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Keeping Your House Clean with Dogs While It’s on the Market

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

By: Leanne Potts

Oof. Houses that smell or look like pets have lived in them are just harder to sell.

Here’s how to de-dog your house before putting it on the market — and how to keep it that way while you sell.

#1 Steam Clean Everything Fabric
“Job number one is to take care of [the soft surfaces in your house],” says Melissa Maker, star of an eponymous YouTube channel and owner of a Toronto cleaning service. “They hold odors and hair like nothing else.”

This includes carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, and even the drapes, she says. Pets rub against drapes, getting oils, odors, and fur on the fabric. Send curtains out for a professional cleaning.

#2 Groom Your Pet
Get your pet groomed by a pro before you list your house. You can do it yourself, but a pro can get more hair and dander off than you can — plus, all that gunk is better off in the groomer’s drain than yours.

Brush your furry friend regularly (outside, preferably) while your house is on the market. Any hair you get off on a brush is hair that won’t end up on your sofa or in your rugs.

#3 Clean Tile-Floor Grout
Tile resists dog stains, but grout is porous and sucks them up like a sponge. “I had a cat who had an accident on a tile floor, and the pee seeped into the grout,” Maker says. Steam clean grout to lift old smells and stains. If your grout is really cruddy, hire a pro to chip out the old grout and put in new — or DIY it if you have the skills.

#4 Get an Air Purifier Tower
To you, it smells like home. But your HVAC has been circulating the same hair and dander again and again (especially in hot and cold weather when the windows are closed).

Add an air purifier tower with a HEPA filter; it pulls hair and dander out of the air before they even reach your HVAC.

Most air ducts don’t need to be cleaned, especially if you change filters regularly. But if dander and fur seem to be taking over, hire a duct-cleaning company before putting your home on the market.

#5 Use Enzymatic Cleaners
They’re the special forces of odor busters. Enzymatic cleaners are made of beneficial bacteria that eat stains and odors. They’re formulated to stamp out a specific type of stain, so a cleanser that targets urine won’t be the same as one for vomit.

“They’re cultivated for a specific mess,” Maker says. Apply them liberally to stains regardless of how old they are, before listing your house.

#6 Get Rid of Scratch Marks
Pet toenails leave telltale marks on doors and walls. For walls and doors made of synthetic materials, you’ll just need to paint over the marks. For a wooden door, use wood-filler pen can fill in the scratches. For hardwood floors, rub out small scratches with steel wool or fine sandpaper followed by mineral spirits, wood filler, and polyurethane. For major damage, refinishing the hardwood is a good investment with a stellar 100% ROI.

#7 Absorb Odors With Charcoal
Charcoal pulls moisture and odors out of the air. You can get inconspicuous little bags of it to hang in places your pets love most. Or, just strategically stash some charcoal briquettes around the house.

Just be sure to get the ones that aren’t presoaked with lighter fluid.

#8 Spot Clean Furniture Daily
If you’re like many pet owners, trying to keep your dog off the couch completely isn’t worth the effort. Instead, cover your freshly-cleaned furniture with throws or pet covers, and wash them at least once a week. Vacuum rugs and carpets every day. Pet smells sink in fast.

For quick hair removal before a showing, wipe down the couch with rubber gloves. The hair comes right off.

#9 Get a Sniff Test
You’ve scrubbed everything, and you think your house smells like a dog has never set foot in the door. Get a second opinion as to whether the odors are gone, Maker says. “You may be noseblind. Ask your agent to walk through and give you an honest opinion.”

 

Photo by Oscar Sutton on Unsplash

 

Fall Home Selling Tips

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Many sellers try to avoid putting their home on the market during the fall. However, while the spring and summer markets are more popular, the fall market certainly doesn’t disappoint. Follow these tips to help ensure that your house flies off of the market before Old Man Winter arrives.

Create festive curb appeal.  
In a buyers’ market, it’s important to do everything you can to make your house look its best. Make sure that your yard, walkways, and gutters are free of leaves  and debris. Add a seasonal style with a festive-door wreath, planters filled with autumn-colored flowers, and a front porch lined with pumpkins.

Keep the lights on.
Gone are the days that it stays light well past dinnertime. Since the days are shorter, be sure that your house is illuminated both on the inside and outside. Brighten rooms by pulling up the blinds and pushing back the window dressings. Keep the front porch and walkway lights on so visitors have a better chance to experience the exterior of your house.

Check the HVAC.
The nights are becoming chilly, so it’s important to make sure that your HVAC system is up to par. It’s best to have it checked out before you put your house on the market. Not only will this reduce the chances of an offer falling through, it can help keep you and your guests warm and cozy during the colder months.

For more real estate tips for fall, visit www.americanlifestylemag.com/home.

 

3 Top Return-On-Investment Projects

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Downsizing Pros and Cons

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Once the kids have left home to start their new lives, many empty nesters are unsure whether they should sell their now too-large homes and downsize or stay in a home that will become harder and harder to take care of. Most boomers see the home as their most significant investment, so it’s no wonder they struggle with this decision. If you are in a similar situation, here are some factors to consider.

Pro: Reduced Upkeep, More Free Time. The larger the home, the more work needs to be done. Even minor improvements can take a lot of time and energy, especially if they require several trips to the hardware store or finding qualified professional help. Even if you have relatively few projects, a large home needs constant care inside and out, which can be physically demanding. A smaller home means less time spent on upkeep, which means more free time to do the things you actually enjoy, like taking a dance class or learning how to play golf.

Pro: Reduced Expenses. Unless you’re relocating to a high-cost area, moving to a smaller home usually brings significant savings. Depending on how much equity you have built up, you may be able to live mortgage-free. Smaller homes also cost less to heat and furnish. Depending on individual circumstances, you may even spend less on commuting and/or traveling. Feeling more financially secure has a myriad of benefits, including less stress and more freedom to enjoy yourself.

Pro: Improved Social Life. Many retirees envision a lifestyle that includes fun activities, spending time with new and old friends and enjoying local events. They move from large family homes to condos and from cold-weather areas to warm ones for this very reason. Before you move to a different city or state, be sure to hire a qualified real estate agent to help you find the spot that best suits your needs and budget. With careful planning, you could end up living near the ocean or waking up every day to a view of the mountains.

Con: Leaving Memories Behind. We all tend to become emotionally attached to the places we live in, and moving away can be traumatic. Downsizing also means saying goodbye to furniture and other objects that memories are attached to. Bringing a few of the most important items with you will make your new place feel more like home. Taking pictures of the house and any items you have to leave behind also helps, as does focusing on the new memories you’ll be making.

Con: Your Home May Have Depreciated. Real estate values fluctuate over time, and sometimes owners overestimate what their home is worth. Property values have risen in many locations, which means you could end up spending more to buy your next home, even if it’s smaller. You should not put your home up for sale until you have a professional determine its market value and what you can expect to get for it. You obviously don’t want to lose money in the transition.

Con: Less Space for Family Visits. A smaller residence will make accommodating guests more difficult, but an even more significant worry is housing grown children who are increasingly moving back home to save money. If you see this as a possibility, and you still want to downsize, look for a place with a spare bedroom or a finished basement.

Many factors need to be considered before deciding to downsize. If you feel overwhelmed, do not hesitate to contact a local Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage independent agent to help you sort through the pros and cons.

Staged Homes Sell Best

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

5 Strange Things That Can Stop A Home From Ever Selling

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

By: Daniel Bortz

Listing agents, as the professionals who help prep a home for sale, are often tasked with telling home sellers why their house might not sell in its current condition. It's a tough job, but it sure beats saying nothing and then watching a home sit indefinitely.

While most corrective tweaks are small—say, a fresh coat of paint or a solid decluttering—sometimes the things that stop a home from selling take everyone by surprise. Here are a few that listing agents have dealt with, and the solutions that saved the day.

1. The 'green monster'

Seth Lejeune, real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA, coined this phrase to describe a "horrendously colored hunter-green carpet” in his home seller's living room. This home had already been listed once with another agent with no offers; Lejeune was quite sure this carpet was the culprit.

“So I told the seller to replace the carpet with something neutral,” Lejeune says. The seller "was surprised, but receptive. I explained the importance of first impressions, and he got it after a few minutes.”

Replacing the carpet cost only $1,500. “We got four showings within two weeks, and it was the fastest townhome sale of the year,” Lejeune says. In fact, the home buyers mentioned at settlement that they especially loved the living room.

Take-home lesson: Even simple cosmetic flaws, like an ugly shade of carpet, can make some home buyers run. Luckily swapping out carpet is an easy fix.

2. Too many pets

Seattle real estate agent Matt Parker recalls meeting with a landlord who was looking to sell his rental property. The problem? The home had been rented to, as Parker puts it, a couple of “pet enthusiasts.”

“They had about 30 injured birds, squirrels, dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, and dozens of fish in a 910-square-foot house,” he says.

The snakes were in cages and the fish were in bowls, of course, but the rest of the animals roamed free.

“You can imagine what the home smelled like, how stained the floors were, and how many ‘hidden treasure’ land mines there were throughout the house,” Parker says.

The carpet, flooring, subflooring, walls, and exposed wood throughout the house had been permeated with a foul odor, Parker says.

Parker told the home seller that his odds of selling were slim, unless it were a teardown. Thankfully, the seller accepted the news without much drama.

Take-home lesson: We love our furry friends, but that doesn't mean potential buyers want to see our pets (or any of their traces) when looking at a home they're thinking of buying. (Here are tips on how to sell a home with pets.)

3. Noisy neighbors

Homeowners value privacy, but, alas, they don’t always get it.

Courtney Poulos, a broker at ACME Real Estate in Los Angeles, experienced this firsthand with a client who was looking to sell a stylishly remodeled three-bedroom home. Unfortunately, the house “was right next to a large apartment complex,” Poulos says.

“When you were in the backyard, you felt that the occupants of the apartment complex were looking right down on you," she adds.

Poulos agreed to list the house, but remembers a couple of troublesome open houses. During one, a couple living in the apartment building out back “were fighting and you could see them and hear them from the backyard,” she says. At another open house, “one of the neighbors had his TV on so loud that we had to blast music of our own in the open house to try to cover it up."

The fix? “Since we were not getting the offers we wanted after the first couple of weeks, we built a 12-foot fence, incorporated canvas sun shades, installed twinkle lights, and made the outdoor space much more private,” Poulos adds.

The costs tallied up to $3,000, but it was a modest expense considering “this backyard solution ultimately helped sell the property.”

Take-home lesson: No one likes noisy neighbors, especially those who can see right in your house without effort. So, if your home is located adjacent to an apartment building or another home, you’ll want to take steps to provide yourself some privacy.

4. An underground oil tank

“I sold a home earlier this year that an investor had purchased through a foreclosure auction,” says Christopher Pagli, associate broker at William Raveis Legends Realty Group in Tarrytown, NY. But a presale inspection turned up some unwelcome news.

“There was a buried oil tank on the property,” Pagli says. “This came as a surprise, because the home was fueled by natural gas.”

Altogether the testing, removal, and backfill for the oil tank cost the seller about $8,000. The good news? Once the oil tank was removed, the home sold in three weeks.

Take-home lesson: Underground oil tanks are rare, but if you suspect your property has one, you’ll want to have the land tested by an inspector who specializes in oil tank location and decommissioning before putting your house on the market.

5. Mold

No word strikes fear into the hearts of home buyers and sellers more than mold.

“It is a four-letter word, and most definitely has been the issue of greatest magnitude for my home sellers," says Michael Edlen, a real estate agent in Pacific Palisades, CA.

One particularly bad experience sticks out: Before listing a house, Edlen spotted mold in a relatively small area of the garage, but that was just the start.

“[Mold] remediators found that the mold had gotten into the wall framing, so they had to open walls up behind and next to primary areas,” Edlen says. “By the time the work was done, it took two full months and nearly $60,000."

Fortunately, the sellers didn't freak out over the bill—or Edlen.

“One way or another, they would have had to deal with it—and better to fix it upfront than leaving it to later,” he explains.

Take-home lesson: Mold can put a homeowner’s health at risk, which explains why it’s one of the most common fears among home buyers. Make sure you check your house for mold and address any issues before listing it.

Save The Sale

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Remodeling Regret

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Get Your Home Ready for the Spring Market

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

If you’re planning to put your home on the market during the busy spring selling season, you’ll have plenty of company. Here are a few things you can do to make your home stand out from the crowd, appeal to more buyers and sell quickly.

Clear the clutter. Do you have a closet or two where you stuff rarely used items, or a room that’s hard to navigate because it’s packed with furniture? Take some time and clean things out to make your storage seem more expansive and your rooms look more spacious. To help potential buyers focus on your home instead of clutter, go through each room and decide which items to keep, donate, sell or toss.

Depersonalize. Buying a home is an emotional experience and prospective buyers need to be able to imagine themselves living in yours. That’s hard for them to do if your walls, dressers, shelves and tables are covered with family photos, sports memorabilia and personal knickknacks. Removing these items will help buyers envision your space becoming theirs.

Make improvements. Let’s face it, every home has room for improvement. So, go through yours and think about what minor repairs and changes – such as replacing caulk or grout in bathrooms, updating old ceiling fans and light fixtures or changing doorknobs and switch plates – could make a big difference.

Time to clean. A sparkling clean home will give potential buyers the impression your house is well taken care of. That means deep-cleaning from top to bottom, including windows, window treatments, ceiling fans, countertops, cabinets, appliances, faucets, carpets and floors.

Repaint in neutral colors. While you may love bold, bright colors or be perfectly fine with builder-grade white or beige walls, they will turn off some buyers. To appeal to a broader audience, repaint your walls in warm neutral shades.

Focus on the exterior. Many people drive by a home and decide in seconds whether it’s worth seeing the inside. That’s why it’s so important to make your home’s exterior enticing. Here are a few simple ways to boost curb appeal: touch up paint or repaint if needed; pressure-wash the driveway, front walk and patios; clean out gutters; trim trees and shrubs; weed and freshen mulch and plant new flowers.

If you are considering listing your property this spring, contact a Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage independent agent today or visit ColdwellBankerHomes.com. A Coldwell Banker® affiliated agent can provide guidance and advice as you prepare to sell your home.

7 Important Repairs To Make Before Selling A House

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team
As a smart seller, you’ll want your home in tip-top shape — but you don’t want to eat into your profits by overspending on home improvements. You won’t be around to enjoy them anyway. The key is to focus on the most important repairs to make before selling a house to ensure every dollar you spend supports a higher asking price.

 

“Smaller and less expensive updates in combination with good staging will have a great return,” says Colorado Springs agent Susanna Haynie. But how do you know what things to do before putting your house on the market? Prioritize these updates — and consider letting the rest go.

#1 The Most Important Repair to Make Before Selling: Fix Damaged Flooring

Scratched-up wood flooring; ratty, outdated carpeting; and tired linoleum make your home feel sad. Buyers might take one step inside and scratch the property from their list. Want to know how to increase the value of your home? Install new flooring.

“Replace what’s worn out,” says Haynie. “Buyers don’t want to deal with replacing carpet, and giving an allowance is generally not attractive enough. Spring for new, neutral carpeting or flooring.”

If your home already has hardwood floors, refinishing does the job. Expect to spend about $3,000 on the project — and recoup 100% of the cost, according to the “National Association of REALTORS® Remodeling Impact Report.”

Consider swapping any old flooring for new hardwood. This project costs more at around $5,500, but you could recoup more than 90% of that at resale. If that’s not in the budget, any flooring update makes an enormous difference.

#2 Fix Water Stains

You’ve learned to live with the results of a long-fixed plumbing snafu, but for buyers, a water stain suggests there could be a dozen pesky problems hidden beneath the surface. That’s why this is one of the things to do before putting your house on the market.

“No buyer wants to buy a money pit,” says Haynie.

First, make sure the problem is fixed: Bring in a plumber to look for leaky piping or poor yard drainage if your basement is damp. Diverting rainwater from your foundation may cost as little as $800, and repairing a leaking pipe costs approximately $300.

As for the repair work, replacing a water-stained ceiling runs about $670, and drywall costs around $1.50 per square foot.

All are cheaper than a lost sale.

#3 Repair Torn Window Screens

So super inexpensive — and even DIY-able. You can purchase a window screen frame repair kit from a home improvement store for $10 to $15.

Considering the simplicity of this repair, making the fix is always worth it — and so are other small but highly visible issues. When you’re debating how to increase the value of your home, nix any small problems, snags, or ugly spots that might make buyers scrunch up their brows.

#4 Update Grout

Is your grout yellowing or cracked? Buyers will notice. New grout, on the other hand, can make old floors look like they came straight from the showroom.

“The best return-on-investment projects before selling a home involve making a home look like new,” says Malibu, Calif.-based agent Shelton Wilder. She recently sold a home above asking price after a complete re-grout.

This is another small fix with a big impact: Simple bathroom re-grouting may cost just $1 to $2 per square foot, increasing to $10 per square foot for more complicated jobs. And if you’re handy, you can save even more DIY-ing it.

#5 Resuscitate a Dying Lawn

Nothing says, “This one’s gonna take some work” like a brown, patchy, weedy lawn.

Fixing the problem doesn’t cost a ton of money — and you’ll get it all back (and then some!) once you sell. Hiring a lawn care service to apply fertilizer and weed control will cost about $375. Once you sell the home, that comparatively cheap fix could recoup $1,000. That’s an unbeatable 267% return on investment.

#6 Erase Pet Damage

Did your (sort of) darling kitten scratch your bedroom door? Fix the damage before listing your home. Otherwise, buyers may consider the scuffs a canary in the coal mine.

”If you have pet damage, buyers will [then] look for pet stains on the floor,” says Haynie.

Refinishing a door costs between $100 and $215 (or less, if you’re willing to DIY). Replacing pet-damaged carpeting or hardwood may be a bigger job than buffing out some scuffs — but it’s worth the cash.

#7 Revive an Outdated Kitchen

A full kitchen renovation is rarely worth it when it comes time to sell — even though buyers love a fresh look. “Kitchens are still one of the most important features for buyers,” says Haynie.

The problem is, this $65,000 upgrade isn’t something that buyers will pay you back for. Sellers recoup about 62% of a full-on kitchen renovation. If you’re updating the space just for your sale, focus on low-cost, high-impact projects instead.

“Updating the kitchen doesn’t need to be expensive,” says Wilder. “Painting wood cabinets, updating hardware, or installing new countertops or appliances could be enough.”

Setting up your home for selling success doesn’t have to be expensive. Focus on the most important repairs to make before selling a house by picking projects that do more than look pretty. Choose updates that get your home in selling shape and justify a higher asking price.

Photo by Renee Asmussen on Pexels

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The Rain Team
CA# 01169588 | CA# 01125976 | CA# 01908304
248 Main Street, Suite 200
Half Moon Bay CA 94019
Michael: 650-888-6361
Kathy: 650-888-6903
Fax: 866-396-0207

Kathy and Michael Rain of Coldwell Banker provides real estate services in the San Mateo County, California area including the surrounding communities: El Granda, Half Moon Bay, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica and San Mateo. Search for homes in San Mateo County. We list and sell residential real estate, investment properties, vacant land, lots for sale in the San Mateo County, California area.

Licensed in the State of California

Kathy Rain - CA BRE# 01169588 | Michael Rain - CA BRE# 01125976 | Coldwell Banker - CA BRE# 01908304  

Email: therainteam@coastal-realestate.com
Cell Phone: (650) 888-6903 * Direct Phone: (650) 712-0411
San Mateo County Real Estate and Homes for Sale

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