Sunday, August 31, 2014

When it comes to pricing your home for sale, pricing it right the first time is extremely important. This post will cover how to find the correct price range using a CMA, and the basic Dos and Don'ts of home pricing.

What is a CMA?

A CMA, or Comparative Market Analysis, is the process of comparing your home with similar homes in your area which are for sale, or which have recently sold. This process will give you the best price range for your home on the current market. Performing a CMA on your own can be difficult and should be done by a knowledgeable Real Estate Agent. Some agents, like myself, will perform CMAs free of charge for For Sale By Owner homes.

What Affects the Price of Your Home?

Location - An undesirable neighborhood will bring down the cost of the nicest home in the area, while a highly desirable neighborhood will bring up the price of the tiniest fixer-upper. 

Size - In general, the larger the square footage, the higher the price will be. However, a house that is too big may be tougher to sell because the population of buyers who can afford it will be smaller.

Condition - The general upkeep of a home over the years will greatly affect the selling price. It's important to remember a house is an investment and keeping up with maintenance is essential in getting a return on your investment.

Current Market Trends - More than anything else, the value of a house will be affected by current market trends. Your real estate agent should be able to tell you if you're currently in a seller's market, or a buyer's market.

What Doesn't Affect the Price of Your Home

To put it quite simply, What you spent on it, what you want to make on it, what your friends or neighbors say, and improvements you've made on it will NOT affect the price of your home.

Focus on What You Can Control

Finding out your home is not worth quite what you were hoping for can be frustrating. Focusing on the things you can't control, which are the location, size, and market trends, will get you nowhere. Instead, focusing on what you CAN control, such as the condition on the house, repairs, and curb appeal, can raise the price of your home and benefit you in the long run.

Importance of Pricing it Right the First Time

Pricing your home correctly from the beginning, based on the CMA, will garner the most attention, help sell your home quickly, and bring you the best price possible. In a seller's market when prices are moving up, list your house at the higher end of the price range. By the time your listing hits the market it will have caught up to rising market and won't be underpriced. In a buyer's market you will want to do the opposite and price your home at the lower end of your price range. This will help you avoid over pricing your home in a market where prices are falling.

The Dangers of Overpricing 

An overpriced home will not garner much attention from potential buyers, and will sit on the market for far too long. The longer a house is on the market, the less attention it will get, it will quickly become old news. These houses will often become stigmatized. Pricing it right after the fact will be too late, as buyers will see how long the house has been on the market and come to the conclusion that something is wrong with it. This situation usually leads to the seller dropping the price below market value in order to generate more interest. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Holding an open house is an important part of the home selling process, but it's more involved than a couple of balloons on a sign. Your agent, if you're working with one, will have an open house plan, but that doesn't mean you can't help out as well! Here is a list of simple things you can do to make your open house stand out from the rest.

1. Declutter

The goal of an open house is to get people to look at your house, not all your possessions! Having too much clutter can draw focus away from the house and make it appear smaller than it actually is. Pack up anything you don't need on a daily basis and put it in an out of the way place.

2. Remove Personal Items

Pack up all your photos, drawings on the fridge, awards, trophies, and anything else that says you live there. You don't want people to feel like they're walking through someone else's home. Removing personal items will allow them to imagine their own family living there.
The other personal items you should remove are prescription medications, mail, and anything that contains personal information.

3. Open Up the Room

People are drawn to a home that has an open, airy feel. To create this, experiment with rearranging your furniture to create an easy flow from one room to the next. Pull couches and chairs away from windows and door ways, people should be able to get to these areas easily. Be sure people can walk through without having to navigate around a piece of furniture. 

4. Let the Light In

Open all the curtains and blinds, and turn on all the lights in the house. If there's a fireplace have a fire burning in the fall and winter, it's a great way to make a house feel warm and inviting on a dreary day.

5. Make it Spiffy Clean

Potential buyers will scrutinize every nook and cranny in your house, so it's best to get in them first and clean them out! Clear the cobwebs out of the corners, wash the fingerprints off the windows, and wash the walls (unless you've just painted). Expand your cleaning outdoors to porches, balconies, and decks. Hose them down, sweep away dirt and leaves, and remove spider webs. 

6. Clear Out the Garage and Basement

Many people believe it's OK to use their garage or basement as a place to store already packed boxes and other such belongings, but this can be unappealing to potentials buyers. Clean out both of these areas so they appear wide open and large. If you have some boxes, stack them neatly against one wall. Do not leave bottles of chemicals, rodent traps, dirty gardening tools, or any other such things, lying around in these areas. Always keep the garage door closed, it creates better curb appeal when people first show up. 

7. Think Outside the Box

Potential buyers can sometimes feel a little awkward walking around another person's house, especially if they're the only ones in there, so think of some ways to make them more comfortable. One way to do this is by eliminating the silence with background music. Choose family friendly music and play it at a low volume, just loud enough that it's noticeable, but not so loud that it becomes a disturbance. If your open house is on a Saturday morning have some cartoons playing for the kids. Instead of setting cookies out have something a little more enticing, like doughnuts, cupcakes, or even pizza. There are no rules here, so be creative!

8. Create Curb Appeal

The outside of your home is the first thing people see when they show up, and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Mow your lawn the night before and clear it of any toys, sprinklers, and gardening tools. Keep the walkway clear of hoses and other things people may trip over. Use a lawn edger around sidewalks, walkways, and garden beds. Pull out dead or dying plants and replace them with fresh flowers. Lay down a new layer of mulch around trees and flowers, and cut back shrubs that may be growing over the walkway. If necessary put a fresh coat of paint on the front door to make it more inviting. 

9. Call Your Friends and Family

Now that your house is all set up you'll want to get some people in there. Call all your friends, family, members of social organizations, basically anyone you can think of, and let them know you're having an open house. It's OK if they're not looking to buy, they may have friends and family of their own who are! Suggest that they take a moment to think of anyone they know who might be in the market for a new home and encourage them to let these people know about your open house. 

Well that's it, the recipe for a perfect open house! Remember that the main reason for holding an open house is to let people know you have a great house for sale, it's not to find a buyer. In fact, only about 1% of homes actually sell at an open house, so don't be disappointed if you don't get any offers. This is simply a method of advertising your product, and if done correctly the offers will come soon after!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


When talking about mid-century and retro home renovations most people immediately think of the kitchen. This really isn't surprising, since the kitchen was the place to be in the 50s! It's where you could find mom's fresh baked cookies, it's where the family gathered for meals and daily discussions, in fact, the kitchen was almost like another member of the family. While flipping through my vintage 50's Home and Garden magazines, I often come across articles with titles such as "Our kitchen's first Christmas." Or "A day in the life of our kitchen." It was truly the hub of the family home, so what better room than the kitchen to kick off my monthly renovation series?

I broke this article down into six categories; color schemes, flooring, cabinets, hardware and faucets, and appliances, and furniture and accessories. I hope this will give you a good starting point for your retro kitchen renovations!

Let's Begin!


Wouldn't it be grand if we could simply move into a new home like this family, and have a beautiful mid-century kitchen just waiting for us? Unfortunately for most of us, this will never happen, but do not fret! With a little elbow grease and a lot of patience you too can have the retro kitchen of your dreams! So let's begin at the beginning, what does a retro mid-century look like? Most people will picture a dainty room, decorated in red, white, and chrome, and featuring a cherry design on all the accessories. While this kitchen certainly did exist, it's only one of many, many great kitchen designs from the 50s. Here are a few examples of some fabulous kitchens to get your creative motors running.

As you can see, there were an array of kitchen designs available in the 50s. From quaint country style, to large, sleek, and modern, each style was packed with it's own grace and charm. The first step of your kitchen renovation should be to choose the style of kitchen that will best suit your home, your needs, and your budget.

Color Schemes

When it comes to color there are more than enough options, from the brightest of blues to the palest of pinks, and everything in between.

When choosing your perfect color scheme keep furniture and accessories in mind. Will you be using current furniture, or will you be hunting for that perfect vintage piece? If you choose to go the latter route be forewarned, certain pieces in certain colors can be extremely hard to find. For example, if you plan on buying a vintage chrome dinette finding one in red (especially with matching chairs) is rare. However, if you want a yellow dinette set you'll have much better luck. 

Counter tops are another thing to keep in mind when thinking about color. Vintage Formica reproductions are available, and they range in price depending on style and color. 


I think the flooring is my favorite part of retro kitchen makeovers. Back in the 50s vinyl and plastic tiling was all the rage, and not just for kitchen, they covered the entire house in them! I grew up in a house that featured a kitchen floor of pale yellow tiles, speckled with every color of the rainbow. Unfortunately it was the 80s and my parents found these tiles to be absolutely hideous and eventually replaced them. 

Finding authentic vintage flooring today can be difficult, but that's OK, because it wasn't the design on the tiles that made them amazing, it was the floor designs themselves that were spectacular! A quick search of your local hardware or home improvement store should yield you results fairly close to the vintage look you're seeking. Of course, it never hurts to do a quick search on eBay or other such sites as random boxes of vintage tile does pop up now and again. 
When deciding how to lay your tile, don't be afraid to get creative, there are no rules here! Of course if you aren't feeling overly artistic the classic checkerboard look always works. 


When it came to cabinets in the 50s there were three main things women were looking for; beauty, durability, and storage capabilities. Not unlike the Ikea units of today, many kitchens featured removable and replaceable draws in a variety of sizes to suit each woman's needs. However, UNLIKE the Ikea units of today, the cabinets of the 50's were made of steel or solid wood.


If you're lucky enough to have moved into a mid-century home that still has it's originally cabinets refurbishing them shouldn't be too difficult, depending on the look your going for. If you're starting from scratch, there are a few companies around who salvage vintage cabinets from houses that will be torn down. Sometimes you can get some fantastic deals from these companies, it's simply a matter of tracking them down (a lot of them don't have websites). 
If you have a large budget you may want to consider having custom cabinets made. This option allows you to get the exact look you're looking for, and may be the only way to go for certain looks, such as round or curving cabinets. 

Hardware and Faucets

Finding authentic hardware isn't always difficult, but it can be pricey. When doing a search for my own home I was able to find the vintage chevron pulls I wanted, priced at $20.00 piece. Spending close to $2000.00 for just hardware was not something I was interested in doing, but if this isn't a problem for you, you should be able to find what you're looking for. 

The faucets weren't anything too spectacular, in fact faucet design hasn't changed much in the last 60 years. Here's an example of your basic mid-century faucet.

However, if a mid-century lady wanted to get fancy, there were a couple options (and apparently they were the only way to get husbands to help with the dishes.)

There are some pretty fantastic reproductions available, such as this  new Dishmaster Imperial Four, which retails for about $265.00 USD.


Whether you buy restored vintage pieces, or brand new reproductions, the appliances will be the most expensive part of the renovation. Vintage appliances came in both gas and electric, and in an array of colors and sizes. 

Look at this behemoth! They sure don't make them like this anymore. 

Some things from the 50s never quite took off, like this fabulous wall fridge. 

If you're choosing to go with a reproduction, there are many options available to you. I will add a list of links at the bottom of this article for where to obtain some beautiful reproductions.

Furniture and Accessories

For me, the hunt for vintage furniture is the most exciting (and sometimes frustrating) part of any renovation. It's a never ending process of treasure hunting through yard sales, antique stores, Craigslist ads, and estate sales. As I mentioned earlier, some pieces can be more difficult to find than others, but if you're open minded about color and style you could end up with a real gem!
Just like everything else, there was a variety of furniture styles used in the 50s, but the most popular by far are the chrome dinette sets.

It wasn't uncommon to mix and match the table and chair colors, so if you can't find a complete set it's not all that bad, those green chairs look just lovely with that yellow table. 
When it comes to accessories the options are endless. I'm not going to attempt to list all the possible kitchen accessories you could add to your collection, but Pyrex and Kromex are a good start. 

This is a small sample from my own personal collection.

Well, this sums up this months Mid-Century Makeover. I hope you found it informative and got some good ideas for your own kitchen renovation. Next months makeover will be all about living rooms! Below is a list of websites to help you with your renovation needs. I appreciate all comments and recommendations!