Selling Your House? Easy Tips to Help Make Your Home Show Ready At A Moments Notice!

Selling your house? Those frequent showings can be a real hassle. You know it’s worth it to do your best to accommodate them, but that doesn’t make it any easier! Here are some easy tips to help keep your house show ready to prospective buyers more doable, plus a handy checklist of what to remember.1

  1.  Treat yourself to fresh flowers and other goodies.A bouquet of flowers, a bowl of fresh fruit, the “fancy” soap: These things make your home look extra lovely for potential buyers, but (here’s the secret) they make your daily life a bit better as well. So go ahead and splurge a little — you (and your house) deserve it.

Budget tip: Make a grocery store bouquet go further by snipping a few blooms short and plunking them in bud vases for the bathroom vanity and bedside tables. Or, for a longer-lasting alternative, consider setting out a few small potted succulents and a bowl of bright lemons.

  1.  Make a pre-showing checklist.It’s easy to forget things in the rush to get out the door before the real estate agents show your house. A checklist that you can reference each time will ensure that your home is putting its best face forward for potential buyers. And remember, if you have a large household, you may not always be the last one to leave before a showing, so it’s important that everyone’s on the same page and knows what to do.2

Since you probably don’t want this checklist on display, consider keeping it on your phone instead. Here are some items to include:

  • Dishes washed and put away
  • Kitchen counters and table wiped down
  • Dirty clothes in hampers with lids on
  • Bathroom sink and mirror wiped clean and toilet seats down
  • Hair removed from shower
  • Toys put away in baskets and bins
  • Coffee table cleared and clean
  • Entry cleared of shoes and personal items
  • Window shades open
  1. Make your bed as soon as you wake up. If you’re not in the habit of making your bed every morning, you may want to start now, so you don’t have to worry about it if the real estate agent calls to request a last-second showing. If you have kids, be sure they make their beds in the morning too.3
  1. Hide laundry in a lidded hamper. An open hamper filled with dirty laundry isn’t the sort of thing you want prospective buyers to be greeted with in your bedroom, right? Get a hamper with a lid to conceal the whole rumpled mess instead. (In a pinch, you can use a storage bench.)4
  1. Put nightstand drawers to work. After making your bed, be sure to tuck out of sight any odds and ends that have accumulated around your nightstand, such as magazines, hand cream and jewelry. If your nightstand doesn’t have drawers, keep a lidded box under the bed or atop the dresser, and stash your stuff in there before leaving for the day.5
  1. Simplify children’s rooms. Ifit’s too difficult or takes too long, putting away toys in your child’s room before showings will become a headache for all involved. Simply pack many of them in boxes or bins and tuck them in a closet or storage area, leaving only ones that fit easily within your current toy storage. This way, even if all those toys were strewn over the floor, it wouldn’t take more than about 10 minutes to get the room looking presentable again.6
  1. Stash cleaning wipes in the bathroom. Reusable microfiber cloths for normal everyday cleaning are great, but when you’re selling your house, things are decidedly not normal. It’s incredibly helpful to have a pack of cleaning wipes within reach for wiping down the sink, faucets and around the toilet. Then you can just toss the wipe in the wastebasket and walk away.7
  1. Keep a spare stack of fresh towels on hand. A neatly folded stack of fluffy white towels can make any bathroom look instantly fresher, cleaner and more spa-like. While selling our house, keep a few new white towels folded in the cupboard and put them out before showings. It sounds fussy, but it was actually less stressful than worrying about whether the towels were clean all the time.8
  1. When in doubt, add more baskets. Honestly, it’s so easy to scoop stray items into baskets and close the lids, you’ll be glad to have a few extras. Big baskets are great for clothes, blankets and toys, while small baskets and lidded boxes work well for papers, magazines and random assorted clutter.

  By Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Road to a Neighbor’s House is Never Long.

Whether you rent a city apartment or own a family home in the countryside, live miles away from your nearest neighbor or are situated close enough to chat from your own back patio—you can make small changes in your community every day by quite simply just acting in a neighborly way.

The importance of being a good neighbor extends far beyond improving bonds with those you live closest to. In fact, Harvard professor and author Robert D. Putnam says, “Communities work better (students perform better, crime rates are lower, kids are safer, people live longer) when neighbors know one another better. Knowing your neighbors on a first-name basis, as National Neighborhood Day suggests, is a surprisingly effective first step toward a better America.”

So to help inspire the practice of neighborly ways in your own community, we’ve gathered a list of top things good neighbors do:

  1. Take the time to establish good terms and build relationships with all neighbors.

    Great neighbors make their communities friendlier and safer, while improving the overall quality of life for themselves and those who surround them.good-neighbor-day-e1429128955705-804x382

  2. Pay it forward.

    Every time a neighbor does something nice, he or she pays it forward to at least two other neighbors. Even simple things—like clearing a neighbor’s driveway before he or she gets the chance to, offering up a piece of lawn equipment to save a neighbor valuable time, or bringing along an extra latte on your morning walk to work—can have a huge impact on a neighborly relationship.

  3. Do your part.

    Keeping the neighborhood looking beautiful is a community effort, and good neighbors keep all spaces that are visible by others clean and well maintained. They keep up with basic yard work, making sure that the lawn is mowed, hedges are trimmed, and weeds are kept at bay; they understand that these tasks not only impact the value of their house, but also the homes around it.

  4. Follow up with seasonal maintenance.

    This includes sweeping up leaves in the fall, shoveling sidewalks and driveways in the winter, and cleaning up lawn clippings during warmer months. The neighbors that brighten up their outdoor space with flowers and other landscaping set the precedent for the rest of the street.

  5. Be tidy.

    Good neighbors take care to put their trash out on the right night, and in proper receptacles, so that the whole street doesn’t see (or smell) what they’ve tossed.

  6. Be conscientious about outdoor decor.

    Decorating for the holidays is a great way to spruce up an outdoor space, but make it a house rule that your haunted houses and lights come down within a few weeks of the holiday passing.

  7. Don’t fight for the right to party.

    When having additional people over, the noise level can go up very quickly. The most courteous neighbors inform others of get-togethers, and ask to let them know if the gathering has gotten too loud. Better yet, they invite all the neighbors to the party!

  8. Take an active presence in change and community decisions.Picnic-1024x721

    Caring neighbors stay informed on community issues and make it a point to vote. It’s likely that you and your neighbors have busy lives and schedules, but if the community comes together as a group, change can happen more efficiently, and issues can be resolved more quickly. Plus, just showing up at community meetings and offering input shows that they care about the community and the people who share it.

  9. Show respect.

    Good neighbors teach their kids what both literal and figurative boundaries mean by explaining where their property ends and the neighbor’s begins, and any rules that go along with that. They also reinforce the concept that being on one side of the property line doesn’t mean noise levels can be ignored.

  10. Know how to bring people together.

    If their community doesn’t already have a method of sharing news, good neighbors would start a neighborhood e-mail list as a means of staying in communication with all of the neighbors in one fell swoop; and the best part is, once it is started, they don’t have to be the only one who keeps the momentum going. Any participating neighbor can spread the word about news, events, crimes, special garbage pickups, special event parking restrictions, weather hazards, school closings, and even the awesome weekly deal at the local market.

Eventually, the positive energy that these good neighbors spread will create a ripple effect of random acts of kindness and make the community a happier place to live. The next time new neighbors move in, consider welcoming the newcomers with a friendly hello and some local insider tips to quickly become the favorite neighbor on the block. The road to a neighbor’s house is never long.

Source: American Lifestyle Magazine

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Leave a comment

Here’s to dad and all the magical things that come with him.


Here’s to playing catch in the backyard and jumping on him while he’s still in bed. Here’s to that time he tried to cook dinner when mom was gone and all the junk food he let you eat instead.


Here’s to the snoring when he falls asleep on the couch. Here’s to the father who can echo your name from any corner of home which could mean you’re either in trouble or it’s time to go. Here’s to dads at the kitchen table for homework time and the rides home from whatever sport, lesson or sleepover you’re coming from.


Here’s to his laying claim of the remote and that favorite spot on the couch or a special chair for his throne. Here’s to the dad who knows how to wrestle in the family room and break up a skirmish in the yard.


Here’s to dad’s cutting the lawn and cleaning the gutters or squashing bugs on the kitchen floor. Here’s to the father who watches over you when your sick and spoils you when you’re well. Here’s to the traditions made by dad in your home that still remains now that you have one of your own.


Here’s to dad’s driving lessons in the driveway and bike riding training down the block. Here’s to dad’s who act as your home’s amateur plumber, IT guy and official dog walker. Here’s to the bear hugs, the talking-to’s and public displays of affection that you once spurned but in hindsight causes you to love him more.

Here’s to the dad in your home and the special day we reserve for him.


Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who help make a house a home.

Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Father's Day, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Spring, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged | Leave a comment

Flying ‘Old Glory’ this Summer? How to do it right


Summer isn’t just the season of baseball, barbecues, vacation and fresh produce. It’s also flag season. Three of the country’s most important patriotic holidays – Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day – arrive with summer, and across the nation proud Americans will show their patriotism by displaying the American Flag.

But will they do it properly?

“Fewer symbols inspire more patriotism and pride than the American Flag, and displaying it is a wonderful way to show respect not only for our country, but for all those in uniform who have defended it throughout our history,” says Larry Singleton, decor manager for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, which displays an American Flag beside the fireplace in every restaurant. “Honoring our nation’s Flag Code guidelines can make the display of the flag an even more poignant and patriotic gesture.”

The federal law known as the “Flag Code” establishes a guide for handling and displaying Old Glory. If you’ll be showing your T_WithZoomAmerican pride this year by displaying the flag or decorating with bunting, here’s a thumbnail review of the code’s guidelines so you can be confident in all you do:

* It’s OK to display the flag ’round the clock, but you should illuminate it during nighttime hours. If you’re not able to light the flag at night, the code recommends displaying only between sunrise and sunset.

* Hoist it briskly and lower it slowly and ceremoniously.

* Be sure to bring your flag in out of rain or snow – unless it’s made of an all-weather material, in which case it’s OK to leave it out in inclement weather.

* If you would like to display a flag on your car or truck, affix it to the chassis or clamp it to the right front fender.

* Many Americans are also proud of their ethnic origins and may choose to display the flag of their heritage along with the American Flag. That’s fine; just be sure that the U.S. flag is displayed higher up, or if the flags are on the same level, the other flag should be placed to the left of the American Flag, never to the right.

* The blue and white stars field – known as “the union” – should flags_porchalways be up: at the top of the flag if it’s on a staff or pole, uppermost and to the observer’s left if the flag is being displayed horizontally or vertically against a wall. Displaying the flag with the union down is a signal of dire distress and reserved for instances of extreme danger to life or property.

* The flag should be kept from touching the ground, floor, water or anything beneath it.

* Flag-themed decor can add a welcome patriotic touch to your home, but it’s best not to get carried away and use the American Flag as bedding or drapery.

61-PBxC5bUL._SY300_* Bunting is an acceptable patriotic display; arrange it with the blue portion at the top, the white in the middle and the red at the bottom.

* When a flag becomes worn and is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way. One way to do that is to give the flag to a local VFW for proper disposal.

“Americans show their patriotism and American pride in a number of ways, from buying red, white and blue products to placing flags Home-of-the-free-because-of-the-braveand flowers on the graves of veterans,” Singleton says. “Displaying the American Flag in a respectful manner is one more way Americans can honor their country this summer and all year long.”

Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Sellers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hot tips for buying a home in a competitive market


As the weather gets warmer and school comes to a close, the real estate market also heats up. If you’re planning on buying a home, you’ll likely find more properties on the market during the summer months. However, increased competition could present challenges on the path to landing the home of your dreams.

To get an edge against other bidders and find a house that you’ll love for many years to come, Sharon Steele, an award winning sales professional affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, lends her expertise for home buying in a hot market.

Get pre-approved financing

040313-national-money-computer-paying-bills-couple-financeIn a competitive real estate market, prepare yourself with pre-approved financing. Not only will your mortgage broker tell you what you can afford, if you are pre-approved, you will have better negotiating power when purchasing a property.

Furthermore, when you know exactly what you can afford, you are more apt to stick within your budget and not be carried away during bidding wars. Remember, it’s important to understand the total monthly costs of home ownership. Beyond the mortgage premiums, factor in utilities, taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. Being “house poor” is never a good idea.

Look for potential

18xfcz4i4qro9_19AgentsOutside2302If you’re looking at purchasing a home that needs a little elbow grease, make sure you invest in a design that is going to withstand the test of time and be appealing for years to come. This rings true most of all when choosing the right appliances; stainless steel has been highly desirable for decades and continues to be a mainstay in a timeless kitchen design. 

As long as the house has a good structure, the space you need, and meets your immediate must haves, you can add special elements over time to make it your dream home. 

Consider long-term needscropped-03b0da395bfb5d0393d07c3723cb3385.jpg

Are you planning to grow your family in the near future? Then you may want to shop for a larger house in need of some work rather than that completely updated two-bed bungalow; it may not meet your needs in the next five years.

Are you looking to downsize? It might make sense to consider a ranch home before your knees start to hurt and you dread climbing stairs. Purchasing a home will be one of your largest investments; make sure your decision matches your future lifestyle expectations rather than just the needs of the present moment.

Do research in advance

00386415Do you need easy access to the commuter rail and bus lines? Where will your children attend school? Is the area safe? Use websites like and to hone in on neighborhoods that best suit you and your family. These websites have area maps and direct links to information about school systems, crime rates, area amenities, and lists of local restaurants and shopping areas. View side-by-side community comparisons for easy evaluation. Put in your search parameters and sign-up to receive property alerts on new homes that enter the market or when prices change in your desired neighborhood.

A competitive market can make the home buying process more stressful, but these expert tips will keep you focused as you prepare to move into your new home.

Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home Improvement, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Spring, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Leave a comment

Why For-Sale-by-Owner Sales Fail

Homeowners obviously know their homes better than anyone, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best salespersons for their properties.


Some sellers are tempted to try a For Sale by Owner (FSBO) transaction because their local community is in the midst of a sellers’ market and they think they can sell easily without help. Others try the FSBO route because they want to maximize their profits and avoid paying a commission to a Realtor.

However, statistics show that selling your home with the assistance of a professional real estate agent will garner you a higher profit, enough to cover the commission as well as put more money in your pocket. According to the National Association of Realtor’s 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the average FSBO sales price was $174,900, while the average price for a home represented by an agent was $215,000, a difference of $40,100.

Why to Sell With a Realtor

Choosing to sell with a professional rather than on your own makes sense for a variety of reasons:

  • A Realtor has access to market data about recent sales and other homes on the market that can be used to price your home appropriately. Studies show that homes priced right when they’re first listed sell more quickly and for a higher price than those that linger on the market.

  • A Realtor can show your home when you aren’t available, can respond to inquiries from potential buyers and their agents, and can get valuable feedback from visitors – all things that save you time.18xfcz4i4qro9_19AgentsOutside2302

  • A Realtor can look at your home objectively and suggest ways to improve its appearance – by staging and minor repairs – so it appeals to more buyers.

  • Buyers typically prefer to look at a home without the seller present so they can feel more comfortable exploring the rooms and visualizing themselves in the property. At an FSBO sale, the seller must be present.

  • A Realtor can screen visitors to your home, which provides a measure of safety that FSBO sellers don’t have. In addition, by checking to see if the buyers are legitimate and can afford to purchase your home, a Realtor can help you avoid wasting time showing your home to unrealistic buyers.buying_0010_image9

  • Realtors have professional marketing expertise, contacts with other Realtors who work with buyers, and the support of a brokerage that can market your home more widely than you can as an individual.

  • A Realtor can help you negotiate a contract that not only garners you an appropriate price for your home, but that meets your needs for a settlement date and perhaps includes a period when you rent back your home from your buyer. In addition, a Realtor can make sure your contract is in compliance with all local regulations.

FSBO Dangers

Most buyers today work with a buyers’ agent to represent their interests. If you choose to sell your home on your own, you’ll be For-Sale-By-Owner-Dangersnegotiating with a professional and relying on your own skill to finalize a contract. Not only could you end up selling your home for less money, you could leave yourself open to potential legal problems unless you have the contract vetted by an experienced real estate attorney.

FSBO transactions can be successful, of course, but 90 percent of homeowners prefer to work with a professional rather than risk an unsatisfactory home selling experience.

(National Association of Realtors.

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Sellers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Real Estate Sales Sharply Shifted

millenniumsIn 2015, real estate sales sharply shifted toward the Millennial buyer. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that for those between the ages of 32 and 44, home owners are beginning to surpass home renters. With the oldest Millennials approaching 34, these young professionals are now first-time buyers and are a demographic that cannot be ignored when preparing your home for sale. There are many ways sellers can prepare their home to attract this buyer. Here are ten things Millennials look for, and how to implement them into your home.

1. Location, Location, Location
Millennials view a home as a base camp from which to explorescreen-shot-2015-12-15-at-9.30.57-am their world. If your home is within walking distance to any type of shops, cafe’s, restaurants, or within easy transport to a major city, highlight this in your listing to show off the unique characteristics of your area.

2. Updated Fixtures
Millennials, as well as any other demographic, know that kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms in a house to img_kitchenupdatelg_ss2renovate, and remain budget conscious. While a full renovation is not required, consider small fixes like replacing cabinet hardware, installing a new back-splash, or even painting worn cabinets to create spaces that are clean and fresh.

3. Less Maintenance
With busy lives and time spent away from home, Millennials are looking for houses that are easy to care for and won’t require extensive maintenance. If you’ve recently replaced any major components in your home such as the roof, furnace, or air conditioning unit, let buyers know. Similarly, a yard and garden that is lush with low-maintenance greenery can also be a selling feature.

4. Smart-Home Savvy
Recent research suggests that home buyers are learning to expect Screen-Shot-2014-04-10-at-4.02.13-PMsmart technology in their purchases, and this includes their home. Adding a smart thermostat, some USB charging ports, or even just a few more outlets or dimmer switches, may give you an edge.

5. Flow
Even if you don’t have an open floor plan, you can create the open flow Millennials want simply by reducing the amount of furniture in a room, or changing its location to allow free passage from one room to the next.

6. Home Office
homeofficeWith work at home options still on the rise, having a dedicated space for an office is essential. Convert a bedroom into an office or create a nook in a larger room with a desk, chair, and lamp to create the feeling of a dedicated space.

7. Energy Efficiency
Today’s first-time buyers are very aware of environmental impact, so using low VOC paints, replacing traditional bulbs with energy efficient models, and replacing worn weatherstripping on windows and doors are all easy ways to add efficiency to the home.

8. Staged to Meet Expectation

With design related television shows and social media dominating the market, the Millennial buyer desires the latest home trends. One of the biggest returns can come from replacing wall to wall carpeting with a hard surface laminate or hardwood flooring. Smaller changes can be made by shifting furniture around and picking up some on-trend accessories to give your home a modern look.

9. Great Photos
Most buyers make a decision on your home via the Internet. Great photos are a must for any buyer and are essential to getting buyers through the door. Taking photos during the daytime, de-cluttering, and including outdoor photos are all must-dos.

10. Market as an Investment
If your neighborhood is going through regeneration or growth, this could be attractive to the Millennial buyer who, unlike past 1p6z0yra05x2l_Nelson_Coldwell__0367generations, may not be looking for their forever home. Marketing the potential of your home as an eventual resale can be a great strategy to win these buyers over.


Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Fall Home Improvement, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Spring, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Valentines, Where Home Begins | Tagged | Leave a comment