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 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.


Why You Need an Emergency Fund When Buying Your First Home

by c21commonweath_ldowling 22. January 2018 11:27

You’re getting ready to buy your first home. After saving up for the past several years, you feel ready to plunge into home ownership. But it’s important not to spend all your money on your down payment. Having an emergency fund is a necessity, especially after buying a new home. Whether your AC breaks down or you need to repair your roof, having the cash ready for an unexpected expense can reduce stress.

The Importance of an Emergency Fund

Not having an emergency fund is an endemic problem in the United States, and many people live paycheck to paycheck, unable to save up a substantial amount of money. 38% of Americans don’t think they can handle an emergency that costs $500 or less. No matter what stage you’re at in life, an emergency fund is vital. You never know if you will lose your job, be hit with an expensive medical bill, or need to repair your car or home.

How Do You Begin Building This Fund?

It’s important to understand what an emergency fund isn’t. It’s not a little extra money in your checking account, or some leftover money in your savings account for your home, or even available credit on your credit cards. An emergency fund should be a separate savings account dedicated to real emergencies. You shouldn’t be using it for vacations; it’s meant for sickness, home repairs, and other unforeseen expenditures.

You can begin by building it up slowly, direct depositing a small amount from each paycheck into this separate account. If you have money to spare from your down payment account, this can be a great way to start your emergency fund.

How Much Money Should My Emergency Fund Have?

Ideally, according to experts, your emergency fund should have enough cash to get you by for 6-9 months of basic expenses. This includes the mortgage, car payments, insurance, groceries, utilities, etc. If your all-in mortgage and bills come out to $1200, you’d need to save $7200-$10,800. However, saving this much can be difficult, especially for first-time homebuyers. You can begin by building up an emergency fund of $1000 and continue saving from there. This buffer can still help take care of many unexpected expenses and give you peace of mind.

Remember that buying your first home comes with many additional responsibilities over renting. An emergency fund can help mitigate incidentals, like new windows, or plumbing and electrical repairs. Save now and be ready for any eventuality.


How to Wow Sellers During Your Listing Presentation

by c21commonweath_ldowling 15. January 2018 10:26

A listing presentation is an opportunity for you to show home sellers that you’re the best person to represent them in their real estate transaction. Think of it as a job interview. That may sound like a high-pressure situation, but it doesn’t have to be something to sweat if you prepare for it. Start by checking out our tips for impressing home sellers with your presentation.

Ask Questions

Before you dive into your presentation, ask your seller some questions about themselves and their goals. You might ask questions like:

  • How quickly are you hoping to sell?
  • Where are you moving?
  • Is it more important for you to sell quickly or get the best possible price?
  • What are you looking for in a listing agent?

Taking the time to ask these questions and listen attentively to the answers will make home sellers feel heard and show that you’re invested in their success. It will also help you get information about their home selling motivations and expectations, which you can use to shape your presentation’s tone.

Let the Seller Ask Questions

Your listing presentation should be a two-way street. You’ll be doing most of the talking, but you should let the home seller know that they’re welcome to ask questions during and after the presentation. Leaving openings for questions will make the presentation more engaging and give you the chance to alleviate concerns the seller may have.

Tailor Your Presentation to the Seller

Pay attention to the seller’s personality type when you first meet with them. If they seem highly analytical, be ready to dive into the market data with them. If they’re more emotionally driven (for example, if they’ve stated their top priority is finding someone they’re comfortable working with), spend less time on the data and more time explaining how you can help them. You may want to tell them about similar listings you’ve handled and how addressed your previous clients’ home selling challenges.

Put the Seller’s Needs First

One popular adage in marketing says that you should focus on explaining how your product or service can help your customer or client, rather than just presenting a laundry list of features. This rule holds true for listing presentations. You should make it clear that your skills and experience make you the best Realtor for the job, but the main emphasis should be on how those skills will help the home seller.

Research and Practice

Treat your listing presentation the same way you would have treated a test that was worth 70% of your grade in a college class: study and practice. Even if you don’t consider yourself a natural public speaker, you’ll project confidence if you know your material well and have rehearsed the presentation. If you can, ask a co-worker to listen as you run through the presentation. This will give you a good chance to troubleshoot before the real thing. For example, you may discover that you’re losing your audience’s attention at a specific point, or that something you thought would work well sounds odd when you say it aloud.

Building your presentation skills is essential for getting more listings. No matter how long you’ve been in the real estate industry, you can always benefit from working on your listing presentation strategy.


Boston Housing Market Remains Hot in 2018

by c21commonweath_ldowling 15. January 2018 10:05

In July 2017, the median Boston home price topped $400,000 for the first time. Although that summertime record is far behind us, the Boston housing market remains hot.

Statewide, the average home price was $410,000 at the beginning of 2018, up by $30,000 from this time last year. And in Boston, limited inventory is keeping the market competitive. We haven’t seen the end of houses flying off the market almost as soon as they’re listed.

Even though the Boston housing market is competitive, it’s still a good time to buy. Interest rates remain relatively low, and if you can afford to buy, it’s a much better investment than paying more than $2,100 a month in rent. And experts are predicting that inventory levels will begin to increase in fall 2018, making it easier for first-time buyers to enter the market.

If you want to buy a home this year but Boston prices just aren’t feasible, you’ll be happy to know that there are many close-in suburbs with strong housing markets and more affordable properties. Here are four hot suburbs to check out:


Medford’s median home prices are comparable to Boston’s, but you’ll get a lot more space for your money. You’ll also get to enjoy more than two dozen parks and other recreational spaces. Because it offers room to spread out while still being relatively close to Boston, Medford has become popular with families and young professionals who commute to the city.


Somerville has been an up-and-coming Boston suburb for a while now, and we’re at the point where other up-and-coming areas (including Medford) are being referred to as “the new Somerville.” But even with Somerville’s rapidly increasing popularity, it’s still relatively affordable, with home prices predicted to increase marginally this year. This suburb offers easy access to the Red Line, and residents can bike to work by hopping on the Somerville Community Path.


You’ll find everything from renovated, early twentieth-century Victorians to modern condos in Malden, a suburb that’s just north of Boston. With condos starting around $250,000 and single-family homes still available for under a half million, Malden is becoming a popular choice for home buyers priced out of the Hub. Residents can still get to the city easily via the Orange Line or commuter rail, and there’s also plenty to enjoy in Malden itself, including the nearby Middlesex Fells Reservation.


Head north from Malden and you’ll soon hit Melrose, another hot Boston suburb. Residents here have plenty of transportation choices: there are three commuter rail stops, plus a T stop in nearby Oak Grove. And while the market has been getting more competitive, Melrose still has a family-friendly feel, with a close-knit community and lots of local shops lining its small downtown.

If you’re planning to start your housing search in Boston or beyond this year, contact a CENTURY 21 Commonwealth Realtor. With offices across the greater Boston area, our Realtors have plenty of experience in the markets where you want to buy.


Make Your Home Appeal to Buyers in 2018

by c21commonweath_ldowling 8. January 2018 10:05

2018 marks a fresh start for home design. This year, design predictions are bolder than ever, doing away with what’s been popular for years in favor of brand new trends. If you’re thinking about refreshing your home as a New Year’s resolution, check out these exciting home décor ideas. Always remember to choose what you love though, regardless of what’s popular—after all, you’re the one who lives there.


Depending on who you ask, floral prints are always in, but this year but this year, the staid old designs on your grandma’s couch have been refreshed and transformed. Consider floral print on a chair, a bedspread, and for throw pillows. Expect floral designs with contrasting and psychedelic colors, overscale patterns, and a fresh new take on the traditional.


In the past several years, home design has cycled through various iterations of popular metals, including stainless steel, copper, gold, and more. Apple even made rose gold a trend that reverberated throughout both the tech and home design worlds. But for 2018, brass is making a comeback. You’ll find this classic, aged finish in everything from kitchen cabinet hardware to living room furniture, and even as serving ware.

Smart Lighting Controls

Technology is increasingly making its way into aspects of the home with thermostats, smart speakers, and more. With the prices of smart lighting (like Philips Hue) coming down, these automated systems can save money on electricity bills. They’re also customizable, meaning you can match them to your home and lifestyle. We predict these will surge in popularity in 2018.

Rich, Warm Tones

While decorating has long focused on calm neutrals, like stark whites and washed grays, earthy tones are in for the new year. Rich burgundy, burnt orange, rusty terracotta, and even muted greens will be making an appearance throughout new designs. While neutrals won’t go out of style, these rich tones can add notes of coziness and warmth to your home.


Though it sounds like a spicy sushi condiment, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection. What this means for home design is using objects that are handmade, organic, and not perfectly matching. Embrace the inherent imperfections in life by using raw wood and being authentic with your décor. Perfection is no longer the goal with wabi-sabi.

A New Kind of Sink Style

Stainless steel sinks are finally out, as are white ceramic ones. As sinks become more of a kitchen statement piece, homeowners are choosing materials like granite and concrete, even copper or stone to truly showcase their large sinks. Look for these new materials in the latest kitchen remodels, but be prepared for a bigger price tag.

With the start of new year, it’s time to try out of one of these exciting new design trends in your home. Whether you want to paint a room in terracotta, add a pop of floral print to your living room, or incorporate the art of wabi-sabi into your life, 2018 is the time to do it. Bring what you love into your home, like a gorgeous copper sink, brass fixtures, or even smart lighting for the whole house. You won’t regret trying out these home décor ideas.


Tips to Market Townhouses

by c21commonweath_ldowling 8. January 2018 09:54

If you’re a Realtor with a new townhouse listing, it’s important to recognize how to market it effectively. Helping buyers understand what they’re buying as well as assisting the seller in highlighting good attributes can lead to a faster sale and higher price. So, what makes townhouses unique? Why is buying one a better option than renting an apartment or purchasing a condo? And what do buyers gain or lose when they choose a townhouse over a single-family home?

Perks and Amenities

In many neighborhoods, a townhouse is likely to be part of a homeowners’ association (HOA), which comes with fees but also benefits. This type of built-in community can offer parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, fitness centers, and other perks your clients want. HOAs can also make transitions from apartments easier for buyers, as services like landscaping, snow removal, and trash collection may be included. These amenities and included services can make owning a home seem less daunting to first-time homeowners and can help you market a townhouse.

Sense of Community

If the townhouse is located within a development, it creates a fitted community at the buyer’s fingertips. While buyers may share a wall with their neighbors, they also have nearby townhouse owners they can socialize with, which can be great if they’re moving to a new city. By playing up the strength of living in a socially engaged community, you can sell the idea of the townhouse as an ideal living location.

Lower Maintenance Costs

Townhouses offer the best of both worlds in terms of cost and independence. Condo associations are often extremely restrictive and can have very high fees. While HOAs may have certain rules, the buyer will be able to make upgrades and changes, especially to the inside of their home. With the advantages of reduced maintenance and cost, townhouses let buyers be part of a larger community without taking on the responsibility of a single-family home, and everything that can go wrong with one.

Marketing townhouses isn’t too different from trying to sell single-family homes or condos. It’s all about playing to the strengths of the property and working with the seller to highlight them. Whether you’re the listing agent or buyer’s agent, you can help your client sell their townhome effectively or understand why a townhouse is the right choice for their family. Make sure you consider all the positive factors when marketing your client’s townhouse.


How to Improve Your Communication as a Realtor This Year

by c21commonweath_ldowling 3. January 2018 12:17

Thinking about professional resolutions to make this year? If you’re a Realtor, you may want to set a goal to improve your communication skills. Strong communication skills can help you set the right expectations with clients from the first meeting, ease clients’ concerns, and increase your chances of getting referrals. Use the five tips below to strengthen your communication strategies and make a good impression on your clients.

Get to Know Clients During Your First Meeting

Take full advantage of your first meeting with a new client by getting to know what kind of property they’re looking for and what kind of expectations they have for the home buying or selling process. Ask questions to find out:

  • What neighborhoods they’re interested in
  • Their must-haves and deal breakers
  • Their timeframe for buying or selling their home
  • Times they’re available to meet with you or view homes

Avoid asking your clients yes or no questions. Instead, ask open-ended questions that encourage longer, thought-out responses.

Be an active listener when your client is talking. Paraphrase what the client has said to make sure you’re understanding them correctly and ask follow-up questions when necessary.

Find Out Clients’ Preferred Mode of Communication

Your clients won’t all have the same communication style, and some may not even be available by certain modes of communication (someone who works a 9 to 5 office job might not be able to take your call during business hours, for example). When meeting with a new client, find out whether they’d prefer for you to reach them by text, phone call, or email. You should also find out what time of day is best to contact them.

Pay Attention to Your Body Language

Make eye contact when talking to clients, but don’t scare them by staring them down (a good rule of thumb is to make eye contact 30-60% of the time). Don’t let your shoulders tense up, as this can make you look nervous and unsure. If you tend to fidget with your hands, carry a clipboard, folder, or another item that will stop you from fidgeting.

Pay attention to your clients’ body language, too. When you mirror someone’s body language-- for example, using your hands expressively when talking to someone who does the same—you’ll build a sense of mutual understanding.

Turn Data into Stories

Rather than just telling clients about the number of listings you’ve helped sell or the biggest real estate transaction you handled, talk to them about specific challenges you’ve helped your previous clients overcome. Focus on stories that illustrate how you worked with someone who faced a similar problem or had the same concerns as your current client. This will help build trust and show your clients they’re in capable hands.

Be the Ultimate Real Estate Resource

Make sure that your clients know they can come to you anytime they have questions. Remind them that as a real estate professional, you have access to specific information that they might not be able to get just by talking to a friend or checking a real estate forum online.

When your clients come to you with questions, answer them clearly and concisely. Avoid industry-specific jargon that the client might not be familiar with. If your client asks you a question that falls outside of your realm of expertise, tap into your professional network and refer them to the best person to answer the question.


Home Repair Requests: What Home Buyers Should and Shouldn't Ask

by c21commonweath_ldowling 3. January 2018 12:00

Whether you’re buying a home that’s five or fifty years old, you can expect it to have some minor quirks and features that could use an update. However, you should refrain from presenting a home seller with a page-long list of small repairs you’d like them to take care of before the sale.

Having too many repair contingencies could give a seller pause and cause them to go with another offer, especially in a competitive market. And even if they do agree to all the repairs, they may have to push back the closing date to accomplish them all.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid all repair requests. If your home inspection turns up any serious problems that could prevent the home from being move-in ready—or even pose safety risks to you and your family—it’s perfectly reasonable to ask the seller to fix them.

Let’s look at some examples of repairs that you should ask sellers to make and other items that you should handle yourself after you buy the home.

Repairs to Request Before Closing

Roof Repairs. The home seller should be able to present you with a roof certification showing that their roof is still in good shape. If they’re not able to show you this certification or your home inspector uncovers roof problems, you should talk to the seller about repairing or replacing the roof. If the seller isn’t willing to repair the roof themselves, you may be able to negotiate a lower price that reflects what you’ll have to pay for the repairs.

Leaks. Small spiderweb cracks shouldn’t be cause for concern, but if a house has larger cracks that are letting in water, you may want to ask the seller to repair them. It should be straightforward to seal the cracks with epoxy resin.

Radon Mitigation. Radon is a carcinogenic gas that can increase your risk of serious health problems if you’re exposed to high levels for a long time. If your home inspector finds that a seller’s home has radon levels of 4.0 pCi/L or higher, ask to have a radon mitigation system installed.

Lead Paint. It’s a federal requirement for home sellers to tell buyers if there’s any lead paint in their house. If your seller hasn’t already removed lead paint in their older home, they may be willing to get rid of it when you make a direct request.

Mold. Mold is likely a sign of a water penetration problem, which a home seller should be willing to resolve before closing.

Old Furnace or Water Heater. If a furnace is more than 20 years old and a water heater is more than 10, they’re likely near the end of their lifespans. You may want to ask the home seller to replace them or negotiate a reduced listing price based on what it will cost you to replace them.

Safety Code Violations. It’s reasonable to ask a seller to repair any issues that are a safety code violation, such as an unstable deck.

Repairs to Handle Yourself After Buying a Home

Minor Electrical Problems. If your home inspector tells you the electrical system in the home you’re planning to buy isn’t up to code, that’s something you may want to negotiate with the seller. If, however, there are one or two light switches that don’t work, don’t add that to the seller’s list of things to do.

Renovations Designed Around Your Lifestyle. Don’t ask the seller to take out a wall between the kitchen and living room just because you really want a house with an open floor plan. The seller doesn’t have a stake in the home’s appearance after they sell it, so they’re not going to be eager to do non-essential renovations just to please you.

Minor Cosmetic Issues. A cracked tile or chipped paint may not look good, but these little issues will be inexpensive and easy to fix once you move in.

If you spot any other small issues that you’d like to have repaired, ask yourself if it’s worth the hassle and potential delays involved with asking the seller to fix them, or will it be easier just to resolve them yourself? And if you’re unsure whether to ask for a repair, talk to your Realtor. They handle buyer and seller negotiations all the time and have a good idea what a seller will be willing to do.