For almost 5 years I was a participant in a longitudinal study of a medication to reduce the incident of cancer. Before participating, I asked the study nurse what would be the possible side effects of taking the medication. There was a list but no side effect was a threat to life. So, I agreed. During the study, I could have sworn I had those effects. I would report in annually and list off the things I attributed to the medicine. At the same time, I was pretty sure that I would be cancer free during the period because I was taking this new and innovative medicine – and that was the placebo effect. I felt like my condition had improved because of the medicine. In fact, after 4 years of very positive results from this study, the medicine was approved for public distribution and I had my final medical review, only to find out that I had been religiously taking the placebo. The control pill with nothing in it but a bit of sugar. Still, a placebo had made me think positive thoughts.
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000,
Good home staging can be a placebo for buyers. They come into a home. It is clean and fresh. Things are nicely arranged. There are eye catching touches in every room. The overall effect is to please the buyer, hopefully, to the degree of writing an offer. There is a psychological benefit from the home being in ‘show off’ condition. Buyers like the home and Sellers like the sale. If all other homes on the market are the control group on pricing then the Seller wants to find a way to distinguish his or her home. Staging will make that difference. It isn’t about smoke and mirrors. It isn’t about hiding faults. It is about getting a home ready for a sale. It can be about getting the home in a state for a thorough home inspection. Without owning it, the buyer feels like it is their home.
Photo credit: Pills 3
There are wonderful Sellers who breeze through the sale of their home, doing everything right and getting positive results. Then there are Sellers who start on the right foot but soon slip into one or more of the seven deadly sins. In my experience, the most frequent are pride, greed and sloth.
PRIDE Some Sellers have no humility. Anything that is done, they can do better. Not that they do it but they let friends, relatives, their agent, their stager, their lawyer and any Buyer know that they are 100% responsible for all that is good. There is never an acknowledgment of the work of their spouse, their contractor and others. Later, after the house is sold, these Sellers will tell the tale of how ‘they’ sold the house with nary a mention of the work of others. Good Sellers are generous with praise and sharing credit. Their humility is an attraction.
GREED While wishful Buyers hope that the Seller is generous with the sale, no one really expects a Seller to ’give’ the house away. Still, there are Sellers who, during negotiations, get so greedy that Buyers walk away. Then after the sale these same Sellers will go through the house taking down mirrors, leaving only one key to the house, taking the spare pool equipment (when they are moving to a condo and have no need) and basically stripping as much out of the house (sometimes including the light bulbs)as possible. There is no charity in their hearts. They are greedy. Too bad because Buyers talk about what it was like to work with those Sellers.
SLOTH It is difficult to maintain a home while it is on the market. If you normally let things drop to the floor when you come in from outside and you let laundry pile up on the floor in the bathroom and down the hall, now is not the time to let the house go. Buyers can arrive at almost any time. Yes, it is work for these Sellers to maintain their home and the yard but being diligent will pay off with a sale sooner than if you let things go.
If you have your home for sale it will pay to be HUMBLE, CHARITABLE AND DILIGENT.
photo credit: Sloth
If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.
This house is a real lemon (meaning defective in someway).
- Drop some lemons into the food garburator to clean it and improve the smell.
- Diluted lemon will help fade stains
- We all know to add lemon to honey when we have a sore throat.
- According to Real Simple, you can shine the interior of a copper cookware by sprinkling a lemon wedge with salt and then scrubbing the interior.
- Every stager knows to include a bowl of lemons in the kitchen, they are real and they last a long time.
- If you cut a lemon in half and then put them in a dish cut side up, the room will smell fresher.
- I always squeeze a lemon over cut fruit so it will not brown. The same is true for potatoes and cauliflower you have prepared and that are sitting in a pot of water, waiting for cooking.
- Don’t forget to use lemons when you make guac – it will stay green longer.
There are a few cats in my neighbourhood who are allowed to roam freely. One of the by-products of these free range cats it that they like to mark or spray ‘their’ territory and that includes my backyard. When the sun heats up the sprayed area, the smell is way beyond pleasant. I like to sit outside and enjoy the summer and there are days when this is not possible because of the cat smell.
I have been doing a search on what can be done to first get rid of the smell and, second, get rid of the cats.
- This week we started to dump the morning coffee grounds in the smelly area. That will, I hope reduce the smell. Perfume sellers often have a jar of coffee beans for customers to inhale between smelling different perfumes. Who knows, this may work and costs nothing.
- We bought something called a CatScat mat (don’t you just love it) from Lee Valley and will be putting it along the top of the fence.
- I discovered that cats are not that fond of citrus. Many people have recommended putting orange peel in the flower beds are around the doors and area that the cats seem to scent. I found a citrus spray called Nature’s Miracle Orange-Oxy Power Just for Cats Stain & Odor Remover that is available at pet stores and on Amazon.ca amazon.com
- On another note and this one more potent smelling, I have mixed white vinegar with water in a spray (LOL) bottle. Some goes on the cat sprayed area and the bottle sits on the patio table waiting for me to use to shoot the cat should it dare enter my area while I am outside.
- Finally, and we are not up to doing this, there are humane traps that we could buy and trap the cats to take to the pound.
It seems I am not suffering alone. My favourite veterinarian columnist, Dr. Bernhard Pukay, wrote an article in the July 3, 2012 Ottawa Citizen about keeping cats out of flowerbeds. According to the article, I am on the right track with all of these efforts.
If you are selling your home, make sure that you do everything possible to eliminate offensive odours – both inside and outside the home.
I hope that: I don’t get any catcalls for writing this post; my curiosity will kill the cat (smell;) and, this post will not rub you the wrong way.
There are a myriad of home improvement shows on television. Homes are improved, updated, changed and sold and it all looks so terrific. I recently saw one of these shows and the “paint expert” recommended a Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC-172 colour for walls. He said it had a hint of green. I have a lot of green in my home and thought – wow, I could do grey walls that would update my home and still be okay with the furniture and furnishings that I own. Off we went to the paint store and got a small paint chip to take home, reconsidered that this would not be big enough to test and bought that little can of paint and a piece of test board to place around the home depending upon the time of day and the light. Well, it might have been the best bit of money spent in the month of March.
We did a paint sample that is 24″ by 24″. I really wanted this colour to work but it doesn’t. Sad but true. The grey might have a green undertone but it is a blue green and looks even bluer when placed against the mossy greens in the house. We have saved a few hundred dollars in paint and the work of my husband and our painter. I have heard that doing the sample is important but couldn’t really see the value of it. Now, having seen the big sample and how it shows that the colour is wrong, I am an HGTV / Nate Burkus / Cityline believer.
The recommended paint didn’t work but the recommended process did.
Photo credit: Paint Job
Moving ranks right up there in stress producing activities. Making a decision to move is almost worst than the actual activity. Should you go or should you stay?
Some decisions are taken out of our hands. The lease ends and the landlord wants the place back for his family. Voila – you are out of there. Your job is relocated to Timbuktu and you want an income. Again, no brainer. When the decision is about needs (some other person’s or your own) then moving is just about rolling up your shirt sleeves and getting to it.
Now, the hard part is when you have a list of wants and moving may or may not address them. Making the decision is stay may be about hope – I hope the neighbours move before I do; I hope the taxes stabilize, even for a few years (ha, ha, ha); I hope the renovations cost less than moving; I hope, I hope, I hope……
My advice, when moving is a want not a need, is to stay until you know for sure if you are going to go or stay. When will that happen? I believe it happens when hope dies:
- the neighbours have nightly boom box loud parties and seem to have more not fewer friends;
- the taxes go up;
- the girls have proven that they cannot share a bedroom;
- your ex is never going to return;
- the real estate prices are no longer increasing and may, in fact, be dropping;
Some 12 Step programs members (and there may be one for people like me who move all the time) will tell you that you will know what to do when it is time. Trying to make a decision, when you are ambivalent, is just an exercise in misery. When is it time? It is time when your hopes are met OR you have finally lost hope in the requirements to stay.
Let go and get moving.
photo credit: Ghetto Blaster
Last night I was out playing cards with friends, one of whom is going to sell her home in a few months. About three weeks ago we talked about her hiring an agent and I stressed the importance of interviewing two or three and finding out some answers to, what I believe, are important questions. I told my friend that the internet is now the biggest screening tool that Buyers use for deciding to see a home. I also said that some Buyers have purchased homes (usually from overseas) without ever stepping foot in the home. It is all based on the photos and videos. Given the importance of good photos and videos, I suggested that she ask each agent:
- Who takes the photos that will be used in the listing?
- Will there be video?
- How many photos will be used?
- Do I, the Seller, have a say in which photos will be used?
- Where will the photos be posted (websites)?
- I take the photos with my little camera.
- I never use video.
- I like to post two or three photos just to tease people to come see the house.
- I pick the photos.
- I only use the local real estate board site.
Photo credit: Ace of Spades Card Trick Macro 10-19-09-02
Sellers often feel that, once they sign an agreement with an agent to sell their home, everything is then out of their hands. Some Sellers seem to give up and think that the agent will – should – could do it all without them being concerned or involved. When would these same people pay tens of thousands of dollars to a contractor for a task in their home and not want to have some say? I think ……. NEVER. So, why do Sellers seem to give up control on the sale of their home?
I believe Sellers do not know what they can expect from an agent. They get overwhelmed when they meet to discuss selling their home and just do not get pen to paper on what they want and what they expect. For example, if the listing has spelling mistakes and errors, why are Sellers not calling their agent to get these fixed? If Sellers expect the agent (and not the team) to be available throughout the sale, why don’t they put this in writing?
As you would with a contractor doing a $25,000 to $50,000 job in your home, set out what you want and expect and have a frank and open discussion with your potential agent …. before signing the listing contract. If you have some very specific requirements, then make sure that these form part of the contract so that, if these are not done, you have recourse to discuss this with the agency. Every agent that I worked with was willing to do their best to get a home sold. Things went awry when the Seller and the agent differed in what they assumed to be components of the sale. Good communications will resolve so many problems BEFORE they occur. At the end of the day
Who is driving the sale? My hope is that it is the Sellers.
Photo credit: Lourmanir – Namaste – three whelled vehicle
Buyers want to be able to see themselves or their better selves in a new home. Do you have a cupboard full of chips and chocolate bars, dust on your treadmill and a stack of Harlequin Romances on your night table? Even if the can says cheese, there is none in those tasty little treats.
Clean up your act. Stage it so that Buyers think that your home is for healthy, active and intellectually stimulated people. You know, people who eat brie on an apple slice while doing their cardio on the elliptical machine in front of a television playing the BBC.
It may be an illusion that is worth the effort.
Photo credit: cheese
This makes me think of The Man of La Mancha - The Impossible Dream. While condo dwelling is highly unlikely to be as unpalatable as living in Don Quixote’s dungeon, itmay not live up to the expectations of the carefree living the Boomer is hoping to obtain.
When retirement finally arrives, many Boomers have plans to spend time traveling, reading, relaxing by a pool, maybe fishing and spending weeks every year at a cottage. Having the big suburban home AND having the freedom to live the nomadic life may not be compatible objectives. This is when the Boomer starts dreaming of moving to a condo. Boomers were brought up to be owners. Condos are a type if shared ownership. Just remember, condos were not likely in existence when the Boomer was an apartment renter and just starting out on his or her own. Some things are going to be a surprise.
In life, there are always trade-offs and compromises. The attraction of a condo is to have the freedom to close your door and take off for months without worrying about your home, to never have to mow the lawn or water the flowers, to have the exterior of your home maintained and to share in the costs of the common parts of the property. The downside is:
- You do not have complete control on the costs. The condo board and members (of which each owner is a member) vote on the expenditures. So, if you decide you no longer will be using the pool and you know that it cost a lot of money to insure and maintain, you do not have the sole right to close the pool. When the roof needs immediate replacing, SURPRISE, unless there is an adequate reserve fund, you too will be have to pay for the roof through a special assessment.
- You do not get to pick your neighbours. What happens if they are loud or play the drums, or have parties every Friday night, or cook weird smelling food? Those neighbours are owners like you so the dispute is between the two (there is no landlord to impose rules and resolve issues).
- You do not make all the rules. Some condos won’t allow pets or smoking or Christmas lights or hardwood floors or renovation work after 4:00PM or…… etc etc. Those rules are written in the by-laws. Check those rules before buying BUT also be prepared for new rules to be voted in at the Annual General Meeting.
- You do not have a landlord to check your unit when you are away. In fact, there is no one to let you in if you have lost your keys. Who is the property manager? Can you get ahold of them at 1:00AM when you are locked out? Do you have friends who will look in your unit while you are away? Check your insurance, a vacated unit still needs to be checked to keep the insurance active.
- You do not have control over the common elements. If family and friends come to visit, where are they going to park? You only have so many assigned / purchased parking spots and the visitor parking will, in all likelihood, have limitations of who can park and for how long. Hate the decorating in the lobby? This is not something you can take over. Want more outdoor seating? Take it to the Board.
- You cannot control the value of the condo. Not only are condos subject to market forces but the value of your building or complex is going to be based on the condition of the property – inside the unit (which you control) and outside (which the owners control). Buyers are going to look at special assessments, the engineering reports and the condition of the roof, windows, HVAC, etc. These have not all been within our control.
After living in a suburban home with the independence of total ownership, condo living trades some of this for additional freedoms and peace of mind for not having to be personally responsible for the property.
Don’t tilt at the windmills. Make sure that you see the windmill and not your dreams
Photo credit: Windmill