Is Home Staging for You?

If you want to sell your home faster and most likely for more money, consider hiring a home stager.  Home staging is not decorating or interior design.  It is the act of preparing and showcasing a home for sale to attract buyers.  A home should be merchandised and marketed just like any other product, but somehow this is woefully overlooked by most sellers.  Staging is a proven marketing strategy - staged homes present and show better, they sell lifestyle and emotion, and they don't give buyers a reason to offer less money.  Buyers are willing to pay a premium for a move in home.  

Professionally staged homes stand out above the competition and also photograph better - a key component in online marketing.  It's hard to make the mental leap from this is your home to now being a commodity on the market.

Stagers are trained professionals who understand exactly what is needed to get your property prepared for sale.  Bottom line, it is money well spent to properly prepare a house for sale.  Contact me for more useful tips if you are thinking of selling.,, 526-4116

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Renovating? 4 Ways to Stay Zen While Living in a Disaster Zone

Simple ideas so you can enjoy your home despite the dust and chaos of remodeling.

Congrats! You finally got that fixer-upper you’ve been eyeing like you used to do to your high-school crush. Now it’s yours, but your budget’s tight, so you’re planning to move in and live there as you remodel.

Wow, that’s a stressful thought.  Just thinking about it makes you feel exhausted and excited at the same time. Sigh. Well, you can let your excitement win that battle with these four strategies to ease the stress of living in the middle of a construction zone:

#1 Designate a Place for Stuff You Need to Move out of the Way

Homeowners ride an emotional roller coaster during a remodeling project, says Dave Lupberger, veteran remodeler who wrote the book, “Managing the Emotional Homeowner.”

To give your emotions some grounding, come up with an organization plan. It’s a lot easier (less stressful) to renovate when you’ve got the room. 

Think about it:

Where are you going to put your piles of pots and pans until your kitchen cabinets are ready

Set up a storage place that’s reserved for stuff that needs relocating as you move from project to project. Such as:

  • Install an organization system in the basement or garage.
  • Reserve one room (future guest room?) if you can.
  • Rent a pod; you can even keep it at your home.

For items you’ll need to use more frequently throughout renovations, build shelves in closets or create storage space under a window seat or banquette bench.

#2 Make the Space You'll Live In a True Retreat

Maybe your master bedroom or kitchen will need a total remodel in a few years, but other rooms of the house need more attention now.

Because you spend the most time in your bedroom and kitchen, take this opportunity to make at least one of them really cozy with a quick makeover before diving into any heavy-duty projects elsewhere.

The fastest way to change a room is with paint and accessories. Use paint to create an accent wall in your bedroom and try your hand at crown molding to make a room seem polished. You can even add new lighting for ambiance.

In the kitchen, paint the cabinets, add new hardware, and — voilà! — you have a new kitchen. Install a backsplash over a weekend, and one of your most commonly used rooms will feel peacefully polished — even if there’s chaos right down the hall.

#3 Make a Door One of Your First Projects

Your new home might be a mess inside, but you can feel great about pulling into your driveway.

A new front door, or newly-painted one will remind you how much of an impact your work is making on your home. And give you a reason to smile as you walk through the door.

#4 Create Outdoor Places to Escape to

Have a spring move in?

If you have months of good weather ahead, take advantage of your new yard to create a retreat where can truly get away from the clamor of renovation project. Some simple ideas:

  • On your patio or deck, go ahead and “furnish” it — even if it’s just a few lawn chairs. 
  • Create a picnic spot on a nice shaded spot.
  • Hang a swing.
  • Turn a shed into a temporary hideout


writes about homes, design, remodeling, and construction for online and print national trade and consumer publications, including “Better Homes & Gardens.” Previously, she was a senior editor at “Remodeling” magazine. Follow Stacey on Twitter.

Visit for more articles like this.  Reprinted from with permission of the National Association of REALTORS.

Top 5 Selling Mistakes to Avoid

There are common mistakes many sellers make when they go to sell.  As a professional with over 23 years of experience, here are my top 5 picks sellers should avoid.

1.  Overpricing.  It's the kiss of death in any market.  Be realistic in your pricing.

2.  Not getting the house ready to sell.  Don't expect to sell if you have done nothing to prep it for the market.  De-clutter, update, paint, repair, the list goes on.  Ask your REALTOR what you need to do before putting it on the market.

3.  Being emotionally attached.  Yes, your house is your home - except for when you go to sell.  Your house is now a commodity that is competing with other properties for a buyer.

4.  Not trusting your REALTOR.  Listen to and solicit advice from your agent.  We do this for a living day in and day out; take advantage of our knowledge.

5.  Ignoring lowball offers.  Don't be insulted with a low offer.  Set emotions aside and view it as a starting point for negotiations.

If you are thinking of selling, then contact me.  As an Accredited Seller Representative Specialist, I can provide you with invaluable advice on getting your house sold.  603-526-4116,,

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Should You Remodel to Sell Your Home?

Not all remodeling projects deliver the same bang for the buck when it comes to resale.  If you are planning to sell soon and think renovations will increase the value of your home, then some research might be in order.  While most renovation projects do increase the price of a house, the increase is almost always less than the cost of the project.  The 2017 Cost vs Value Report points out of the 29 projects they tracked, the payback was an average of 64 cents to the dollar.  Curb appeal projects such as changes to doors, windows, & siding, generated higher returns than interior projects.  Cost and value vary dramatically depending on where you live.  The hotter the market, the bigger the payback.  In New England, the project with the highest return was adding attic insulation where 86% of the cost is recouped.  The lowest return is a bathroom addition at 47%.   The biggest advantage remodeling has is it increases the appeal of your home to buyers.  A gleaming state of the art kitchen will sell a house more quickly than a home with an outdated kitchen and old appliances.  Contact me if you’d like more advice on how to cost effectively prepare your house to sell.  Donna Forest 603-526-4116;;

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

When is the Best Time to Sell?

If you are thinking about selling but plan to wait until spring – you may want to reconsider.  Redfin (an online real estate company) analyzed 7 million home sales over the past 4 years and divided the data into 4 seasons.  They evaluated which season was best for listing a home according to the 2 most common goals for sellers; selling over list price and in the shortest time.  Spring was the best time to list a home, but just barely.  And surprisingly, winter came in a close second. 

Among spring listings, 18.7 percent of homes fetched above asking, with winter listings not far behind at 17.5 percent. While 48.0 percent of homes listed in spring sold within 30 days, 46.2 percent of homes in winter did the same.”  

If you plan to sell, hibernating until spring may not be in your best interest.  Contact me if you want to find out how to take advantage of getting a jump on the selling season!  603-526-4116,,

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Speed-Clean Your Home: 13 No-Fail Tips

As a homeowner preparing for a sale—or simply trying to stay on top of keeping your home clean—housekeeping can be a real chore. To help maintain a clutter-free and spic-and-span house, check out our tips guaranteed to satisfy your need for cleaning speed.

Create a Tool Tote

Keep everything you use to clean your home ready to go in one cleaning tote, caddy or bucket. If you’re suddenly confronted with preparing for unexpected guests, you won’t waste time gathering your necessities to start or continue—just bring it with you from room to room. If your home is large, consider creating two or more: one for each level.

Ditch the Broom

You don’t have to switch from a broom to a vacuum when you clean, says Jackie Harmon, owner of Healthy Clean green cleaning company. “Use a vacuum on all floor surfaces.” It’s quicker to use, plus you’ll remove one lanky, awkward tool from the mix.

Buy an Extension Cord

Invest in a 50-foot extension cord for your home’s vacuum, says Matthew Ricketts, president of Better Life Maids. “Plug in once, in the center of the floor, and you’ll be able to vacuum even a large home without wasting time un- and re-plugging,” he says.

Dust as Needed

That thimble collection or brass animal display needn’t get a complete wipe-down every single week. Save time by giving yourself the OK to skip the little stuff and instead focus on the big picture. Treating wee things to a good dusting once a month is just fine.

Develop a Routine

Establish a cleaning pattern to consistently shave time off your cleaning routine. Experts recommend starting each room to the left of the doorway, at the top, and moving clockwise and down. Once you get the hang of your system, you’ll clean speedily on autopilot—and never waste time backtracking.

Conquer Clutter

Cleaning goes much more quickly if you don’t have to de-clutter along the way. Make sure each family member has a catchall spot for personal things in your home. Cubbies, tote bags and small laundry baskets all work. They should be emptied regularly. Make a rule: If it’s full, its owner needs to trash, donate or find a permanent home for all contents.

Clean as You Go

To save time on cleaning day, clean as you go whenever possible. To that end, stash a few key cleaning supplies in each room or on each level of your home, says Teresa Ward, owner of Teresa’s Family Cleaning. When messes happen, it’s a cinch to swoop in, swipe and move on.

Spot-Clean the Shower After Use

Use a squeegee on the shower walls and door after every use, says Molly Maid president Meg Roberts. This quick, immediate act saves time battling soap scum and water spots later. Bonus tip: Keep the shower door slightly open after use to promote airflow and hamper mildew buildup.

Do One Thing at a Time

If you truly want to speed-clean your house, put the phone down. Better yet, tuck it out of sight. And keep the TV off. Focus solely on the task at hand. Multitasking while you clean adds time. Better to get your cleaning done quickly and then move on.

Enlist Help

“Cleaning should not be one person’s responsibility,” assures Molly Maid’s Roberts. Permanently shorten your own housecleaning time by assigning tasks to family members. Even young kids can pick up, make the bed and change out hand towels. Make your expectations crystal clear, and trust them.

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens. Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

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5 Etiquette Rules Every Seller Should Know

The process of selling your home can be a tough one. You’ve spent a significant amount of time staging it and even scrubbed every room top to bottom. It’s in immaculate shape, but what may surprise you is that your behavior also plays a vital role in the way potential buyers feel. Here are the 5 etiquette rules every seller should know to ensure that her or his home is showcased in the best possible light.

1. Leave Your Home During Showings

When there is a showing, it is important to leave your home and let your real estate agent do their job. Although you’re dying to see the reaction potential buyers have to your home, remaining there will make them feel uncomfortable. Removing yourself during a showing also allows the buyers to more easily visualize living there themselves, which is a huge selling point.

2. Take your pets with you

There is nothing more distracting than a barking dog or playful kitten running around your home during a showing. In addition, potential buyers could be allergic, and animals in the home may deter them from buying. Provide your buyers with a comfortable, stress-free experience when viewing your home by removing your pets. From caged to uncaged companions, take them with you to ensure that you don’t alienate potential buyers.

3. Provide parking

Keep your home warm and inviting by providing buyers with quick and convenient parking options, if possible. It’s important to move your vehicles in order to make it easy for visitors to park and view your home. There is nothing more frustrating than parking issues, and if someone has to park far away just to view your home, they may skip the event altogether.

4. Provide important documents

Many potential homebuyers will have questions about your home. Since you won’t be there to answer them (if you follow the first rule of seller etiquette), you still want to be able to answer all questions quickly and effectively. This can increase the chances of receiving an offer, and make the potential buyers’ experience more enjoyable. Leave all necessary documents, such as the inspection report, home warranty, monthly bill information, proof of repairs, appraisal, and such, with your agent. These are all things potential buyers may want to see. Most states offer a Seller’s Disclosure that is provided to all interested parties before an offer is made. It is important to have that filled out as best as possible for all potential buyers as well.

5. Be patient

You may have countless showings before your home is sold. It is important to be patient with every buyer who walks through the door. You’re eager to know how the showings went and what the prospects thought of your home, but it can take some time for buyers to process what they’ve seen before making an offer.

Reprinted from

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Top 5 Fixes to Sell Your Home

No one wants to spend money on a home they aren’t going to be living in, so when it comes time to prep your house for the market, you may wonder what kind of fixes will bring the most value to your home without breaking the bank. Consider making these five fixes to help your property sell.

Top 5 Fixes to Sell Your Home -

1. Paint the walls

A bucket of paint doesn’t have to break the bank, and can make a world of difference. Tone down any vibrant wall colors and spruce up the other walls with a fresh coat of neutral paint. Avoid any tones that are intense and dark to ensure that your home appeals to the widest range of people.

2. Make repairs you’ve been putting off

If you’ve been working on some simple home repairs that have yet to be finished, or you know of some necessary maintenance needs that have to be handled, now is the time to take care of them. The buyer’s home inspector will find these issues anyway, so you’re better off fixing them now without holding up offers you could be getting in the meantime. In addition, it is not uncommon for a buyer to revoke an offer if the home inspection report comes back with an abundance of safety concerns and needed repairs.

3. Change up the flooring

Changing the flooring may seem like an expensive “fix,” but it doesn’t have to be. If you have a wood floor, re-stain it. If you have old carpeting, hire a professional cleaning company to make it look brand-new again, and replace any old, torn vinyl flooring. You also have the option of adding an area rug onto old flooring or carpets. Floors take up a huge part of the home, and if they are stained or dated, potential buyers will take notice—and more importantly, they will be turned off.

4. Install new countertops

Similar to the prior fix, this one can sound a little pricey, but as you’ve probably heard before, the kitchen and bathrooms are the main selling points of a home. If you’re serious about selling your property quickly, you may want to consider updating these areas with new countertops. Get rid of the laminate, and opt for natural stone, quartz or solid surface countertops. Buyers will notice.

5. Hire a stager

You will be amazed at how moving around some furniture can completely change the aesthetics of your home. Hire a stager, and let his or her expertise bring more value to your property, and a higher number than your asking price. It’s key to hire an experienced stager who has an excellent track record, and an even better portfolio, to ensure that you reap all the benefits.

With a few fixes, your home will be ready and primed to be put on the market. If possible, space these five fixes out over the course of a couple months prior to listing your home, and the renovations won’t feel like a major investment at all. With these small but effective tweaks, now you’ll be in a great position to sell your home and move on!

Reprinted from

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10 Ideas on How to Decorate an Inviting Mantel

A mantel is often the focal point of its room, so it can be the perfect place to set the tone and ambiance of your interior. With this incredible amount of potential, you may need some tips and tricks for decoration. Luckily, with these 10 ideas on how to decorate an inviting mantel, yours will bring warmth, dimension, and personality into the room. - 10 Ideas on How to Decorate an Inviting Mantel

1.  Use Seasonal Decor

As the season changes, so should your mantelpiece. Swap out the fresh flowers of spring and summer for some fall foliage, and then update the fall foliage for holiday decorations when the new season arrives. New décor on the mantelpiece will be an excellent conversation starter and will keep your living area revitalized throughout the year.

2. Add a Personal Touch

The perfect mantelpiece always displays a personal flair. Hang holiday cards you received during the season or stage with sentimental decorations your family has gathered or created throughout the years. Your personal touch should represent  you and/or your family to truly be both unique and memorable.

3. Create Space with a Mirror

Open up the entire room by adding a large mirror over your mantelpiece. This will create the illusion of extra space and light to your room’s interior. You can hang the mirror, rest it on top, or hang several different, smaller mirrors to create a chic, open, and inviting space.

4. Use Your Mantelpiece as a Bookcase

The mantelpiece can be just as practical as it is decorative. Use your mantel as a shelf, decrease clutter, and turn your reading material into décor at the same time. Decorative books, classic novels, magazines, and even newspapers can add a sense of intelligence, art, and charm to the room.

5. Display Your Loved Ones

Show off the smiles of the people who make your house a home. The mantelpiece is an excellent place to display photos of loved ones. For an upgrade in style, use different shapes and sizes for photo frames to add dimension.

6. Use Frames for More than Photos

Frames can be used to display words of inspiration, valuable heirlooms, and artwork. Frames can even be left empty for a modern and innovative look. If you have more than one frame on your mantelpiece, opt for interesting frame styles to add character and depth. An old wooden window frame is a unique idea that will add humble, cozy character into your living area.

7. Display Earthy Elements with Greenery

The mantelpiece is a perfect place to embrace the earthy elements of the outdoors. Add some potted plants to your mantelpiece for a spark of color and a natural environment.

8. Use the Fireplace as Inspiration

If your mantel is above a fireplace, you’ll need firewood. For decoration, you can neatly stack the wood on your mantelpiece to turn it into a decoration while being stored. You can also use a decorative bucket to store the tree branches to combine functionality with style.

9. Change up the Texture for Added Dimension

Diversity is key when decorating a fairly small area. So change up the textures on the mantelpiece for added dimension, from frames to art to runners, and more. To do this, find fabrics and materials that pair well together whether in color, shape, size, or other.

10. Use Layers to Add Interest

Since a mantelpiece is fairly narrow, it can be tempting to neatly align all your decorative elements. However, try stacking and layering the items. This will add interest and create a more unique and engaging style for guests to absorb.

Although the mantel is a small portion of the room, it holds a plethora of power. Make use of the valuable space and create the inviting ambiance you desire with these unique decorative tips.

Reprinted from

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Six Tips for Winter Showings

Now that winter has arrived, it brings a new set of challenges for sellers.  In order to keep your home in top showing condition, here are a few common sense tips to follow.

  • Always keep your driveway plowed and entryways clear.
  • Clear snow and ice from walkways, stairs, and decks. 
  • Make sure there are interior rugs in front of entry doors to protect your floors.
  • Have a vacant house heated to at least 50 degrees.  A warm house holds more appeal and encourages buyers to take their time looking.  Buyers will rush through cold homes and it leaves a negative impression. 
  • Maximize lighting.  Open drapes and turn on lights to shake off winter gloom.
  • Have a good map to show where your septic system is.  If your house goes under contract and a septic inspection is scheduled, it will speed along the process.

If you are looking for an experienced Realtor with the common sense to help sell your house in any season, then give me a call! 603-526-4116,,

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