You are getting ready to paint a home you know you will sell within a couple of years. Chances are, a helpful family member or friend reminds you that to sell, everything should be painted white. After all, a buyer needs a neutral “clean slate” to look at.

Just the thought of all those white walls and ceilings gives you the feeling of a fog machine at a rock concert, so what do you do? There are several options other than white or off-whites to give a room a neutral look. In fact, many times a little color is better than white.

Here’s why: White is not white is not white, meaning that there are dozens of variations on white that can make or break the look of your walls. Some whites reflect light more warmly or coolly than others do. If you choose the wrong white, your home will seem harsh and stark rather than warm and inviting. White also reveals flaws and cracks in drywall, shows up patches and nail holes and shows dust and dirt more easily than other neutral colors.

In addition to that, a 2004 survey conducted across seventeen countries revealed what white is the world’s least favorite color.

So, which colors should you use? Nature inspired neutrals include soft earth tones such as some warm reds, tans and browns, greens, and other muted tones. Coffee colors, ranging from light latte to deep mocha or espresso, are both popular and excellent complements to hardwood flooring and tile.

The same survey that put white at the least favorite, shows blue is the most popular color in the world. So, adding a pale sky blue can soften a stark room. Blue also lends a hint of sophistication and evokes feelings of summer days spent at the beach.

Similarly, sage and mossy greens add a hint of a cool forest and gives walls a calm, soothing and stress-free quality.

One way to give your home depth and dimension is to use various shades of the same color— deeper in an alcove, lighter or darker on the ceilings. Contrasting colors enhance a large room, but might break up a small room, so consider painting the trim just a shade darker than the walls instead. Use a deeper shade or complementary color to highlight a particular architectural feature, or alternate warm and cool colors to make a room appear longer or wider. Using a color similar to the view outside the window can bring the outside into your home and perceptually enlarge your space.

Just remember that when it comes to selling your home color can be your friend. Call your local real estate professional to learn about trending color schemes in your area.


Typically the end of the Holiday season and New Years signal the advent of Spring, so putting your home on the market around the time of the Spring Equinox might be the perfect option for you. Markets vary, so only your local professional real estate agent can advise you on what is best in your area, but there are some reasons you might want to put your home on the market BEFORE the first day of Spring.

Here are some reasons why you may want to consider selling now rather than waiting:

While some analysts tout Spring as the best time of year to sell a house, these same analysts advise buyers to make an offer on homes in January and February. With lower inventories available, homebuyers looking for a deal in the cold of winter may find what they are looking for in your home. Those with early tax refund checks may be ready sooner than others to snap up a good deal.

Homebuyers care about finding the right home in the right place for the right price at the right time for them. According to a National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) study, homebuyers want energy efficient appliances, windows and other features that permanently lower utility bills; extra storage and organizational features that include a laundry room, linen closet in the bathroom, a walk-in pantry and extra storage space in the garage.

To sell your home in midwinter, consider staging that takes weather into account.

  • Make sure the walks and entryways are free of snow and debris. Take the time to clear off the patio too. You may not use it in winter, but your buyer needs to know it is there for the summer. Winter patio use is gaining popularity too!
  • Keep your home warm and cozy. Now is not the time to worry about heat costs. If buyers are cold and uncomfortable, they will not stay long enough to experience your home’s special features.
  • If you have a gas fireplace, light it. Consider placing a grouping of candles in a wood fireplace and lighting them while the house shows. (NOTE: some buyers may be allergic to smoke from wood-burning fires, so consider not a lighting wood fire unless it is integral to heating your home).

Since daylight is at a premium in winter, try to have your house shown during daylight hours. Make sure your windows are clear and free of winter grime and window treatments are clean and dust-free. If your house must show after dark, make sure to turn on every light in the house and yard so that your home is warm and inviting.


You know that you need to move, and the market is right to sell, but you’re not quite ready to pack up everything. After all, you still have to live in your home until it sells. So how do you get ready to sell without entirely disrupting your life?

Start by getting organized. Move from room to room in your home and take stock of the items you use regularly and the items you haven’t touched in years. In each room, create five piles for sorting. Some organizers advocate putting sell and give in the same pile, or using large containers or boxes instead of piles, but this doesn’t work well for large items such as furniture.

The five areas should be:

  • TRASH: These items are broken and not reparable, or used up or no longer useful to anyone. Of these items, take a moment to sort what needs to be recycled or requires special disposal like batteries or electronics.
  • SELL: These items have value on the market but you no longer use them in your household. Items to consider for this category are collectables, large or small appliances, electronics, designer clothing, shoes and handbags, furniture, and expensive games and toys.
  • GIVE: These items are gently used and have more value as a tax write-off if given to charity than if sold. This includes most clothing and many household goods.
  • STORE: Items for storage include seasonal clothing, holiday decorations, important papers and other documents, family keepsakes and heirlooms that you do not use or display, extra furniture and other items that you plan to use in the future.
  • KEEP: In this pile place all the items and clothing that you use currently, and that you will need to keep your household operating smoothly while your home is on the market.

Take care of the TRASH first. Get it out of your house and arrange to have special disposal items picked up. Deliver dead electronics to a charity or business that disposes of them or call your local waste management provider for options.

Next, collect all of the GIVE items; divide them up by charity, hand-me-downs to family and friends, etc. Call friends, family and charities to schedule a pickup, or make plans to deliver these to their new owners all in one day.

Now, you have three groups left. Consider the SELL items and divide them into categories such as collectables, electronics, designer goods, furniture and the like. Take pictures of each item. If you have the time or inclination, you can sell these yourself on Internet listing sites such aseBay, Craigs List or Tradesy or you can find a service to do it for you.

So, what you have left to organize are the items you need to STORE for future use, and the things you use regularly. You may already have a storage unit, or a large attic, but to make things easier for your upcoming move, consider using portable storage. Made popular by PODSand Got Junk, now dozens of companies offer portable storage solutions. Ideally, the company delivers a portable storage container to your doorstep for easy loading. Once you’ve filled it with the items you need to store, the company removes the container and stores it off-site for a monthly fee. When you are ready to move, simply have the container returned to your doorstep, load your remaining items and have it delivered to your new home.

Lastly, take a couple of days to organize your remaining items from the KEEP pile. When your professional real estate agent asks to show your home, getting it ready will be a snap! So, call your real estate agent today to get things rolling.


There’s definitely a chill in the air, and we are even starting to experience the first storms of the season. Now is a great time to clear away any debris from the exterior of your home. If you have spider webs, your home might be well on its way to resembling a haunted house and it’s still a little early for that!

If you have spider webs on any outdoor furniture or fixtures that need gentle care or that can’t get wet, use this little trick. Tie an old flannel pillowcase securely around a broom. Use it to gently remove spider webs around light fixtures or other delicate items. It’s great for use inside your home, too.

A good sweep with a stiff outdoor broom should take care of most of the debris and cobwebs outside your home. A leaf blower will do a good job, too, though they can be rather loud. Wear ear protection when using one. If there’s any mess left after you’ve swept, spray the outside of your home down with a hose with the water pressure turned up.

Sometimes spider webs really get out of hand, and you need to take preventive measures. You can call in a professional exterminator to take care of the spiders around your home. You can also try a bug spray. A visit to the local garden store should put you on to a good one. Follow the directions on the bottle carefully and make sure to keep all poisons locked away from children.


A condominium can be a great choice if you are considering downsizing your home. There are special rules that apply to condos, though, so be sure you know exactly what they are before you buy your condo. A good real estate agent should be able to show you the rules before you get too deep in your property search.

Pay Attention to the Details in Your Home Search

One of the real benefits of living in a condo is that upkeep and maintenance are taken care of by the property management or condo association. Residents in the complex pay monthly fees for these costs, a portion of which is placed into a savings account for future repairs.

Be sure to check the financial records of the condo association to ensure that they are putting some of the monthly fees into savings for big repairs like a roof replacement. This is especially important in an older complex, where rules may be a bit more lax. You’ll also want to review the complex’s insurance policy, too. Actual buildings and exterior walls are usually covered, but you’ll want to know if the belongings in your condo are, too, or if you need an additional policy.

Find out what exterior maintenance jobs are covered by your condo association and if there are rules about exterior decorations. Some places are very strict, and you don’t want an unhappy surprise if you love to decorate for holidays. Read all community rules very carefully.

Two things that can make or break living in your condo are the manager (if applicable) and the homeowners association (HOA). A professional, on-site manager is a must in a large condo complex. You want to be sure that repairs will be done quickly and well and you will also want to do a little digging if it’s a new development. Find out and research the developer. Talk to potential neighbors about the HOA, too. It should be a resource for keeping the complex running smoothly. If not, move on.

If you do your research and find a quality condo complex, you’ll be sure to enjoy your home for as long as you choose to live in it.


Feeling the need to get away from your home for a while? Perhaps the winters are too harsh or you have a child in college a few states away. Maybe you just want to get a head start on retirement plans. If either of these scenarios sound like your situation, it may be a great time to consider buying and owning a second home. This is a great time to buy, as mortgage interest rates are currently very low. There are also many other advantages to keeping your home and purchasing a second one.

If you choose a popular destination, vacation homes usually do a great job of retaining their value. You also get all of the tax benefits of home ownership and have the possibility of accruing rental income if you choose to rent out your home when you are not using it, making a vacation home very convenient.

If there is a vacation spot you are sure to come back to time and time again, like a beach or ski resort why not have a spot to call your own? Your second home can also be great for family gatherings and reunions. You may want to consider fractional ownership where you go in on a vacation home with a few other couples and share it throughout the year. Your local realtor can help you begin the search for a fun and exciting second home.


If you are an animal lover, a feathered or furry friend can make your home feel more welcoming. However you may find that your neighbors do not share that opinion. If you have an animal friend in your home, you can follow a few easy rules to live peacefully with neighbors who may not be animal fans.

First of all, respect the fact that some people are genuinely afraid of animals, especially large dogs. Train your dog to avoid jumping on people, large and small. And, when your animal-free neighbors invite you over, leave your pet at your home. Although Fido or Fluffy may be part of your family, your hosts probably will not be expecting any additional guests, especially in the form of animals.

When out for a walk with your pet, keep your dog on a leash and be prepared to pick up after your pet. If you have a cat, be sure to keeps its litter box clean to discourage it from using a neighbor’s sandbox or flowerbed.

While you can’t always calm an animal or quiet it down on command, don’t allow your pet to habitually growl, bark, hiss or shriek. Minimize these noises by creating an environment in your home that your pet finds relaxing and enjoyable. It’s possible to keep the peace between your non-animal loving neighbors and your pet, if you are willing to teach your pet to be a good neighbor, too!