A Victorian house sounds like it comes from the Victorian era. And the Victorian era conjures up images of women in corsets and hoop skirts lounging on fainting couches. But where? In a Victorian house, of course. But what exactly is a Victorian house? Even some people familiar with the term aren’t exactly sure what distinguishes this style of architecture.

Fancy, elaborate, and ornate are a few descriptions that may come to mind, but there’s a lot more history and highlights to this style. Allow us to elaborate on the pros, cons, and costs of these lovely homes and help you decide if this house style is right for you.

What Is a Victorian House? A Home Fit for Romantics

A brief history of Victorian architecture

As you may have guessed, Victorian homes were introduced during Queen Victoria’s reign (1837–1901) in England. Beauty over practicality was the prevailing design aesthetic of the time, and houses of the era reflected those same ideals.

It also helped that the Industrial Age had brought many innovations in architecture and construction to make such home decor possible: Power tools and mass production made fancy porch treatments and complicated trim widely available.

Although Victorian-era hoop skirts have gone the way of, well, hoop skirts, Victorian architecture has managed to maintain a steady appeal to this day. While this style is most popular in New England and the South, it can be found in all parts of the United States and around the world, appealing to anyone who’s bored to tears by spare, simple surroundings and longs for a more florid, precious, even feminine setting.

“Victorian homes almost have a dollhouse quality to them,” says Cheryl Zarella, a real estate agent in Bedford, NH. “There is so much architectural detail that goes into one.”

What defines a Victorian house?

There are various styles of Victorian houses, including Italianate, Gothic Revival, and Queen Anne. However, Zarella explains, these are some of the typical features in all Victorian homes:

  • Distinctive ornamental style
  • Lively color schemes
  • Asymmetrical shape
  • Extensively detailed woodwork
  • Ceiling medallions
  • Exquisite hardwood flooring
  • Copper and tin ceilings
  • Typically, three stories
  • A wraparound porch

While the floor plans for Victorian houses are highly varied, many have a central hall or an L- or T-shaped layout, which emphasizes rooms with special functions(e.g., formal dining rooms, parlors, and sitting rooms for entertaining).

While many have square or rectangular floor plans, they are often adorned with setbacks, wings, and bays that make the layout complex. Some Victorian houses were even built with octagonal or round floor plans.

Famous Victorian homes

If you’re still not able to picture what a Victorian House looks like, just watch an episode of “Full House.” Yep, the Tanner home is a perfect example of a Victorian home with its multiple levels and ornate features.

It’s just one of seven San Francisco Victorian home styles known as the “The Painted Ladies” for their colorful exterior paint colors. But there are actually quite a few groups of “painted ladies” in other cities, including Toledo, OH, and New Orleans.

Other famous Victorian houses include the Gingerbread House in Savannah, GA, and the Wedding Cake House in Kennebunk, ME. Some have been gorgeously restored and preserved, while others have been updated and modernized.

Pros and cons of Victorian homes

Victorian homes tend to be more expensive than other simpler homes such as Cape Cods and ranches.  They’re typically bigger in size, because they have more floors, and the architectural details increase the price as well.

Though bigger in size overall, Victorian homes do tend to have smaller bedrooms and smaller closets. Also, the upkeep and cost of repairs can add up. Lead paint and asbestos can also prove problematic, as they were both used widely during the Victorian era. Yet if this all sounds like more than you’d like to handle, take heart that plenty of Victorian-style homes are merely inspired by this old style of architecture but lack the problems of authentic Victorian homes. Consider it the low-maintenance option to this high-maintenance style.

Bottom line: While some may find them too busy or problematic, if you are a romantic at heart and want to feel a bit like royalty, a Victorian home could make you swoon.

 

For this and related articles, visit Realtor.com

Older homes have plenty of charm, but they also have their inconveniences: drafts, slanting floors, closed-in kitchens, and tiny bathrooms. The way we live now is just different. So if you’re considering updating an older home to incorporate modern comforts, there’s something appealing about just doing a gut renovation and starting with a clean slate. Then you can finally create your dream home exactly as you see it in your mind.

But while in general you want to get rid of outdated, inefficient features, you should hold off when it comes to certain unique architectural details.

“Architectural features that give homes distinct character should be left intact,” advises Patrick Garrett, a broker and owner at H&H Realty in Trussville, AL. “There are home buyers looking for homes with unique features and older homes with character and charm.”

If you’re lucky enough to own a home with historic flair, here are some of the elements that you should endeavor to preserve.

1. Molding

Photo by Precision Homecrafters, LLC

The traditional look of molding is so popular that it’s even found in most newly built homes. If your older home already has these original elements, rejoice!

“On the inside of the home, the first things we salvage are the staircase, window trim, and crown molding,” says Thomas Kenny, co-founder of Scott Simpson Design + Build in Northbrook, IL. “The original molding, in particular, gives the home character and is usually crafted from high-quality materials that will stand the test of time.”

2. Exposed brick

Photo by Old Hillsboro Building Company

Before you take a sledgehammer to your exposed brick walls, consider this: Many homeowners are actually stripping away their bland drywall to expose the beautiful brick behind it.

“You should not remove exposed brick, because it lends a unique architectural element that brings texture and a rustic vibe to a space,” says Laurie DiGiacomo, principal designer at Laurie DiGiacomo Interiors in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ. In many homes, the exposed brick serves as a focal point in the room.

3. Columns, exterior trim, and siding

Photo by Michelle Jacoby, Changing Spaces

There’s a lot of character in the exterior of an older home.

“When working on historic renovations, we always try to maintain the structural integrity, which means keeping a few elements like columns, exterior trim, and siding intact, because those are impossible to replicate,” says Kenny.

A historical porch with columns may be the home’s most notable exterior feature.

4. Built-in bookcases and window seats

Photo by Peterssen/Keller Architecture

These space-saving features add charm and functionality to a home’s interior.

“Built-in bookcases are highly functional, but they also allow one to artfully arrange objects and books,” says DiGiacomo.

And she considers window seats an amenity that could tug at future buyers’ heartstrings.

“They are one of those features in a home that instantly forces you to imagine living in that home,” she says. “The minute someone sees a window seat, they immediately fantasize about relaxing and curling up there with a good book.”

5. Stained glass

Photo by Shed Brand Studios
Upgrading windows is a usual part of any reno—but think twice if those windows are made of stained glass. Original stained glass is pretty rare, and that increases the desirability factor, according to Jonathan Self, a real estate agent at Center Coast Realty in Chicago.

“Once you come across [stained-glass windows], you will remember them for a lifetime,” says Anastasios Gliatis, CEO at Anastasios Interiors in New York City. “They also provide a spiritual, peaceful feeling, since they are identified with churches.”

6. Fireplaces

Photo by HSH Interiors

A fireplace used to be necessary to generate heat, but now it can help generate interest in your home.

“Fireplaces are always a great addition to your home, and older fireplaces come with rich details and rare stones,” Gliatis says. As a result, they create a focal point when walking into the room.

7. Solid core/paneled doors

Photo by HomeStory Doors of Chicago

The doors in your older home are nothing like the variety at the big-box store down the street.

“Old solid-core doors, and often their metal elements like doorplates, are real gems,” says Self. “You can’t buy these with any amount of money, because the craftsmanship it takes to make them doesn’t exist anymore.”

Paneled doors with brass knobs and hinges are definitely worth keeping, Gliatis adds, because this type of hardware can be hard to find and is quite expensive.

 

For this and similar articles, visit Realtor.com

Elaborate. Eclectic. Flamboyant. These are just a few of the words used to describe the Victorian era’s popular Queen Anne house style. When San Francisco’s iconic row of Painted Ladies along Alamo Square Park was pictured in the opening credits of TV sitcom “Full House,” it introduced wider audiences to these majestic homes. The “ladies” are among the city’s most popular tourist attractions. All hail the queens!

How can you spot a Queen Anne Victorian?

“Think gingerbread trim, towers, turrets, and wraparound porches with multi-angled roofs and fancy lead-glass windows,” says Tera Vessels of San Diego Vintage Homes.

Queen Anne homes come in varied sizes, shapes, and decorative styles, and can be found in cities, suburbs, and rural areas throughout the U.S.

What Is a Queen Anne Victorian? An Ornate Style of Architecture With Historic Roots

A brief history of Queen Anne Victorian architecture

Victorian homes are named for Queen Victoria, who ruled Britain from 1837 until her death in 1901. You may be wondering, how can an architectural style be named after two queens? Queen Anne ruled more than a century before Queen Victoria, from 1701 to 1714.

In fact, Queen Anne Victorian homes were built during the latter part of Queen Victoria’s reign, from 1870 to 1910. The style was developed by architect Richard Norman Shaw in the 1860s in England. But even he wasn’t quite accurate in naming the style, which took inspiration from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras that predated Queen Anne.

In any case, in America, Queen Anne architecture really took off in the last two decades of the 19th century. American architect Henry Hobson Richardson built the first Queen Anne home in the U.S. in 1874—the Watts Sherman house in Newport, RI.

Characteristics of Queen Anne Victorian architecture

Queen Anne homes are asymmetrical, with highly ornamented facades and more than one story. The Queen Anne style is all about decorative excess, with a variety of surface textures and materials like patterned brick, stone, wood, and occasionally stucco. Sometimes more than one material is used.

The homes usually have varied rooflines and trims, different types of shingles, and colorful palettes. There are stylistic subcategories as well, which range from the gingerbread-like Spindled Queen Anne to the more formal Free Classic Queen Anne.

Since Queen Anne homes encourage freedom of expression and creativity, it’s hard to find two homes that are exactly alike. But here are some typical features:

  • Turrets, towers, and balconies
  • Steep roofs with intersecting gables
  • One-story wraparound porches
  • Windows designed in different patterns, sizes, and styles with leaded or colored glass
  • Rooms hidden in towers, bays, and dormers
  • A fireplace or two, typically in the center of the house, by the kitchen, or in the dining room

Famous Queen Anne homes

queen anne beach house
The Beach house is a Queen Anne Victorian in Escondido, CA.

(realtor.com)

In addition to the Watts Sherman house and the Painted Ladies, the Carson mansion in Eureka, CA, is considered one of the best examples of Queen Anne style in the U.S. The 18-room, three-story, fairy-tale house, completed in 1885, is said to have inspired the clock tower on the train station at Disneyland.

“There are a few really fine ones located in San Diego County,” says Vessels. “One very famous one is the Beach house, circa 1896, located in the Escondido Historic District.” It’s currently for sale for $2.5 million; it was previously listed at $3.3 million in January 2019.

The Beach House was originally built for real estate broker and insurance salesman Albert H. Beach and his wife. It is a 2.5-story house with four bedrooms and three baths.

Pros and cons of owning a Queen Anne Victorian

As beautiful as Queen Anne homes are, the eclectic style may not suit all tastes. Those in the market for a Queen Anne should consider the advantages and disadvantages of living in and/or owning this type of property.

Although the intricate detailing is part of the appeal of a Queen Anne home, the incredible level of craftsmanship means the cost of maintaining and/or restoring one can be considerable.

“It may be challenging to find a skilled craftsman familiar with the style of architecture,” says Jennifer Hibbard, co-owner of Twins & Co. Realty in Arizona.

Vessels says that some people may have issues with the house’s smaller rooms (the open floor plan was definitely not a thing back then), fireplaces located in the dining room, skinny and high windows, and doors that are taller than standard. But she advises homeowners to resist the urge to make major changes, adding that the worst thing a homeowner can do is to overly modernize a Queen Anne home.

“They are solid houses. Most remaining ones were built for well-to-do people and have wonderful history,” Vessels says.

However, she does believe in new foundations, modern plumbing, electricity, and functional kitchens.

“Just do it in a way that makes sense,” Vessels says. “Work with the house.”

 

For this and related articles, please visit realtor.com

The real estate market has never been better for sellers. Over the past year, the low housing inventory and record-high prices gave most sellers the opportunity to make big profits quickly. Homes typically sold in one week and received full asking price, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. And of course, bidding wars pushed up home prices.

But if we look at the other side of the coin, there are droves of buyers who are having to deal with a very competitive—and often frustrating—housing market. The same study from the NAR found that 35% of homebuyers purchased their home for above the asking price.

In times like these, it’s tough for buyers to compete—and even harder to stay positive.

“Homebuyer fatigue is very common right now,” says Chase Michels, a real estate agent for Compass Real Estate in Chicago. “My team sold 45 homes last year, and the most common buyer we worked with made offers on three to five homes and missed out on the first few.”

Things may seem especially hopeless for first-time homebuyers.

“As home prices increase, generally first-time buyers are hit hardest because they have no previous home on which to draw equity,” says Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at NAR. “Furthermore, in the current environment, these buyers also face soaring rent prices and high student debt balances, which makes it extremely difficult to save for a down payment.”

Buying a home is already an emotional process, but having to deal with so much disappointment can be freakishly stressful. For a little bit of perspective, we turned to real estate experts with decades of experience who have seen crazy cycles like this one. They shared tips on how buyers can stay positive, make smart decisions, and get one step closer to landing the right house.

Homebuyers, Here’s How To Stay Positive in Today’s Crazy-Competitive Seller’s Market

Get pre-approved for a home loan

Your first order of business (if you haven’t already done so) to show you’re a serious buyer is to find a lender who will pre-approve you for a home loan.

“Get pre-approved for a mortgage,” says Nik Shah, CEO of Home.LLC in California’s Marin County.

In addition to helping you be realistic about your price range, it also shows you have a commitment from a lender to finance your purchase. When sellers review your offer and see that you are pre-approved, they’ll be more likely to accept your offer over another buyer who doesn’t have pre-approval.

Tell everyone you know you’re looking for a house

If you’re looking for a house, shout it from the rooftops.

“You should reach out to your personal network and even put out the word on social media,” says Bill Samuel, co-founder of Blue Ladder Development in Chicago. “You’ll be surprised how many potential homes you can find that way. And if you have a personal relationship with the seller, or know someone who does, it will improve your odds of getting your offer accepted.”

Be open to a rent-back agreement

An under-the-radar way to land a house is to be empathetic to the seller’s needs. Often, sellers are in the process of closing on a new home themselves, but that timeline might not align with your purchase of their house. Therefore, they might require a rent-back agreement, which would allow them to live in the house for a set amount of time after closing.

Essentially, they would be your temporary tenants and would have extra time to close on their new home and pack up.

“Often, just being flexible in the offer and allowing the seller a certain amount of time to close the sale can be very helpful,” says Marie Bromberg, a licensed real estate salesperson with Compass in New York City.

Invest your sweat equity

If the house needs work but has good bones, roll up your sleeves.

“Home prices are inflated, but there are still ways to find a really good deal,” says Jordan Fulmer, a real estate investor with Momentum Property Solutions in Huntsville, AL.

“Look for a house that needs some work. Even though most homes are selling for astronomical prices, houses that are not list-ready due to necessary repairs or updates may struggle to sell and allow you to buy them well below market price,” adds Fulmer. “By putting in some sweat equity into a fixer-upper, buyers can stay within their budget while still ending up with a beautiful home.”

Wait it out

You never want to make a hasty house purchase or buy any old home just because you’re sick of losing out to other buyers. If you’re having trouble buying a house right now, our experts recommend waiting it out. As painful as this may sound, if you can sweat out your current living situation, or rent another place for a year, you may end up with a better house in the end.

“This is currently the lowest supply of home for sale in history,” says Michel. “These are unprecedented times, so if you don’t need to move urgently, then don’t. In 12 to 18 months, things could look much different for buyers. If you have the option to rent, you should consider it.”

 

For this and related articles, visit Realtor.com

The backyard landscaping ideas you choose aren’t just about keeping the neighbors from complaining about the mess. Your backyard should be an oasis, a place where you want to spend time. But while most homeowners pine for a green patch of land to call their own, once they’ve got it, they very rarely visit the place.

While outdoor living spaces topped the 2015 Home Design Trends survey by the American Institute of Architects, UCLA’s “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” study showed that adults spent less than 15 minutes per week out in their yards (even kids log in just 40 minutes).

Perhaps the reason you aren’t in your yard isn’t due to laziness; it might merely be because you have nothing to do there. That’s where an infusion of backyard landscaping ideas could help.

“You need a legitimate reason to go out there,” says Chad Bostick, a Huntsville, AL, landscape architect and member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. So before you start putting your backyard landscaping ideas into action, take stock of how you like to spend your free time. If growing green things is your passion, then your yard should be filled with vegetable and flower gardens. If listening to lapping water soothes you, then a water feature is a must. If you can’t take the sun, plant shade trees. If kicking a soccer ball around with your kids is your “together time,” create a level lawn where you can play. Build a purpose into your yard and suddenly you’ll be out there. All. The. Time.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some backyard landscaping ideas to consider.

An outdoor room

If you’re more of an “indoor type,” never fear. Many of the things we once thought were possible only indoors can easily be brought to the open air thanks to the latest rage of creating “outdoor rooms.” We’re talking about spaces where you can enjoy the creature comforts of, say, your living room, only in your yard. So if you love to read, create a reading nook with a truly comfy couch and ample lighting for the evenings. If epicurean pursuits are your thing, keep reading.

Bring the indoors outside
Bring the indoors outside

(stevecoleimages/iStock)

An outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens are the biggest thing since the McRib. And why not? No one wants to stay cooped up inside when everyone else is living it up in the great outdoors. And while having a whole kitchen might be overboard for many folks, more reasonable options might be just to have a minifridge and countertop next to your barbecue grill.

Get cookin'
Get cookin’

(Ozgur Coskun/iStock)

Fire up a fire pit

Yessssss. Who doesn’t love the idea of sitting around a blazing fire pit, the (literally) hottest new addition to your yard? This backyard landscaping idea is pretty easy to DIY, and it will extend your yard’s hours by keeping the area lit and warm long after dark. Break out those marshmallows and ghost stories for a good time.

Fire pit
Fire pit

(irina88w/iStock)

Fountains, ponds, and water features

If you’re looking for the calming sound of running water, you can go small and install a solar-powered tabletop fountain in your garden or on your deck; or you can go all out and install a pond or pool in your backyard. Remember, all water features must have either a pump, aerator, or wiggler to keep the surface moving to prevent mosquitoes and other disease-bearing insects from breeding.

An aquatic garden
An aquatic garden

(WoodenDinosaur/iStock)

Grow some gardens

Gardens are a no-brainer in backyard landscaping. But ponder what you really want before you start landscaping: Do you want a four-season garden that provides color year-round? Or a cutting garden that fills vases with brilliant blooms during summer and spring? Think hard about what you want to grow, then pick an area of your yard that will be its best home. Some perennials, such as the black-eyed Susan, crave six or more hours of sun a day, while hostas that spike blooms in midsummer are happy in shade. You can even build a butterfly garden that will attract these winged creatures.

Ideas around a patio or deck

A deck is the perfect place to survey your backyard and kick back in it without even having to put on your shoes. Plus, a deck will generally net you a 75% return on investment when you decide to sell. If you go the stone patio route instead, just know that during the summer the stone can heat to pizza oven temps. So, think about where you’re placing your patio or deck before deciding on what material you’ll use. These days, porous pavers are popular on patios because they reduce runoff by allowing water to soak through, and keep the area cooler in summer.

Plant trees

Mature and well-maintained trees can add thousands of dollars to the value of your home. Also, placed correctly in your backyard landscaping plan, trees can keep you cooler in summer and warmer in winter, saving money on energy bills. Take time choosing trees. If fall foliage is your priority, select deciduous trees like sugar maples and sweetgums. If you want a windbreak, then plant evergreens like spruce. Silver maples make great shade trees. And saucer magnolias and weeping cherries make beautiful focal points in any yard.

 

For this and similar articles, visit Realtor.com

Good bathroom remodel ideas aren’t just about saving you money. They’re also about helping you start your day off right.

Let’s get real: The first room you stumble into in the morning—bleary-eyed, dazed, and yawning—should be a soothing oasis. A bathroom that achieves those lofty heights? That’s a bathroom you can love. That’s why these most special of rooms are second only to kitchens as the areas homeowners eagerly spend time and money renovating—and that catch a buyer’s eye when you’re trying to sell.

Here’s what you need to know about bathroom design, including ideas for tile, fixtures, and more.

40+ Green Bathroom Ideas - The Call Of Nature 2022

Bathroom remodel ideas: Where to begin

But exactly which upgrades are the best, in terms of both usefulness and return on investment—even in a small bathroom? Do you need to start knocking down walls and renovate the entire room, or you can you start smaller?

Before you go nuts with your remodel and install expensive tile, new flooring, saunas, and rain shower heads, check out this second installment in our series “Renovations That Really Pay Off,” for some smarter tweaks you’ll be very glad you made.

1. Reglaze, don’t replace, the tub

“No, no, no—do not put in a new tub,” says Rebecca Knaster, associate broker with Manhattan’s William Raveis. “It’ll cost thousands between the tub and the installation.” Instead, have the tub reglazed for “around $1,500,” which will make it look brand-new.

Matt Plaskoff, founder of One Week Bath, agrees that if the shower and tub area “is in decent shape,” it’s best to concentrate on the front part of the bathroom, which “sets the tone for the space.” 

2. Invest in a new sink

Face washing, teeth brushing, gerbil bathing—your sink sees a lot of use. It’s also the very first thing a buyer notices in a bathroom, says Knaster. A great-looking vanity is also a smart upgrade when considering a bathroom remodel.

“Step 1 for getting the most bang for your buck is a new, contemporary sink,” she says. “It will set you back a few hundred dollars and make all the difference.”

Just note whether the bathroom sink you already have is an undermount (where the edge is below the countertop to create an uninterrupted surface) or overmount (where the sink lip comes up over the countertop), says interior designer Randal Weeks, founder of Aidan Gray Home.

An undermount can be difficult to remove unless it’s under a Formica top. If the sink is adhered to the surface, the top will also have to go, which quickly drives up the cost of a bathroom remodel.

One easy and dramatic sink upgrade Weeks recommends for an inexpensive remodel is replacing separate hot and cold faucets with a sleek single-handle faucet that starts at $70.

3. Go for timeless tile

Bathroom remodel ideas in general should appeal to a broader range of people and provide better return on investment. While natural stone is hot, Weeks prefers neutral tiles on walls and the backsplash for this reason. Pricey stones are taste-specific, he notes, and can give a busy look that’s a turnoff regardless of expense.

In fact, Weeks says one of the biggest issues buyers consider when making offers is the cost of redoing other people’s “bad tile choices.” So go for crowd-pleasing features such as bright white subway tiles, which run a mere 21 cents each. The payoff for this tile remodel?

“You can add $10,000 of value to your home by selecting timeless elements that won’t date it.” 

4. Upgrade your lighting when you remodel

It’s not just Snow White’s evil stepmother and the Kardashians who spend lots of time staring into the mirror on the bathroom wall. For most of us, lighting and lighting fixtures are critical elements.

“Dated light fixtures are a turnoff,” says Knaster. “For no more than $100 you can buy a basic but nice bathroom light fixture.”

5. Install a double vanity

The last thing you need in the morning is a battle with your partner over who gets the sink. It’s no wonder “I’m looking for a double vanity” is one of the most common things heard by Will Johnson, a Hendersonville, TN, real estate agent and founder of the Sell and Stage Team

A double vanity typically costs between $200 and $800, with installation falling around $220, Johnson says—and it’s a wise investment when you’re undergoing a bathroom remodel.

Johnson has clients who “won’t buy a house simply because there’s only one sink in the master bathroom.” Even if you have a small bathroom, strive for this two-sink option.

6. Swap in new fixtures

“Old materials such as bronze can instantly date your bathroom,” says Johnson. To knock out this easy DIY update, simply purchase new door handles, drawer pulls, and towel bars for a bathroom remodel that’s quick, easy, and inexpensive. A nice chrome drawer pull can cost as little as $3, while a towel bar can average $30

7. Get a water-saving toilet

This may not sound like a bathroom remodel idea that will do much—it’s just the toilet. But beyond updating the look of the room, a toilet replacement could save you some serious green and it works whether you have a big or small bathroom.

Old toilets use 6 gallons of water per flush, gobbling up about 30% of all residential water in U.S. homes. Go green when you swap out your throne. New WaterSense models using only 1.28 gallons per flush (e.g., TOTO’s Carlyle II 1G toilet) conserve up to 18,000 gallons of water annually. The initial cost of $974 will shave more than $110 per year off a water bill and add up to almost $2,200 over the lifetime of the toilet.

Bonus: The latest water-saving thrones actually work.

8. Skip the bidet in your bathroom design

Bidets may be considered the Rolls-Royce of toilet upgrades, but most bathrooms simply don’t have room for them. What’s worse: Most Americans have no idea what on Earth these things are and may even be weirded out by them.

“My personal opinion is that our society is not accustomed to this practice and doesn’t see the extra value in them,” says Tracy Kay Griffin, an expert designer at Express Homebuyers, in Springfield, VA. “We haven’t renovated a home yet where we thought it would be a good investment to add a bidet.”

When it comes to your bathroom remodel, just say nay to the bidet.

 

For this and similar articles, visit Realtor.com

Having an open house is the exciting part of selling a home, but let’s face it: It takes a lot of work to get there.

Once you’ve made repairs, picked a real estate agent, and decided on an asking price, your home is almost ready for market—but first, how about a little primping and polishing? Or maybe a lot of primping and polishing. This is where an open house for potential buyers comes into play.

After all, you want your home and your open house to make a great first impression on buyers—and that’s where we can help. To host an open house and show your home in the best possible light, it’s worth listening to these savvy seller tips and step-by-step advice.

In-Person Open Houses in Ontario Permitted to Resume Next Week

Home security during an open house

When you’re just living in your home, a bit of clutter is business as usual—but for a buyer, a mess can spell doom.

You know the drill: video game cartridges in the bathroom, toolbox in the kitchen, tuxedo shirt inexplicably in the garage. But know this as a first-time seller: All this disorder can be deadly during an open house.

That’s because clutter can make even spacious real estate look cramped and dirty, distracting from a home’s assets and putting off potential buyers, says Darbi McGlone, a Realtor with Jim Talbot Real Estate in Baton Rouge, LA.

Smart open house ideas include paring down your belongings, by going room by room and boxing up anything you haven’t used or worn in at least six months.

What’s that you say? There’s nothing you’re not using? Try anyway—it’s important for an open house. You’ll probably be surprised by the stuff you won’t miss. (Bonus: You’ll have less to move later.)

One area where you’ll want to be merciless as you stage for an open house is your kitchen counter. Remove everything but your coffee maker, so that people (and potential buyers) will think, “Wow, such a huge kitchen!”

And to allow home buyers to really envision themselves living there, you’ll also want to depersonalize by removing items such as the framed photos, report cards on the fridge, or your kid’s collection of “Star Wars” snow globes. But don’t declutter by just stuffing those things in the closet.

“Closets often end up being the dumping ground to store all the clutter that was visible,” says McGlone. “Which is never good, because closet space is an important buying consideration. You want potential owners to be able to see the true amount of space in each closet (and buyers are going to open every door to peek inside and gauge how much real estate is in there).”

Instead, real estate agents say that it’s a good idea for sellers to stack boxes neatly in the attic, basement, or, best of all, a storage facility. The perceived extra space you add to your home could be worth the rental cost and then some.

Home staging tips

These days, home staging is all the rage in the real estate world: On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for a whopping 20% more than ones where home sellers just kept their furnishings in place.

And while you can hire a professional stager for your open house, you can also cop a few of their tricks and tips for free—and maybe snag a buyer fast.

For instance, hanging curtain rods higher can give the illusion of taller ceilings. Well-placed mirrors can make rooms appear bigger and brighter during an open house.

Want to go the extra step as you prepare for your upcoming open house? Paint your walls white, layer in neutrals, then add pops of color with pillows or a cashmere throw on the couch, for a cozy glow.

“I always think to move the furniture toward the walls during an open house to make it feel like there is more space,” McGlone says. Push furniture out and away from each other to open up floor space, but be careful to keep window space clear.

Conceal flaws whenever possible; if the view from a window isn’t great, put up sheer curtains so that the light comes in but the scenery stays hidden, say real estate agents.

And as with all your possessions, think “Less is more,” although stagers do sometimes strategically add furniture (such as a cozy reading chair in a bedroom corner) to give a future buyer the illusion of more space. Go figure!

Tricks to boost curb appeal

Finally, it’s time to take a hard look at the outside of your house, the way a neighbor or buyer might do. After all, that’s the first thing buyers will see when they pull up, so you’ve got to work that curb appeal hard.

For starters, take a good hard look at the paint. If it’s looking dull or dingy, try power washing first.

You can rent a power washer from most home improvement stores; a good wash can take off layers of dirt that make your home look shabby.

Most professional paint jobs come with a 25-year warranty, and if you’re long past that, it may be time for a new coat.

At the very least, slapping a coat of paint on your front door will give you the most bang for your buck—because that’s what buyers will see up close before they even knock.

Door paint aside, your yard also needs to be in order. Overgrown trees can make a home seem dark and creepy. If your trees are touching any part of your house, you should scale them back. If your front lawn is lacking in shrubs and flowers, add some.

Even in winter, you can find hardy plants, such as evergreen boxwoods and holly bushes.

Also, make sure your lawn is mowed, and if you have a pool that’s open, keep it sparkling (your neighbors appreciate a pretty lawn and pool too).

“A dirty pool will remind people how much upkeep there is, even if they asked for a pool,” McGlone says.

Once you’ve gotten your home looking fantastic both inside and out, it’s time to break out your camera and spread the news (on social media, too) that it’s up for grabs: with an eye-catching real estate ad for your open-house flyers or open-house signs, of course!

 

For this and similar articles, visit Realtor.com

A home with a gorgeous yard isn’t just easy on the eyes: Well-landscaped homes also sell for 5.5% to 12.7% more, according to research at Virginia Tech. Only problem is, professional landscaping costs an average of $3,219, according to HomeAdvisor.com. But pros aren’t the only way to go. Here’s proof: seven cheap landscaping ideas that provide all the lush greenery you need without your gushing greenbacks.

27 Front Yard Landscaping (Fresh New Ideas) Part 8 - YouTube

Show your lawn a little TLC

While overgrown plants and weeds can make a home look run-down, a well-manicured lawn signals to prospective home buyers that the house is maintained well inside as well. So start by cutting the grass, trimming shrubs, and pruning hedges.

Buried in weeds? Cherie Lowe, blogger and author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon,” recommends a homemade weed killer: Mix white vinegar, 1 to 2 cups of salt (table or Epsom), and a small squeeze of dish detergent.

“It takes one to two days for it to activate, killing off unwanted weeds, and costs a fraction of the price,” Lowe says.

Install drought-tolerant plants

One-third of all household water use typically goes to landscaping, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s no surprise, then, that sustainable design (i.e., yards that require low maintenance and less water) is one of the hottest trends in residential landscaping, according to a recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a new irrigation system? Invest in some easy-care, drought-tolerant plants such as coneflowers, lantanas, or yarrows. Their ability to survive in dry conditions and minimal need for water can be nice selling points to home buyers. Easier for you, too.

Find free mulch

Laying down fresh mulch in a flowerbed or around the base of trees can make a yard instantly more appealing. Not only does this layer of bark and compost enrich the soil, it also looks far nicer than bare dirt. Sadly, purchasing mulch can drag down your budget. Even if you buy it in bulk, mulch costs between $15 and $65 per cubic yard.

But why pay for mulch when you can get it for free?

Many cities offer free mulch to residents, says Sarah Hutchinson at LandscapingNetwork.com. Check with your local government to see if there’s a program available in your area. You’ll need to rent your own truck if you want to load up, but doing so is another way to cut your landscaping expenses, since mulch delivery can cost between $354 and $1,093. (Note: You may need to take a utility bill with you to the distribution center to prove that you live within the city limits.)

Use gravel instead of concrete

Concrete—for driveways and sidewalks—may be the go-to for many homeowners, but it’s also expensive, costing $98 per cubic yard. So go for the cheaper option of pea gravel, which costs drastically less, at $30 to $35 per cubic yard. Even cheaper? Hutchinson likes decomposed granite, which costs only about $3 to $5.

Buy plants in bulk

While you don’t need a wide array of foliage to make your landscaping shine, a select few can do wonders and save you cash.

“By choosing three (varieties of) plants for your garden instead of 10, you can buy in bulk and often save money,” Hutchinson points out. NatureHills.com, for example, frequently offers discounts of 15% to 30% on the purchase of five or more of the same plant.

Brighten up lighting

Many home buyers schedule viewings at night, since they work during the day. Therefore, you need to be mindful of how your home’s exterior appears at night. We’re not saying that you need to hire a contractor to install an outdoor lighting system, which HouseLogic.com estimates can cost on average $4,925. Just make sure that all of the current light fixtures have working lightbulbs. For optimal brightness, use lightbulbs with the highest wattage possible (based on safety guidelines).

The caveat: Keeping the outdoor lights on at night will bump up your electric bill; however, having a well-lit exterior will help your house make a great first impression. Put simply, it’s worth the extra expense.

Hire a landscaper for free

Landscape architects typically charge $70 to $150 an hour. However, many local garden centers provide landscaping consultations for free or for a small additional cost if you buy plants from them. In other words, you may not need to pay a penny to get landscaping advice from a professional.

 

For this and similar articles, visit Realtor.com