Stephanie McGowan | Winchester Real Estate, Lexington Real Estate, Woburn Real Estate


One question you may often have in your home is when will be the right time to renovate things? The kitchen is one of the most important rooms of the house. You may wonder how often you need to make updates to your kitchen. If your kitchen is 30 years old or more, it’s almost a sure bet that you’ll need to renovate. There’s some other sure signs that a kitchen needs some updating. Whether you’re getting ready to sell your home in the future, or you just want your home to be in the present, there’s a few signs it needs updating: 


The Kitchen Was Designed For One Cook


If your kitchen was built before a certain year, it’s a good bet that it was designed for only one chef. The kitchen is probably separate from the dining quarters as well. In the present day, couples often cook together. The dining and kitchen areas are also often one in the same.


Your Appliances Are Old


Newer kitchen appliances are much more energy efficient and can do a lot more than their older counterparts. Anyone who is searching for a home would relish the idea of saving money on utility bills and knowing that reliable appliances are already present in the home. There’s no need to spend money in the immediate future on replacing appliances for anyone who buys the home. New kitchen appliances that are a must:


  • Microwaves that serve as a vent hood or second oven
  • Energy Star refrigerators that dispense water and ice
  • Dishwashers
  • Under-cabinet units
  • Flat screen TV mounts


The Kitchen Isn’t Very Functional


Of course you use your kitchen to cook in, but it’s important that a kitchen functions well. The better designed a kitchen, the easier it is to clean and cook. Newer kitchen are also more likely to be environmentally friendly which is good for everyone. This functionality also goes along with the countertop material. Today, people look for easy to clean counter surfaces including stones like granite and quartz. The storage in the kitchen also should be more functional with easy access and streamlined, pull-out drawers.   


Your Kitchen Looks Like Something Out Of History Books


If your kitchen is looking similar to that of what you’d see in a classic home design book, you might want to get on the task of updating it as soon as possible. Even if you can’t overhaul the layout of the room, you’ll want to make updates that bring the kitchen into the 21st century. These include countertops, floors, the sink, and the cabinets. Anything major in the room should be updated to keep it from looking dated. 


Whether you have set some money aside for renovations, or plan on refinancing your home, it’s a good investment to update the kitchen because the return is certain.


If you have driven around any American neighborhood lately, you may have noticed a big addition to many houses, particularly if you look up. Solar panels have been soaring in popularity the past few years. As of 2015, 784,000 U.S. homes and businesses have gone solar, according to Solar Industry Data. So what is driving all of these home and business owners to go solar? For one, the world’s recent consciousness of the environment, and the upswing of renewable energy sources has certainly had a big impact and can be seen more in mainstream media and advertising (i.e. the hybrid car). But solar companies and the government are making solar panels even more appealing with incentives, and with the promise of savings. Homeowners who utilize solar energy save thousands on their energy bill every year. There are many incentives that could also aid in saving money. As of 2015, the government offers a 30% Federal Tax Credit for homeowners who add solar panels to their homes. Many states have their own programs that reward anyone for going green. For example, Massachusetts has a program called the RPS Solar Carve-Out II, which is an incentive to support residential, commercial, public, and nonprofit entities in developing new solar installations across the state. Massachusetts and New Hampshire offer Energy Certificate programs which allow homeowners to sell their solar energy, generating many dollars in tax-free income. Because of these incentives, and also the quick payback, solar panels can be a sound investment. Most homeowners can be revived from their investments within 10 years. You can compare that to any other utility upgrade, such as an air conditioner, which costs money to install, and then more money to run. For anyone thinking about moving soon, solar panels will actually increase the value of a home. According to a study done by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), homes sell 20% faster when solar panels are installed. Since solar energy seems to be an upward trend, it could be appealing to the housing market. Solar panels are also a guaranteed performance. Because solar panels create energy from the sun’s rays, it will never run out. Compare that assurance to the unreliability and fluctuation of other non-renewable utility companies. As for maintenance, solar energy requires little to no upkeep for the homeowner. Once it is installed, there is nothing to do but soak up the sun! Aside from being a trendy look for homes, there are many benefits to adding solar panels to your home. All else aside, decreasing your carbon footprint can be a sunny incentive for all of us.

A home showing can make or break your chances of selling your house. Therefore, you'll want to do everything possible to ensure that each home showing is a success.

Ultimately, there are several best practices for home showings that every home seller needs to know, and these practices include:

1. Clean and Declutter Your House

A tidy home is sure to garner homebuyers' attention. Comparatively, a messy house is unlikely to do you any favors in a competitive real estate market.

Allocate the necessary time and resources to clean your house. Mop the floors, wipe down the walls and perform assorted home interior cleaning. Also, don't forget to mow the front lawn, trim the hedges and ensure your house's exterior looks great.

In addition, eliminate clutter from your home as soon as possible. By doing so, you can show off the true size of your living space to potential buyers.

2. Remove Personal Belongings from Your Home

Although you may have many personal photographs and other treasured mementos scattered throughout your house, you should put these items away before a home showing. That way, you can make it easy for homebuyers to envision what life might be like if they purchase your house.

When it comes to personal belongings, it sometimes can be tough to hide these items. However, if you store your personal belongings properly, you can guarantee these items will maintain their quality and appearance until you sell your house.

Pack up any treasured belongings carefully. Then, you can put these items in a storage unit for safe keeping. Or, if a family member or friend has storage space to spare, you can always ask a loved one to store your personal belongings temporarily.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you're unsure about how to host a successful home showing, you're not alone. Thankfully, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market professionals know what it takes to transform an ordinary home showing into an unforgettable experience.

A real estate agent can offer expert recommendations to help you get your house show-ready. In fact, a real estate agent can put you in touch with the best home cleaning companies in your area. He or she also is unafraid to be honest and will share any home interior or exterior concerns with you.

Furthermore, a real estate agent will teach you about the real estate market. He or she can educate you about the differences between a buyer's and seller's market, respond to your home selling concerns and questions and much more. Thus, if you work with a real estate agent, you should have no trouble making informed decisions throughout the home selling journey.

Take the guesswork out of prepping your house for a showing – use the aforementioned best practices, and you can improve the look and feel of your house in no time at all.


When you’re showing your home, you need to stage the home properly to impress buyers. Buyers need to be able to get an idea of what it would be like to live in the home. No matter what your own lifestyle is, or what problems you have had in the home, there are certain things that you probably don’t want to share with anyone who could be a potential buyer on a walk through. 


Any Kind Of Taxidermy


Although you may enjoy hunting and taxidermy, there are few things that creep out potential buyers more than seeing animals that were formerly alive hanging on your wall. It’s been shown that taxidermy often gives buyers a sense of dread and can creep them out. Yes, that bear rug may be comfy and quite the accomplishment, but not everyone will share the same sentiment as you. Be sure to get all of these animal displays out of your home when you’re getting ready to sell it and show the property.


Personal Collections That May Be A Bit On The Strange Side


It’s really cool if you want to collect dolls, clowns, or have some kind of a celebrity shrine in your home. It’s cool for you, that is. Keep these items to yourself, especially when the home is going to be shown. Any room that could be considered too full of any one kind of item should be redecorated slightly before a home showing. 


Weapons


Weapons are on the same spectrum as taxidermy. Many people may have differing opinions with you on the subject and it could creep some buyers out. If you have any kinds of guns or knives displayed in your home, you should put them away for showings. These items can make buyers feel very uncomfortable and leave them turned off by your home.       



Political Items


If you like to get political, know that many people who are potentially going to buy your home probably don’t share your views or interests. Keep any politically charged signs and organizational symbols out of view for the showing of your home. Buyers may not be able to relate, and in turn, end up being turned off by your home.     


Bug Traps Or Mouse Traps


We all have experienced bugs or mice in our homes at one time or another. When the house goes up for sale, you don’t want to advertise this by keeping any kinds of traps in view of buyers. People will get creeped out easily by the thought that pests have infested the home at some point. Although the home inspection will probably note that there was some type of a pest problem in the home, you don’t want to lose potential buyers because a mouse trap was in view.


Many first time home buyers go into the market looking for the home of their dreams. They picture a house filled with their favorite furniture, illuminated by plenty of natural lighting, and highlighted by bright and cheery wall colors. While it's good to have aspirations for your new home, it's also important to remember that the house you're buying is essentially a box. Sure, you'll put plenty of nice things in that box, but ultimately you want to make sure it's a sturdy box that's in good shape before thinking about the contents. When shopping for a new home, here are some things you shouldn't let influence your decision.

Walls and carpets

It can be off-putting when you go and view a home and the walls are covered in antiquated wallpaper or painted a color you can't stomach. It can also be hard to ignore, since the walls make up such a large, visible portion of the house. Instead, try to envision the room with the walls painted the colors you would use. If a home has a carpet that looks straight out of the 70s it can definitely be a distraction and give you trepidations about the house. However, just like walls, this is a relatively simple fix if you have the budget for it. Imagine how the room would look with hardwood floors, tile, or a carpet that's more to your liking.

An unkempt yard

The first thing you see when arriving at a house is the yard and driveway. Maybe the grass hasn't been mown in a while, the mulch is looking faded and there are weeds growing up along the walkway. These are all aesthetic problems that can be easily and, if planned correctly, inexpensively fixed. A good rule is to determine if the parts of the yard you dislike can be cleaned up in a few afternoons or if they would require a lot of time and money.

It feels like someone else's home

Viewing a home can be awkward. If the seller still lives in the home you might feel like you're intruding. In some cases, they could even be at home while you're viewing the house. As you walk through the home, be sure to remind yourself that if you lived here the picture frames would have your family photos in them instead. Similarly, if the seller has (to put it nicely) a "different" taste in decoration it can seem distracting and off putting. Fortunately, they'll have to take all their decorations with them when they move--even that wall mounted deer head in the living room.

Decide based on these factors instead

Now that we've talked about the things to ignore, here are the details you should look for when shopping for a new home.
  • Size. The size of the home, the rooms, the yard, and the driveway will all be a huge factor in your decision.
  • Architecture. Take note of how the home was built and if there are certain architectural aspects that you love or hate.
  • Windows and lighting. Natural lighting is an oft overlooked feature that really enhances the atmosphere of a home.
  • Plumbing and electrical. Make sure you're happy with the condition of the home's HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems because these will be time consuming and expensive upgrades.
  • Kitchen and bathroom features. Look for a home that has the kitchen and bathroom design elements you love, the space you need, and the features you desire (appliances, shower type, sink type, etc.)



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