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Paint FanOne of my favorite things about being in real estate is looking at houses. I’m mad about architecture, color, design, shape and style. I love staging that brings out the best features in the home while keeping it homey. Watching home improvement shows, HGTV, and all that real estate porn… I must admit, excites me. And when January rolls around and the color wizards announce the nominees, I feel as dizzy as an ingenue on Oscar morning.
On any given power-shopping Saturday, I can take buyers to look at five to fifteen properties. After house number 10, you’re beginning to feel a sense of overwhelm and the ‘buyer’s blur’, as each house starts to blend into the next. As the day progresses, the copious notes you started out taking become chicken scratches or a simple “NO!” until you get to my favorite place… walk in, walk out.
At the beginning of a house hunt, we feel the need to take the time to visualize ourselves in the home, our colors on the wall and grandma’s hutch in the dining room. Once you get the “Blur” it’s like triage, you identify what’s wrong quickly and assess if you can fix it or if you have to move on.
So sellers, what is it that buyers are responding to? First off I’d say CLEAN. And I mean clean to the point that a team of pros came in and scrubbed every corner with a toothbrush! Even an old house will look new when it’s sparkling clean. It inspires trust, helps us believe you’ve taken good care of your home. And by all means DECLUTTER. I know you’ve heard this before, from me and a thousand other HGTV Realtors, because we’re right. We’re the ones in the house when you’ve left for the showing and we hear EVERYTHING. When I say declutter, I don’t mean get rid of those things you’ve been planning to take to the Goodwill, I mean take all that to the Goodwill and then come home and pack up half of what you own!
Now comes the good part; UPDATE! The new 2013 colors are out and they are sensational. Spend some time browsing around to see if there’s something that speaks to you. If you’re prepping to sell (and right now you should be), look at the new neutrals, look at the latest accent colors and see if there’s something you can do to make your home feel au currant. You’re going to have to break out the paint brush, may as well add some pop! A word of caution though, if you’re not comfortable taking the lead on this bring in a color consultant or a stager for a professional eye. It can make a big difference in how much your home sells for and how quickly it sells.
The Denver market has changed. Home prices are up a stout 7% but that doesn’t mean you can just plant a sign in the yard and ask top dollar. If you want the most for your home, put the most into it. I guarantee you, that’s what your neighbor’s doing.
So… I guess it’s time to start moving on moving.

The holidays are coming and along with them… house guests.
If you’re like me, the shopping and cooking and cleaning miraculously manage to get done. Having a snappy home office leaves me without a proper guest room, but the sheets get changed, sleeping accommodations are made and everyone seems to be happy. I mean…they come back, right?
Through the years I’ve found a few personal touches to make my guests feel like I’m glad to have them. Here are my old favorites and one I’m adding.
1. Have you ever slept on someone’s sofa-bed? Their owners preface your evening turn-in with “Oh, it’s so comfortable” but obviously they haven’t slept on it since college. Rather than have your guests spend their nights on “the rack” and their days in traction, why not invest in a mattress topper? I purchased a gel foam topper for my son’s futon and it makes a world of difference. With company coming, I ran down to Costco and bought another for the guest (sofa) bed. If you have guests who fold that thing up every night you may want a different type of topper but my family tends to spread out and stay out and the gel pad with find a post-holiday home on the other son’s bed.
2. Add some flowers. Whether I’m creating guest space in the boys’ rooms, my office or in the basement, adding some seasonal sprigs brings a bright distraction. Those unexpected peach poinsettias make any room feel festive.
3. Sweet treats. Though I don’t go all Martha with chocolates on the pillow, I love to pre-set a few fun and useful things. Taking a tip from my travels, it’s easy to stay a step ahead by providing for their needs in advance. Arrange an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, a few bottles of water and that shampoo, conditioner and lotion from your last hotel stay in a holiday cookie tin. You may want to throw in some drugstore items (aspirin, antacids, etc), then place a few clementines, home baked cookies or some peppermint for some festive pop.
4. Basket of soft things. Rather than stack towels and toiletries on the bed, wrap them in ribbon and place them in a deep basket. Step it up with a robe, extra throw blanket and pillows and top it off with a small box of chocolates.
5. Double check the necessities. Though you may use the room for another reason, make sure your guests have everything they need. An adjustable desk lamp, reading light or bathroom nightlight, make your night owl guests feel at home, and have an alarm clock handy for the early birds. Have an old iPod and headphones? Load it up with soothing music or snappy jazz and make it handy, place a good book (one you’ve already read) and some recent magazines on the bedside table, or pick up some gallery guides and touristy pamphlets for that B&B touch.
6. Make all of the above easy to store and reuse.

Chances are your friends and family will be with you more than the three day limit, so make the most of their stay by starting with a warm and thoughtful welcome. Happy Holidays!

Looking for to the warming weekends but not quite ready to head to the high country? Here’s a “Honey-do” list that will slough off those winter blues and spring you into the season. Whether you are preparing to put your home on the market or just want to lighten your spirits without breaking the bank, the first 4 simple home improvement tips will put you on the right track.
Closets- You’ve heard this a million times and you’ve probably done it only once. Cleaning out your closets can feel great, once you get over the idea that your favorite dress will ever come back in style or that you’ll really get back into a 2. (And if you did, wouldn’t you want to buy all new clothes?!) One by one, take your clothes out of your closet and toss what you don’t wear. Seriously. I’ve hauled things up and down from the cedar closet for years before I ever fessed up to the truth. YOU WON’T MISS IT. And the two things I regretted tossing, I forgot about. Now wipe down the baseboards inside and re-paint your closet white! Purchase plastic hangers (all the same color) and re-hang all of your clothes white to black facing left. Okay, there’s a bit of my control freakish mentality peeking out here but, this is like Virgo crack!
Baseboards- The lowly baseboard. Easy to scuff, last to get painted. Brighten up the whole house by washing and repainting these once a year. It’s one of those secrets that make a home feel bright and fresh. Personally, I assign this task to my children for any number of reasons. They like to make $$, they need to learn to do things other than shoot virtual zombies, and they’re already closer to the floor.
Garage- This one is especially important if you’re listing your home to sell. Clean out your garage! Ditch the rollerblades your kids have outgrown and the ones you bought to blade with them. I mean, those have only been worn once or twice, right? Once you’re clean, it’s time to paint. That white you used in the closets would look great, adding sparkle to the most under-improved part of the house. Power-wash the floors, hang your tools, rakes on that new pegboard and throw the skis up into the rafters. Now it’s time to shake out the camping gear, pump up the bike tires and you’re ready for summer activities!
Windows- One thing that I always notice about a new house is that all of the windows and window sills are spotless. Windows shine and make your home look the kind of clean that makes buyers bite. There are many products you can attach to your garden hose to spray the winter off of the outside and if you have a good squeegee, they’ll turn out squeaky clean. Now it’s time to tackle the inside glass and the sills. Those sills, by the way, need to be more than wiped down. Take your window cleaning solution, a towel and some cotton swabs to make sure you remove all traces of dirt from the crevices. It really makes a difference. If you’ve got an older home with wooden windows, try to make sure they all open safely and easily. Many times they’re painted shut or the ropes are broken: Buyers will find this out on inspection. And though it’s not normally a deal breaker, it will reduce your offer when a buyer calculates the cost of new windows throughout the house. There are companies who will come and make minor repairs or replacements and you can give them a new coat of paint once they’re gone. Just be sure you don’t paint the window shut again.
Okay, I’m going to leave you alone for now, I’m sure you’ve got enough to keep you busy. Remember, as your back is aching and you pop open that day’s end beer, that it’s the little things that make a home stand out in the market. Clean is one of them. Make that SUPER clean.