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Category Archives: Seller Information

Information pertinent to Frederick home sellers.

Virtual Remodeling and Redecorating

Virtual Remodeling and Redecorating

Want a better way to decorate, renovate, or prepare your Frederick home for sale? Rather than running to every store to check out every possible combination of paint, flooring materials, countertops, fixtures, appliances and furniture, it’s now possible to do all of the leg-work virtually. Virtual remodeling and redecorating is no longer a future promise. You can view a large number of decorating options by working with the free design software offered on many home-store web sites, as well as other cloud-based tools and apps for homeowners.

Virtual Remodeling and Redecorating

Home Improvement? Thanks to today’s technologies, you can do so from your desktop, laptop or your tablet or your smartphone. Most likely… There’s an app for that! 

virtual remodeling and redecorating

Big Brand Stores

It is now possible to view an amazing selection of decorating options by working with the free design software offered on many home-store web sites. Home Depot, Lowes, IKEA and other major retailers offer on-line visitors the opportunity to experiment with virtual remodeling and redecorating tools without ever leaving the comfort of their home or office chair.

1. On the Home Depot website, DIY designers can virtually remodel every room of a home, from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen.  While in the kitchen, homeowners can use the “Kitchen Visualizer”, with the ability to choose by brand, kitchen layout, or style. With this tool one can combine paint colors with cabinet and flooring options.  Appliances can be added in white, black or stainless, with a choice of several kinds of cabinets.  You can finish it off with multiple types and shades of countertops…you might have a beautiful end product, or you might find that your imagination is a nightmare! In that case, you simply direct your mouse to start over again.

The Home Depot Mobile App is a great tool to use “augmented reality” to see how a new door, or faucet, or appliance… or practically anything, will look like on or in your home. And of course, you can snap a picture and share it with friends and family. The same principle applies when it comes to bathrooms, bedrooms, living and dining rooms.  The software provides opportunities to create color palettes, save design schemes and even order paint, floor coverings and other products on-line.

2. On the IKEA website, several helpful tools are available for planning your rooms as well as your storage solutions. With most of the design groups and with major rooms, there is a “plan your storage” solution.

IKEA’s Kitchen Planner Tool allows a kitchen to be created from dimensions the user supplies.  This kitchen remodeling software also allows users to add and remove cabinets, change drawer fronts and handles, replace the work tops and appliances.  Once the design is complete, the final plans can be emailed to IKEA’s Home Shopping Kitchen Consultants who will review the plan and provide information on appliances, sink, faucets, countertop and interior fittings.

3. Using Lowe’s Virtual Room Designer, reinventing a home on-line is made simple.  Users have the choice of redesigning a room from scratch or using one of the room templates that is available through the software.  The redesigned rooms can be viewed from a variety of angles and perspectives.  The final designs can be saved and printed.


Our 8 Favorite Decorating Apps

Home Improvement Websites

4. On the General Electric website, do-it-yourselfers can choose a kitchen that most closely resembles their own from a variety of kitchen design photos.  The kitchen can be reassembled from the floor up, and colors and product options are many.  Clicking on a appliance or other kitchen feature brings up information about each model.

5. House Beautiful website has a Custom 3-D Design tool for designing your dream kitchen (with Tyler Florence, no less!) You can try out new cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and accessories with a drag-and-drop feature to create a custom, 3D design.

virtual remodeling and redecorating Virtual Tools

6. Google offers a free design tool that allows users to create 3D virtual models of any room in a home, including the bathroom, kitchen and living area. The level of technical savvy is a bit more complicated with Google SketchUp, but the rewards are many.

The tool projects rooms from different angles and the angles can be changed at any point.  A home can even be viewed from the outside looking in. The elements library provides templates for couches, beds and kitchen tables to see how they look within the layout.  Other features of Google SketchUp include creating blueprints of the designs, and printing out layouts to take to a contractor or hardware store.

7. Magic Plan takes photos of your space and converts them into floor plans with accurate measurements. This tool is perfect for virtual remodeling and redecorating. For an added fee, these plans can be exported in PDF, JPG, and DXF formats to share with contractors, designers, or realtors.  Available for iOS; free
8.  Home Design 3D Gold A new interior or exterior design plan is as easy to devise as dragging and dropping. This architectural app lets you import floorplans and change the space itself. You can visualize new openings, raise ceilings, or take out entire walls. Then add in the furniture and other amenities of your choice. Work in either 2-D or 3-D, and share projects with collaborators who can make modifications with you in real time. $9.99 for Android and iOS

Virtual Landscaping

9. On the Better Homes and Garden website, free software is available not just for room planning, but to help sculpt the landscape of front and back yards.  The software, Plan-a-Garden, allows the homeowner to design anything from a patio-side container garden to the entire yard.  Utilizing the “drag-and-drop” method, users can select and view more than 150 trees, shrubs, and flowers for their landscape.  Dozens of structures like buildings, sheds, fences, decks — even a pond can also be added to the picture. The software then allows the designs to be printed to take to home centers and garden stores.

All of these sites are full of how-to’s and tutorials, videos, and blog articles, as well as photos galore for inspiration.

As you can see, the choices are many for virtual design tools. Any DIY homeowner can get a good start on updating or personalizing their home. Even if you plan on hiring a professional, these tools can be very useful for initial planning and visualizing what you want to accomplish. And they can be fun to use!

Design Inspiration

10. My favorite site for inspiration, planning, organizing, saving and even buying, is You can set up your own “ideabooks” and save images, designs and products you like. You can follow your friends and find professionals in your area. If you sign up for Houzz, be sure to find me there and follow me! I’m always interested in anything concerning decorating and home improvement.

And be sure to join me on Pinterest! I’m looking forward to receiving and sharing all the good ideas!

Follow The Highland Group’s board Decorating Trends 2015 on Pinterest.

Choosing a Paint Color

11. Color Capture: Benjamin Moore’s cool app allows you to snap a picture of any color inspiration you see. It will match you to the most exact paint available to purchase from its collection of 3,300 color options.

12. Color911 Create and save color palettes for your next decorating project with the Color911 app. Color specialist Amy Wax has generated more than 80 downloadable color themes. Additionally, you can create a palette based on a photograph taken on your device and organize favorite colors into folders, then share by email.  Available for iOS; $4

13. ColorSnap  Sherman-Williams has solved your desire to splash the palette of your favorite landscape—or textile, or work of art, or any other source of inspiration—onto your interior. The app can analyze the colors of any photo on your smartphone and let you know which shade of Sherman-Williams paint it matches.  A 1,500-shade inventory makes it very handy. Free for Android and iOS

Shopping Appsvirtual remodeling and redecorating

14. LikeThat Decor: When you see a piece of furniture you like, take a picture on your phone, and the app will instantly match you with similar pieces available to purchase. It makes shopping super easy.

15. Rooomy Visualizing how new furniture will look in a space can be a challenge. This app has the ability to convert 2-D photos into 3-D renderings. Rooomy allows homeowners and designers to envision different configurations of art and furnishings in a specific space, with direct links to retailers when they settle on the perfect pieces. Available for iOS; free

Bonus App!

16. iHandy Level – a must when it comes to hanging shelves or art, iHandy level is a super-sensitive digital device to ensure that everything in your home hangs straight. Free, available for iOS and Android

Here’s to more doing! If You have a remodeling project in mind, contact us for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.

Thanks to David Goldberg for contributing to portion of this article on virtual remodeling and redecorating.  David Goldberg is our home inspector of choice, we’ve been referring our buyer clients to David for over 25 years.  He’s the best:)

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector
phone: 301-913-9213
fax:  301-774-4554
Reliable Home Services, Inc.

PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

Chris Highland with eXp Realty
Frederick, Md  21701
301-401-5119 Direct

“What Are The Most Important Things To Do To Get My Home Ready to Sell?”

“What Are The Most Important Things To Do To Get My Home Ready to Sell?”

Sellers Ask: “What Are The Most Important Things To Do To Get My Home Ready to Sell?”

When we get the question, the answer differs of course, depending on the individual and their house. But there are a few general guidelines that are universal.  There are several things that are not necessarily major items, but are very important.  They have a huge return on investment (ROI) because for the most part, they cost your time and energy. Let’s see how to best “Get my home ready to sell!”

1.  First Impressions

What the buyer sees when they first drive up to your house makes an impression through which the rest of your house is judged.  Really.  The easiest thing to do is to tidy up the front of the house.  Clean up the old, dead plant growth, and if the season is right, plants and flowers are welcoming. If you don’t have the space, some planters will be a great touch.

Get My Home Ready to SellClean the walkways and front steps, rent a power washer if necessary.  Repair wood rot on the trim, and above all else, paint the front door.  Replace old dingy door handles and the kick-plate.  A fresh coat of paint and welcoming entryway says, “this home is well-cared for.” This is one first impression that really matters.

2.  Buyers want to see your house, not your stuff

Declutter!  Rent a storage unit, have it hauled away, give it to charity, have a yard sale…whatever you need to do to get rid of it.  After you’ve done that, go through your house again, and see if there is anything you missed.  Pare down your closet, it looks like you have more space.  Put away small appliances and crocks in the kitchen, make as much counter space as you can without making it look barren. Pack away knick-knacks, collectibles, and photos as much as you can. De-personalizing is an important part of de-cluttering. It’s a woman’s preference, but if you can, put fresh flowers out before a showing.

3. Clean, then clean, and then clean some more

I’ve seen it with buyers over and over again, they can’t get past the dirt to see the house. Sometimes it helps to have a pair of fresh eyes to see the dirt we’ve just gotten used to.  This includes shampooing the carpet, and cleaning the floors well. Don’t forget the corners and out-of-the-way places. You’d be surprised where buyers look!

Get My Home Ready to Sell Cleaning also includes eliminating odors: pet odors, cooking spices and smelly athletic shoes. As with the other senses, it can help to have a friend come to your home and let you know what their first impression is. Sometimes we grow insensitive to the smells of our environment when we are there every day.

Remember: eliminate the smell when you get ready to sell.


4. A fresh coat of paint covers a multitude of sins…

and it doesn’t cost that much. Make sure its in neutral colors, and by neutral, I don’t necessarily mean white and beige. Avoid highly unusual designs, strong colors, or anything that is extreme. After all, you want your space to look good to the widest possible audience. In all your choices aim for universal appeal.

When choosing a color, consider the light in each room and how the color works with your things. It’s smart to get several small cans in varying hues and paint a sample in several rooms. Consult a stager if you are in need of good advice…we know a few.

5. Make the small repairs.

Even though they are small, they speak loudly. They shout out to buyers, “If they let the small things go, how have they handled the large things?” Then they continue to nag the buyers with hints of “deferred maintenance” well after they leave your home. A tube of caulk, a screwdriver and wrench, some spackle and paint are tools every homeowner should have.

Take a good look at the grout if you have ceramic tile. Give it a good cleaning and re-grout any areas that are chipped. If you don’t want to do an entire re-grouting job, and if you just can’t get it clean, there are some good grout stains on the market. They’re super easy to roll into the grout line.

And get some Mr. Clean Magic Erasers! The. Best. Tool. Ever!

These are some of the most important things every seller can do, no matter what the budget says. So make sure you do these before you start putting money into improvements and costly repairs. It doesn’t have to be expensive to “get my home ready to sell!”

Chris Highland 

eXp Realty – Text: 301-401-5119
Broker – 888-860-7369

What Does A REALTOR Do?

What Does A REALTOR Do?

A Day in the Life of A Realtor®

What Does A Realtor® Do For You?
A survey found that for every hour a real estate agent spends in your presence, he/she will spend an average of nine hours out of eyesight working on your behalf. What does a Realtor® do all day, anyway? Unlike a lot of professions, where people are paid hourly or are on a salary with weekly or bi-weekly pay checks, in most situations real estate agents don’t get paid until the home sale/purchase closes. In the mean time, they are doing multiple tasks behind the scenes for weeks, sometimes even months, to get a home transaction to the settlement table. In today’s complicated real estate environment, there are hundreds of tasks. While each client and each home sale is different, here’s a look into the what, when, where and why in the day of a real estate agent.

Knowledge of the Local Market

Both buyer’s agents and seller’s agents must keep up with the inventory of the homes that are on the market. They must know details of homes that have recently sold, and the latest market statistics. This includes every neighborhood, community and area in which they work. Proficient agents must know the market trends, like how long homes are taking to sell, what the average and median prices are, how much seller’s are getting in sales price compared to their list price…and much more.

Staying on top of the local market takes hours of research, whether it’s combing the multiple list service daily to see what’s new on the market, or seeing what the sales prices were, or how much homes are selling for on average compared to their list price, or conducting numerous comparative market analyses (CMA). The inventory and data is changing every day and requires constant review.

Market knowledge also requires that agents personally tour homes, whether through broker’s opens or by previewing the home personally. Real estate agents must be familiar with nuances in home styles, floor plans, construction details, and much more, to provide information to their buyers and their sellers. Knowledge of the lifestyle and amenities afforded by various neighborhoods and communities is crucial to help buyers find their dream home.

Knowledge of Real Estate Laws and Practices

To protect consumers, the Maryland Real Estate Commission has oversight of roughly 46,000 licensed real estate agents. Federal oversight includes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission, and various Fair Housing laws. Buying and selling real estate is complicated in 2017 and is governed by state and local contracts and addenda. Incidentally, Maryland contracts are upwards of 35 to 50 pages these days, depending on the jurisdiction. A Realtor® must stay aware and informed on all real estate laws and forms used in the process.

Today’s constantly advancing technologies affect real estate like virtually no other industry. Real estate agents must stay on top of the latest technology tools available to best serve their clients. In an effort to be a trusted adviser to their clients, Realtors® take hours of required continuing education every two years. As well as credited classes, many take untold hours of non-accredited education to enhance their business acumen, and their skills.

Communication and Follow-up

Much of a real estate agent’s day is spent communicating. The mobile phone is a constant companion. Text messages, emails, and yes, old fashioned phone calls are an ever-present aspect of business. Communication can come from buyers, sellers, cooperating agents, lenders, title services, inspectors, office personnel, or third party vendors. Follow-up is vital in today’s on-demand world of business. For a real estate agent, the work day rarely, or dare we see never, ends at 5 pm Friday afternoon.

Managing the Real Estate Process

Buying and selling real estate is never an event. It’s a process. Like an orchestra, the real estate process has many moving parts and many human beings playing their parts. The Realtor® is the conductor. what does a realtor doFrom the first connection with the home buyer or home seller to the crescendo moment when they hand over the keys, the agent manages numerous aspects of the real estate transaction. There are literally hundreds of tasks that go into ensuring a successful outcome.

A Realtor® is a rare breed of business person, motivated by the desire to help people. Buying and selling a home is often the most complicated and expensive purchase of their lifetime. Buying or selling a home can be among the top stressful life events for people. Additionally, it is often accompanied by stressful life circumstances, like a new relationship, a divorce, new marriage, new baby, downsizing, change in job, relocation, and many other positive and negative life changes. Realtors® regularly find themselves in the role of manager, scheduler, concierge, researcher, paper-pusher, negotiator, coordinator, mediator, shrink/marriage counselor, child entertainer, messenger, problem-solver, and all-around chief cook and bottle washer, to name only a few!

Local Realtors® offer their buyers and sellers the benefit that comes from immersing themselves in every aspect of their local market. Every day of the year. To assure the best possible outcome in your real estate goals, take advantage of the expertise of a local qualified Realtor®. Make sure you choose a real estate professional that you can use as a trusted adviser.

For more information on choosing a REALTOR®, check out this list from some of my favorite bloggers:

When Is It A Good Time to Sell My Frederick MD Home?

When Is It A Good Time to Sell My Frederick MD Home?

Seller’s often Ask:  When Is It A Good Time To Sell My Home?

There are several aspects of selling a home that make this a more complicated question than we can answer in a single sentence. The complicating issue is, What’s your motivation, home seller? When is it a good time to sell my home… Sellers ask with different goals in mind: are you hoping to sell quickly? or to get top dollar? or both? Here are several types of motivations with a short answer to each:

Home Selling Motivations

When Is It A Good Time to My Home?
  • “I want to get the home sold quickly.” Then, the short answer is, you want to sell when demand is high. Combine that with a market with low inventory and you end up with a short selling time, or “Days on Market” DOM. The average DOM in Frederick County right now is 46 days, compared to 64 days at this time last year. This is another indication that right now, inventory is low and demand is high.
  • Similarly, “I need to sell quickly because I have to move for a new job.” In this case, you don’t want to waste time on the market. The longer your home sits on the market, the longer you are paying a mortgage on a home you don’t live in. You may be paying rent, or you may be waiting on the sale of your home to buy another home in your new location. This is a time to heed your real estate agent’s advice and price your home to sell…which means at market in most cases. If your home is in good condition and priced well, there is very little reason why it won’t sell.
  • “I want to get top dollar for my home.” Then, you need to not only list your home when demand is high and inventory is low (if that is possible). You also need to make sure your home is in the best condition possible compared to similar homes on the market. (For a more thorough listing strategy, see my post: 5 Keys to Getting Your Home SOLD)
  • “I need to do a short sale. When is it a good time to sell my home?” If you need to short sell your home, then the strategy for selling is entirely different than for a traditional sale. NOW is the time to list your home in the case of a short sale. In a situation of hardship, time is not on your side. You’ll be in a race against the bank(s) to get the home sold, and the process must be carefully executed. (Read more about Short Sales. If you are facing a hardship and you are underwater on your mortgage, Contact Chris for a discreet conversation about your options.)
  • “I want to get the most for my home, but I’m not in the position to do a lot of work on it.” In this case, you might be on the market for a while, or you might sell quickly. It depends on a lot of factors, like other comparable homes on the market, the selling time in your neighborhood and in your price range. Some neighborhoods and areas are in high demand and this makes a difference. Your home will also need to be priced accordingly. If it is in need of upgrades, then your expectation needs to be that you probably won’t get top dollar. You will need a local real estate agent who is knowledgeable in not only in your area, but in the market trends.
  • “I want to test the market. If I can get the price I want, then I will sell.” We hear this sometimes. The best advice I like to give is to consult a local expert agent, or two or three, get a good idea of what your real estate market is doing, whether demand is up or down. Get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and get their advice on a marketing strategy. If you don’t like the answers, it’s probably not a good time for you to sell. You may want to wait until the market improves, or you may want to revise your expectations.

Determining Home Value

Remember, home sellers don’t determine the value of their home, the market does. A home is worth what buyers are willing to pay in the present market. Getting to that correct evaluation is what a qualified, experienced real estate professional does 365 days a year. Whether it’s a buyer’s market, seller’s market or a transitioning market, an experienced agent is studying the market every day. Read on for more information on determining your home’s value.

Seasonal Home Selling Advice

when is a good time to sell my homeMany sellers decide to choose the time to sell their home that fits with their seasonal life schedule. Families with school aged children, for example, often put their home on the market in spring, so they can have the summer to move, and so that their children can start the new school year off in their new school district, if they move to a different area. Some sellers must schedule around job changes, marriage, retirement, or other major life changes.

In these decisions, it is never a wrong time to put a home on the market at a time that fits with your circumstances. The priority of an easier transition into changing life circumstances is a major motivation that is important to consider during the stressful process of selling and buying a home.

Each season has its challenges and its benefits. Even though we have “traditional” ideas about real estate markets, it’s our experience that they don’t always hold true.


If you are selling a home during a particular season, here is some great home selling advice from some of my favorite real estate bloggers:

  • How to sell your home in the Spring, by Anita Clark, a residential Real Estate Agent in Warner Robins Georgia. Anita wisely points out that buyers often make their decision about your house within the first minutes. Taking advantage of spring plantings will make for great curb appeal.
  • Top 10 sizzling Summer homeselling tips, by Rochester NY Real Estate agent, Kyle Hiscock. Kyle points out the advantages to appealing to summer home shoppers…not the least of which is the nice weather. The pace of summer home shopping is often more relaxed, which appeals to many.
  • Tips for selling your home in the Fall, by Paul Sian, real estate agent in Greater Cincinnati, OH and Northern KY areas. Crisp air, turning foliage, and renewed interest in real estate after summer vacation is over…there are many reasons to appeal to the Fall home buyer.
  • How to sell a home in the Winter, by Bill Gassett, Metrowest MA Realtor®. Bill points out the importance of emphasizing the warmth and beauty of the winter season when selling your home. Additionally, winter buyers are generally more serious buyers.
  • Bonus! Should I sell my home during the Holidays, by Bill Gassett. Even though the winter holiday season is often the busiest time of the year, you may end up with the best buyers. Buyers who are looking during the holidays often have a time schedule in mind, which can be to a sellers advantage.

Choose the Time that Works for YOU

As you can see, the answers to the question of when it’s a good time to sell your home are not so simple. Several factors make selling a home more than a simple equation. Consult a local real estate agent who knows the market and the trends in your neighborhood. Consider that selling a home is a process, not an event. Make sure the process fits you and your life.

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Schedule a consultation with Chris Highland for a free Comparative Market Analysis of your home:  301-401-5119.

Get an online valuation of your home’s value.


Consumer Confidence is on the Rise – What Does that Mean for Housing?

Consumer Confidence is on the Rise – What Does that Mean for Housing?

Consumer Confidence is Rising

Fannie Mae released the findings of the recent National Housing Survey this summer. Consumer’s opinions have been continually moving in a positive direction. Some of the positives that indicate Consumer Confidence has been on the rise for the last two years:

The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) rose this summer to match the same number in February of this year, which was the highest level since December 2000. Several parts of this index include:

  • The net share who reported that now is a good time to sell a home reached a new record high, increasing an additional 7 percentage points
  • The net share of Americans who say it is a good time to buy a home increased 3 percentage points
  • The net share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job fell 5 percentage points
  • Consumers are also growing more optimistic about their ability to get a mortgage

What is consumer confidence?

Consumer Confidence is an economic indicator that measures the degree of optimism that consumers feel about the overall state of the economy and their personal financial situation. The “Consumer Confidence” studies the “Spending” and “Saving” intention of customer.
The Conference Board, a non-profit research organization for businesses that distributes information about management and the marketplace, prepares the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI). It was first calculated in 1967, and is benchmarked to the 1985 score of 100. (The score has exceeded 100 consistently since October 2016)

Consumer Confidence measures the response to U.S. economic conditions and slightly drives economic conditions. The CCI is reported regularly and is considered an influence on consumer and business behavior.

The CCI has been consistently rising since the Since January 2016, with a score of 98.3. It rose to 111.8 in January 2017, and saw a sharp rise in March to 125.6, which was, like the HPSI mentioned above, the highest level since December 2000. Other indicators from this summer’s CCI report:

  • Higher confidence in the direction of the economy
  • More have seen an increase in their personal income
  • On average, Americans expect home prices to increase over the next 12 months
  • The most recent CCI was 122.9 in August.

Fannie Mae has the most detailed survey of its kind, interviewing approximately 1,000 Americans by telephone with over 100 questions used to track attitudinal shifts. The results are compared to the previous month.

The most significant part of the CCI for the last year has been that almost every month, the score has exceeded expectations. The Conference Board forecasts an estimate of the next month’s score.

What Does Consumer Confidence Mean for Real Estate?

The success of the housing market is strongly tied to the consumer’s confidence in the overall economy. “Stronger business and consumer morale typically lead to even more hiring and spending, which in turn encourages more households to make big decisions like buying a home,” says Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist. “Stronger business and consumer morale typically lead to even more hiring and spending, which in turn encourages more households to make big decisions like buying a home,” Yun said.

As measurements like the National Housing Survey and the Consumer Confidence Index reflect consumer’s views and spending and saving habits, these indexes have an effect on the housing market. When Americans feel more positive about the direction of the economy as well as their own personal economic situation, they are free to make solid plans about housing. When first-time buyers are positive about their job stability, they put that confidence into action. There truly is a trickle-up effect, because the first-time buyer often frees up the move-up buyer, and on and on.

Are you feeling positive about your economy? We hope so. If you have been waiting to sell your home in Central Maryland, good news…demand is high. Prices are rising and many homeowners are finding they are “above water” for the first time in a decade. Call us for a consultation if you have been waiting to sell. If you are a first-time buyer or a a move-up buyer, the real estate market is in your favor. We’d love to help you make Frederick home. Chris Highland: 301-401-5119, or contact us with any questions.

Increase Your Home Value – Maintain and Repair

Increase Your Home Value – Maintain and Repair

There are several things you can do as a homeowner to spruce up your home to help maintain value or even increase your home value.  Sometimes in the busy-ness of life we forget about home maintenance.  When we decide to sell our home, the mile-long list of things we need to do to get it market-ready can be daunting.  If you find yourself in that position, consider doing the less costly fixes first.

Increase Your Home Value – Maintain and Repair

1. Consider First Impressions. Cleaning up the yard and entrance to your home takes little more than muscle and energy. Cut back overgrown shrubs and plantings.  Spray or sprinkle some kind of weed-and-feed product (Scotts has always been my fave.)  Power-wash sidewalks, walkways, decks, and the outside of house, if needed. You can rent a power-washer for a day and it will make a huge difference.  There are also power-washing companies that will take the work off your hands.

If you don’t do anything else, paint the front door and replace an old, worn door handle, and the kickplate if it’s dingy. Plant some inexpensive flowers, in pots if you don’t have a suitable garden area. These curb appeal items can be an easy part of yearly maintenance. Keeping your front entry in good shape can be an easy task throughout the time you own your home, so it can be checked off the list before you even decide to sell.

2. Consider flooring. Look down. If your carpet is not too worn, a simple cleaning will do wonders.  If you need to replace carpets, find a mid-grade, neutral color.  We’ve always recommended “Tea Stain”, but with today’s decor trends, a light gray is also a good choice.  It will appeal to the most people.  If your hardwoods are dingy, first try buffing to renew their gleam.  If there are too many scratches and dings, you might need to refinish them.

Increase Your Home Value - Maintain and RepairAs with all home maintenance, keeping your carpets and floors in good shape will help you get more longevity out of them. The expense of new flooring can be saved if the floors are already in good shape when it’s time to sell. Covering high traffic areas with throw rugs can help with longevity of your floors. One of the best ways to increase your home value is to take care of, and update the large areas, like flooring.

3. Consider lighting. Look up. If your light fixtures are dated, get some new ones at Home Depot or Lowes, or any other big box store.  You can find some very nice fixtures for a reasonable cost.  Make sure you use the brightest bulbs possible.

Keeping your lighting updated throughout the time you own your home will not only save you a chunk of money when it’s time to sell…you get to enjoy greater energy savings and more stylish fixtures while you live in the home.

Clean and Neutral

4. Paint covers a multitude of sins. And it’s not expensive. Again, select neutral colors, as they have the broadest appeal. Remember, neutrals don’t have to be white and beige. Grey is a very popular neutral shade today. Most buyers need to be able to envision their furniture in your home, and if your colors and style are too much out of their comfort zone, they will usually not stretch their imagination too far. Even if a potential buyer likes bold colors, its still easy for them to “imagine” their favorite colors in your home if you have a palate of neutrals for them to start with.neutral colors

Most homes take wear and tear with daily living. Decorators recommend painting every 5 to 6 years, just to keep the walls fresh and clean.

5.  Get rid of the stuff!  Its amazing how much stuff we collect, without even trying.  Pare down, thin out, pack away, de-clutter, whatever.  Consider renting a storage unit if need-be, people need to see themselves living there, with all of Their Stuff, so give them room to do so.

6.  Give your house a good cleaning, even if it means hiring maid service for a single clean.  A dirty house is a turn-off to prospective buyers.  When you have it all clean, start making the small repairs that you’ve been avoiding.  Replace window seals, fix the leaks, grout, etc.

7.  Consider Staging.  A professional stager will make a big difference.  The psychology of space is an important factor, and the stager will help you present your space in the best possible light. [We know a couple of good local Stagers]


Kitchens and Baths Sell Homes

Increase Your Home Value - Maintain and Repair

8.  Pay attention to Bathrooms and Kitchens.  Now we’re talking about more expensive fixes, but you can start small and work your way up over time.  Start with small tasks, like cleaning or redoing grout, or caulk.

Replace fixtures one at a time. If you need a new appliance, make sure you replace it with an energy star appliance.  Check out Lowes or Best Buy for their “Open Box” sales, the demos that they sell for 30 to 40% off.  [We got a great dishwasher that way.]

They are the most expensive to update, so if they require little to no work, buyers tend to be more interested. Cosmetic updates can go a long way, but keep in mind the comparable homes that are on the market. If the norm for your home is granite counters and stainless-steel appliances, (although there are alternatives to stainless-steel appliances), then you will want to be competitive when your home goes on the market.

Keeping up with repairs and maintenance throughout the time you own your home is the best way to increase your home value and be prepared to sell without a lot of last minute, expensive work.

Related Articles:

Kitchen Trends

Bathroom Trends

Quick and Easy Bathroom Updates


Contact us for recommendations for Stagers, Home Repair, Roofing, Handyman services, HVAC… we have a list of trusted services.


Getting My Home Ready For the Real Estate Market -Part 2

Getting My Home Ready For the Real Estate Market -Part 2

When you are considering the sale of your home, it’s never too early to start planning what you need to do to get your home into the best condition for the market. If you have done the basic things that we’ve explained in Part Oneall of the things that are most important, the cleaning, painting, and de-cluttering, take a good look and see if there are any obvious deficiencies.  Here are several things that might need attention:
getting your house ready to sell

Shampoo or replace carpet.  If it is permanently stained, worn, or dated, replace it.  Get a neutral shade, “Tea Stain” is our favorite, in an affordable grade; it needn’t be top-of-the line. [click on the image for carpet cleaning tips –>]

2. Repair damaged flooring.  If the hardwoods are scratched or sun-bleached, have them refinished.   If ceramic tiles are cracked, replace them. Make sure grout is clean and not cracked. If vinyl or linoleum is worn, damaged, or dated, replace it.  Think about a material that is more contemporary. There are many affordable laminates on the market that look great and wear very well.

3. Repair electrical or plumbing problems. These systems must be “in proper working condition”, according to the MAR Contract. They will come up in a home inspection, so you might as well do the work before you put the house on the market. Replace or repair leaky faucets. Make sure all outlets are working properly, and make sure drains are clear.

4. Update Kitchens and Baths.  In our part of the Country, kitchens and baths sell homes.  Buyers today are used to granite countertops, upgraded appliances, stainless steel.  Make sure that your home’s kitchens and baths are comparable to the homes on the market that are like yours and in your price range. Replace old fixtures, cracked sinks or yellowed and stained vinyl.  Replace old medicine cabinets, and mirrors.  Make sure grout is clean and regrout where neccessary.  Replace worn caulk.

5. Take a good look at your lighting fixtures. You will want to replace the old 80’s vintage brass fixtures with something a little more updated. Consider some ideas from my Pinterest Board, “Fixtures & Finishes for Home Decorating Trends 2015”:

Follow The Highland Group’s board Fixtures & Finishes for Home Decorating Trends 2015 on Pinterest.

Consider using a “signature” piece in the best room of your home, or the best feature…to draw some attention and show it off. It could be:

  • a light fixture, to draw the eyes up and show off a spacious room
  •  a work of art, to bring a focal point
  • a beautiful fireplace screen or mantle arrangement
  • a soothing water feature on your custom deck [remember, outdoor rooms add living space…so show them off]
  • a stunning piece of furniture to bring attention to a special space,
  • or window treatments, to show off the light from great windows

For Color Inspiration, here are some ideas from our Pinterest Board, “Color Palettes for Decorating 2015”:

Follow The Highland Group’s board Color Palettes for Decorating 2015 on Pinterest.

6. If your house looks worn out and old, paint or stain the exterior.  Powerwash the siding, and the entryway and walkways if applicable.

7. Before you do anything else…paint the front door! It’s amazing how a fresh clean coat of paint on the door and trim will make a huge difference. First impressions count.

8. Lastly, clean up and update your landscaping. Simple is great. Add some potted plants and flowers if the season is right. Overgrown and wild is seldom the appropriate look for a home…it says [in a sad voice]: “This home is not cared for”.

When you have done all the updates, remember, you have just made your home salable.  You’ve done what you need to do to get your house market ready.  Don’t expect to get every penny out of your updates. For an idea about Return on Investment, read this yearly Cost Vs. Value report from Remodeling.

The Final Step:

Price your house to sell, and you will.

Related Articles:

The Highland Group
Chris & Karen Highland *    * * *
eXp Realty – 410-777-5714
email us:
Text Us: 301-401-5119

How Seniors Can Make A Big Move Into A Smaller Home

How Seniors Can Make A Big Move Into A Smaller Home

Making a move is a serious decision, and it can be an overwhelming task even when you’re prepared. For many seniors who decide to downsize and move into a smaller home, the planning stage is the most important. Knowing what you want, what you don’t want, and how to find help when you need it can be invaluable, yet many seniors don’t have all the information before they make these key decisions about their future, and this can lead to stress, anxiety, and a lengthy, drawn-out buying process.

Here are a few tips on how to make the right decision for you and find the perfect place to live.

Make a plan

Having a plan is essential before you even put your house up for sale. Think about the type of residence you want; do you want to buy a home, or rent? Do you need something that doesn’t have stairs, or a smaller lawn that won’t require much upkeep? How easy will it be to find a home with the amenities you’re looking for if you or your spouse is confined to a wheelchair or uses a walker? It might be advantageous to consult a real estate agent who can help you find exactly what you need and narrow down the field to save you time. They can also help you find financial assistance, which is available to seniors in many states.


It’s imperative to go through your belongings before you pack and pull aside items marked for “trash,” “keep,” or “donate”. It may be difficult to consider getting rid of some of your things, especially if you’ve lived in the same place for a long time and have accumulated a lot of memories, but remember that it will be a good thing in the end. You can get help from a friend or family member; in fact, it might be best to have family there if you want to pass down some of your belongings to them.

Also, keep in mind that things such as photo albums can be downsized if you scan the photos and upload them to a thumb drive, which can be used in a digital picture frame. This is a huge spacesaver and can also help with eliminating clutter around the house or freeing up shelf space.

Pack smart

If you’ve lived in the same place for a long time, it might be overwhelming to look at the rooms in your house and think about packing it all up. However, if you start in one area and pack smart, you can get it done quickly and efficiently. Prepare with lots of different-sized boxes and try to pack things from each area together, so they’ll be easy to find and put away in the new house. Make out a packing list to tape to the outside of the box; this will especially come in handy for kitchen items and necessities.

Ask for help

Moving is a big job, and getting it done will take some help. Enlist friends and able-bodied family members to help with the smaller things, and, if you have the extra cash, hire a moving company to help you get the heavy pieces to your new place. If you don’t have family members who live nearby, you might be able to ask your church or a nearby senior center for help.

Thanks to our Guest Author: Jim Vogel, for these excellent tips on how seniors can make a big move into a smaller home. Photo via Pixabay by Meditations

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