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.

Tips to get rid of kitchen clutter

The junk drawer. Love it or hate it, most of us have one and most of the time it’s in the kitchen. NPR’s Linton Weeks says they serve “as a Rorschachian reflection of your life.”

That’s rather distressing, isn’t it?

While the garage is the most cluttered room in the house, according to a
Moen® Consumer and Market Insights Group survey of homeowners, the kitchen comes in second, tied with the home office.

Surveyed homeowners complained of mail cluttering the countertops and small electrical appliances hanging around, taking up space.

Weeks goes on to describe the kitchen junk drawer as “The drawer of detritus. The has-been bin. That roll-out repository where you toss your odds and ends.”

And, that’s ok, until the detritus, the odds and ends and the has-been start cluttering the kitchen counters. Let’s look at some ways to bring order to the kitchen.

Acceptable clutter

According to the Moen® survey, some items are considered acceptable clutter. These include dish towels, cutting boards, dish soap, scrub brushes and those small electrical appliances that we often leave out on the counter.

These appliances, if not used daily, really should be put away, in our opinion, especially if your home is on the market. Not only does doing so make the room look less cluttered but it helps free up valuable counter space.

Many professional organizers say, however, that if you use something every day, like the toaster, it deserves a spot on the counter or you’ll drive yourself batty by having to drag it out every morning.

“If you make toast every morning for breakfast, it’ll take roughly 3 minutes to toast your bread. After that, the toaster will sit unused for the next 23 hours and 57 minutes. You use it far less than you think you do,” say others.

Where to put everything

Of course, you’re going to need to pull everything out of every cupboard to get this project done right. Then, you’ll need to figure out the most organized manner of putting everything back.

We love author and baking expert Alice Medrich’s description of how to allocate kitchen space—it’s so very real estate-ish.

She divides kitchen items among three storage areas and calls them:

  • Prime real estate: which includes the counters, utensil crocks and cabinets that are within easy reach
  • Suburbs: a pantry or closet that is located close to the kitchen
  • Outlands: think of these as the rural areas and they include the garage, basement and those shelves or cupboards that you need a stepladder to reach.

She suggests starting with the prime real estate first so you get some instant gratification going. Wherever you decide to start, you’ll be putting things away according to how often they are used.

Seldom-used items should either be stored in another room or placed in the back of the cupboard. You might also want to install shelves to store some of the more decorative but lightly-used items.

Those appliances you use once a month can go toward the middle of the cupboard and anything you use frequently should go in the front.

Make your storage space work harder

A pantry in the kitchen is a major bonus and most of our home-buying clients agree with us on that. The roomier the better, but even a small pantry can be forced to work hard.

The broad “zones” used in the pantry may be baking items, pasta and rice, breakfast items and snacks. Then, organize each of these zones by placing seldom-used food items toward the back of the zone and those used daily in the front.

Use baskets to hold like items, such as plastic wrap, foil and sandwich bags, in one spot.

For additional pantry organizing tips, visit Woman’s Day, Better Homes & Gardens and HGTV online.

Should we renovate or remodel our home before selling?

One of the most common questions we hear from our listing clients is whether or not they should renovate or remodel their homes prior to putting them on the market.

Whether your goal is to make more money off the sale of the home or to help it to sell faster, part of our services to our clients is to help you figure out where to focus your time, energy and money.

Make repairs first

Concentrate first on making needed repairs. The buyer will most likely ask for these fixes, especially if they are for problems that show up on the home inspection report, so making them before listing the home helps avoid delays during the transaction.

Being proactive is always a smart move in real estate

Some of these tasks include fixing peeling paint, broken windows, torn screens, dripping faucets and loose or missing handrails.

Any problems that affect health and safety should be addressed first. Then, use what’s left of your budget to make the cosmetic fixes that are attractive to homebuyers in your home’s price range.

 Consider minor upgrades

“Don’t spend money that won’t yield a return on the investment. The best expenditures for most markets are paint, carpet, light and plumbing fixtures,” Matthew George, the chief appraiser of Eagle Appraisals Inc. in Denver, Colo. tells The Wall Street Journal.

Decide which room or rooms require the most updating and start with those. Minor upgrades, such as new appliances or kitchen and bathroom countertops will do more to change your sales price compared to redoing the kitchen or bathroom entirely.

In fact, a major kitchen or bathroom remodel is a money pit, according to Remodeling Magazine. The magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report warns that you’ll spend $ 66,196 on a kitchen remodel, on average, yet you’ll only recoup 62.1 percent of that when you sell the home.

You’ll do better on a minor kitchen remodel, spending $22,507 and realize an 80.5 percent return.

There is simply no way you will make back what you spend when it comes to remodeling or room additions.

In fact, the repair or renovation task that returns the most is a new garage door (97.5 percent). To get the details about the study, visit remodeling.hw.net.

Save money or time?

In a real estate transaction, time is most definitely money. The longer a home sits on the market, the better the chances that the homeowner will end up taking less than planned to get it sold.

The most common reason a home doesn’t sell is that it’s overpriced. Second to that, however, are homes that aren’t in decent condition.

Keep in mind that the first week that the house is on the market is known in the industry as “the honeymoon period.” This is when new listings receive the most attention and the more people that view the home, the quicker it will sell.

A recent study from a large real estate analytics firm finds that homes get four times as many visitors in the first week they’re on the market than they do one month after listing.

With repairs and cosmetic fixes out of the way, your home may be the belle of the real estate market during that first week.

We’re happy to meet with you and offer suggestions on which repairs to make first and on which tasks to focus on after that.

4 brilliant tub/shower cleaning hacks

The one thing we think most of us look forward to after a day out in the winter elements is a long, steamy-hot shower or luxurious soak in the tub.

Busy lives, however, put the thorough cleaning of tubs and showers on the back burner, making spending time in them less-than appealing.

We’ve rounded up 4 brilliant hacks to keep your tub and/or shower looking pristine and oh-so-beckoning.

1. Get rid of the grime on the shower floor

When you take a shower, the hot water and soap do a great job of removing oils and perspiration from your skin.

When you step out, feeling clean and refreshed, that soap you used is back in the shower, mixing with the oils from your body to create a mess on the shower floor.

Over time, especially in fiberglass showers, the soap scum/body oils build up, layer upon layer, until the grime is caked on.

Every professional house cleaner has his or her own special recipe to remove this black, greasy grime off the shower floor.

Some of these recipes work well, others not at all. Here is a surefire method to get off even the most caked on gunk.

  • Tide laundry detergent, original powdered formula
  • Sponge or rag
  • Water

Dampen your sponge using water from the sink. Wring it out very well so that it doesn’t drip water.

Pour a handful of Tide detergent onto the shower floor, in the corner. For some reason, Tide is the only detergent we’ve tried that works.

Scrub the pile of detergent in a circular motion. It will spread out as you scrub, so keep moving to a new area.

Add more detergent as you scrub your way around the bottom of the shower. Try not to add too much water as it will interfere with the mild abrasive action of the detergent.

When all of the grime has been removed, rinse the shower stall well.

Warning: It’s critical that you rinse the shower floor extremely well, as the detergent makes the shower floor slippery.

2. How to clean a cultured marble tub

Cultured marble is the result of mixing ground up marble dust with liquid polyester resin. This is then molded into various household surfaces including sinks, countertops and shower surrounds.

Unlike natural marble, which is porous, cultured marble resists stains, making it ideal for use in wet environments, such as the bathroom.

To avoid the build-up of mineral deposits on cultured marble, use a squeegee or soft towel to dry it after each shower.

After thoroughly drying it, spray the cultured marble surfaces with white vinegar. Allow the vinegar to remain on the surfaces for 45 minutes.

Wipe the vinegar from the cultured marble shower stall with a clean sponge dipped in clear water. If spots remain, repeat the procedure.

Never use abrasive products, such as cleanser, or abrasive scrubbing materials on cultured marble.

To restore the shine to cultured marble, the pros at centralmarbleproducts.com suggest using a product such as Gel-gloss, or wax. Follow the instructions on the package and repeat once a year.

3. Clean that grungy ceramic tile

Ceramic tile showers are lovely when they are gleaming clean. To get them that way takes diligence and a good deal of elbow grease, in some cases.

It takes time to train yourself and family members to perform the routine maintenance necessary. Once this becomes a habit, you will avoid having to do a major cleaning or renovation job on your tile shower.

Here’s what you’ll need to get that ceramic tile looking new again:

  • Towels
  • Commercial bathroom cleaner
  • Alkaline-based tile and grout cleaner
  • Ceramic tile and grout sealer

Wipe the ceramic tile dry after every shower. This helps avoid fungus build-up on the grout and mineral deposits on the tile.

Spray a commercial bathroom cleaner, labeled for use on ceramic tile (Bona and Black Diamond Stoneworks are good for ceramic tile), on the shower walls and floors if they have soap scum or body oil built up.

Allow the product to remain for 5 minutes and then wipe away with a sponge. Rinse the ceramic tiles with clear water until there is no trace of the cleaner and then use a soft cloth to dry them thoroughly.

Use an alkaline based tile and grout cleaner to remove mold or mildew from the ceramic tiles in the shower.

Follow the label instructions and apply it at the rate and in the manner suggested. Do not use vinegar as it can dissolve some ceramic tile finishes, according to Mark Donovan, CEO of Home Addition Plus.

Apply a ceramic tile and grout sealer at least every two years.

4. Acrylic tub woes?

Acrylic tubs are common household features with or without whirlpool attachments.

An acrylic finish is glossy and stain-resistant but it isn’t as tough as porcelain, so it requires frequent cleaning and extra care when doing so, to avoid the buildup of soap scum and body oils.

Wipe down the tub after each use with a soft, dry cloth. You can also use a squeegee.

Use non-aerosol cleaners to remove built-up grime. Kohler recommends Lysol Bathroom Cleaner or Tilex Bathroom Cleaner. Do not use an abrasive scrubber on the acrylic tub.

A rag or sponge is ideal. Use the products according to the label instructions, rinse and wipe dry after cleaning.

Maintain the acrylic finish by applying paste wax to the sides. Do not wax the floor of the tub.

Apply the wax as you would if you were waxing a car, in a circular motion. Wipe off the wax after the recommended amount of time and then buff with a soft cloth.

Happy showering!