8 Things Interior Designers Notice the Instant They Walk Through Your Door

If an interior designer were to walk through your front door, like, right now, what would this professional think of the place you call home?

We’ll tell you right now: plenty. And that’s even before you’ve given the pro the grand tour. Interior designers, with their sharply honed sensibilities, can take in a space in seconds. In fact, these pros can’t help but make a ton of snap judgments—and typically these first impressions aren’t all that good.

Interior Design Tips

In case you’re curious about what jumps out at interior designers when they first enter a home, here’s an unsettling glimpse. But don’t beat yourself up if you recognize your home in some of these scenarios; these flaws are common and entirely fixable. Read on for an inspiring home decor wake-up call.

1. A Wonky Flow

Does the furniture placement in your home promote good flow of traffic? Most living and family rooms have a focal wall that’s anchored by a fireplace or television, which means the chairs and couch should be arranged to face this point without causing you to walk awkwardly around them.

This can be a challenge with an open floor plan, with pieces defeating the whole ‘open’ idea.

The solution: Less is more. Remove extraneous chairs and side tables to create a natural path in and out of the space.

2. Poor Lighting

The wrong lighting can ruin even the best interior design.

If the overall look of your home is dark and drab it’s usually because there’s not enough of the right kinds of light.

Of course, we can’t all be blessed with a flood of natural light, but you can install what you need rather easily. Sit in each chair or section of the room, and determine whether you can read easily. If not, add in the missing table or floor lamps; don’t rely on one big overhead light. And opt for bulbs that boast a more natural feel.

3. Insane Clutter

Interior designers dream of a streamlined, junk-free look, which means their eyes will immediately come to rest on the hot mess that is your bookshelf.

RELATED: 9 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do in 30 Minutes Or Less

Good rule of thumb… just because you have it doesn’t mean it needs to be on display. Pick and choose a few sentimental or interesting pieces to show off and put the rest away.

4. A Lack of Theme

Style continuity is a big one for design pros. If your pieces don’t work well together or there’s no unifying color or theme to the rooms, the whole look can feel off.

This seems to come from a lack of understanding of the style elements and characteristics of the pieces in the room. Too many colors, in particular, can create a sense of disorder. Make it better by choosing a neutral palette and then introducing just a couple of coordinating hues.

5. That (Ahem) Smell

Interior designers make snap judgments not just on what they see, but also on what they smell. As a homeowner, you’ve become inured to your own odors, but an outsider can nail a scent right away.

Pets are the most obvious offenders, followed by cooking smells and odious candles. Fortunately, the remedy is an easy one; open the windows as often as you can to air out stale spaces (especially in bedrooms and the kitchen).

6. The State of Your Loo

The hard truth: Your bathroom must be pristine!

Interior professionals (and potential buyers) will look with a critical eye at every bathroom in your home, and a dirty one will convince them that the entire home isn’t clean, even if it is. Towels must be fresh, grout should be clean, and definitely clear your counters of personal items (makeup, hair dryer, toothbrush).

7. No Sense of Scale

We’re talking tiny lamps on huge tables, or king-size beds squeezed into too-small rooms.

Layout and scale is more noticeable than you think. Sometimes it’s a result of buying a whole package at the furniture store instead of choosing complementary items in the correct sizes for your home.

To fix this, try to mix and match your styles and the stores where you shop. You’ll end up with a more interesting, inviting space.

8. A Lack of Personal Style

Let it shine! A lack of personality in a home means your space will appear boring or sterile. Even worse is a look that’s been copied directly from a catalog. A designer can certainly help you develop a style, but you can also jazz up your abode with art you love, mementos from a faraway trip, or a collection that has special meaning.

YOUR TURN

What’s your biggest interior design challenge? What have you completely aced you’d like to boast about? Share your comments and pictures on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter or LinkedIn, or on our Instagram feed. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Mega Tips for a First-Time Home Seller

Homeowners don’t generally think about filling the shoes of a first-time home seller until they decide to buy a new home. Usually, the motivating factor is the need to move — due to work-related issues or the needs of a growing family — and that generally involves buying another house. It’s when the homeowners stop to consider the move that it may dawn on them, yes, because they need to sell, they are now a first-time home seller.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Sellers Guide

Selling a home is very different from buying a home. Whereas buying a home generally involves emotions and feelings, selling a home typically centers on what listing agents like to call maximizing profit potential.


Here are the key steps to keep in mind as a first-time homeseller to sell your home fast and for top-dollar:

1. Price Your Home Accurately

To price your home accurately you need the assistance of a reputable Listing Agent. This is not the time to choose your cousin’s sister-in-law, for example, who dabbles in real estate. You’ll fare much better if you select an experienced real estate agent who sells a fair number of listings, preferably in your neighborhood.

RELATED: What’s My Home Worth? Find Out Now!

Your Agent will analyze comparable sales and prepare an estimate of value often called a CMA, for comparative market analysis. It is OK to use real estate websites to get an idea of this figure, but you’ll soon learn the variances your agent will point out because your they have the experience and education to provide you with a more accurate opinion of value.

2. Prepare Your Home For Sale

Ask your Listing Agent to advise you on preparing your home for sale. Most homes show better with about half of the furniture removed. If a buyer walks in the door and wonders if anybody lives in the house, you’ve done your job correctly. Consider home staging to boost your selling power and appeal.

RELATED: 10 Low Cost Ways To Help Your Home Sell Fast

Painting is the single most effective improvement you can make. Don’t let dings in the woodwork or scraps on the walls make your home reflect deferred maintenance.

3. Be Flexible with Showings

If home showings are too much of an imposition, consider going away the first weekend your home is on the market. Yes, it can feel a bit intrusive to allow strangers to trek through your home and check out your soft-closing drawers in the kitchen. The best way to sell your home is to let a buyer inside with her buyer’s agent to tour in peace and quiet.

RELATED: 8 Things You Should Never Say When Selling Your Home

Leave the house when buyer’s agents show up. Anything you say can and will be used against you, plus, buyer’s agents prefer to show without interference

4. Allow An Open House

Not every home is a viable candidate for an open house. If your home is located in an area close to major traffic, that is generally indicative of a reasonable expectation that the open house signs will pull in visitors.

Ask your Listing Agent if they advertise the open houses online. Many a home buyer has had no desire to buy a home until she spots an open house and subsequently falls in love.

5. Review Your Listing Online

Look at your home listing on various websites to make sure the information conveyed is accurate. Agents do their best to ensure accuracy, but since it is your home, you know the details better than anyone. If you spot a feature that is missing, contact your agent and ask for an inclusion.

6. Try to Respond Promptly to A Purchase Offer

Many offers contain a date by which the offer expires. Notwithstanding, it can drive buyers crazy if they are forced to wait for a seller to decide whether to accept their offer or to issue a counter offer. Remember, if you are selling because you need to buy a new home, you are no different when you are a home buyer yourself.

7. Line Up Your Movers Early

If you are thinking about moving during the summer, for example, which is a very busy time of year for movers, you might find it is impossible to locate movers for the day you want. You can start packing before your home hits the market, which will give you a head start on the process. It will also give you peace of mind to be prepared. Selling can be stressful enough.

YOUR TURN

Are you a first-time home seller? What tips do you have to add to our list? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

 

How to Remove Stripped Screws, Fill Nail Holes, and Other Home Hacks

Our homes are full of small, but mind-boggling challenges, such as: Is there a way to remove stripped screws? Or eliminate those water rings on your coffee table, or those divots where your table once sat on your carpet? If you’re looking for answers to common conundrums you might encounter, a new book can help: “Tidy Hacks: Handy Hints to Make Life Easier.”

Written by home hack expert Dan Marshall, this modern-day maintenance manual is geared to people who have no time for home maintenance. The fix-its that it recommends are insanely easy to accomplish. And since we’re all about making home management easier, check out a few of these genius tips below.

How to remove stripped screws

How to remove stripped screws

Can’t put in (or take out) a screw because that X-marked divot is too worn to turn with your screwdriver? Place a flat rubber band over the top of the screw head, and insert the screwdriver so it pins the rubber band in place. The rubber band will give you enough grip to remove the screw with ease.

How to shine shoes with a banana

The combination of the potassium found in bananas (which is also an ingredient of shoe polish) and the natural oils in a banana peel makes a great natural leather shoe polish. So, when your shoes need shining and you’re in a pinch with no shoe polish around, reach for the next best thing: a banana. Rub the inside of the peel on your shoes to buff away the scuff.

How to organize cleaning supplies

How to organize cleaning supplies

Get your cleaning supplies out of that awkward low cabinet under your sink. If you hang up a shoe organizer in an area that is easy to reach, like the back of your laundry-room door, you can store them handily, without turning yourself into a pretzel. The best part? Close the door, and you won’t have to look at the bleach and Windex until it’s time to start cleaning.

How to fill nail holes

How to fill nail holes

For many people, hanging a picture or a piece of art isn’t an exact science, and it often involves a certain amount of trial and error. If you happen to hammer a nail into the wrong spot on the wall, grab a crayon that matches the color of the paint and draw on the hole until it is filled. Wipe away any excess wax with a clean cloth.

How to get rid of a water ring

How to get rid of a water ring

How dare your guests ruin your beautiful wood table with their damp drinking glasses? Don’t lose your head, though, because you have this ingenious trick to remove the liquid stain. Turn a hairdryer on high heat and hold it close to the water mark. It will start to disappear before your eyes! Keep the heat on the ring until it’s completely gone.

How to get rid of dents in the carpet

How to get rid of dents in the carpet

Rearranging the furniture in your bedroom or living room can be an exciting way to reinvigorate your home decor, but a heavy table or armoire is sure to leave unsightly dents in your carpet. Believe it or not, the secret of getting rid of those dents is hiding in your freezer. Simply place ice cubes along the indents, leave them there until the ice has melted, and then vacuum over the area to fluff up the fibers.

YOUR TURN

Do you have any ingenious Home Hacks to add to our list? Sound of on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

 

 

Home Staging Ideas for the Kitchen to Make Buyers Bite

If you’re selling your house, staging—the mysterious practice by which you prep and prettify your home before its debut—can make a huge difference in catching the attention of buyers and ultimately reeling in an offer. And the room you’ll really want to focus on here is the kitchen: After all, it’s the crown jewel that buyers ooh and ahh over—except when the counters are packed with stacks of mail, near-empty boxes of Cheerios, and a hulking Cuisinart you rarely use.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Sellers Guide

To make sure this critical area is perfectly poised to woo buyers, try these home staging ideas for your kitchen and get some offers cooking.

1. Clear off counters

Put it away—put it all away. We’re looking at you, coffee maker, blender, knife block, standing mixer, and toaster oven. “nd don’t forget the top of the refrigerator. Home staging in this room is all about making your kitchen look bigger, cleaner, and more streamlined. Sometimes you become accustomed to your own clutter, so much so it may become invisible to you.

RELATED: 9 Decluttering Projects You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less

And while you’re in purge mode, remove every bit of paper and those souvenir magnets from the refrigerator and cabinets. The only thing you should keep on the counter is a pop of color, such as a pretty bowl of bright green apples or lemons.

2. Scour for hours

Well, no one’s actually logging the time spent, but cleanliness is critical here. Not only must you clean the countertops, but the grout, faucet, and grimy drain rim, too.

Try CLR (calcium, lime, and rust remover) on the faucet to make sure water flows through it smoothly. Clean cabinet fronts to remove dust and grime, and scrub greasy spatters on the stove and backsplash with a vinegar-water solution.

And if you have a stovetop with burns or food rings, remove them with a soft soap product and a razor blade—it’ll look almost like new.

3. Light it right

Let as much natural light into the space as you can, by either opening heavy drapes or replacing them with sheer panels. Have a kitchen that looks out to a patio or deck through glass doors? These must sparkle in order to illuminate the space.

RELATED: 7 Quick and Cost-Effective Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look and Feel Bigger

And if you don’t have under-cabinet lights—get them. You can purchase battery-powered puck-shaped lights for very little money and stick them under the cabinets (it adds that extra glow that every cook covets).

4. Organize the insides

Potential buyers are going to open the fridge and pantry, so don’t neglect these spots when you’re staging the kitchen. People who are looking for a new home will imagine how their pots, pans, and food items might fit into your cabinets.

Consider stacking cookbooks or displaying clear storage containers to drive home the kitchen’s function. Plus, clear containers take up less space visually.

5. Set the scene

Some experts recommend setting the table with colorful plates and napkins to give the kitchen a homey feel.

Consider presenting a picture of everyday life by having a unique planter on the countertop wit blooming flowers alongside a carafe of orange juice for color and a rolled-up newspaper.

YOUR TURN

Are you selling or have you recently sold your home? How did you make your kitchen the WOW factor? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds or on Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

9 Decluttering Projects You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less

Facing a cluttered space can feel disheartening – who has the time (or frankly, the desire) to spend all day clearing clutter? But the thing is, making progress toward a clean, clutter-free space doesn’t have to be something you devote an entire day to. Instead, by carving out bite-size chunks of time to work on clearly defined tasks, you can get the serene space you deserve in a way that also works with your schedule.

Here are 9 quick ways to get started:

1. Edit one bookcase.
If you have a large book collection spread throughout the house, sorting through all those books at once may not be practical. So start with something more doable instead – like one bookcase. Keep an empty box or shopping bag by your side, and fill it with books you no longer want or need. When you’re done, immediately carry the bag (or bags) to your car and make a plan to drop them off to donate or sell.

2. Clear the kitchen counter.
The kitchen counter is such a common dumping ground for all sorts of stuff: school notices, rubber bands, shopping bags, receipts, to-do lists and on and on. Set your timer and get to work – recycle unneeded papers and put away items that belong elsewhere. If you need a drop-spot on the counter, make it a clearly defined zone to prevent clutter sprawl in the future: Try a bowl for pocket change and a tray or basket for mail.

kitchen-under-sink-organization

3. Make space under the kitchen sink.
When was the last time you really looked under your kitchen sink? This area tends to become a storehouse for random cleaning products, plastic bags and jumbled tools. First, pull everything out and give the cupboard itself a cleaning. Next, replace only the items that you actually use, that are full and in good condition. Recycle empty containers, bring bags to a plastic bag recycling drop-off (available at many markets) and move less-often used tools elsewhere. Consider bins, rods and baskets when reorganizing your now clutter-free space.

4. Make your bedside table an oasis of calm.
Why make a cluttered nightstand the last thing you see before bed and the first thing you lay eyes on in the morning? Clear away the toppling piles of books, scribbled notes and old water glasses, and wipe away the coffee rings. Replace only your current reading, a journal and pen, and perhaps a candle or a small vase with flowers.

5. Winnow your wardrobe, one drawer at a time.
Rather than attempting to tackle your entire closet in one go, set your timer for 30 minutes and start with a single drawer. Keep working your way through your clothes, one drawer at a time, until the timer goes off. Keep two empty bags or bins by your side as you sort, placing quality clothes in good repair in one bag to sell (or donate), and worn-out clothes in the other bag (drop these in a textile recycling bin).

6. Simplify the linen closet.
Do you know how many sets of sheets and towels you own? If you’ve been accumulating linens for years without purging the old ones, chances are your linen closet is full – or overstuffed. Take this 30-minute session to sort out your household linens, pulling your least favorite (or most frayed) sets to bring to a textile recycling bin or a charitable donation center. If you hope to donate your old linens, be sure to check with the donation center first, because guidelines on acceptable donations can vary widely.

7. Sort out the toy chest.
Half an hour isn’t nearly enough time to go through a child’s entire room, but it should be adequate for clearing out one particularly messy toy chest or bin. First, remove all the toys to an area where you have some room to spread out. Put toys that obviously belong elsewhere back in the right spot (for example, return stray pieces to the puzzle box) and toss or set aside broken items for repair. Fill a bag with unloved toys and put this immediately in the car – otherwise, the toys are likely to migrate out of the give-away-or-sell bag and back into the toy chest!

8. Remove worn and outgrown children’s clothes.
Working through one drawer, shelf or hanging rack at a time, pull out any of your child’s clothes that are too small, or too damaged, to wear. If you plan to save items for a younger child, neatly fold them and place in a bin labeled with the size (for example, 2T) in a storage closet. Place any clothing that is too worn or damaged to keep or sell in a bag destined for your closest textile recycling bin.

9. Clear your desktop.
The next time you find yourself procrastinating instead of getting your work done, step away from aimless social media scrolling, and set the timer for a desk-centered clutter-blasting session instead. Sort and file important papers, shred and recycle unneeded documents, test the pens in your pen cup, and clear out the drawers.

YOUR TURN

What would you declutter in 30 minutes or less? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds.  And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.  You may unsubscribe at any time.

6 Bad Habits to Avoid If You Hope to Sell Your Home in 2017

Everyone has a few flaws. But if you plan to sell your New Jersey home in 2017, these foibles can literally cost you—we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars. What’s more, many homeowners may not even be aware that certain actions can hurt their odds of selling their home (that is, until it sits on the market with no takers).

sell-your-new-jersey-home-fast

To help clue you in, here’s a list of regrettable blunders to kick to the curb starting now, even if you plan to put your home on the market next year:

Bad Habit No. 1: Overimproving your home
Dying to install new kitchen cabinets or retile your master bath? Home sellers often assume any upgrades they make to their home will pay them back in full once they sell, but that’s rarely the case. On average you will recoup just about 64% of the money you spend on renovations once you sell—and certain improvements can actually work against you if they’re unusual or undesirable in your market.

For instance, as much as you may be dying for a bidet in your bathroom, many others may not. Likewise, even if you consider a new swimming pool a plus, many homeowners don’t want the hassle of maintaining it (or the dangers if they have young kids).

Do this instead: Check out blog post on Home Improvements that offer the Biggest Return on Investment to see which upgrades provide the best value – and ask your Agent for advice on which amenities are hot (or not) on the Jersey Shore.

Bad Habit No. 2: Renovating without permits
We know it’s a pain to apply for permits before you knock down that wall or add a deck, but this corner-cutting will come back and bite you when you decide to sell. Without proper permits, buyers may worry whether the work done on your place is up to code—and as a result refrain from making an offer.

Do this instead: Don’t be a scofflaw; pull necessary permits. Usually, building permits are required for any renovation that involves opening/building walls, electrical, and plumbing changes.

Bad Habit No. 3: Limiting showing hours
Sure, no one wants to leave their home at dinnertime. But buyers are busy juggling work, family, and looking for a new home. If you limit showings to a few hours on weekends, you might miss a potential sale.

Do this instead: Stay flexible and cooperate with buyer’s agents who want to show your house, even if it’s inconvenient.
Plus, limiting showing times gives buyers the impression that the you may be a “difficult” seller. That can turn them off even more.

Bad Habit No. 4. Overlooking curb appeal
Even if you lavish tons of attention on prepping the inside of your home for buyers, it’s easy to overlook the outside. But keep in mind, your curb appeal is the very first impression buyers have of your home, so it pays to put some elbow grease into prettying up the exterior, too.

RELATED: The Importance of Curb Appeal When Selling Your New Jersey Home

Do this instead: Make sure your paint job is pristine and your lawn is tidy and mowed. Also replace dead shrubs, prune trees, put out some potted plants, mulch garden beds, and freshen mailboxes.

Bad Habit No. 5: Relying heavily on open houses
Open houses were a great way to sell a house in, like, 1975. These days, the vast majority of houses are sold through the Internet.

Do this instead: While you can and should hold open houses, don’t depend on them too much. Look for Agents who mine for buyers by using the Internet and Social Media.

RELATED: The Custom Marketing Plan to Sell Your Home

Bad Habit No. 6: Not following your Agent’s advice
Sure, you no doubt know more about your home than anyone else. But your Real Estate Agent knows more about how to sell it. And your Agent may make some suggestions you might not like to hear, like that you need a new paint job or that the asking price you had in mind needs to be lowered a bit. It’s tempting to take offense or just ignore this advice, but if you do, you could risk seeing your house sit on the market and grow stale.

RELATED: The Importance of Properly Pricing Your Home

Do this instead: Listen to your Agent. That doesn’t mean blindly following all advice. But when it comes to pricing, consider the comps your agent presents, not your gut feeling or wishful thinking. Agents buy and sell hundreds of houses in their career; you’ll probably buy and sell a handful in your lifetime. You’re paying for their experience, so follow their advice.

YOUR TURN

Want advice about selling your home? Contact us today for a free consultation or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE™ email newsletter for articles and tips like these delivered straight to your inbox.

6 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Look High End

Your home’s appearance is a reflection of you and what type of person you are. Living on the Jersey Shore you’ll find diversity among décor.

The coastal themes of the water and the contemporary art remain strong when it comes to making a home look high end. With a few good tips you can walk with pride by creating a high end home, even when you’re on a budget.

decorating-tips-jersey-shore-real-estate

Here are a couple of considerations that may peak your curiosity:

1. Pastel Paints
You can see heads nodding to the interior design trends for 2017. Pastel paints mixed with natural pieces of furniture and sleek industrial accents. This look is easy to achieve by replacing your ivory white walls for more subdued colors like yellows, blues and greens. Bright colors, browns and boring neutrals are out when it comes to making a home look more Chi-Chi.

2. Abstract Art Piece
Add a touch of nature with a vase, abstract art piece or some other type of organic flair to the room. On the flip side try adding metallic finishes such as copper and silver to accent these rooms. You will find this look across the board in magazines such as Coastal Living.

Do-it-Yourself Wainscoting, Chair rails, Board and Batten are all excellent weekend projects that can enhance the way any room looks. Just be sure to do your painting first and look in places like Pinterest for additional DIY ideas.

3. Wooden Valances
Wooden valances are easier to create than most people think and are a welcome addition to any window treatment. Paint these wooden boxes to either match or contrast the walls and you’ve got a look that is stunning in just about any room.

4. Kitchen Tile Blacksplashes
The kitchen can be updated by adding things like a DIY tile backsplash that extends from countertop to cabinets. This will make even the most outdated kitchen look new again. One major trend that we are seeing a lot of this year is the ‘subway’ tile look. This is a clean, simple look that will match in a multitude of decorative applications.

TIP: Don’t forget the laundry room! Many people are taking the time to give this room some love and attention by placing backdrops behind the ole’ washer and dryer. They are using ‘neat freak’ solutions to storage and really creating a welcoming invitation to this area.

5. Backyard / Outdoor Living Spaces
Backyard living spaces are huge now. Many families find themselves enjoying their porches and patios more than ever before. When you live in a place like the Jersey Shore, you’ve probably got a deep love for being outdoors. Your home will be upgraded by taking the time and investing in making this gorgeous area. Things like plants, fire pits, decorative stones and waterfalls can add to the ambiance and the value of the home. Places like Houzz.com are an excellent resource for other decorating ideas for these outdoor spaces.

6. Curb Appeal
Entryway and curb appeal are important to beautifying your home and should be given special attention. You don’t want to spend your time grimacing and wincing each time you pull into your driveway. Paint the exterior in a pleasant color that’s complimentary of the surroundings.

RELATED: The Importance of Curb Appeal When Selling Your Home

Use art instead of plants as a focal point. Garage doors need to be updated and todays newer selections are not only inexpensive, they’re super modern.

YOUR TURN

No matter if you’re a new homeowner or you’ve been in your place for years, there are a lot of things that you can do to make your place look like a million bucks with spending a fraction of that amount. Do you have something to add to our list? Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Don’t Be Gross, and 6 Other Things Your Housecleaner Wishes You Knew

Hate cleaning your house? No one could blame you: There’s precious little fun in scrubbing toilets. Or wiping down grime-streaked windows to the point where your elbows are sore for weeks. And you probably cringe when you think about your living room’s floor-to-ceiling built-in shelves, whose upper levels haven’t seen a dust rag since Tony Soprano faded abruptly to black.

Enter the humble housecleaner—here to save you from yourself! You can hand over your most hated tasks and wash your hands of cleaning.

But if you’re hiring a housecleaner to do the hard work, don’t make the job even harder. Following these insider tips will not only help ensure your status as a decent human being, they can also help you save some cash.

maid-service-monmouth-county

Here are seven tips for keeping your cleaning from turning into a dust-up:

1. Precleaning will save you money

If you’re anything like us, you probably do a little precleaning for your housecleaner. And then, if you’re like us, you wonder how much of that is truly necessary—after all, that’s what the housecleaner is there for, right?

Here’s the deal: You should do whatever you can to help them help you. No, you don’t need to bust out the Clorox, the Shark vacuum, and the Miracle Mop, but you should tackle those dirty dishes, throw out the takeout containers, and pick up that pile of clothes. If you don’t, you may find that your wallet’s been cleaned out, too.

Think it all comes out in the wash? Let us do the math for you: If your housecleaner charges you $30 per hour (the average rate) to clean, then a half-hour spent decluttering will cost you an extra $15—or $390 for a year’s worth of twice-a-month cleanings. Instead, straighten up the night before and save that cash for something else.

2. Give specific directions

Unless you’re ordering a top-to-bottom scrubbing every week, your cleaners need direction. Is the bathroom looking a little grungy? Ask them to spend extra time on the shower. Request extra attention to your baseboards. Sic them on your son’s room, now that he’s finally off to college.

Professionals say, iIf they don’t offer full instructions, there’s a chance you’ll be disappointed. And they don’t want that.

If you’re new to the world of professional housecleaning, you might not know exactly what your home needs most. Most maid services will happily stop by for a consultation so you can learn exactly how dirty you are.

3. Deal with your pets, please

Your dog runs in terror when you turn on your Dyson, so why would you leave it home alone when all the floors are getting vacuumed? Not all pups need to be taken to daycare during housecleaning, but if you already know your pet hates strangers or loud noises, try to quarantine the dog to their happy, comfy place.

Aggressive pets are a bit of a different story. It can also mean your house doesn’t get cleaned to your satisfaction. Housecleaners aren’t expected to sacrifice their own safety to clean your home, and if they’re faced with an angry animal, they might have to bail.

4. If you wouldn’t touch it, they won’t either

Yes, housecleaners will scrub away that nasty buildup around the bottom of your toilet seat. But they also have a limit: They won’t pick up your dog’s poop.

Housecleaners are not expected to handle any waste above the usual cleaning of the bathroom or the toilet.

5. Allot the proper amount of cleaning time

Don’t feel ashamed if your house is in dire straits. Life happens. Work picks up, a kid or two comes along, and suddenly you have no time for more than the bare minimum. Cleaners (probably) won’t judge you – but you should expect the job to take a bit longer.

Be honest with your housecleaners about the home’s current state so they can allocate enough time on their schedule.

6. Use an insured cleaning service

Housecleaners can’t avoid touching your most valuable belongings – Grandma’s heirloom teapot needs dusting, too. But sometimes accidents happen.

The best way to ensure the safety of your precious possessions is by selecting an insured cleaning service. It’ll have provisions in place to quickly rectify the situation.

Reputable services will want to take responsibility for any damage or accidents.

But it’s your responsibility to make sure things are in line and prepared for your housecleaner’s visit. That includes removing any truly priceless valuables – and making sure your home (however dirty) is a welcoming environment.

7. You’re not entirely off the hook

Hiring a housecleaning service doesn’t mean you can skip all of the cleaning. Well, sure: You probably can, if you’re willing to pay for the service to do the basics every time it comes by. But if you want to cut costs, make sure you try to keep up your home’s appearance in between cleanings.

Minor maintenance can be the difference between three or five hours every two weeks! Simple DIY tasks include wiping down the front of the cabinets after cooking, squeegeeing the shower, and sweeping the kitchen floor. Integrating them into your day-to-day routine can save you a few bucks on your bill.

YOUR TURN

Do you use a housecleaner regularly? What kind of advice can you offer to get the biggest bang for your buck? Housecleaner nightmare stories? What happened and what warnings can you share? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter feed or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox.

10 Low-Cost Tweaks to Help Your Home Sell

Many homeowners won’t even consider listing their home, because they can’t afford extensive remodeling to get it ready for sale. But sometimes it’s not the major renovations that buyers notice.

Consider this checklist of cheaper to-do’s before hanging that for-sale sign.

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1. Quick-clean the exterior and landscape.
They don’t call it curb appeal for nothing. Check for loose or clogged gutters and broken or missing flashing materials, which help prevent leaks behind the gutters. Cut the lawn and trim the bushes. Make sure the garage doors open and close properly. Wipe down lawn furniture. Fix any dangling shutters.

Estimated costs: Completely replacing gutters can be expensive; replacing just parts is more economical. A 10-foot gutter starts at $6; downspouts start at $8. High-end garage doors cost $1,000, but a decorative garage door hardware kit starts at $19.

2. Make that door (and doorbell) stand out.
Many homeowners don’t come in through the front door, but prospective buyers do. If you’ve ever gone house hunting you know it takes a moment for your Realtor to get inside that lockbox to get the door open. During this time, buyer’s are sizing up the immediate exterior. Fix cracked or peeling doorways with a fresh coat of paint and be sure the bell actually rings.

Estimated costs: Exterior paints start at $30 a gallon; doorbells are $10 and up.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Selling Your House

3. Evaluate every entrance.
It’s not just the front door that will get the once-over. Doors offer a huge bang for the buck visually, so update interior doors or at least replace hinges and knobs. Junky bifolds with double-swing or heavier solid-core doors can also stand to be replaced.

Estimated costs: Bronze door hinges can cost $3; solid-core, unfinished pine interior doors start at $99.

4. Look down.
People walk in and wipe their feet. One of the first things they’ll notice is the condition of the floor, says Goode. Stained carpets, raggedy rugs and scratched floors are fairly easy fixes.

Estimated costs: You can rent a carpet steam cleaner for $60; the cost of area rugs varies significantly.

5. Select the right scent.
Beware the four most dreaded words in real estate: “What is that smell?” Buyers will associate musty odors with mold damage or disrepair, so eliminate any nose agitators. Clean out litter boxes, make sure your animals are bathed, banish the kids’ stinky sports equipment to the basement or garage, and throw out that science experiment in the fridge. Find one scent (or complementing scents) you love and use it throughout the house to avoid scent overload.

Estimated costs: Scented candles can cost $10; plug-in odor eliminators start at $17.

6. Spot treat any blemishes.
Walls are an excellent canvas, but they also clearly display age, dirt, indifference, even foundation issues. Fix any scuff marks, nail holes and paint cracks. Remove all peeling wallpaper and repaint in neutrals to maximize the natural light.

Estimated costs: Spackling paste starts at $18; interior paint costs $28 a gallon and up.

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7. Have a place for everything.
If buyers see that your stuff doesn’t have a home, they won’t want your home. Make sure anything that’s not on display — shoes, coats, papers, pots, pans — is tucked away and neatly organized.

When closet space is at a premium, repurpose other areas for storage. Finish the garage walls and floors and add some simple storage to make the room part of the home. This can yield great return on investmet!

Estimated costs: Attractive bins and baskets cost $20 and up; basic shelving systems start at $200.

RELATED: Creative Storage Solutions You’ve Never Thought Of

8. Check the tracks. You may no longer notice that lopsided utensils drawer, but potential buyers will. New cabinetry may be out of the question, but fix bent drawer tracks and slides, replace dangling pulls and tighten screws and handles.

Estimated costs: Basic rail-drawer-track kits start at $3; decorative cabinet knobs start at $4 each.

9. Give the appliances some elbow grease.
Buyers want stoves that shine, not evidence of last week’s tuna casserole. Clean the oven, refrigerator, microwave, sink and any other appliance that will be included in the purchase of the home.

Estimated costs: Most cleaning products start at $4; elbow grease is free.

10. Finish with finishes.
Bathroom gut jobs can be pricey, but replacing finishing elements such as faucets, showerheads, towel racks and toilet paper holders can significantly brighten a room. If you have polished chrome faucets or shower valves, you can pick up any chrome accessories and they will match, unlike satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze. New shower curtains, towels and mats will also help the room look updated and clean.

Estimated costs: Showerheads can cost $40 and up; bath towels start at $10; faucets are $70 and up.

RELATED: Home Renovations That Yield The Greatest Return On Investment

YOUR TURN

What tips do you have for sprucing up the home on a budget?  Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter feed or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Jersey Shore Home Sellers:

Up Your Game to Compete With Newly Built Homes

jersey-shore-real-estateHomeowners are notorious for thinking their home is better than their neighbor’s, but when you are ready to put your home on the market it’s crucial to be realistic about the competition.

If you live in an area where builders are constructing new homes that are similar in style or price range to your own, then your competitors include not only the other existing homes on the market but also the newly built properties.

There is nothing you can do about the fact that your home is five, 10 or 30 years old, but by investigating the trends in new homes you can analyze what to do to make your home appeal to buyers.

Check Out the Competition

Before you put your home on the market it is wise to look at other homes in your price range that are for sale, including both resales and newly built homes, because this can give you ideas about how to position your home and how to price it appropriately.

Here’s what to look for:

• Property condition
A newly built home will be pristine and perfect, with fresh paint and the assistance of an expert interior designer. You can get ideas of the latest decorating trends in a model home as wells ways to maximize the best features of your home and minimize the least appealing features. Beware of overspending when you begin to improve your home for sale, but do think about fresh paint in the new neutral tones of pale grey or beige rather than pure white and notice the lack of clutter in model homes.

• Put yourself in the buyers’ frame of mind
When buyers look at homes they want to visualize how they would live in it, not how you’re currently living there. This means that you need to do things as basic as keeping dishes put away, beds made and towels neatly hung up, and as subtle as removing personal items and replacing them with neutral decorative elements.

RELATED: Home Staging vs Decorating: Learn the Critical Difference

• Look at your curb appeal
Model homes typically have fresh landscaping and freshly painted trim, so you should do the same for your house to attract buyers. Invest time in sprucing up your exterior and consider painting your front door and replacing the hardware for a modern look.

RELATED: Curb Appeal Tips from the Pros

• Check out the finances
Builders sometimes offer incentives to buyers such as closing cost assistance or paying for optional features. If you feel your home won’t sell without offering some type of concession yourself, you can lower your price, offer some closing cost help or even offer a lump sum of cash that the buyers can use to pay a decorator or for upgrading the flooring. This could be particularly valuable if you have an older home that looks dated but you want the buyers to be able to put their own individual stamp on the property.

Consult Your Real Estate Agent

Patrick Parker Realty Experts can offer suggestions about inexpensive improvements you can make to your home and can talk to you about local market trends. If you are in a market with few homes for sale, you may not need to be so concerned about new construction because there will be plenty of buyers to look at your home; but in a softer housing market you may need to get creative with incentives or a reduced price to attract buyers.

YOUR TURN 

As a seller, how have you won out over the competition of newer homes? Post your stories on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter Feed or on LinkedIn. Plus don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. 


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