of the process of elimination.

Call each agent under consideration and never hire one that doesn’t return your call promptly. If they don’t return a potential listing client’s call they will certainly not return a homebuyer’s call.

Here’s a bonus tip: Many agents use their listings to drive traffic to their web site, not to help sell the home.

To accomplish this they put as little information as possible in the ad for the listing, hoping that the potential buyer will want to more and click through to the agent’s website.

When you hire an agent make it clear that your house is not to be used as “link bait” to bring in more customers for the agent. Tell him or her that you want all details of your home listed in all print and web advertising. 

Tip #3 – Always Sell First

I typically advise my clients to sell their home before moving. This is because studies show that vacant houses take longer to sell. This is the same reason many homeowners pay decorators to stage their homes.

Buyers want homes that they feel they can move right into and a vacant home doesn’t give them that feeling.

Tip #4 – Price it to Sell

Although location, location, location is every real estate agent’s mantra, price, price, price is that of every homebuyer – they simply will not buy an overpriced home.

Determining a price range that will attract buyers while at the same time not “give away the farm,” requires the services of a real estate agent.

Only with access to the local MLS and knowledge of current market conditions and the neighborhood can you be sure that your home is priced appropriately.

I’m happy to meet with you to discuss what I do to sell homes quickly and for top dollar. A consultation is free, there is no obligation to use my services and it’s only a phone call away.

Spring and summer gardening for condo dwellers

There’s no need to pity your condo-dwelling, green thumber friends – where there is even a tiny space, there are gardening possibilities.

Whether you call that spot a balcony, lanai, terrace or veranda, it can be transformed into a spring garden showcase in just a few easy steps.

Keep track of the light (and heat)

Take a few days to make note of where the sunlight falls on your balcony, and the length of time each spot remains sunny. You may have wide swaths that remain in complete shade all day, and that’s ok.

Many plants enjoy shady spots and we’ll introduce you to some of these later on. Remember, that the sunlight and shade of today won’t match that of other seasons.

It’s spring now but as summer approaches, the sun is positioned differently, as it also is in fall and winter.

Hartz CC BY-SA 3.0

You’ll also need to consider the heat generated by that sunlight, especially if you live in the country’s desert southwest.

Experienced Arizona gardeners (Phoenix and Lake Havasu City in particular), and those in Austin, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada, for instance, have learned to ignore those little care tags that come with plants purchased at the nursery.

“Plant in full sun” may be just what a plant needs in San Francisco or Portland, but put it in full sun in Riverside, California and it may just fry. If you live in a particularly hot-summer-weather region, plant full-sun varieties in light shade, or areas where they will only receive morning sun.

Accessories

Before you head out to the nursery to buy plants, draw out a quick diagram of your space. Then, consider where you’ll put hardscape pieces and accessories.

Items to consider include

  • Window boxes
  • Water feature
  • Plant stands
  • Table
  • Chairs
  • Bench
  • Settee
  • Oversized planting pots
  • Lights
  • Rug

Get more ideas on accessories for your balcony garden and see the items at work on Pinterest, BalconyGardenWeb.com and WooHome.com.

If you are fortunate enough to have a small patio, you’ll find inspiration here.

Lighting

Sometimes a garden is even more charming when the sun goes down. Balcony or patio gardens are ideal for al fresco dining, so let’s add some lighting to set the mood.

String lights seem to be the current go-to for patios and balconies, and for good reason— they’re inexpensive and come in a variety of shapes.

Whether you swag them at the ceiling or twirl them around patio cover supports, string lights may be the ideal solution. Check out some ideas on Pinterest.com.

The flickering of candlelight adds a romantic and even tropical ambiance and you can get it with LED candles. Wayfair sells a nice assortment and some of them have timers. Get inspiration on using lanterns and candles in your small garden at Pinterest.com and TheSpruce.com.

Let’s not forget plants!

The key to enjoying your condo balcony or patio garden year-round is to include evergreen foliage plants. This way, when winter’s chill puts the flowering plants to sleep, you’ll still have greenery.

Shady gardens

You might be surprised at the variety of plants that can grow and even thrive in the shade. Even some plants you haven’t considered growing as ornamental, such as cat grass or Japanese forest grass, which both take well to container growing and shade.

Consider these shade-tolerant plants as well:

Get additional tips on what to grow in a shady container garden at HGTV.com, FineGardening.com and SouthernLiving.com.

Container plants for full-sun balconies and patios

Plants to block prying eyes (or wind)

Street-level condos, or those located downtown, surrounded by others with big windows can still be private. The strategic use of tall plants will help keep prying eyes or gusty winds at bay.

Tall and dense is key here. Or, use shorter plants on stands to elevate them. Consider the following:

Find more privacy ideas on Pinterest.com.

Is that included in the purchase of the home?

Marcy, a first-time homebuyer, was over-the-moon excited about finally moving into her new home.

The day arrived, the movers were actually on time and, for the first time since the final walk-through, she opened the door to her home.

Since she had a case of water bottles with her, she headed straight for the refrigerator to ensure they were kept cool for her hard-working crew.

But there was no refrigerator – just an empty space where it stood just weeks earlier during the walk-through. Marcy panicked. The stove was there and the built-in microwave above it. The dishwasher was there.

She then ran to the laundry room, only to find empty spaces where that gorgeous washer and dryer once stood. Marcy grabbed her phone to call her real estate agent who told her that those appliances weren’t included in the sale.

“If you wanted them, you should have said something and we could’ve negotiated with the seller.”

Marcy was, again, a first-time homebuyer. She had no idea that appliances were something that needed to be “negotiated.” After all, as a tenant, they were always in the homes she rented.

The tragic fact is that Marcy, like many new homeowners, spent all of her savings on the down payment and closing costs with nothing left to pay for appliances. Thankfully, her parents stepped up with an offer of a loan.

It’s the buyer’s agent’s job to educate his or her clients about a process they may find completely foreign. To have neglected to do so, and then blame Marcy for his shortcomings, is beyond belief.

Why aren’t appliances included in the purchase price?

Sometimes they are. Many times, they are not, and here’s why: if they aren’t built-in, they are considered “personal property.”

When you buy a home, you are buying “real property,” which is the land, the home and anything else permanently affixed to both.

A rose bush planted in the backyard is considered a “fixture,” because it is affixed to the land.

A rose bush planted in a pot on the patio, on the other hand, isn’t a fixture, it is personal property and may or may not be included in the sale of the home.

Other examples of fixtures include:

  • Chandeliers that are attached to the ceiling
  • An outbuilding, such as a shed
  • Wall-to-wall carpeting (but not the Persian throw rug that isn’t glued to the floor)
  • Garage door opener

If the item is glued, nailed, bolted or otherwise attached to the home, it is typically considered a fixture and must be included in the sale of the home. But, there’s a “butt.”

The seller can exclude items from the sale by mentioning it in the listing agreement or the purchase agreement. It turns out that the washer, dryer and refrigerator in Marcy’s new home, were excluded in the purchase agreement.

Marcy isn’t a lawyer and was depending on her real estate agent to decipher what she was reading before she signed it.

Yes, you can ask that personal property be included in the sale

Many a real estate agent get-together includes conversations about the crazy things some homebuyers have asked sellers to leave behind.

From wanting the seller’s family dog to requesting that the entire contents of a home (even soap and toilet paper) be included in the sale, everything is negotiable.

The sellers are under no obligation to include any personal property and, depending on the type of market and how motivated they are, they may hold firm during negotiations. But, there’s no harm in asking, right?

Keep this in mind if you’re thinking of selling your home. If you want to hang on to your great-grandmother’s chandelier (or anything affixed to the home), remove it and replace it with something else before the home goes on the market.

Bring back the beauty of your vintage 1930s hardwood floors

The popularity of hardwood flooring has varied over the centuries. The replacement for the packed dirt flooring of the Colonial Era, hardwood floors were life-changers.

High-end homes had tongue-and-groove flooring while more modest homes’ hardwood floors were laid by nailing the planks directly to the joists.

Fast forward to the post World War II era, when the high cost of carpet could be financed with the home, and carpet soared in popularity. Hardwood flooring companies struggled.

Today’s homebuyers are back on the hardwood-flooring wheel, demanding it as a replacement for carpet.

Hardwood floors installed in the 1930s featured substantially narrower boards–2.25 feet in width as opposed to the common 3.5-foot width of today’s hardwood flooring boards.

Polyurethane was the finish of choice. Depending on the size of the 1930s floor, waxing may be a big job, but it pays off with a good-looking hardwood floor.

Types of wax for the vintage hardwood floor

There are two main types of hardwood flooring wax, liquid and paste. Liquid wax is easier to apply than paste wax but “it needs a couple of coats,” according to The Flooring Lady. Paste wax, on the other hand, “only requires one application.”

Although its application is time-consuming, paste wax brings out the rich wood-tones of the old hardwood floor and offers protection from liquid spills. It also provides a long-lasting finish that holds up well under heavy foot traffic.

A number of manufacturers produce paste wax commercially and it’s available at hardware and home improvement stores and some grocery stores. Several online retailers, such as Amazon.com and AceHardware.com carry paste wax as well.

Application

Removal of all dirt and dust particles before the wax application is critical to its success. Sweep first, then us a dust mop to ensure that the hardwood floor is completely dust-free.

Then, use a wood cleaner (Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner and Libman Hardwood Floor Cleaner are good choices and readily available) or mineral spirits to clean the floor.

You can even use ½ cup of white vinegar in a gallon of water to clean the floor, according to the pros at Better Homes & Gardens.

You may need to use a scrubbing pad to remove stubborn stains or excess wax. Dust mop again after the floor dries.

Use a piece of white terrycloth or a cheesecloth rag to apply the paste wax, rubbing it into the wood along the grain. Allow the paste wax to dry for an hour and then use a floor buffer to bring it to a high shine.

By the way, if you have one of the floors that was installed with nails, and the nails sink, fill the resulting holes with wood filler. Many large hardware stores sell fillers in different colors to match various hardwood floors.

After the wood filler dries, apply an additional coat of wax. If the hardwood floor is particularly old and scratched or damaged, you may want to sand it and apply a fresh coat of polyurethane or shellac before waxing.

Flooring experts recommend you repeat the process twice a year.

Maintenance

The key to keeping the shine on the 1930s hardwood floor is regular removal of dust and dirt. Small dirt particles grind into the wood, causing microscopic scratches that dull the surface.

Regular dust mopping or vacuuming keeps this from occurring. Use rugs at all the entryways to avoid having dirt tracked onto the floor and a hardwood floor cleaner to keep the surface clean between wax applications.

5 myths too many home sellers believe

More than half of today’s home sellers are selling a home for the first time, according to Zillow’s Consumer Housing Trends Report for 2018.

That’s a whole lot of home sellers who may not understand the pitfalls that await them because they either don’t understand the process or have bought into myths they read on the internet.

If you hope to sell your home during your preferred timeline and for the most money possible, you need to:

  • Fully understand the selling process, from the paperwork to marketing methods
  • Choose the right real estate agent
  • Divorce yourself from your emotions
  • Don’t buy into the myths you’ll hear from others

You would be surprised how many first-time and even some repeat home sellers harbor certain myths. Let’s bust some of those right now.

1. Zillow’s “Zestimates” are accurate

Zillow.com, an online real estate aggregator, turns 13 years old this year. From the beginning, consumers have misunderstood the site’s limitations when it comes to home valuation.

In fact, too many buyers and sellers rely on the company’s “Zestimates” when deciding what a home is worth.

Big mistake

Zillow doesn’t employ an army of real estate agents who go through each home on the market, which is what is required to help pinpoint a home’s current market value.

Nor is Zillow able to seek out, via the MLS, valid and relevant comparables of each home, another requirement when determining market value.

Instead, it relies on an algorhythm – an automated valuation tool that uses public records and information from “users.”

Far from exact, Zillow’s Zestimates are frequently way off the mark. In fact, in 2016, former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff sold his Seattle, Washington home for 40 percent less than its Zestimate.

That particular Zestimate was off by $700,000

The discrepancy illustrates perfectly why a home must be evaluated in person to come up with an appropriate market value.

That Zestimates are accurate is a myth.

2. Real estate agents are all alike

This is the myth that leads real estate consumers to choose the first agent they speak with, a very common practice according to studies performed by the National Association of Realtors.

In an age when consumers over-research even which toothpaste to buy, this is amazing.

All licensed real estate agents attend real estate school which teaches them the legal aspects of selling real property. That’s it.

It doesn’t teach them how to effectively sell a home. It doesn’t teach them marketing techniques.

So, while an agent will walk away from those classes with an understanding of riparian rights, he or she may be clueless as to how to actually sell a home.

The differences among agents is astounding when you look into it. Some feel that a sign and a lockbox will do the trick. Others do a bit more. Then, there are listing agents who’ve studied and used various marketing methods and, through trial and error, have found one that is proven and effective.

The home seller is paying the same fee for the lazy or novice agent as he or she would for the powerhouse agent.

Not choosing the latter is like paying for a new Rolls-Royce Phantom and driving a 2011 Ford Fiesta off the lot.

Take your time when interviewing listing agents — we are definitely not all alike.

3. Videos are an important aspect of home marketing

While 88 percent of homebuyers use online websites when searching for homes, according to a National Association of Realtors survey, only 26 percent of them say they visited an online video site.

In fact, among the online tools that buyers find “very useful”, “video” didn’t even make the list:

  • Photos
  • Interactive maps
  • Virtual tours
  • Neighborhood information

Listing videos don’t offer the flexibility of virtual tours, which is most likely why homebuyers prefer the latter.

With a virtual tour (especially the 3-D tours), buyers are able to perform a virtual walkthrough of the home, viewing what is important to them, not the videographer.

Yes, you’ll no doubt run up against internet claims that all homes must have a listing video – a myth started by the video production industry, with no statistics to back up their claims.

4. I don’t need to replace the appliances, I’ll just give the buyer a credit so he can do it himself

If you plan on including your appliances in the sale of your home, and they need replacing, do so before the home goes on the market.

A recent survey of housing trends finds that nearly half of homebuyers find energy efficiency a desirable feature. Efficiency-rated windows are popular as well as energy-efficient appliances.

These features are strong selling points. So much so that 75 percent of millennial homebuyers place “updated appliances” at the top of their list of “must-haves,” according to a Bank of America survey.

5. I don’t need to clean and/or stage the garage

While you will hear a lot about how bathrooms and kitchens “sell homes,” it’s the garage that nearly half of homebuyers say is their hot button, according to research from Zolo.com

And, believe it or not, 10 percent more women than men name a garage among their must-haves in their new home.

Garages are extremely important to millennia homebuyers as well, according to that Bank of America survey, with 65 percent of them valuing a garage over an extra bedroom.

Yet far too many home sellers use the garage for their excess “stuff” when preparing the home for the market.

It makes more sense to shove all that junk into the master bedroom

In reality, the wisest choice is to rent a storage unit.

We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about the home selling process. Reach out to us anytime.