Lisa Westerman - ReMax Professional Associates



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Staging is a marketing tool, not an exercise in decorating for living comfort. Professional real estate stagers should be a member of your team when you want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar.

Even if you have a go-getter real estate agent and your home is in a great neighborhood, consider staging as a way to enhance value and prompt an acceptable offer in the least amount of time. Your stager will target the "right" buyer, based on price, features and demographics, to achieve results.

Planting a "Buy Idea"

Contrary to the popular notion of staging, it does not involve an effort to "sell," but rather encourages the  buyer to envision living in a particular home. Savvy buyers will already have determined that a specific property is within their budget, that it has the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and that the location is a desirable option. Staging will reinforce the notion that the "good life" can become reality in that house.

Focusing on "Best" Features

A professional stager will not attempt to highlight every feature of the home. The purpose is to provide a prospective buyer with a memorable impression that distinguishes a particular property from all others. Your stager will discuss with you the best ways to create a lasting impression, but be prepared to remove overly personal accessories for the duration of the home's time on the market.

Minimizing Awkwardness

No home is perfect. Whether it's a matter of perception or personal preference, most houses have at least one space that can seem difficult. A professional stager might disguise a perceived fault, or may suggest a remedy. Common requests include repainting a room, clearing kitchen and bath clutter, or pulling weeds and placing pots full of colorful flowers near the front door to boost curb appeal.

Maximizing Existing Space

Your stager might want to remove or rearrange furniture, or ask you to pack up and store out-of-season clothing, books, sports equipment and toys. Understand that once the home sells, you will have to begin packing anyway, and spacious interiors are a selling tool. Let prospective buyers get a sense of possibilities as they walk through your home!

Magnifying Value

Assuming that your home is clean, well-maintained and reasonably priced, professional staging is the best way to provoke the emotional reaction that will prompt a prospective buyer to submit an offer. Staged homes typically sell faster and at higher prices than comparable unstaged property. The higher selling price will undoubtedly pay the fee!


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Most home shoppers do not think about how the property they are considering is zoned. However, depending on certain circumstances, it may prove beneficial to check into zoning restrictions before you purchase a home. First, some homes are built in areas where there is mixed zoning — residential and commercial — which could cause problems when you are searching for a home mortgage. Your real estate agent is obligated to inform you of any special zoning of a property you are considering.

Work from Home Zoning Requirements

Some municipalities have specific requirements for home office work. While those who work from home doing computer coding, telemarketing, or data entry may not have clients or other people coming in and out of their home during business hours, it is still important to verify with the city or town that local business licensing requirements are met.

Other types of businesses that work directly with customers such as pet grooming, hairdressers, nail technicians, or day care providers should make sure their physical location is zoned appropriately. In some cities and towns, having a home business that involves customers come to your house can run afoul of zoning rules. Since your business may create additional traffic, it is something you should consider before you sign a purchase and sale agreement.

Mixed Zoning May Increase Taxes

As a buyer, you should also be aware of how zoning laws impact your taxes. For example, most municipalities have different tax rates for property which is zoned residential and commercial, others may have a different rate for property which is classified as mixed. In nearly all cases, property with a commercial zoning classification means higher taxes. Keep in mind, it is not unusual to find multi-family homes built in commercial or mixed zone areas.

Buyers should be aware there are some municipalities with zoning requirements that can impact their ability to have certain outbuildings on their property including sheds, barns, and decks. Your real estate agent should be able to answer any zoning questions you have and help you determine if they will have an impact on your ability to get financing or use the property in the manner you intend.


When prospective buyers stop by to see your house, they're going to be barraged by a variety of sights, sounds, and smells. Some of these sensations will immediately capture their attention, while others may register on a subconscious level.

The encouraging thing to keep in mind is that you can control many aspects of how visitors experience your home.

Here are a few quick tips for making your home as appealing as possible:

Flower arrangements can add a touch of freshness and eye appeal to both the interior and exterior of your home and property. They can also infuse the air with an appealing fragrance, which can make a positive impression on potential buyers. One cautionary note is that wilted or tired-looking floral displays are not going to have the same positive impact as fresh, vibrant ones. Also keep in mind that some flowers smell more appealing than others. Most people generally prefer subtle fragrances, rather than overpowering smells! If the season and your climate permit it, placing hanging baskets of colorful flowers on your front porch and other locations can add immensely to the visual appeal of your property.

Make sure all surfaces are sparklingly clean! Imagine a prospect reaching for a house flyer or information sheet about your home, and finding that the paper was stuck to the kitchen counter! You also don't want them feeling a sticky or wet sensation when they touch or lean their elbow on a counter, tabletop, or refrigerator handle! The same rule-of-thumb can be applied to floor surfaces. If there are sticky spots, stains, or visible spills on the floor, you can be sure that's going to negatively impact a prospect's opinion of your home. It's not easy to keep your home spotless when it's on the market (or at any other time), but if you prioritize areas like floor, countertops, and sinks, then you'll be much less likely to overlook common problem areas. Eliminating pet odors, laundry smells, mold, and mildew will also make your home a much more inviting and appealing place for house hunters, real estate agents, and other visitors.

Reduce household noises whenever possible. Noises, such as squeaky hinges, loud HVAC systems, or rumbling garage doors can imply several things to prospective home buyers -- all of which are undesirable! Low-cost, DIY solutions to these problems are often available, although in some cases, it might be necessary to call a repairman or service person to check out your operating systems and make needed adjustments.

There are a lot of things to be aware of when you sell your house, but if you approach different tasks in a systematic, methodical way, you'll be much more likely to remember the important stuff and avoid sticky situations that could undermine your chances for getting your house sold quickly!


This Single-Family in Paxton, MA recently sold for $295,000. This Ranch style home was sold by Lisa Westerman - RE/MAX Prof Associates.


4 Elizabeth Ln, Paxton, MA 01612

Single-Family

$299,900
Price
$295,000
Sale Price

7
Rooms
3
Beds
1
Baths
One level living at it's best! Sunny 3 bedroom,1 bath ranch with attached garage in a neighborhood setting. This home is turn-key - completely renovated within the last few years. Brand new roof, brand new oil tank, updated bathroom & updated kitchen w/ granite counters & breakfast bar which is open to dining room. Convenient 1st floor family room (electric heat in this room only). Bedrooms have gleaming hardwoods & ceiling fans & 2 bedrooms have built in fold down desks. Young windows, vinyl siding, young septic, boiler, recessed lighting added to kitchen & dining room. Fireplaced living room with gleaming hardwoods is open to a dining area with built in hutch - which is currently being used as extra living room space which is a great option. Full basement has great ceiling height, concrete floor and is completely open, ready for your finishing touches! Last but not least is the spacious fenced back yard with new fire pit. Come see you won't be disappointed!

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Beautiful railings, including the railing that surrounds your deck, plays a major role in your home's curb appeal. Even when it's not visible from the street, a strong, sturdy deck and the railing that surrounds it can still raise your home's resale value. That's extra living space, after all. Even if it is outdoors. But even more important, your deck and its railing need to be structurally sound for safety purposes. You don't want to take a fall off your backyard deck, and you certainly don't want your family, friends or guests to have a mishap. For these reasons, it's vital to keep railings in top condition. Here's how:

Choose the Right Material for Deck Railings

Today's homeowners have multiple options for creating a railing around a wooden deck. More popular ones include:

  • Pressure-Treated Wood -- A popular choice for deck railing, wood is the most high-maintenance railing material on the market. Even pressure-treated lumber will need to be re-stained or re-sealed intermittently. This type of railing may also warp or twist over time, but for an upscale appearance, it's difficult to beat. 
  • Vinyl --Vinyl is lightweight and requires little-to-no maintenance other than an occasional cleaning with the garden hose. Vinyl won't rust or rot, but the color may fade over time. 
  • Aluminum -- Aluminum is a lightweight, durable material that can withstand corrosion, rust and rot. It can be painted any color and is typically cheaper to install than heavier options such as pressure-treated lumber. 
  • Composite -- Composite deck railing is made from PVC and recycled wood. It combines the best of both worlds because it's impervious to warp, rot and rust. It doesn't need staining or sealing, it's available in many colors and can easily be painted. 

Once you've decided on a material, professional installation is best. Unless you're confident in your construction abilities, weight-bearing structures, such as deck railings, should be built to code. You'll likely need a permit, as well. Adding a well-built, professionally installed railing to your deck will impress future homebuyers. It will also delight your friends and family when the weather turns friendly. 

Maintaining Deck Railing

The best advice for maintaining your deck railing over time is simply to inspect it regularly. Take a good, long look every spring, and if you see issues -- nails that are popping up, boards that are weakening -- have them repaired right away. Clean your deck and railings annually, regardless of their composition, and make sure to stain and seal wooden railings at least every other year. 

The condition of the trim around your home, including railings, affects your home's value. Take the time to keep them in top condition to maintain their value and their safety.