Topics:Homeowner Tips Home Improvement Financing Downpayment Home Improvement First-Time Homebuying Working With An Agent Successful Selling House Hacking Best Mortgage Rates Companies real estate investing Closing Costs Home Loan Research Press Releases
May 27th, 2022
March 7th, 2022
Guest Post by Ben Mizes Whether you're selling your home, or just looking to freshen up your living space, paint is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to do it. And while you may be tempted to set yourself apart by choosing a zany color for an accent wall, you might want to think twice. Neutral colors can help the aesthetic of your home transform into a timeless, spacious, and attractive space. Before you consider painting your bathroom candy-apple red, consider these four paint-like-a-pro tips below to help steer you in the right direction. Instead of going wild with paint, amp up your space by using pops of your favorite colors in other features — like a bold lamp, bright shower curtain, or fun wall art. This way, when you’re two months in and aren’t as in love with the shade, it’s easy to swap out. Not to mention that if you decide to sell later down the road, that’s one less item to add to your to-do list. If you’re painting multiple rooms and areas, consider how the colors may work in tandem. By using the same paint color in adjoining rooms — like a dining room that leads into a living room — you can create the illusion of a roomier space. You can also use paint color to play up accent features or hide flaws. If you have gorgeous crown molding or sparkling wood floors, choose a contrasting color that makes these features stand out with a darker (but not too dark!) color. On the other hand, if your baseboards are in need of some TLC, it's best to stick with a light neutral that keeps them playing second fiddle. Keep in mind that if you’re painting to sell, buyers generally prefer some variety (in neutral shades, of course) from room to room. Also carefully consider the lighting in each room when choosing how light or dark to go. Light shades are generally best for small bathrooms, while you may get away with a dark navy as an accent wall in a bedroom if the space is well-lit. There are different types of paint finishings: flat, eggshell, semigloss, and gloss. Each finish has different pros and cons, and each finish may make the color of the paint appear different Still not convinced that neutrals are the best accessories to your walls? Here is a quick list of some of the best neutrals to paint the interior of your home. White — bright and clean It doesn’t get more neutral than white! Painting your interior walls white gives everything a fresh, clean feel and can work wonders for brightening up your space. Not to mention that if you’re looking to sell your home in the near future, white gives potential buyers the feeling of a blank slate and a fresh start. They may keep the white or can easily paint over with another color with not too much effort. While you may think white is just white, there are endless shades — pure white, off white, simply white, and white with cool or warm tones. Especially if you have other features in your home you’re not looking to replace, but would like to neutralize (a wood banister or eccentric tile) white is the way to go. A word of caution: While you may be tempted to give your kitchen a fresh feeling by painting it white, it can be hard to keep this high-traffic area of your home clean. You may be better served choosing a gray-blue for your kitchen. You’ll still have the brightness, without having the headache of trying to keep the walls pristine. Same goes for bathrooms. Consider using an eggshell finish on your paint in these places that are often used and in need of constant cleaning. Gray — sophisticated Gray brings an air of elegance and sophistication to any space. Since gray matches any accent color, it can be a great complement to louder pops of color in decorations or furniture fabrics. Interior designers rely on gray because of its versatility and timelessness, especially in well-used and often-seen areas like living or dining rooms. For a subtle warmth, consider a “greige” tone — a mixture of gray and beige. This pairs nicely with any accent color since it can be warm or cool depending on the colors presented around it. Greiges look especially nice with white trim. Got a wall with a lot of bumps and imperfections? Try using a flat paint finish. That will hide a lot of those imperfections. Brown — warm and inviting Brown can be warm, cozy, and inviting. But, we’re not necessarily talking about crayon-color brown — more like a medium tan or beige, unless you’re using a darker shade for an accent wall. Browns also pair well with white trim and accents, but if your trim is already a wood color, the two shades of brown may not play well together. No matter what shade, generally it’s best to keep browns to large areas like living rooms or basements. Steer clear of them for dining rooms or bathrooms. Gray-Blue — refreshing Gray-blue is a great neutral, particularly for bathrooms. This soft, refreshing color is light enough to keep the room bright (especially important in a small bathroom), but dark enough to hide scuffs and stains from lots of use. According to a Zillow study, homes with a gray-blue tint on bathroom walls sold for an average of $2,786 more than a white bathroom. You, or whoever buys your home in the future, can be inspired by enjoying soft, ocean-inspired walls each morning as you get ready in your serene, peaceful oasis. Gray-blues are also great for kitchens — increasing a home’s price by an average of $1,800 according to another Zillow study. Blue — calm and organized If all other features of your living room are white or neutral, a nice, strong blue or even a navy may be the way to go. While often overlooked as a neutral, blues can bring a calm, organized feel to a room. Blues are great for dining rooms, especially if you have white trim and are a fan of the clean, formal look. The same two Zillow studies mentioned above also found that dining rooms painted blue generate almost $2,000 more when the home is sold and homes that featured light blue bathrooms sold for $5,440 more than anticipated. Ben Mizes is the Cofounder and CEO of Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top Real Estate Agents who can help you save thousands on commission. Ben is also an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis, and a licensed Real Estate Agent in the State of Missouri.
A new year is fast approaching, which means it’s time to make your New Year’s resolutions. Among your goals to exercise more, binge-watch less, and take time for meditation, don’t forget about those home improvement projects you’ve had on the back burner for years now. It can be easy to let your home improvement plans fall by the wayside — they can be expensive and time consuming. But why live one more year disliking and complaining about features in your home? Instead of putting your home improvements off until it comes time to sell, make some plans and enjoy the improvements yourself! Home Improvement Guide & Workbook Tackle home improvement plans by choosing some small tasks and prioritizing them with a helpful chart and budget. Download We've teamed up with Utah realtor Laurie Stauffer (@MsLKS) to identify the top New Year’s resolutions your house wants you to make this year as well as a panel of productivity experts to share their best motivational tips for making changes happen. Make an extra mortgage payment Weight loss is a common New Year’s resolution for Americans, providing an interesting paradigm in which to view your mortgage. “To take some of the weight off of homeownership, make one extra mortgage payment this year — and every year,” Stauffer advises. Consider this: If you can pay half of your mortgage payment every two weeks, rather than paying monthly, that results in 26 half-payments — which equals 13 full monthly payments each year. That extra payment can knock eight years off a 30-year mortgage, depending on the loan's interest rate, saving you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage. Stauffer explains that it may not sound like a lot up front, but any direct principal payment is basically putting equity directly into your pocket. It’s a big return on a small investment. To switch to biweekly mortgage payments, first make sure your loan doesn’t have a penalty for prepaying your mortgage. If it doesn’t, switching your payment schedule may be as simple as asking your lender or loan servicer to alter your current payment plan accordingly. If there’s not a biweekly payment option, you can make an extra mortgage payment each year by dividing your monthly mortgage payment by 12 and adding that additional amount to each of your monthly payments to amount to an additional full payment by the end of the year. Or, you can make one lump sum mortgage payment, perhaps with a tax return or bonus. Check easy-to-do tasks off your list Stauffer recommends prioritizing simple, safety-enhancing maintenance tasks such as replacing smoke detector batteries and purchasing separate C02 detectors. “So many smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are conveniently combined into one device,” Stauffer explains, “but the problem is, smoke rises, and C02 falls.” For optimal safety, place your C02 detectors no higher than bed level. Here are a few other simple tasks you can complete in less than an hour: Change air filters Install weatherstripping on doors and windows Apply WD-40 to squeaky hinges Update cabinet and drawer hardware Paint or update outlet and switch plate covers Shampoo carpet in one or more rooms Wipe down cabinets and appliances Vacuum and wash baseboards While these tasks might not contribute to the new vanity and bathtub you’d like, they can help you feel like you’re making some improvements, perhaps keeping you motivated to tackle bigger projects. Service your HVAC system Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) is one of the most expensive home systems to replace, so it’s imperative to have it checked and serviced regularly. Stauffer advises ensuring it’s working at full efficiency to get the best performance and to get the most out of it for years to come. In addition to changing filters monthly, make sure your air conditioner compressor is sitting level to avoid wear and tear. Schedule a time to have a professional clean/service and test your system annually. This will run you anywhere from $59–$150, depending on your area, a small price to pay versus replacing components or even your whole system. Plus, your annual check-up may even be free with a certain provider, depending on the purchase agreement of the homeowner who bought the system. Make simple DIY upgrades to rooms In the kitchen, consider organizing your pantry, which may include installing a new shelving system. This will minimize clutter, making space for the foods you actually want to eat and cook with. You might also update light fixtures and install a backsplash. In the bathroom, you can frame your bathroom mirror and update the lighting. In a bedroom, consider accenting one wall with fresh paint or wallpaper. Do a closet renovation by installing new lighting, double rods, and new shelving. Turn your hallway into a mudroom or add storage to your entryway by utilizing hooks, installed shelves, or a furniture organization system. Give your home exterior and yard some attention There are several things you can do this year to improve the aesthetics, function, and longevity of your home exterior and yard. First, check the direction of your downspouts and water drainage. Rain gutters and downspouts do a fine job in their own respect, but often we don't consider the water once it's off the roof. “It is best to divert the water away from the house with gutter extensions, pushing it out to five feet away from the foundation,” Stauffer advises. “There is no greater enemy to a house than water.” While you’re taking inventory of your gutter situation, take a close look at your roof and make a habit of checking it periodically, especially after a big windstorm. In the spring or during mild weather, go up on your roof and do a walk around inspection. Look specifically for curling or missing shingles, soft spots, or any flashing that may have pulled away. These very minor things should be taken care of immediately, so they do not turn into the monster that roof replacement can be. Stauffer explains that she sees most roof replacement costs ranging from $8,000 to $20,000. Properly maintained, an asphalt shingle roof should last you around 30 years and a metal roof can last longer when installed correctly. Here are a few other outdoor projects you may want to tackle this year: Paint your front door a color that you love Power wash your walkway Build a raised garden or flower bed Add or update outdoor lighting Wash window exteriors Plant sod Service your automatic garage door Build a shed or shop (in accordance with property lines and local building codes) 1. Batch small projects Instead of making a list of home improvement tasks that you want to tackle when you can, choose a specific day to address these smaller projects. This allows you to save time and be more effective overall because you are less likely to be distracted by other daily tasks. Focusing on non-urgent tasks such as simple home improvement projects should not be part of your daily planning cycle. Instead, schedule a day to handle these all at once. As my executive coach Stever Robbins once told me, these projects, while often low priority in the grand scheme of things, create psychological drag. Being reminded of these unfinished projects and tasks, whether that's seeing the burned-out bulb when you head down to the basement or the unmended pair of pants in your laundry room, pulls you out of your flow and introduces little bits of stress in your day that build up over time. Scheduling a day to take care of all these often smaller projects helps remove the psychological drag and makes you more effective overall, even if the individual tasks and projects don't have a huge impact. — Trevor Lohrbeer, founder of time management app, Day Optimizer 2. Avoid procrastination The author Mark Twain once said, “If you eat a frog every morning, nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” While this quote could be taken literally (although we wouldn’t recommend it), it teaches us a good lesson of not putting off bigger tasks or projects that may seem daunting. The tip is to do the hardest thing right away. It makes the rest of the day go more smoothly and eliminates all of the wasted anxiety and stress we create when we procrastinate and worry about all that we have to do. . . even when we’re not doing it. — Sharon Danzger, productivity consultant and founder of Control Chaos 3. Reward yourself In conjunction with tackling the hard tasks first, Danzger recommends rewarding yourself when you complete a project on your list: When there is a project you have been avoiding, create an incentive for doing it using an ‘if/then’ statement. For example: If I vacuum the house, then I get to watch a show on Netflix. — Danzger 4. Start small Organizing your house or tackling improvement projects can be daunting — the project might be big and require certain expertise, or perhaps there are just lots of organization tasks to complete. Instead of looking at everything head on and trying to figure out how to accomplish it all at once, Danzger also recommends getting some small tasks out of the way first. Doing so can allow you to feel less overwhelmed and more motivated to tackle larger projects: We often put off things that seem difficult, big, or overwhelming. The hardest part is getting started. So, rather than tackling the entire project, start with something small and manageable. For example, instead of committing to organizing your entire house, decide to start by cleaning out one drawer. — Danzger 5. Set a timer Break large projects into smaller tasks and set a time limit for yourself to accomplish each task. When I have items to finish around the house that I don't really want to do, or the project is dragging on longer than I thought, I create one-hour periods where I work fast and furious on it, then I come back a different day and do another hour. Quickly, that project gets done by breaking it into smaller pieces. — Camille Finan, licensed contractor and host of Remodel Your Life podcast 6. Display a picture If you’re lacking motivation or vision for what you want to accomplish, Finan also recommends displaying a picture of what you’d like to achieve, providing a reminder and inspiration for your project: If I'm remodeling something in my own house but not sure how to start or find motivation, I will rip out a magazine page and tape it to the wall or area that needs to be fixed. Seeing the finished version often will propel me to find the motivation and do the work. 7. Banish perfectionism Your improvement or renovation may not look as perfect as something you see on HGTV, and that’s okay! It’s important to manage your expectations and try to let go of wanting everything to be perfect. If you’ve been putting off renovating your kitchen or writing that book because you’re worried that you’re unprepared to do it exactly right, try to let go of that fear. Wanting to do a task perfectly can hold you back from accomplishing the task at all. — Mitch Chailland, president of Canal HR 8. Visualize the future To persevere through the enjoyable tasks, Chailland recommends visualizing how you’ll feel once that task is complete: Visualize how you will feel when the task is complete. Some tasks are simply not enjoyable. But imagine how you’ll feel once you’ve finished the task. Visualize the specific positive benefits that this finished task will provide in the long-term. This tactic can increase your positive feelings towards even the dullest or longest of tasks. — Chailland 9. Write it down When you have multiple tasks or projects on the go, it can be easy to forget one or two along the way. Thus, it can be helpful to write your tasks down. In our experience and research, most people procrastinate doing their home projects because they keep that list in their head. You walk by that bathroom that needs a remodel or the appliances that need fixing and you say to yourself “I really need to tackle that project.” But two minutes later your brain is off to more immediate issues around work, family, travel, etc. and those projects get quickly forgotten. The practice of writing those projects down in either a list or a digital organizing app helps many people stay motivated to do those projects, especially if once you document the project, you get reminders to yourself that you really need to tackle it. We have observed this behavior with our users who use HomeZada’s projects and tasks features to document everything they want to do in their home. — John Bodrozic, cofounder of HomeZada 10. Hire out If you find that you can’t harness the motivation to do a project yourself, it may be time to make a call and hire out the task to someone else. Licensed general contractor Shannon Battle of All American Construction & Restoration suggests DIYers first outline the project phases and create a schedule for completion — then don’t take on another project until finishing the one they’ve already started. But her top tip for homeowners lacking motivation? Stop watching YouTube and seek professional help, paying skilled people to do it the right way. The final word However you approach house projects, don’t neglect your home as you set your resolutions for the coming year. Your home will thank you and you will thank yourself for the renewed pride of ownership. Home Improvement Guide & Workbook Tackle home improvement plans by choosing some small tasks and prioritizing them with a helpful chart and budget. Download
There's no dancing around it: tech is disrupting the real estate industry. In general, it's a no-brainer to work with an agent on the buyer's side where you're not paying a commission. But if you're a seller, you have other options, and it can be a difficult choice. Using AI and online database, startups like Open Listings, Opendoor, and Homie present alternatives to the traditional options of selling your home by paying an agent a set commission or going through the For Sale by Owner (FSBO) process without support. According to low-commission real estate network Clever, millennials are 93 percent less likely to use a real estate agent than other groups. So are real estate agents on their way to becoming obsolete? Our panel of agents and other real estate professionals say “no way” — that just because you can sell your house without an agent — doesn’t mean you should. Here are 10 advantages to working with a real estate agent: 1. Micromarket expertise Neeta (aka Sujata Durai), Managing Partner and Property Consultant at Chennai Dream Homes® "Brokerage agencies or online startups that promise to help you buy or sell a home may be strong on a national level, but not in the micromarkets in which you may be interested. A realtor is well-versed with niche areas and can reduce the time it takes to nail down a selling price and identify a high-quality offer. As a market expert, a realtor can give advice on home rates, local economy, business establishments, infrastructure, and local government laws that the web portals just cannot get into." James McGrath, Co-founder of NYC real estate brokerage Yoreevo"iBuyers like Opendoor and Zillow are aggressively expanding and becoming more of an option for sellers. In markets with fairly uniform housing stock like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Houston, selling to an iBuyer probably makes sense. Those are the types of markets where home prices are more predictable, so iBuyers are more aggressive on price (as there is less risk in their pricing algorithms) and there are more iBuyers so a seller can see which will make the highest offer. In other markets where pricing is more complicated and subjective, you probably want to work with a realtor who can add that expertise. It might just be their opinion but the eventual buyer will be offering a price based on their opinion too." 2. Time efficiency Laurie Rose, John R. Wood Properties YourNaplesParadise.com "Choosing a local agent over an internet driven agent gets you someone who will sit down with you face-to-face and discuss your needs and take you through the buying or selling process. You are a treasured client, not a number. People feel they can sell their home on their own and make more money. Unfortunately, they don't consider certain variables. A FSBO, on average, takes longer to sell. And the longer the home is on the market, the more carrying cost is created. They will need to hire a professional photographer, possibly a stager, and they may have to take time off to show their house. In the long run, time is money; you will actually save money by hiring a professional to sell your home." 3. Litigation protection David Roberson, Silicon Valley Property Management Group"As a practicing real estate attorney I saw dozens of cases where one or both sides attempted to represent themselves in the transaction only to be completely inept in protecting themselves, or completely misrepresenting the condition of the property. In each of these situations the transactions were embroiled in litigation. Lay people do not understand the importance of investigation and disclosure of all material facts that affect desirability. A seasoned agent or broker helps ferret out all of the issues that are critical to having a successful transaction where each side was fully informed and the escrow closes without hitches. Moreover, if there is a problem during escrow, a seasoned agent or broker can help navigate those problems, whereas a lay person with little or no experience could run into trouble not knowing where to turn." 4. Referrals Than Merrill, CEO of real estate education company FortuneBuilders"Sellers will find real estate agents particularly helpful, as they often have connections that can attract interested homebuyers. Many home sales are actually the result of referrals, making experienced agents an invaluable asset to the home selling process." 5. Professional networks Jennifer Winton, RE/MAX Moves REALTOR® of Greenville, SC"My vast network of contractors, photographers, home cleaners, and home services professionals means that my clients will have professionals taking care of them every step of the way. No need to worry about timelines, inspections, or what's next." 6. Buyer vetting Melissa Okabe, Real Estate Agent, Alta Properties"Do you know what to look for in an offer? Hint: It's not just about the price offered on your home. Your realtor can discern a qualified offer or buyer from an unqualified one by carefully reviewing all aspects of the Residential Purchase Agreement and Buyer's Financial Package (proof of funds, FICO, pre-approval letter) with you, highlighting any contingencies (ex: contingent on buyer's sale of current property), type of loan and what that means for you as the seller, talking to the buyer's lender for further explanation as needed, and assisting you with disclosures such as the TDS, SPQ, etc. which are expected to be provided to the buyer at time of escrow." Daniele Kurzweil, the Friedman Team at Compass"As a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson working in New York City, I am working in a unique area where much of our inventory is made up of Cooperatives, meaning there is approval required for every purchase. Each building is looking for a unique formula from their buyers. Someone who is not familiar with the nuances of each building might bring forward an unqualified purchaser who will simply be rejected from purchasing in the building and the seller and buyer will have wasted time and money." 7. Stress elimination Neeta (aka Sujata Durai), Managing Partner and Property Consultant at Chennai Dream Homes® "A real estate agent's main job is to represent his or her client's best interests in a property transaction. If you are especially a busy executive who would rather delegate the tasks of shortlisting homes based on your criteria, managing visits, making and receiving offers from the other party, fielding numerous phone calls, emails, and meetings for coordination, you would be better off working with a Realtor, who does these exact tasks day in day out for a fee. Many highly rated agents adhere to a professional code of conduct, and manage the process seamlessly from start to finish, so that you only need to be there for important milestones like selecting the house to buy, making the final offer after negotiations, and signing the paperwork." Melissa Okabe, Real Estate Agent, Alta Properties"How do you like spending your free time and weekends? Most likely your hobbies don't include driving around putting up open house signs, coordinating catering services, comparing staging prices, hosting 4–5 hour open houses on Saturday and Sunday and Broker's Opens during the week, or meeting potential buyers at any given time during the day to accommodate a showing. It's a lot of work and may cause you, the seller, unneeded stress." 8. Access to MLS listings Daniela Andreevska, Marketing Director at Mashvisor"Only agents and brokers have access to the MLS, which is the largest and only comprehensive source of all publicly listed properties for sale. Whether you are buying or selling, having access to the MLS will provide you with the highest exposure and the most numerous options." Andrew Weinberger, Founder and CEO of PropertyClub "When selling, there are two main benefits of using a realtor: better marketing and the insight and experience to properly price your home. Basically, you'll need a realtor to get your listing out there, as without one you probably can't get on the MLS or reach as many buyers through various listing sites. A realtor can also help you properly price the home, which is a big problem with FSBOs. That being said, almost all the FSBO/assisted FSBO startups use realtors, even if they're a flat fee service. You just can't get the same marketing if you're not associated with an MLS. Another reason many sellers use an agent is due to the fact that selling a home is stressful and an agent can essentially make everything go seamlessly. This level of service is something assisted FSBO startups don't provide as their agents usually list your home (giving you access to the same marketing as a full-service agent), but do little else as you're generally expected to show the home to potential buyers yourself. My recommendation for getting the best price with the lowest fees is to list an assisted FSBO and pay an agent to run comps (comparable sales) and a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) report for you to help you price the home. This way you pay a flat fee, saving thousands, and you have an impartial agent helping you price the home properly." 9. Full representation Corey Fager, Owner of Buying Houses Nashville "A good realtor should offer full service representation, which will include pulling accurate neighborhood comparable properties, giving input on pre-listing upgrades or repairs (like paint colors, decluttering, staging, etc), taking care of photography/videography, and taking the lead on negotiations once an offer is received. A realtor owes you, their client, fiduciary responsibility and full disclosure. An experienced realtor can and should more than cover their commission by assisting in the details like price per square foot, title insurance, seller-paid closing costs, and negotiating repairs; not to mention the more complicated details like inspection and contingency periods. From my experience buying as an investor and also as a realtor, these alone are worth their commission." Mark Block, Director of Sports/Entertainment and Luxury Sales at The Agency "The listing agent should know the local market so that you don’t list too low or high which has major drawbacks. The agent can qualify buyers before letting them into your home. The agent can market your property and make sure that it is presented in the best light to the most buyers and agents possible through print ads, mailer eblasts, and internet ads, to name a few. Also when it comes to negotiation, both sides can benefit from having an agent. As one CEO of a Fortune 500 company told me, it is easy to negotiate multi-million dollar deals in business, but when it gets personal it is very different." 10. Agent fees can be negotiated Ben Mizes, CEO of Clever Real Estate "The average home seller pays between 5% - 6% of their home's sale price to the two agents who sell their house (both the seller's agent AND the buyer's agent). That's a lot of equity you've built up over time, gone in the blink of an eye! Most people don't realize that commissions are negotiable. You can usually talk the agent down to 1% or 2% and save thousands. Agents can be expensive, but they also rely on you for business, so don't be afraid to negotiate. In hot areas where homes fly off the market, there's simply no reason to pay the full 6% commission."
Halloween is here again. Year after year, you decorate your house with ghoulish glee and proudly wear your badge as the most festive in the neighborhood. But this year, you’re selling your house. Can you celebrate without turning off potential buyers? The answer is yes, but there are some things you’ll want to consider. We teamed up with Laurie Stauffer, Utah Realtor® with Urban Utah Homes & Estates and owner of Golden Hive Real Estate, to bring you four important tips from a buyer agent’s perspective while out in the field looking at homes this time of year. Stauffer has some valuable tips to share regarding types of decor that work to your advantage, as well as specific decorations to avoid. Her guiding takeaway? Let's jump into the tips and tricks that can help your home stand out, even amongst your Halloween decorations this year! “A porch set-up with curb appeal in focus works great for Halloween or throughout the remainder of fall,” Stauffer advises. “Think pumpkins, branches, or corn stalks.” Flower baskets with mums, pansies, or aster showcase vibrant colors tastefully. Make sure your entire yard, not just your porch, is ready for a showing. Dispose of fall yard work clutter like bush and tree trimmings along with any rotting pumpkins or remaining garden spoils. And as much as we all love Casper, this would be a good year to skip the outdoor inflatables. Stauffer explains that “it’s fine to be festive, but don’t let your decor be overwhelming.” She even suggests considering a monochromatic color scheme. One mistake sellers sometimes make is covering surfaces in the interior of the home with holiday trinkets because “it’s tradition.” No matter how cute or clever the decorations, clutter makes rooms feel smaller and usually hides the simple beauty of a clear surface. “Clutter infamously distracts buyers from being able to really see the home,” Stauffer cautions. “Some buyers just can’t see past it.”Keep any cliche or potentially-tacky Halloween displays in storage and experiment instead with a pair of colorful gourds on the kitchen table, a bouquet of bright stalks by your walk-in shower, or a simple wreath on your bedroom door. For families with kids, nothing screams “run away” like blood-spattered caution tape or a frightening clown figurine. And you obviously don’t want prospective buyers to avoid your house! This year, “go spooky rather than going for gore,” Stauffer suggests. Pair together elements of classic Halloween like a vintage chandelier, old books, and candlesticks. Even homemade decorations like hanging paper bats can work well in a kids room. But spook needs to be applied with care. As fun as it is to come home to dancing skeletons and shrieking witch dummies, those items probably don't belong, even when selling a haunted house. Finally, as you stage your home for walk-throughs, sprinkle pleasant, sense-appealing signs of the season throughout. After all, a home’s appeal is more than just visual — the overall “vibe” of a home can make or break a buyer’s interest. Why is subtlety important when selling your home? “Buyers want to see themselves in this home, and not you,” Stauffer explains. “The way to do this is to appeal to the masses and entice as many people to walk through your listed home as possible. Keeping it neutral casts a wider net to the buyer market.”Stauffer recommends maintaining a subtle festive feel in your home by keeping your seasonal touches limited to a few rooms — a simple centerpiece for your dining table, a grouping of striking candles on the mantle, or a themed pillow tossed on the couch. Meanwhile, keep your everyday decor neutral for any time of the year. Utilize aroma with essential oils, candles, or wall plug-ins. A hint of cinnamon, orange, sage, or pine can elicit positive feelings towards your home. Just make sure to get the second opinion of your agent to make sure the smell isn’t overpowering! A small bowl of festive candy with a friendly note to “help yourself” is a personable gesture that gives your home a welcoming feel. If you’re missing your usual Halloween get-up and wonder if it’s worth the sacrifice to follow our tips, remember that the goal is to impress with your listed home, not your decorating skills. Stauffer encourages sellers to get the right decor down for this year, then reward yourself by going all out next year in your new home. “We all know you’ll be wanting to throw a big Halloween party in your new house.”