Cleaning Out the Stuff

As a homeowner and a listing agent, I dislike clutter. The more that is removed, the better.

Last fall I spent some time on the perpetual project of organizing and cleaning out our basement. There were four boxes of empty 3-ring binders that had been on their way out for quite some time. All the paper they used to contain was recycled long ago. After removing the labels and other personalizations, it was time to get them out of here.

Empty Binders

It occurred to me that much of the clutter in our house comes from things we bought but no longer use.

The binders are a great example of something our lives have moved on from. When we were in business school we used business cases rather than textbooks, so we had to have shelves full of binders to store all the paper. It was important at one time, but that time has passed. The things we have moved on from have to go.

We have more than just binders that are no longer in use. Much of it I’m ready to part with, but there is still an attachment to other items. Some things have sentimental value. Others are still there because I believe they might come in handy one day.

Cleaning out is a process, and I’ve found that it’s good to evaluate everything regularly.

Cleaning out is especially important for people who are selling their homes. Once the home sells, all of that stuff is coming out of the basement, and attic, and closets, and garage no matter what. Do you need it in your new place? Do you want to pay to move it, especially if it to be shoved back in the attic and never heard from again?

It’s okay to get rid of things. And for sellers, eliminating clutter can help you get a better price for your home.

I’ve Got a Guy

Painter“Do you have an electrician that you can recommend? How about a plumber? Floor refinisher? Painter? Kitchen designer? Landscaper?”

A peppering of questions came from a buyer client this past weekend. They’re looking to buy a place that needs some work and feel somewhat overwhelmed by the number of contractors they need to find and hire.

Well, let me tell you, I’ve got a guy. In fact, I’ve got a lot of guys. They live in a spreadsheet on my computer, organized nicely by category, with little notes I’ve made about each of them. Who’s responsive, who’s reasonable, who’s nice and who’s gruff. Sometimes guys get added to the list and sometimes they get taken off the list. Sometimes they get reprioritized. Sometimes, imagine this, they’re girls!

If you’d like to be on my “I’ve Got a Guy” list, you need to have your act together. You need to do good work, be reasonable and responsive, and care about your clients as much as I care about mine.

I’ve got a guy for just about everything, so if you need someone, just ask and I’m happy to pass along their information. And if you’re a guy, or girl, that would like to be added to my “I’ve Got a Guy” list, let’s chat about how you could help my clients. I’m always looking for good contacts.

Winter: For Reals

2015-01-04 Winter

Today is sort of messy, but we’re about to have a blast of real winter. The local forecast calls for lows close to zero on Wednesday night of this week. Highs on Thursday are only expected to make it up to the teens. That’s some seriously cold weather for Greater Hartford.

Take a minute to make sure your home is ready. Check your heating oil level and call for a fill up if needed. Double check your outdoor spigots to make sure the water supply is off and the line is drained. Bleed your radiators to get all the air our of the system. Make sure your firewood, or pellets, are easily accessible if you use a stove for extra heat.

Stay warm, and take the appropriate precautions.

Removing Graffiti

Some graffiti is interesting, thought provoking, and requires talent – it’s a form of art.

We don’t find artwork on the silver MDC box in our front yard. No, the tags we regularly see are just vandalism. For a while there was an individual called “Shot One” who marked up our box, and other boxes in the area. Not sure what happened to him, but now there is a new tag that I have yet to decipher.

MDC Box - Before

Rather than putting in another request via See Click Fix to have the City come deal with it, I took a ride down to the home improvement super center to investigate my options. They had two products advertised for graffiti removal, so I got one of each to see how they would work.

First up was Mostenbocker’s Lift Off Spray Paint Graffiti Remover. It did a very nice job. I sprayed it onto the box and the paint started to dissolve almost immediately. It was very easy to wipe the paint off with a rag. It worked so well, in fact, that it began to remove the silver paint that had been used to cover the previous tag.

MDC Box - After

The next step in our anti-graffiti effort is to continue treating the older paint to see if it can all be removed down to the original finish.

The Rising Bar of Move-In Ready

Nice homes are always in demand in Greater Hartford. Despite what we hear reported about a wholesale exodus from the state, fully updated properties tend to sell. There are people who want to live in this area, and many of those people would prefer to buy a home in which they don’t have to make many repairs.

LovelyHomeWe recently wrote about a decrease in buyer demand in core price points. The buyer pool doesn’t seem to be quite as deep as it has been in past years. One of the consequences of this trend is that buyers are able to be more selective in the homes they pursue. What qualified as move-in ready as recently as last year is no longer good enough. Today’s buyers want a home to be perfect. Done. Literally just unpack their suitcases.

I’ve heard a surprising number of stories from agents this year about how their buyer clients couldn’t get over trivial “problems” with a home. As an extreme example, someone told me a home was ruled out because of the paint color of one of the rooms. Really?!? Painting a wall is as basic as it gets. Everything else was fine, but the bright pink master bedroom was a dealbreaker? On a related subject, someone with essentially zero tolerance for repairs shouldn’t be buying a home.

Homes are large and complicated structures with many systems working together. Only a small percentage of the properties that are listed for sale can be considered move-in ready. Buyers are even more picky this spring than they have been in the recent past, setting the move-in ready bar extremely high.