5 Renovations to Avoid When Selling Your Home

by c21commonweath_ldowling 23. February 2018 09:57

It seems like such a simple concept: embark on renovations to spruce up your home, and you’ll be able to recoup your money by selling your property for more. This strategy may work for certain projects—such as adding more insulation to your attic or installing a new garage door—but for every high-ROI project, there’s another that just isn’t worth it.

Here are five renovation projects that are unlikely to pay off when you sell your home:

Adding a Swimming Pool

A swimming pool may not be the hot commodity that you think it is, especially in regions where outdoor swimming is limited to the summer months. In fact, a swimming pool may be a turn-off for some prospective buyers: many people won’t want to deal with the ongoing maintenance, and parents with young children may have safety concerns. Even if there are buyers in your area who like the idea of a backyard pool, you won’t see much payoff. The cost to install a pool is typically higher than the value it adds to the home.

Going Overboard on the Landscaping

Many prospective buyers will feel the same way about elaborate landscaping as they do about swimming pools: they might think it’s a nice idea but won’t want to deal with the time-consuming maintenance. Adding a complex water feature or formal garden to your yard is unlikely to increase your home’s value. Instead, concentrate on keeping your yard looking tidy, and add a few low-maintenance trees or plants if you feel like your outdoor space is missing something.

Repurposing a Bedroom

Maybe you have two bedrooms next to each other and have been toying with the idea of taking out the shared wall to create a large master suite. Or maybe you have an unused guest bedroom and have been thinking about adding new features, such as built-in shelves, to turn it into a home office or library. In either case, resist the urge. Removing a bedroom will limit your pool of potential buyers. For example, if you go from three to two bedrooms, buyers who are looking for a three-bedroom home will immediately dismiss your listing.

Converting the Garage into a Living Area

You may like the idea of converting your garage to a man cave or hobby room, but you should avoid adding features that will make it hard to convert back to its original state. Most buyers will want a sheltered area to park their car or will at least be banking on using the garage as a storage area. Turning your garage into a living area is unlikely to increase the value of your home and could even be a deal-breaker for some prospective buyers.

Choosing Unnecessary Luxury Updates

It’s one thing to update your home with granite countertops after seeing that every other listing in your neighborhood has them. It’s another thing to add an outdoor kitchen or luxury master suite when no other homes in your neighborhood have these features. You don’t want your home to be the most expensive one on the block because the surrounding properties will, at least in part, dictate what you can ask for it. Talk to your Realtor before performing any major renovations to make sure you’re not going to price yourself out of the neighborhood.

When thinking about renovation projects to tackle before listing your home, think about the ones that will have universal appeal and bring real value to prospective buyers. Don’t let yourself get distracted by trendy features or projects that appeal to you; ultimately, your buyers need to see a future for themselves in the home.


Helping Baby Boomers Find a Home to Age in Place

by c21commonweath_ldowling 19. February 2018 10:30

For many Baby Boomers (the generation born between 1946-1964), it’s time to start thinking about retirement. As a Realtor, it’s your job to help find them a home that has the features they need to age in place. Many future retirees are making a choice to stay in their homes as long as possible with supplementary services. When searching for listings for Baby Boomers, consider what features they’ll want in a home and what will help them stay in their residences for many years.

Boomers are more active than other generations of retirees, and many have embraced technology. They want to have everything at their fingertips in their new homes, including features like high-speed Internet, appliances that shut off when not being used, and more. Discover what Baby Boomers are looking for in a new home so you’ll be ready for your next clients.

Smart Home Technology

With many Baby Boomers looking to retire in the next few years or decades, smart home technology can make their lives easier. A home equipped with a smart hub, smart lighting system, and a smart thermostat can reduce walking and make controlling basic functions easier. While full integration is not a prerequisite, many Boomers want to move into a home where they don’t need to do any work. Built-in smart home technology makes lives easier and is one less thing to install when moving into a home to age in place.

Low Maintenance Exterior

When entering retirement, the last thing people want to do is deal with maintaining a large yard. Concentrate on finding beautiful listings that offer xeriscaping (no water required) or a small amount of grass. You could also consider showing them homes that are part of an HOA offering maintenance as part of their monthly or annual fees. The less work required as they get older, the better.

Single Story Homes and First Floor Masters

Many buyers in this age bracket are looking for ranch-style homes or at least first-floor master bedrooms to consider the future. While they may be able to use the stairs adequately now, they want to live in the home comfortably for years into the future. Other convenient features to look for include multi-level countertops, raised dishwashers, and reduced-height microwaves for easy access. Along with luxury appliances and flooring, these ease of living features are some of the most important details to Baby Boomers looking for a new home.

Help Your Clients Find the Perfect Home

In your home search with Baby Boomers, consider your clients’ individual needs in purchasing a home for their retiring future. Help them find a property that allows them to stay independent for as long as possible, with smart and convenient features that work for them. With your help, your client can find a great home to age in place.


Is a Fixer-Upper Right for You?

by c21commonweath_ldowling 19. February 2018 10:11

The idea of purchasing a fixer-upper is appealing to many homebuyers. It follows the ethos of “buying the worst house on the best block,” a real estate cliché that can result in investment gains. Working on an old or broken-down house and fixing it up can be a rewarding process. After finding something rundown in a neighborhood you love, you spend time and love renovating it, and after a few months, you’ve got a new house and have gained equity.

But that’s vastly simplifying the process. Fixer-uppers can often have hidden problems, and most prospective homebuyers don’t have the expertise to take on renovation tasks themselves.

So, who is a fixer-upper right for? You don’t need to be plumber-electrician-handyman, but you should be organized and inventive. If you’re ready to deal with problems as they come up and think you can handle the stress, a fixer-upper might be a good choice. Look for houses that need a little TLC with your Realtor, and if you feel comfortable taking on the work, you can begin exploring next steps.

Pluses and Minuses of a Fixer-Upper

Fixer-uppers can be a smart investment, especially if your Realtor can help you negotiate a good price for the property. The right projects, like improving the kitchen, bathrooms, and flooring, can greatly improve home value. These cosmetic fixes can be relatively simple, and the choices for materials are seemingly endless. You can create spaces you’ll enjoy living in, instead of dealing with the decisions previous buyers made.

However, fixer-uppers often come with more complex structural problems, such as issues with plumbing, electricity, or the foundation. Consider hiring an expert for these repairs instead of trying to DIY as mistakes could cost thousands of dollars. It’s important to know what you’re getting into before purchasing a fixer-upper. You can quickly get under water if too many repairs are needed to bring the house up to code and make it livable.

What to Do Before Purchasing

Don’t make an offer on a fixer-upper lightly. Do your research and get a detailed home inspection beforehand. Work with your Realtor and a contractor to determine what kind of work is required and how much it will cost. Once you have an estimate for the work, you can make an appropriate offer, adding a 5-10% cushion for any issues that may crop up during renovations. Your Realtor will be a lot of help during this process, helping ensure you get a fair deal.

Once your offer has been accepted, it’s time to start looking for a contractor. Get multiple bids and compare them based on timelines, price, and reputation. Get everything in writing. It’s possible to do some renovation work yourself, learning from YouTube videos and articles online. With some preparation and a little practice, you’ll be a DIY expert.

Get into Your Fixer-Upper

Renovating a home certainly isn’t for everyone, but it can be a rewarding process. Enter the process slowly, do your research, and rely on experts for complex problems and projects. After your first fixer-upper, you may be hooked.


House Hunting Distractions That Shouldn't Affect Your Final Decision

by c21commonweath_ldowling 12. February 2018 10:32

House style, number of bedrooms, school district: there are a lot of factors you need to consider when buying a new home. However, the seller’s preferred design aesthetic shouldn’t be one of them. Learn what factors are little more than distractions—and what you should pay attention to before buying a house.

Wallpaper, Paint Colors, and Carpet

You might not love the nautical-themed wallpaper in the bedroom or the outdated beige carpet in the living room, but the good news is that they’re not permanent. It’s relatively easy and affordable to repaint walls and remove carpets. Even an unattractive popcorn ceiling can be fixed without a full renovation; HomeAdvisor estimates that hiring someone to remove a popcorn ceiling costs between $1 and $2 per square foot.

Rooms With Creative Uses

It can be surprising to walk into what you thought was the second bedroom and discover that the current owner has turned it into a wine cellar. But keep in mind that after buying the home, you don’t have to continue using every room the same way as the seller. Try to picture how you want to use the available space rather than getting hung up on what the seller has decided to do with it.

Lack of Curb Appeal

Don’t be disheartened to find that a home’s lawn is a little long or that the paint on the front door is starting to chip. Many sellers put extra effort into boosting their curb appeal, as it will be potential buyers’ first impression of the home, but just because someone neglected their landscaping doesn’t mean you should walk away. As with ugly wallpaper and carpeting, the house’s landscaping is something you can easily fix. Poor curb appeal could even work in your favor. If other potential buyers are soured on the listing because of the view from the curb, the seller may be forced to reduce their price.

Staging That You Love

You shouldn’t let bad home staging sway you, but you also shouldn’t decide to purchase a home just because you love the way the seller has staged it. Remember, the furniture is not coming with the home (unless the owner is specifically offering to sell the home furnished), and that high-end sectional couch isn’t what you’re paying for. Look past the staging and decide whether the layout of the home will work for your lifestyle.

What You Shouldn’t Ignore

There are a lot of things that you can change after buying a home, but there are also a few you can’t, including:

  • The Neighborhood—Make sure you can live with the sights and sounds of the home’s neighborhood because they won’t go away when you move in.
  • Your Commute Length—It’s a good idea to test out your potential commute from a new home so that you can decide if you can handle it every day.
  • Natural Light in the House—You may be able to let more light into the home by switching out the window treatment, but there may be certain rooms that don’t get a lot of natural light due to the home’s position or the surrounding properties.
  • Available Parking—Some properties may not come with a garage or carport, and unless there’s room on the lot to add one, you may have to park on the street.

Before you start house hunting, it may be helpful to make a list of must-have features and deal-breakers. This list will allow you and your Realtor to hone in on the properties that are the best fit for you and help you tune out the distractions.


5 Romantic Weekend Getaways Outside of Boston

by c21commonweath_ldowling 12. February 2018 10:05

Maybe you’re planning a getaway for the weekend after Valentine’s Day, or maybe you’re already thinking about traveling somewhere to celebrate your anniversary or partner’s birthday later in the year. Fortunately for Massachusetts residents, there are plenty of romantic New England vacation spots within easy driving distance. We’ve got five recommendations for great couples’ trips that you can fit into a weekend (although you’ll probably want to stay longer).

Lexington and Concord, MA

Couples who want to soak up some history without going far from Boston should head to the towns of Lexington and Concord. A trip to Lexington and Concord isn’t just about checking out the historic sites along Battle Road Trail; couples will be spoiled for choices when it comes to upscale restaurants and hotels in the area. Standout hotels include the 4-star Inn at Hastings Park, Hawthorne Inn, a boutique bed and breakfast, and Element Lexington, which has eco-friendly amenities and its own bike sharing program. Meanwhile, fine dining spots like 80 Thoreau and Wood Hills Table prove that Boston doesn’t have a monopoly on great restaurants in Massachusetts.

Chatham, MA

Located on the “elbow” of the Cape, Chatham is an ideal central point to explore all that Cape Cod has to offer. It’s also home to the Chatham Bars Inn, which was ranked one of the best resorts in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine. With the resort’s ocean views, private beach, full spa, and other luxury amenities, it’s not hard to see how it earned that distinction.

Of course, there’s still plenty to do in the area even if you and your better half don’t stay at the Chatham Bars Inn. The Chatham Lighthouse is a must if you’re looking for spectacular views of the coastline, and restaurants like Impudent Oyster and Del Mar Bar & Bistro will help you get your fill of fresh seafood. And if you’re looking for an intimate dinner spot with an extensive wine menu, Chatham Wine Bar has you covered.

Portland, ME

Just a two-hour drive north of Boston, Portland is a playground for couples who know that trying new foods and drinks is the best part of any vacation. Popular Portland restaurants include Chaval, which serves up French- and Spanish-inspired dishes, Central Provisions, which is known for its small plates and wide selection of drinks, and waterfront seafood spot Scales. Beer lovers will have more than a dozen breweries to choose from, including the can’t-miss Rising Tide Brewing Company and Liquid Riot.

If you and your significant other want to work up an appetite before checking out Portland’s restaurants and breweries, you can rent bikes and take a self-paced tour of the city’s historic homes.

North Adams, MA

Some might say that North Adams is easy to miss, given its location in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. However, those who fail to visit this unassuming town are missing out on an impressive arts community. North Adams is home to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) as well as many downtown galleries and studios, making it the perfect spot for art-loving couples. And after a day of taking in art across a wide range of mediums, couples won’t have to travel far for good food. The Grammercy Bistro is inside Mass MoCA, while Italian restaurant Grazie is just across the street.

The White Mountains, NH

Couples who love the outdoors should make weekend plans in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. There’s no shortage of activities to try, no matter what time of year you visit the White Mountains. In the winter, you’ll find slopes for skiing and snowboarding, as well as teams of horses ready to take you and your partner on a romantic sleigh ride. During the warmer months, you’ll stay busy with hiking, kayaking, zip lining, and more. You’ll also find a wide range of accommodations, from full-service resorts to quaint B&Bs.

There are vacation spots in New England that cover every definition of “romantic,” whether you and your partner prefer candlelit dinners or mountain bike rides. Take advantage of living in such a vibrant area and plan a weekend getaway with your sweetheart.


4 Ways to Become an Expert on a New Neighborhood

by c21commonweath_ldowling 5. February 2018 09:59

If you’ve been a Realtor for several years, you may have already established a stronghold in your region or developed a reputation for selling a specific kind of property. If you’re moving to a new place or trying to increase your sales, becoming a neighborhood expert is a way to kick-start new business.

It’s not easy to become an authority on any local region. You’ll need to do research, build a rapport with community members, and establish yourself as a real estate presence in the neighborhood. Here are some ways you can become a neighborhood expert:

Take a Neighborhood Walk-Through

Familiarize yourself with the neighborhood by walking around, learning what types of homes are common, and getting comfortable with the street layout. You should research the different architectural styles, home varieties (condos, multi-family, single-family), and the average sales prices for transactions. Get to know local schools, homeowners’ associations, restaurants, and other amenities buyers are looking for when purchasing a home. You’ll be more attractive to sellers because you understand their neighborhood.

Meet Community Leaders and Business Owners

Networking is an integral part of any Realtor’s job. Start by meeting members of the school board, HOA board, local fire and police chiefs, and other movers and shakers. These connections can be invaluable in earning referrals and showing you’re active in the local community.

Meeting business owners is another part of educating yourself about a neighborhood. Anyone can Google a neighborhood’s amenities, but knowing details about the local movie theater, hair salon, coffee shop, and corner market can help you create a niche within the neighborhood.

Stay Updated on Future Growth

What’s happening in the neighborhood--are there new homes being built? How about restaurant openings or a new shopping center? Staying on the pulse of the neighborhood will help acclimate new clients to the area. You’ll be able to tout upcoming features and use them as a selling point for buyers. Neighborhood growth and development can lead to increased property values in the future, improving your commission and homeowners’ home values.

Start a Direct Mail Campaign

If you’re starting off in a new area, you need to make yourself known. Market your Realtor services through a direct mail campaign in your new target neighborhood. This can be a simple and inexpensive way to get listings and grow your business. As your signs start popping up and you close successful sales, you’ll soon be well-known throughout the community. You can also target “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) properties and offer those home sellers your services. Explain the benefits of working with a Realtor and how sellers can save time and money by listing with you.

Starting your real estate business in a new neighborhood can be challenging, but you can become an expert by doing your research, meeting community members, and marketing yourself. Start slow, learn about the community, and begin building connections. You’ll have multiple listings and connections with clients in no time.


Should You Replace Your Kitchen and Bathroom Countertops?

by c21commonweath_ldowling 5. February 2018 09:42

Replacing or repairing an old laminate or damaged stone countertop can transform a kitchen or bathroom. Whether you’re thinking of selling your home or want to refresh your most used rooms, a countertop renovation can add value and functionality. If your countertop no longer fits your vision for the space, it’s time to get something new.

Make sure you do research before going to a home improvement store and choosing your favorite countertop material. Decide what surfaces work best for your workflow, and what kind of maintenance requirements are suitable for you. You’ll need to think about your upfront costs and return on investment, as well. Repairing your surfaces can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on the size of your kitchen or bathrooms.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for countertops:

Replace or Repair?

If you’re dealing with nicks and scratches or major chips in a stone countertop, they may be repairable. Saving the broken pieces and reattaching them with epoxy glue is an easy and quick fix. You can revive laminate countertops by polishing and erasing imperfections. You can even re-laminate existing surfaces or tile over them for a less expensive alternative. You can find DIY countertop repair kits available at local hardware stores and online. Repairing is often possible and may be the right choice if you’re low on cash or still enjoy using your existing countertops and layout.

Replacing makes the most sense if you can’t stand your current surface. Maybe you have old tile that needs to be removed or a laminate that’s had too many years of use. It might be time to move on and find a new countertop replacement. Make sure to precisely measure any countertop you need to replace or repair before heading to the hardware or home design store, so you understand the cost differential between different materials.

The Best Countertop Materials

There are so many choices for countertops on the market today; it’s difficult to choose what’s right for your bathroom or kitchen. Some of the most popular options are:

  • Granite- Each slab of granite is a unique stone with different colors and interesting veins. Granite is resistant to most damage, including heat and scratches, but you need to seal it periodically to retain its protection.
  • Quartz- Trendy quartz needs less maintenance than many other solid countertops. This material is a combination of mineral, different colors, and resin, and can be designed to look like granite, marble, or solid colors.
  • Laminate- Once the go-to for countertops, laminate is inexpensive, and much higher quality than it used to be. New laminate is resistant to heat but can be damaged by knife cuts.
  • Natural Stone- Marble, limestone, and other natural stones are less resistant to damage than granite or quartz, and they can stain easily. Marble can be a great statement piece, but it’s not necessarily practical, especially for a kitchen.
  • Butcher Block- Wood is a great choice for a kitchen countertop, and different finishes can help prevent stains. You will get nicks and scratches on the surface, but it’s easy to refinish and sand out imperfections.

Check out these surface options and more for your replacement countertops. You’ll find a fitting design choice for your kitchen or bathroom.

Improving Home Value

Repairing or replacing countertops in these high-use areas of your home can add value. Whether you’re thinking of selling your home soon or years in the future, these improvements can add thousands to the listing price of your home. Choose countertops you’ll love now that will also make your home appeal to future buyers. If you’re getting ready to list your property, discuss what renovations can help sell your home with your Realtor.


How to Make Your Small Yard Look Bigger

by c21commonweath_ldowling 31. January 2018 10:00

Realtors often say that kitchens and bathrooms are what sell homes, but what about yards? A home’s backyard may not be the first thing prospective buyers think about, but it can make a big impression. Home buyers, especially those with young children and pets, often enjoy picturing themselves spending time in their new backyard. A scenic yard can also appeal to home buyers who want a space for outdoor entertaining.

If you’re selling a home with a small yard, you may be worried that the limited space will be a downside for buyers. However, with some creative staging, you can show buyers just how much you can do with the available space.

Here are five landscaping tips for small yards to get you started:

Define Spaces in Your Yard By Their Use

Visually defining separate areas in your yard can make the space look larger than it is. For example, laying out a stone patio will define a space for dining outside and gathering with friends, while placing a bench and a partial border of container plants by a shady tree could define a peaceful reading nook. Different materials (such as a wooden deck, gravel border, and stone path) can help you visually segment your yard.

Connect Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Making your house and your yard feel like one cohesive space is another great way to create the illusion of a larger yard. Try adding a flower bed, brightly colored potted plants, or shrubs close to the yard’s entryway so that visitors are drawn to the space while they’re inside your home. When choosing patio furniture and outdoor decor, try to tie everything together with the aesthetic of your home.

Make Your Side Yard Part of Your Landscape Plan

You may see your side yard as nothing more than empty space between your home and your neighbor’s, but when you make an effort to stage it and connect it with your backyard, buyers will take note. A narrow side yard is an excellent space for a raised herb garden, a vertical garden, or even a cafe table and set of chairs that could become part of an intimate breakfast nook.

Add a Curved Pathway

Curved pathways are an especially good option for backyards that are long but narrow, as they make the most of the space and invite visitors to meander. By adding a curved stone path that cuts diagonally across your yard, you’ll draw visitors’ eyes along that diagonal and make your outdoor space look bigger than it is. You can also brighten the space by choosing light-colored stones for your path.

Choose Features That Draw Eyes Up

Use features such as tall but narrow shrubs, vertical gardens, and archways or trellises wrapped in vines to bring visitors’ eyes upwards and make your space feel limitless. If you’re not planning to sell your home for several years but want to start improving the appearance of the yard now, you may also want to plant several trees that grow up more than out, such as upright witch hazels, serviceberry trees, or conifers.


6 Tips for Buying a Home in a Competitive Market

by c21commonweath_ldowling 24. January 2018 10:05

Hot housing markets across the country mean that buyers have to act fast. Nationally, the average home is selling within three weeks of going on the market. The turnaround time on home sales is even shorter in the greater Boston area, where the available housing inventory is at a historical low. According to the Boston Globe, Boston area houses spent eight fewer days on the market in November 2017 than they did in November 2016.

So, what’s a home buyer to do when it feels like they’re in a race to purchase one of a limited number of houses?

Keep Calm and Work with Professionals

It’s important to stay calm when buying a home in a competitive housing market, and the best way to keep calm is to surround yourself with real estate professionals. Do your research and find a mortgage lender, home inspector, and Realtor who can help streamline your home buying process.

It’s especially essential to find a Realtor you trust to guide you through the buying process and negotiate on your behalf. Your Realtor should educate you on comparable home prices in the neighborhoods that interest you so that you’ll know a good deal when it goes on the market. Your Realtor should also know about listings as soon as they hit the MLS--or even before then.

Get Pre-Approved by a Mortgage Lender

Understand the difference between getting pre-qualified and pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-qualified just means that a lender estimated how much house you could afford based on your current income. Being pre-approved means a lender looked at your credit and other financial factors to determine how much of a mortgage you could afford. A letter of pre-approval will show sellers that you’re a serious buyer and that you’ll be ready to move quickly after making an offer.

Set Limits for Yourself

Just because a mortgage lender pre-approves you for a certain amount doesn’t mean you must--or even should--spend that much on your new home. You need to make sure you have enough money saved up to handle both planned and unexpected housing expenses after closing. You also need to know you’ll be able to manage your monthly mortgage payments even if your financial situation changes (if you or your spouse leaves your job, for example).

Determine how much house you can comfortably afford and set a hard limit. If you get into a bidding war and another buyer offers more than your limit, be ready to walk away.

Make the Best Offer You Can, From the Start

After you’ve established your limit and found a house you’re serious about, be prepared to make your best possible offer right away. Don’t plan on making a lower offer with the idea that you’ll be able to raise it when the seller presents you with a counteroffer. In a hot housing market, another buyer is likely to make a higher offer upfront, and the seller is likely to accept it.

If possible, you should also be prepared to put down a larger down payment than the minimum required by your loan program. This is another sign of a serious buyer and can boost a seller’s confidence in your financial readiness to take on a mortgage.

Don’t Get Bogged Down in Contingencies

If a seller receives several comparable offers, they’re most likely to go with the one that has the fewest contingencies. Including a contingency that your house must sell before you close on a new one, or that you must be in your new house by a certain move-in date, may cause sellers to balk and put your offer at the bottom of the pile.

However, just because you should limit your contingencies doesn’t mean you should waive your home inspection. There are limited issues that sellers have to disclose in Massachusetts, which means the home inspection is your one chance to uncover potentially costly repair issues before making an offer. If the home inspection uncovers something big, like foundation issues, you may want to either include repair contingencies in your offer or simply walk away.

Be Prepared to Act Quickly

With houses spending so little time on the market, buyers don’t have the luxury of hesitating. When you begin your home search, you should establish your must-have criteria and the items you’re willing to compromise on. Once you and your Realtor find a home that meets your criteria and budget, be ready to make an offer.


5 Harmful Home Selling Myths

by c21commonweath_ldowling 22. January 2018 11:48

When you’re getting ready to sell your home, you may think you know everything about the process. It seems simple, right? Choose a Realtor, list your home, and the buyers will pour in. But it’s not that straightforward. There are many harmful home selling myths we’ve taken as the truth for decades. Don’t buy into these misconceptions: learn the truth and sell your home for top dollar.

Myth #1: You Don’t Need a Realtor

Some home sellers believe they’ll be best served by taking the ‘For Sale by Owner’ route. However, home selling is a lot more complicated than listing on Craigslist and putting up a “for sale” sign. You need a marketing plan, a good negotiator, and someone to hustle for you. Even if you manage to sell your home yourself, you’ll likely end up getting far less money for it-- 15-20% less, according to the National Association of Realtors. Find a Realtor you trust, and they’ll help you get the best price for your house.

Myth #2: You Can Sell Your Home As-Is

You might love living in your home, but that doesn’t mean buyers want to walk in and see pictures of grandma and pop-pop. A good Realtor will advise you on what personal touches to remove and improvements you can make that will give you a solid return on investment. While a full-scale remodel isn’t necessary, new floors and updates to kitchens and bathrooms can help sell your home.

Myth #3: There’s a Right Time of Year to Sell

Summer has often been the “it” season to put your home on the market—families are moving, school is out, and it’s hot in many markets. Meanwhile, winter is often viewed as a dead season for real estate. In reality, the best time of year is more dependent on local inventory and trends. Spring and summer often see more traffic, but fall and winter can make your home more desirable as there are fewer homes available. There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, so talk to your Realtor about what’s best for your situation.

Myth #4: You Should Price According to Online Estimates

Real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com employ algorithms to determine what your home is “worth.” While these can be useful, they can vary wildly from your home’s true market value in many cases. Your Realtor should perform a comparative marketing analysis (CMA) and research what homes in the area have sold for in the past and recently. Then you’ll be able to come up with a price.

Myth #5: You Should Start with a High Listing Price

Many sellers think they should start by listing high, and that they can always accept a lower offer. Unfortunately, this can lead to several problems. You may not get any offers at all, and you might price yourself out of many buyers’ range. The longer your home sits on the market without selling, the harder it is to sell. Price your home competitively to start, and you’ll more likely attract offers.

Be wary of these myths and enter the market as an informed seller, ready to list your home with a top Realtor.