Alysha Glazier | Westford Real Estate, Chelmsford Real Estate, Concord Real Estate


If you're in the process of preparing your home for the real estate market, get ready to roll up your sleeves and make your home as irresistible as possible!

While this may sound like an enormous undertaking that you don't have the time or energy to tackle, remember one thing: When you put your home up for sale, there's a lot at stake!

Generally, the longer your house stays on the market, the less marketable it becomes. If potential buyers learn that your house has been on the market for longer than, say, a few months, one of the first questions they'll ask or think will be "What's wrong with it?" Once questions like that start arising, the overall appeal of your home begins to decline. As you can imagine, your ability to get the highest possible price for your house also weakens over time. That's why it's important to do everything possible to enhance the look and feel of your home.

Home Staging Counts

Although effective home staging can be a crucial aspect of selling your house quickly, there is a point at which diminishing returns may come into play. Few home sellers have unlimited time and money to invest in staging their home, and it's easy to go above and beyond what's actually necessary to secure a buyer.

There are dozens of variables that affect a house selling strategy, including the real estate market and the condition of your home. If it's a "buyers' market" and there are a lot of comparable houses for sale in your neighborhood, then you might have to work a little harder to make your home stand out and attract offers. If you're fortunate enough to be in a desirable area and not facing a lot of competition from other home sellers, then the law of supply and demand should work in your favor! However, it's still important to make the most of your property's curb appeal and the overall appearance of your home's interior.

The cost of home staging can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, but your real estate agent can provide invaluable guidance on how to cost-effectlively maximize the "eye appeal" of your house and property. While perfection is generally an unattainable standard in home staging (or anything else), optimal results only come from putting your best foot forward.

Several words to remember and be guided by when preparing a house for sale are "immaculate", "spotless", "manicured" (lawn), "fresh" (looking and smelling), "updated", "well-maintained", and "charming". If prospective buyers are using those words and phrases to describe your home, then you know you're on the right track! Your agent can provide you with helpful insights and suggestions for making a great impression on potential buyers -- without having to spend more on home staging than necessary!


Let's face it – hosting an open house may seem like a major hassle. Cleaning a home and getting it ready for an open house could prove to be costly and time-consuming. Plus, despite your best efforts to prep for an open house, there are no guarantees that the event ultimately will help you sell your residence.

Although hosting an open house initially may seem difficult, the advantages of holding an open house generally outweigh the disadvantages. In fact, there are many reasons why you should host an open house, and these include:

1. You can gain a competitive edge.

The real estate market is fierce, especially for sellers who are competing against one another for buyers' attention. Fortunately, an open house can help you gain an advantage over the home selling competition, as it enables you to show off your residence to large groups of potential buyers in a short period of time.

When it comes to selling a home, it helps to explore any competitive advantage that you can get. And if you host an open house, you may boost your chances of differentiating your home from the competition and generating lots of interest in your residence.

2. You can make it easy for buyers to picture what life would be like if they purchase your home.

A detailed home listing can make a world of difference for buyers. Yet a home listing alone probably won't drive buyers to instantly submit an offer to purchase your residence. Thankfully, an open house provides buyers with a stress-free opportunity to check out your house and determine whether to proceed with an offer.

Of course, during an open house, buyers can picture what it would be like if they own your residence. And if buyers like what they see, it may be only a matter of time before you finalize a home sale following an open house.

3. You can increase the likelihood of a fast, profitable home sale.

As a seller, you should strive to promote your residence to as many potential buyers as possible. With an open house, you'll be able to do just that.

An open house makes it simple to showcase your residence to dozens of prospective buyers at the same time. Meanwhile, the event empowers buyers to learn about your residence and gain deep insights into the condition of your house. And if a buyer is impressed with your residence after an open house, the likelihood increases that an offer could come your way soon that leads to a fast, profitable home sale.

As you try to sell your house, you may want to hire a real estate agent too. A real estate agent knows the ins and outs of selling homes and can teach you everything you need to know about how to host a successful open house. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can help you achieve the optimal results at each stage of the home selling journey.


"Motivation" could be defined as a positive energy that is applied to the achievement of a desired goal.

You may be wondering whether you, as a home seller, need to be motivated. The short answer is: "Yes! Your attitude and energy level can potentially make a huge difference in the sale of your home!"

In rare instances, the right buyer may show up at just the right time, without much effort on your part. However, when it comes to getting the best price for your house and selling it within the shortest period of time, you don't want to leave things to chance! The stakes are too high and the window of opportunity is too brief to depend on luck. Although there are several variables that are beyond your control -- such as market conditions, location, and time of year -- there are plenty of things you can do to increase the probability of a fast sale.

Choose a proactive real estate agent: The encouraging news is that there are many full-time real estate agents who are personable, focused, and results oriented. They know their business and they recognize the value of positive client relationships. However, all real estate agents are not created equal. Unless you're hiring a real estate agent based on a rock-solid recommendation from a trusted friend or relative, it's always best to interview at least two agents before making your final decision.

The real estate agent you ultimately work with will have a direct impact on many aspects of your home-selling experience, so it pays to choose carefully. Although a good rapport does go a long way toward a successful working relationship with an agent, it's vital to find one who's experienced, knowledgeable, and successful. Success is important because if they don't have a proven record of selling houses in your area -- especially ones in your price range -- then how can you be sure they'll market your home effectively?

Always put your best foot forward: One crucial thing house sellers do have control over is making a good impression. You rarely get a second chance to make a great first impression, so it's well worth your while to prioritize things like curb appeal, cleanliness, and home staging.

If there's anything about the appearance or functionality of your home that concerns you, you can be sure prospective buyers are also going to notice it. An experienced real estate agent will have a good sense of effective home staging, what might put off buyers, and how you can cost-effectively remedy problems.

Half the battle usually involves thoroughly cleaning your house, applying a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint where needed, and getting rid of clutter in and around all surfaces, including floors, countertops, walls, and storage areas. Although every situation is different, when it comes to furniture arrangement and room décor, "less is (usually) more!"


Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

In a nutshell, if you have owned a home for five years and lived in it for at least two out of five years, or if you’ve owned the house for two years and lived in it the entire time, a single person has a $250,000 tax exemption. If you are married, as a couple, you have a $500,000 exemption. Any gains over those amounts are taxable. You should always discuss the sale of your home with a tax attorney, especially if you used the house for business or rented it out, as you may not be able to take the exemption on homes used for business or as a rental.

Figuring the Tax

Before you can estimate how much tax you might owe, you need to calculate the cost basis for the property. Figure the tax by completing these steps:

Figure the Cost Basis

Add the price you paid for the property to the cost of any significant improvements. Subtract any casualty and theft losses, closing costs you paid when you bought the house and allowable depreciation. You might be able to subtract some closing costs. If you inherited the property, the initial investment is the fair market value on the date of the death of the person who willed the house to you.

For gifted properties, if there is a gain, you use the donor’s adjusted basis in the cost basis equation. If there is a loss, the cost basis is the fair market value on the date you received the property as a gift or the donor’s adjusted basis, whichever is less.

Figure the Capital Gain

Once you have the cost basis, subtract it from the sale price of the house. For example, if you paid $500,000 for your home and you are now selling it for $1,000,000, you have a capital gain of $500,000. If you are single, you will pay tax on $250,000. If you are married, the exclusion is $500,000, which wipes out the $500,000 profit.

Reducing the Tax Owed

You may be able to use the Section 1031 exchange if you are selling a home used for business or that was rented out as long as you buy another house for business or to rent out. The new purchase cannot be for personal use and the exchange must be for “like-kind.”

The regulations for a Section 1031 exchange are limited and may be confusing. Always retain a tax lawyer or accountant to help you with your taxes, especially if you are buying and selling an investment property. If you are selling a million dollar plus home and you use it as your personal residence, you should still contact a tax lawyer. Depending on your finances, the tax lawyer may be able to help you avoid some of the tax.


Photo by Melinda Nagy via Shutterstock

Buying your first home is exciting, and your dream-book is full of magazine cutouts and interior design sketches. But many entry-level or starter homes do not come with the built-in shelving of your designer-inspired visions. What do you do on a budget? Use your imagination, a little ingenuity and flat-pack furnishings.

What Are Flat Packs?

Furniture from in-store and online retailers sell shelving and cabinet units that arrive in flat boxes. They have all the parts, and often the tools, so you can put together the pieces. The main advantage of ready-to-assemble, flat-pack furniture is its affordability. If you’re even a little bit handy, they are simple to set up and offer a lot of sizes to fit most spaces.

The challenge is that it can look sterile and universal. Your stark-white, four-cube by three-cube shelf looks just like everyone else’s.

Hacking to the Rescue

No, not computer hacking — furniture hacking!

Personalize your furniture with some creativity, elbow-grease and experimentation. The Internet abounds with ways to hack your flat-pack furniture. Some websites devote their entire content to ways of updating low-cost furnishings to fit your style. Options range from changing hardware to painting laminate and all ideas in between. Here are some top contenders for getting a built-in look with your flat packs.

  • Add trim. Often, basic, ready-to-assemble shelving has simple square corners and flat faces. You can change the face of your cubes or bookshelves with wood, MDF (medium-density fiberboard) or PVC trim. All you need is a sharp handsaw, miter box and some strong glue. The glue you use depends on the composition of the trim. Add a twisted rope design to the face of your shelves for a vintage look or give them some class with crown molding along the top. Choose to merely cover the front with straight cuts, or trim around the sides using your miter box to get beautiful, fitted corners.
  • Attach it to the walls. Most ready-to-assemble furniture comes with wall brackets to keep it from tipping over. Use these to attach it to the wall. Then, add half-round (outside) or curved (inside) corner molding at the seam with the wall. Glue the molding to the furniture but nail it into the wall with finishing nails.
  • Add feet. If your furniture would benefit from molding along the floor to match your wall’s baseboard, add feet cut from a 2-by-4. Cover the feet with baseboard and paint it to match your walls.

A Word About Paint

Unfinished wood, MDF and primed PVC materials readily accept paint. Laminate and foil veneer over fiberboard (also called thermofoil) are different. Before you start, make certain you know the composition of the furniture. Trust your paint dealer to direct you to the perfect product. But remember, you cannot sand foil veneers easily. Doing so will tear the finish and damage the furniture. Instead, consider using chalk paint.

For more ideas about making flat-packs appear built-in, talk to your local DIY store professionals. When preparing your home to sell, some built-ins may increase the value, so run it by your real estate professional.