There’s a trick to keeping houseplants thriving in drier climates: It’s the bathroom. The typical high humidity and warmth of your bathroom is exactly what most tropical plants are missing in their lives. So if your houseplants are struggling, gather them up and display them near your tub or sink. But keep in mind that not all species can tolerate the lower light levels many windowless bathrooms have, so you may need to provide some supplemental light. So brighten up a shelf or that corner by your sink and tuck in a few of these plants that will prefer the conditions in your bathroom to the rest of your house.
Orchids, though they can be a tad bit temperamental, are so worth the extra effort to grow in your bathroom; after all, they keep their gorgeous flowers for months on end. The damp, warm conditions in most bathrooms are a perfect environment for these pretty plants, which grow in bark instead of soil and prefer for that material to be damp but not wet. Some easier-care varieties of orchids include Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, and Paphiopedilums, which will all do well with bright, filtered bathroom window light.
One of the most popular indoor vining plants is pothos, or Epipremnum aureum. It comes in a variety of leaf sizes, colors, and variegations. As long as it stays out of direct sunlight and its soil doesn’t dry out (it doesn’t care for overwatering, either), pothos is a low-maintenance beauty that is exceptionally pretty in a hanging basket or on a high shelf where it can trail to its heart’s content. Golden pothos can develop beautifully variegated leaves with streaks and flecks of gold among the green.
Test Garden Tip: All types of pothos can be toxic if ingested, to both children and pets.
This variety of Epipremnum aureum has bold neon leaves that will add color and life to your bathroom. It’s just as easy to care for as golden pothos, but it has brighter, even more eye-catching foliage.
Houseplants don’t get easier than the no-fuss spider plant (Chlorophytumcomosum). They tolerate low light like champs, enjoy a little humidity, and their baby shoots (which can be detached and propagated) are just so darn cute. You can also let them dry out between waterings, and established plants can usually go up to two weeks without a drink.
China Doll Plant
A dark green China doll plant (Radermachera sinica) is perfect for sliding into a bathroom corner near a window. China doll plants need bright, indirect sunlight and moist, well-drained soil, and must be protected from drafts. Since they like the heat and moist conditions, they’ll thrive in the warmth of your bathroom.
These bright tropicals are in a family of plants that consists of thousands of different species. Though they vary in care depending on the specific species, most bromeliads grown as houseplants will have similar needs: Bright, filtered light, plenty of moisture in the air, and a temperate indoor climate. Most are prized for their incredibly colorful, variegated foliage and long-lasting color. Some common, easy-to-care-for varieties include Scarlet Star (Guzmania lingulata), Blushing Bromeliad (Neoregelia carolinae, shown), and the incredibly prehistoric-looking Urn Plant (Aechmea fasciata).
Also part of the bromeliad family, these beauties are commonly referred to as air plants. The specimens that fall into the Tillandsia genus (we’re talking hundreds and hundreds of species) are beloved for their ability to grow without soil, or without necessarily being planted at all. In the right environment, they hardly need any care whatsoever. What’s the right environment beyond the jungles of South America? You guessed it, the bathroom. If you have a shower with a bright window, even better. They’ll love to have occasional shower overspray, and they’ll soak up all that trapped humidity. If your air plant doesn’t quite get enough moisture from the air, you can mist it, or give it a good soak every few weeks (depending on how dry your climate is). Some common varieties include Tillandsia xerographica, Tillandsia bergeri, and Tillandsia ionantha.
Test Garden Tip: The more silvery the foliage, the more drought-tolerant it is.
This small-growing, low-light-loving plant comes in a variety of colors and adorable leaf shapes. Its compact size makes it perfect for tight quarters, such as narrow shelves or terrariums (but it doesn’t like direct sun, so keep it away from the windowsill). This particular striped variety is watermelon peperomia, or Peperomia argyreia. Peperomia is super easy to care for, loves humidity, and only needs watering when the top of the soil feels dry.
Tropical Pitcher Plant
Also sometimes adorably referred to as monkey cups, Nepenthes are a widely diverse genus of tropical plants that all display some variation of the distinctive pitcher (filled with a liquid that attracts and helps digest insects as food). Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to “feed'” insects to these plants; the average household has enough to tide one specimen over. Pitcher plants like their soil to be kept moist, and they love humidity, so they’ll be quite at home in the bathroom. They’ll also tolerate low humidity but will produce fewer pitchers under those circumstances. Their vining habit makes them a captivating windowsill addition.
This plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp, or St. George’s sword, is nearly impossible to kill. Sansevieria varieties tolerate almost any growing condition, from nearly no light to bright light to direct light. They need little to no water, and if you keep them in a humid bathroom, you might never have to water these hardy West African natives at all.
Editor’s Tip: This plant is considered mildly toxic to people and animals when ingested.
Before you can make the transition from renting your home to owning your home, you will need to have a substantial down payment, typically 5 to 20 percent of the home’s value. The American Bankers Association suggests the following tips to help save for it:
Develop a budget & timeline
Start by determining how much you’ll need for a down payment. Create a budget and calculate how much you can realistically save each month – that will help you gauge when you’ll be ready to transition from renter to homeowner.
Establish a separate savings account
Set up a separate savings account exclusively for your down payment and make your monthly contributions automatic. By keeping this money separate, you’ll be less likely to tap into it when you’re tight on cash.
Shop around to reduce major monthly expenses
It’s a good idea to check rates for your car insurance, renter’s insurance, health insurance, cable, Internet or cell phone plan. There may be deals or promotions available that allow you to save hundreds of dollars by adjusting your contracts.
Monitor your spending
With online banking, keeping an eye on your spending is easier than ever. Track where most of your discretionary income is going. Identify areas where you could cut back (e.g. nice meals out, vacations, etc.) and instead put that money into savings.
Look into state and local home-buying programs
Many states, counties and local governments operate programs for first-time homebuyers. Some programs offer housing discounts, while others provide down payment loans or grants.
Celebrate savings milestones
Saving enough for a down payment can be daunting. To avoid getting discouraged, break it up into smaller goals and reward yourself when you reach each one. If you need to save $30,000 total, consider treating yourself to a nice meal every $5,000 saved. This will help you stay motivated throughout the process.
WASHINGTON (March 23, 2022) – The share of millennial home buyers increased significantly over the past year. They are also the most likely generation to use the internet to find the home they ultimately purchase and most likely to use a real estate agent.
This is according to the latest study from the National Association of Realtors®, the 2022 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, which examines the similarities and differences of recent home buyers and sellers across generations.1 The NAR report found that the combined share of younger millennial (23 to 31 years old) and older millennial buyers (32 to 41 years old) rose to 43% in 2021, up from 37% the year prior. Almost two out of three younger millennials – 65% – found the home they ultimately purchased on the internet, a number that gradually decreases with older generations. Eighty-seven percent of all buyers purchased their home through an agent. This number was highest with younger millennials (92%) and older millennials (88%).
“Some young adults have used the pandemic to their financial advantage by paying down debt and cutting the cost of rent by moving in with family. They are now jumping headfirst into homeownership,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “While young buyers use new tech tools, they also use real estate agents at higher rates than other buyers to help find the right home and negotiate the terms of the transaction.”
Buyers from all generations agreed about the top reasons for using an agent: they wanted help finding the right home to purchase, negotiating the terms of sale and negotiating the price. The silent generation – those between the ages of 76 and 96 – as well as younger millennials were also more likely to want their agent to help with paperwork.
Those between the ages of 42 and 56 – Generation X – had the highest median household income at $125,000. They bought the most expensive and second-largest homes at a median price of $320,000 and size of 2,300 square feet, respectively. Older millennials purchased the largest homes at 2,400 square feet, and the silent generation bought the smallest at 1,800 square feet. Across all generations, the largest share of buyers purchased in suburban areas (51%) and small towns (20%).
“Not surprisingly, younger generations typically upgraded in size and price while older generations purchased more affordable properties,” Lautz said. “The majority of all generations bought single-family homes at higher shares than other housing types, and younger buyers dispelled the myth that they are flocking to city centers. When it comes to location, the suburbs and small towns are the places to buy.”
Three out of five of recent buyers – 60% – were married couples, 19% were single females, 9% were single males and 9% were unmarried couples. The highest share of unmarried couples were younger millennials at 21%. Single-female buyers significantly outnumbered single-male buyers across all generations. The highest percentage of single-female buyers was in the silent generation at 27%.
The study also found that first-time home buying among younger generations is on the rise, with over 4 out of 5 younger millennial home buyers – 81% – purchasing for the first time. Just under half – 48% – of older millennial buyers were first-time buyers.
“While the pandemic allowed many potential buyers to save for a down payment, demographics played a key role,” Lautz said. “There is a wave of millennial buyers who are aging into the traditional first-time buyer age range.” Boomers made up the largest share of home sellers at 42%, although the percentage of millennial sellers is on the rise, increasing from 22% to 26% over the past year. Lautz noted that for the first time it is now more likely for an older millennial to be a first-time seller than a first-time buyer.
“Many factors can contribute to the decision to buy or sell a home,” Lautz continued. “For all home buyers under the age of 57, the main driver was the desire to own a home of their own. Among those 57 and older, the desire to be closer to friends and family was the top reason, followed by the desire for a smaller home.”
Younger generations tended to move shorter distances when relocating. Among all ages, there was a median of 15 miles from the homes where recent buyers previously resided and the homes that they purchased. That distance was lowest among younger millennials (10 miles) and highest among older boomers (35 miles).
Overall, buyers expected to live in their homes for 12 years, down from 15 years last year. For younger millennials and the silent generation, the expected duration was only 10 years, compared to 20 years for younger boomers.
Debt continues to be a significant barrier for many when attempting to buy a home. Both Generation X and younger boomers delayed purchasing a home for five years due to debt, the longest of all age groups. Younger millennials had the highest share of student debt at 45%, with a median amount of $28,000. Twenty-seven percent of younger millennials cited that saving for a down payment was the most challenging step in the home buying process, compared to just 1% for older boomers. Nearly one in three – 29% – of younger millennials received down payment help in the form of a gift or loan from a friend or relative and 24% lived with friends or family, directly saving on rental costs.
Despite this hurdle, a vast majority of buyers have a positive outlook on homeownership. Eighty-six percent of all buyers reported they viewed a home purchase as a good investment, and roughly nine out of 10 people – 89% – said that they would recommend their agent for future services.
“A truth across all generations is that homeownership is seen as a cornerstone of the American dream,” said NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith, a Realtor® from Plano, Texas, and a broker associate at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in Dallas. “From building personal wealth and fostering communities, to strengthening social stability and driving the national economy, the value of homeownership is indisputable. Home buyers continue to turn to Realtors® as a trusted resource for helping find the right home and successfully navigating this increasingly complex process.”
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
# # #1 Survey generational breakdowns:
Generation Z: (ages 18-22); younger Generation Y/millennials (ages 23-31); older Generation Y/millennials (ages 32-41); Generation X (ages 42-56); younger boomers (ages 57-66); older boomers (ages 67-75); and the silent generation (ages 76-96).
Source: National Association of Realtors
Bidding wars are the new normal for buying a home today. In desirable areas, there may be multiple offers, which might force you to up the ante in a dizzying quest to come out on top.
Yet in the heat of the moment, many buyers run the risk of becoming overzealous, making mistakes that cost them the deal—or worse, land them with a house they regret. Don’t be one of them!
Here are some common bidding war mistakes you might be particularly tempted to make in today’s crazy market, along with some smarter, saner alternatives to try.
1. Bidding every last penny you have
“The market in Seattle is so competitive these days that houses go for tens of thousands of dollars above the list price,” says Lily Lei, an agent with RSVP Real Estate, Powered by ERA, in Seattle. “I’ve had buyers who want to bid all the money in their budget in order to win a bidding war, and I counsel them away from it.”
“The house may require tens of thousands of dollars worth of repairs immediately, like a new roof or new plumbing,” Lei continues. “They would have no money left to cover these essential repairs.”
In a heated market, “the appraisal may come in low,” she says. This means the bank’s appraisal says the home is worth less than what you’ve agreed to pay for it.
“Then you’d need a higher down payment to make up the difference,” Lei explains.
What to do instead: “Unless my clients have families who can give them the extra funds, I advise them to hold back 10% to 40% beyond what they can actually afford,” says Lei. “If it’s a young couple who are out on their own, for example, and they have no other financial resources, I tell them, ‘Maybe this is just not the house for you. There will be others.’”
2. Bidding with many contingencies
“You should never get involved in a bidding war before your financing is in place and you know exactly where your money is coming from,” says Glenn Raynes, a Las Vegas real estate investor who has been involved in numerous bidding wars and won most of them.
He especially advises against having your offer be contingent upon the sale of your current house.
“The seller will always pick the bid with the fewest uncertainties,” says Raynes. He recalls that he once won a bidding war on a Huntington Beach home with the third-highest offer it received. The reason? He was an all-cash buyer, which meant a quick and seamless closing.
What to do instead: Most of us aren’t in a position to offer cash, but we can get pre-approved by a lender before we go into the bidding war. We can also make sure the sale of our current house doesn’t enter into the deal. You could sell and then rent prior to bidding on a new house—or possibly sell and request a lease-back agreement from the new owner.
“It’s seldom all about price,” says Raynes. “Find out what else is important to the seller and try to accommodate that better than anyone else.”
3. Bidding with no contingencies
Jared Blank and Kacey Bingham, managing partners of The Agency in Denver, have seen buyers get so excited while bidding that they release all contingencies. That includes waiving the right to a home inspection and the ability to back out of the deal if an inspection reveals major flaws.
What to do instead: “If buyers want to be competitive in this market, they need to compromise on a lot of things,” says Blank. But the inspection is not one of them. If you win the bid on a house that’s crumbling and you can’t back out, it’s no win at all.
Instead, bid as high as you can comfortably afford, and make compromises on things like the length of escrow and down payment. But never, ever sacrifice the right to inspection as a negotiation point.
4. Assuming you’ll get a second chance
“Here in the Chicagoland area, bidding wars just won’t quit,” notes Janice Corley, founder and CEO of Re/Max Collection Premier by Janice Corley, a Chicago-based real estate brokerage. “Very often, we see hopeful buyers lose out on their second chance.”
Prospective buyers think they’ll have more chances to raise their bid if needed, and they are often wrong about that, Corley explains.
What to do instead: “If you find yourself in a multiple-bid situation, I recommend writing your bid as if you will not have a second chance to negotiate,” Corley advises. Consider it one and done!
5. Using the term ‘best and final offer’
You see people using this term on real estate reality TV shows. (Translation: “Negotiation is done, and I’m not offering you one penny or concession more.”) But what works on TV doesn’t always work in real life.
In a bidding war, negotiations are never over until the seller is ready to throw in the towel.
“Never use the term ‘best and final’ because it usually isn’t the case,” according to Todd Miller at The Agency New Canaan, CT. “Once you use this term, the listing broker will not take you seriously if you actually counteroffer again.”
“There are other important negotiable things that the seller will probably take into consideration,” adds Cliff Smith, also at The Agency in New Canaan. “These include the closing date, a larger down payment, or potentially removing a contingency, etc. If the seller sees the term ‘best and final,’ they may not come back to your bid to see about altering any terms other than price to make the deal work. Instead, they may choose another offer.”
What to do instead: Even if you’ve bid as much as you can possibly afford, never tell the sellers that. They might take you at your word and cut you from the herd. There might be other contingencies you might be able to handle, like a few months of leasing the property back to the seller at a reasonable price. Sometimes sellers aren’t ready to move yet.
6. Using an escalation clause
An escalation clause automatically increases your purchase offer by a certain amount above all competing offers. This continues until the price reaches the maximum price you’ve determined you’re willing to pay for the home. In other words, you bid $500,000 on a house and write an escalation clause that tops the highest bid by $5,000, until the price reaches $550,000.
“Our agents are not big fans of escalation clauses,” says Don Mastroianni of The Agency North Shore Long Island.
This clause puts the bidding beyond your or your agent’s control. Also, it doesn’t take into consideration valuable contingencies beyond price that you or other bidders might be willing to add.
What to do instead: “We recommend clients give a very strong offer right from the start to be able to stand out from the competition,” says Mastroianni.
Make a strong entrance with a high bid, and you’ll never be forgotten.
7. Not knowing a home’s true value
Some buyers are hesitant to offer above the asking price in a bidding war, thinking that the home is not worth more than that. What they don’t realize is that sellers often intentionally price their home slightly below its true value to get a bidding war going and have potential buyers drive the price much higher in the heat of competition.
Meredith Schlosser of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Brentwood, CA, notes that buyers are less likely to win a bidding war if they “won’t step up to their highest price. Instead, they choose to believe the property is worth less.” As a result, they lose the house.
What to do instead: Refer to “numbers and proven stats that take into consideration the lack of inventory, market trends, how much the price of properties have increased in certain areas over time,” suggests Schlosser. “This will give you a better understanding of what the property is worth.”
Source: Realtor.com, Lisa Johnson Mandell
Use these tips to minimize noise, delineate space and establish personal boundaries in an open layout.
“Open-plan layout” is a generic term used in interior design and architecture for any floor plan that makes use of large, open spaces and minimizes the use of small, enclosed rooms. They are, for the most part, free of interior walls or partitions. Open floor plans became popular in the 1970s, but over the past year, as people have been isolated at home, all that openness is causing some to reconsider. It turns out those walls, partitions and other barriers are useful for minimizing noise and giving a visual and physical sense of privacy. Here are 15 ways you can create that separation in an open floor plan.
Toronto Interior Design Group
1. Arrange the Furniture
This is definitely the place to start when it comes to defining zones for your interior, and it likely won’t cost you a thing.
Turning the backs of chairs and sofas to the rest of a space is an immediate way to signal a separate area. Rearranging your furniture to carefully create cordoned intimate sections may be the most powerful tip for redefining an open layout.
For example, if your living room is alongside your dining room, make sure your sofa has its back to the table or that your chairs are facing the fireplace, like in the space shown here. This will create a notion of separateness.
Having textured portions of wall, like the dramatic stone fireplace here, also helps visually signal different areas.
Find an interior designer or decorator near your
Allard + Roberts Interior Design, Inc
Adding surfaces behind furniture zones can also create a barrier. A console table behind a sofa, like shown here, is a nice way to add height and definition.
The more height you add to your console table in terms of accessories and items you place on the surface, the more of a visual barrier you’ll create. Consider tall vases, high stacks of books and table lamps.
2. Add an Area Rug
Another strong way to create a visually distinct area is through the placement of rugs on floor surfaces. They also enhance your decor and add softness to the overall space. Rugs are also great for absorbing noise, which is helpful when multiple activities are happening in one space.
Be sure you select a rug that is the appropriate size. It should at least fit the main piece of furniture, such as a sofa, on it.
Shop for an area rug
Elton R Construction
If you’re unsure on what style of rug to go for, my recommendation would be a bold pop of color to really define the zone and give it a radically different personality.
Hyde Evans Design
3. Introduce a Folding Screen
One low-commitment way to divide a space is with a decorative folding screen. These vertical barrier pieces can also inject pattern and color into a room. And they can be easily moved around to other areas of the home or taken out completely when you’re ready for a full open floor plan again.
Notice how the screen here creates an intimate seating area while adding color and pattern. The striking light fixture carries weight and also helps define this space. At night, the light will punctuate the zone even more.
Rob Stuart Interiors
4. Accent the Ceiling
Sometimes the best ideas come from above. The inset ceiling in this living room is dressed in wallpaper and finished with multiple bulb lights. This feature stylishly characterizes the sitting area.
For a more subtle but still effective approach, consider enhancing a ceiling with paint or molding.
5. Use a Bookcase
I love the idea of using an open bookcase to separate areas because it serves double duty: division and storage. Be cautious how you dress the shelves, though. I highly recommend that you do not stuff your bookcase to the gills. Leave some open space to allow brightness to filter through and highlight the objects.
Also, choose a high-quality, sturdy unit. This is not a piece to skimp on because you do not want this unit to tip over. You should always anchor and secure a freestanding unit that you’re using between spaces. Or, as in the example shown here, the bookcase unit is attached to the ceiling above and a pony wall below, ensuring it stays in place.
You could also consider a solid bookcase, which will create a more definitive separation. In that option, you could place two bookcases back to back, so you have storage on both sides or hang art on the back of one bookcase.
To keep some sightlines open, a lower storage unit like the one shown here may be right for you.
This two-sided, floor-to-ceiling shelving unit offers storage and separation between a living room and kitchen. Anchoring the TV onto the unit helps really define the areas.
6. Put In Drapery
Curtains can go far beyond just dressing your windows. They can make a plush room divider too. It’s a look that will create softness and enhance a room’s ambiance. But because there’s no standard size curtain and rod for a room application, going custom is probably the best route.
You can opt for opaque fabric to add a complete barrier or choose sheers like in this room to keep things feeling somewhat airy. Sheers come in a variety of light-filtering options so you can customize the brightness level you’re going for.
Fuse Concept Pte Ltd
7. Install a Decorative Divider
A stylish fixed screen divider is an elegant way to break up a room. It can also add an arty feature to your space. Consider your surrounding design and architectural elements when selecting the pattern, color and material for a fixed screen. You want it to feel intentional, as if the divider was always part of the space rather than an afterthought.
Here, classic midcentury modern-style breeze blocks coordinate with the Eames-style dowel leg chairs and other midcentury-inspired details.
Images Of Interiors // Photography
This geometric metal divider pairs beautifully with the clean-lined contemporary kitchen.
Keep in mind that the less dense your pattern, the more you’ll see the adjacent zone, so really think about how you’ll be using the spaces side by side to help inform your design needs for a divider.
The size of your divider is also important for comfort and accessibility. The average opening width considered adequate between spaces is within a range of 42 to 48 inches. So you don’t want a divider to encroach on those pathways.
Sarah Natsumi Moore
8. Incorporate Plants
A large leafy green tree can add a lively optical barrier. The ficus tree in this home in Austin, Texas, helps separate a living area from a dining spot. Also, notice how the homeowners painted a single wall on the left a different color than the other walls to signify a transition space.
Jessica Helgerson Interior Design
An indoor planter box is also a great way to create some delineation while keeping some sightlines open.
Jo Cowen Architects
9. Put Up a Glass Partition
A glass partition helps block noise while letting light pass between spaces. If you want to obscure the view to further separate rooms, consider etched or textured glass.
Cherie Lee Interiors
You can also create a full glass wall with doors. This keeps the feel of the open plan intact but allows a user to shut the doors and listen to music or take a phone call without disturbing, or being disturbed by, activities in the adjacent room.
Jamie Bush & Co.
Another alternative is vertical glass louvers that can be rotated. If you’ve got nearby operable windows, the louvers can be turned so the breeze flows right through. You can also create moody features with shadows and lighting, depending on how you pivot each panel.
Nick Noyes Architecture
10. Build a Wall
It might seem counterintuitive to put up a wall where one was previously taken down or add one to a new-build home intended to be open, but sometimes you have to be honest about how you use your home and what your needs are.
And you don’t have to add a full wall. Sometimes a pony wall or a partition wall like the orange one shown here that stops just short of the ceiling is enough. Plus, a simple non-load-bearing wall made with two-by-fours and drywall is relatively easy to put up and take down.
Also, notice the decorative divider used in this space.
Gaia Construction Inc.
11. Take It to the Next Level
Changing the level of a room or creating a sunken room is a method that will definitively separate spaces within an open layout. A level change down from a main floor area can offer increased headroom and a feeling of spaciousness. A level change up will create a more intimate space.
Keep in mind that level changes in homes can be difficult to navigate for people with mobility issues, so always consider handrails or other support structures.
12. Create a Kitchen Island
If your kitchen feels too open to surrounding rooms, like if you’re trying to cook and guests or family members keep coming in and getting in the way, investing in an island could be right for you.
An island forms a barrier that keeps people on one side and the chef on the other. It also visually denotes the separation of spaces. Counter stools will further highlight the boundary point, but also consider placing a small beverage fridge on the outer side or end to let guests grab a drink without needing to come fully into the kitchen to the main fridge and potentially get in the way of the cook.
For a less permanent option, consider an island on casters that can be locked or unlocked, allowing you to push the piece out of the way to create a more open feel as needed.
13. Design an Artsy Feature
If you lack wall space to hang artwork because of an abundance of windows (not a bad problem to have), consider creating, or hiring an artist to create, an art installation that separates rooms.
In this Montana home, an installation of what appears to be birch trees and trunks cordons off the dining area from the living room. Also, notice how the level change defines the spaces, as does the large light fixture over the dining table.
Eddie Lee Inc.
In this New York loft, twisted floor-to-ceiling sculptures add drama and designation to the open layout.
Kerman Morris Architects, LLP
14. Incorporate Sliding Panels
Sliding doors are popular for fully opening up interiors to outdoor spaces, but the concept can just as easily be applied to interior spaces.
In this San Francisco home, sliding panels can completely shut off or open up a workspace to the main living areas.
For this arrangement, you need bulkheads or another system for supporting the tracks from which the panels hang. If tracks are going in the floor, that’s something that will require extra thought and planning. Also, keep in mind that some setups might be more difficult to clean than others, so it’s worth doing your homework. If the panels permanently overlap, for example, it can be hard to clean the space between them. If the tracks are on the floor, dirt and other debris can settle in the nooks.
15. Construct a Two-Sided Fireplace
A two-sided fireplace is perhaps the coziest and most inviting option of the bunch. Fireplaces always create a striking focal point, and a two-sided option has the advantage of distributing heat and ambiance more evenly to two areas than if it was against one wall at the end of a large open room.
You can also consider bio-ethanol or electric options that don’t require a chimney.
The housing market is a sizzling seller’s game at the moment, where homes stand to spark bidding wars and sell for sky-high prices.
“COVID-19 caused so many people to re-evaluate their shelter needs, resulting in increased demand for homes and a continued lack of inventory,” explains Lindsay Reishman, founding partner at The Reishman Group in Washington, DC.
All in all, this is great news for sellers—yet with soaring prices and high expectations come a whole new set of possible pitfalls that could trip up inexperienced sellers, particularly if they’re selling for the first time.
Curious how you might risk ruining a good thing? We asked some real estate experts to identify what many first-time home sellers get wrong when listing their home today.
1. Overpricing your property
Just because sellers dominate now, don’t think “red-hot market = super high list price.” A smarter strategy is to list lower than your goal and let the market do its magic.
“First-time sellers often erroneously believe that the list price means the desired purchase price,” Reishman says. “In fact, the list price simply indicates an approximate appropriate price, and its purpose is to drive interest in the property.”
The greater the interest, the more likely the price will climb as eager buyers bid on it. You’re more likely to get interest with a lower asking price.
2. Skimping on home showings
In our not-quite-post-pandemic era, some homeowners may list their property, then feel skittish about having strangers traipse through. To cash in, however, you can’t wait it out.
“As soon as the house is listed, it’s vital to allow as many qualified buyers view it as possible, to help build demand,” says Jonathan Faccone, managing member of the Halo Homebuyers company, based in Bridgewater, NJ. “A seller has a fairly short time window to do this effectively, since if the house sits on the market, buyers may assume something is wrong with it.”
If you’re truly uncomfortable with in-person showings or have serious scheduling conflicts, virtual tours may separate out looky-loos from truly interested parties. Then, once you know you have a prospective buyer who loves your listing, you can have them scheduled for a (masked) showing.
3. Staging slip-ups
With houses selling so fast, you may think you needn’t bother with professional staging. Still, if you want to fetch that dream price that you’ve heard is within reach, it could pay to present your home perfectly, with some professional home-staging help.
“In my recent experience, staging can reduce a property’s time on the market considerably and have a 1% to 5% increase in value offered by buyers,” says Stephen Keighery, CEO of Home Buyers Louisiana.
Today’s market is keeping these interior design pros busy—as in booked solid for months in advance. So plan ahead.
4. Seeing only dollar signs
A big payoff is tantalizing, but money isn’t everything.
“Many people look at price as the end-all-be-all, but a smart seller considers a variety of factors to make an educated decision,” says Aaron Carroll, a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman in Dallas. “For instance, the highest offer may have a loan with an appraisal contingency, while a somewhat lower offer might be in cash.”
Perhaps the bidders with the highest offer need to sell their home first. That could mean a slow or snag-filled deal. You might be better off taking a slightly lower offer.
5. Pouncing on an implausible offer
Guess what: Buyers know it’s a seller’s market too, so some may make ginormous bids to beat out the competition—offers that can fall apart in financing or upon appraisal or inspection.
“In this market, it’s not uncommon for a buyer to submit an offer for a home, sight unseen,” says Deborah Ann Spence, a broker at Fierce Real Estate Corp. in Bala Cynwyd, PA. “Then, if the buyer doesn’t like what he eventually does see, the offer can be withdrawn, and the property is likely to lose traction.”
The takeaway? If something seems too good to be true, it usually is! Work with your real estate agent to understand who is bidding and how serious they are, to avoid having your deal unravel.
6. FSBO blunders
While “For sale by owner” sounds like a direct route to extra profit, cutting brokers out of the picture is a risk.
“Today’s rookie sellers may be tempted to try selling their house on their own,” says Faccone, to save the agent’s commission. “But doing so severely limits your exposure.”
FSBO homes, after all, can’t be listed on the Multiple Listing Service, which is where most buyers shop for homes. And this exposure is crucial if you want to reach a large audience and fetch the best price.
“At the very least, put the house on your local MLS [multiple listing service] through a flat-fee listing agency,” says Faccone. “You’ll still be responsible for the commission to the buyer’s agent, but by reaching more potential buyers, you’re apt to get a higher price.”
Also, in this era of bidding wars, having an agent at your side is a huge help. Navigating a flurry of “highest and best offer” bids is tough for a rookie!
7. Spacing out on the new place
So you’re all set to sell your house—great! Now, what’s your next move? Avoid winding up with an anxious buyer on one hand and no place to go on the other.
“It can be hard to find the right new home now, so start searching immediately once your property comes to the market,” Reishman says. “Then be sure to negotiate an extended closing or leaseback, or even make the sale contingent upon purchasing another home.”
If all else fails, line up a rental.
8. Assuming this hot market will last
Inexperienced sellers may turn down a worthy offer or even forestall listing their home, hoping prices will continue to go up. While it may take a while for the seller’s market to top out, interest rates are expected to creep up this year, which could reduce the pool of hungry buyers.
“Generally speaking, now is a good time to both buy and sell, with historically low interest rates fueling activity,” says Reishman. “But with rates on the rise, I anticipate the velocity of transactions to slow down. Overall, I encourage my clients not to try to time the market, but to let their own specific housing needs dictate what they do.”
Source: Realtor.com, Nina Malkin
This real estate market is unlike anything we have ever seen before. With too few homes for too many buyers, bidding wars are common, driving up prices. Adding to the pressure, mortgage interest rates have shot up, and just crossed the 4% threshold for the first time since 2019.
Rates averaged 4.16% for 30-year, fixed-rate loans in the week ending March 17, according to Freddie Mac. That was a significant bump.
This pressure cooker situation has completely changed the rules of financing a home, and savvy borrowers can’t just do things the way they have in the past. To help, we asked lenders to share the new rules for getting a mortgage today, as well as the old rules to ditch.
Heed the following advice, and you’ll gain the edge in this ultracompetitive market.
Old rule: Nab the best interest rate without paying points
New rule: Purchase points for a lower rate
In recent years, when mortgage rates were lingering at historic lows, there was no need to use points to buy down that percentage of interest charged. But now, with interest rates rising, “buying mortgage points is a simple way to lower your mortgage’s interest rate and save money long term. If you have the extra funds at the time of closing, it can be worth it to buy mortgage points,” says Daniel Osman, head of sales at Balance Homes. “This will lower your monthly house payment and save you money long term.”
Let’s spell out how this works in a little more detail: Points are an upfront fee you pay to get a lower rate over the life of your home loan. Typically, 1 point lowers your mortgage rate by 0.25% and it costs 1% of your loan amount. So if the current interest rate is, say, 4% on a $500,000 loan, if you pay 1 point, or $5,000, upfront, your interest rate will be reduced to 3.75%.
But does it really save me money, you might be asking? It sure does. Here’s some math for you: If you obtain a mortgage for $500,000 on a $600,000 home at a 4% lending rate, then pay 1%, or $5,000, to lower your rate to 3.75%, you’ll pay $71.50 less per month and save over $25,000 over the loan’s life. That’s a wise move, says our math.
Old rule: Get a pre-approval before submitting an offer
New rule: Ask for a mortgage commitment instead
If you are at all familiar with the homebuying process, you are probably aware that getting a pre-approval is essential before submitting an offer. After all, a pre-approval tells the seller that a lender believes that you will be eligible for financing once your application has been reviewed by an underwriter.
However, to get an edge in today’s market, you may want to ask your lender for a mortgage commitment instead.
“A mortgage commitment is granted by an official underwriter. This means that there will be fewer conditions on the buyer’s financing,” explains Robert Killinger, a senior loan officer with inside sales at Mortgage Network in Boston. “It allows the transaction to move more seamlessly and for the seller to receive their money faster.”
That said, Killinger warns that getting a mortgage commitment takes a bit longer than simply asking your lender for a pre-approval.
“Borrowers typically need to supply all supporting income and asset documents to the lender. Those documents then have to be reviewed and signed off on by a member of the underwriting team.”
In other words, if you’re going this route, you need to plan in advance.
Old rule: Target homes at prices you can afford
New rule: Target homes at prices below your top budget
In the past, buyers were able to let list prices reflect how much they would probably pay for a property. However, these days, inventory is so limited that prices are rising quickly. Buyers are offering well over the listing figure in order to win. In this environment, it’s incredibly easy to spend more than you can afford on a home.
To avoid getting in over your head, work closely with a mortgage lender (or broker) well before you start making offers.
According to Nicole Rueth, senior vice president and producing branch manager of the Rueth Team with Fairway Mortgage in Englewood, CO, you should collaborate with your lender to set a budget as you seek pre-approval.
“Buyers should have very honest conversations with their lender about what they can and cannot afford,” she advises. “They should make sure to factor in that they will most likely have to offer above each property’s list price. Then, once they have a better idea of what they can realistically afford and they know their limits, they’ll be ready to make a strong offer when they find the house they want.”
Jerry Koors, president of Merchants Mortgage, a division of Merchants Bank of Indiana in Carmel, cautions that buyers today will also need to factor rising interest rates into their budget.
“Lenders should be able to estimate what their clients can afford by interest rate,” he says. “Sharing that information will ensure that borrowers know what to expect if rates continue to rise and how an increase will affect their buying power.”
Put simply, no matter what your budget ends up being, the more information you can gather before entering this crazy market, the better.
Old rule: Don’t bother with down payment assistance
New rule: Take all the help you can get
Traditionally, down payment assistance programs were meant to help first-time homebuyers and those with lower incomes access homeownership. Many of these programs still have requirements that must be met in order to receive the funds. Given how tight and tough the housing market currently is, you may want to investigate whether or not you qualify.
“Buying a home is a huge financial undertaking, especially in competitive markets like the one we’re experiencing,” says Sean Grzebin, head of consumer originations with Chase Home Lending in Jacksonville, FL. “Buyers who are having trouble coming up with the cash for their down payment and closing costs should ask their lender about available down payment assistance programs. Often, these programs can help cover those costs by providing grants or other forms of financial assistance.”
Bottom line: It never hurts to ask! With home prices going through the roof, every little bit of assistance helps.
Old rule: All loan programs are created equal
New rule: If possible, choose conventional financing
Offers with financing used to be viewed as all pretty much the same. It didn’t matter whether you were using a Federal Housing Administration loan, a Veterans Affairs loan, or a conventional loan to buy the property. In each case, you had roughly the same amount of bargaining power as everyone else who needed a mortgage.
These days, however, the game has changed. Sellers are definitely revealing their preferences.
According to Rick Robertson, a certified mortgage planning specialist with Axia Home Loans in Bellevue, WA, buyers should opt for conventional financing whenever possible in order to give themselves a leg up in this tough market.
“If there are multiple offers, conventional financing usually wins,” he says. “Conventional financing typically offers more flexibility and latitude than FHA and VA loan programs. For example, satisfying the appraisal requirements on a government-backed loan can be more challenging than a conventional financing appraisal. Certain types of properties, particularly condominiums, may also impose additional financing requirements if an FHA or VA loan is involved.”
Unfortunately, bidding wars are more common than not these days. In order to put yourself in the best possible bargaining position, you’ll need to make things as easy as possible for the seller. While a conventional loan program may not be an option for every buyer, if one is available to you, you should consider that first.
Source: Realtor.com, Tara Mastroeni
When your home’s for sale, you want it to sell quickly—and preferably, above the asking price. And I’ve never met (or even heard of) a homeowner who was disappointed that their property inspired a bidding war. However, even in a seller’s market, there are things you need to do in advance to position your home to be in such an enviable position.
Here are nine home improvement projects our experts recommend tackling before putting your house on the market. Complete these projects to boost your home’s selling price.
Apply a fresh coat of paint
Unless you’ve recently painted it, your home could use a fresh coat (or two) of paint. Over time, walls experience a lot of wear and tear and can also get dingy. Christopher Totaro, an agent at Warburg Realty, says he’s always surprised when a seller looks at him sideways and says, “You want me to do what?” But he explains that painting the home is a must. “You have lived in your home for 10 years, have four kids, and you expect to bring top dollar, so yes, I am suggesting that you paint.” Totaro says painting the home makes it stand out from other properties and can help to reduce the time on the market.
Since you see the house every day, it’s easy to overlook problems that may jump out to buyers. “Often, a wall can be scraped or peeling, and sometimes, previous water damage was left unattended,” explains Mihal Gartenberg, another agent at Warburg Realty.
Also, if you have accent walls, she recommends painting them white. “Let the buyer imagine the color they want the wall to be,” she says. That way, they won’t get distracted by having to add repainting to the to-do list for their new home.
Wash the windows
Another part of your home that may be overlooked because you’re accustomed to viewing it: your windows. “Break out the #0000 steel wool, Windex, and scrub and polish those windows,” advises Totaro. “If you’ve ever replaced the windshield in your car after driving for a decade viewing through a dirty, pitted windshield, that new glass makes it seem like you are driving a new car, and the same applies to the windows in your home.”
You may need a power cleaner for the window exteriors. In fact, Ryan Dalzell, a realtor with the Dalzell Group in San Diego, recommends calling in the pros. “Having windows professionally cleaned prior to showing the house will help bring in natural light and allow buyers to take in any view the property offers.”
Do a deep clean
Commence operation deep clean, recommends Dennis Hsii, co-founder and realtor at Highland Premiere Real Estate in Los Angeles. You know how to clean your house; you may not enjoy it, but you know how to do it right. A true deep clean means grabbing a ladder to remove the dust collected on ceiling fan blades and on hanging picture frames, all the way down to the baseboards. Clean the interior and surroundings of your oven, and your refrigerator should sparkle. Lastly, replace the filters for your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
Declutter, declutter, declutter
Another project that costs nothing (except some time) but pays big dividends is doing a room-by-room decluttering, suggests Dalzell. Every buyer loves going into model homes because they are perfectly staged, and while that’s a tough standard to meet, just clearing off countertops, boxing up extra picture frames and decorations, and thinning out some furniture will make rooms appear bigger and allow the buyer to imagine their own furniture in the living spaces.
Pump up the curb appeal
Landscaping is the first impression a potential buyer has of your home. Your local garden center can provide expert advice for inexpensive seasonal plants and ground cover ideas. Your front yard can be transformed to create that “wow” factor for not a lot of effort, says Hsii.
Dalzell agrees, recommending that home sellers put fresh mulch around plants, reseed the bare patches on the lawn, and add some colorful flowers to the garden beds to really brighten up the look of the house. Remember: curb appeal sets the buyers’ expectations for what they’ll see inside the house.
Address pesky pests
A project that sellers sometimes overlook is pest control, warns Gartenberg. Are there signs of pests in your home? If so, clean up those signs and call a pest control company to take care of the project. This is ongoing. Sellers will want to know where the major pest issues are in their home and continue to monitor them for any ongoing activity.
Minimize pet paraphenalia
“Just as sellers would be advised to minimize the effect of young children’s toys strewn about the home, they should do the same with pets and their toys, accessories, furniture, etc.,” says Gartenberg. Before potential buyers view the property, make an effect to declutter the pet supplies and keep them out of sight whenever possible.
Upgrade your cabinets
Since the largest (and oftentimes, most costly) component in a kitchen is the cabinets, refreshing them is a great way to update your space, says Pamela O’Brien, principal designer at Pamela Hope Designs in Houston. “Options range from simply painting stained or painted cabinets, to replacing the doors and drawers with a new style. For a very budget-friendly refresh, scrub your cabinets and polish them with a cabinet restorer. Finish them off with new hardware to update your look.”
Daren Herzberg, a licensed associate real estate broker and co-founder of the Babst + Herzberg Team at Compass in NYC, agrees that refreshing a cabinet can give a new look without a major remodel. “By just repainting cabinet fronts and replacing hardware, the kitchen can look largely redone without any real construction.” If the cabinet style itself is outdated, consider replacing just the fronts, which is much more cost effective than brand-new cabinets.
Add a backsplash
Several of our real estate experts agree: a new backsplash is a smart way to update a dated kitchen. “A backsplash is often overlooked, but can be a very impactful part of the design palette for a kitchen,” says Herzberg. “The average backsplash is 30 square feet and nice new tile can be had for only a few bucks a foot. So for a few hundred dollars including installation, this can provide a huge aesthetic upgrade to an older kitchen.”
“The trendiest new tile is fun, but for time-tested, long-term good looks, a simple backsplash in a neutral subway tile always works,” suggests O’Brien. “You can mix it up a bit by selecting a larger or irregularly sized subway tile and considering a pattern, such as installing them vertically or in a herringbone or basketweave pattern.”
“The main purpose of a backsplash is to protect your walls from grease and other stains while you are cooking, but why not have some fun with it?” says Lanna Ali-Hassan, owner and principal designer of Beyond the Box Interiors in Washington, DC. Subway tile in unexpected patterns and contrasting grout can keep it classic, while infusing a little more personality.
Source: Real Simple, Terri Williams
For most people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where families come together for meals (even the dog!), kids do their homework and often crafts, and games are played and days are talked about. This high-traffic area can get pretty dirty pretty quickly, but since its central function is as a place to store and prepare food safely, it is ultra important that it stays clean as a whistle. The good news is that learning how to clean your kitchen isn’t overly complicated. In fact, it can be rather simple when you follow orderly steps. Whether you need to find out how to clean stainless steel or how to clean your dishwasher, we have the answers. Just remember that it’s crucial to keep a consistent cleaning schedule for yourself and your family. Then, once you have your kitchen cleaning down to a science, you can start work on kitchen organization.
PC PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES
Most professional cleaners start from the top and work their way down. That way, all the dust and debris fall to the ground, explains Sarah Karakaian, a home rental consultant who uses her cleaning and house-staging expertise to help clients improve their rental properties. “The last thing you want to do is spend an hour mopping your floor only to have dust from the top of your light fixture or cabinet dot the floor,” she says.
How you clean a light fixture will depend on what type it is. Chandeliers can be dusted and/or sprayed with a drip-dry crystal cleaning solution, while pendant light fixtures can be wiped down with a splash of vinegar and a microfiber cloth. Safety note: Before cleaning any light fixture, make sure it’s turned off and the bulb is cool. If you need help reaching it, use a step ladder, not your kitchen chair or another piece of furniture.
After you’ve cleaned the light fixtures, start on any crown molding on your cabinets. Wipe the dust off the top with a microfiber cloth and work your way down the cabinet door. To clean away grease, fingerprints, or any other spots or stains, try washing the doors with a few drops of Dawn in water and a microfiber cloth. “Avoid abrasive cleaning products that could damage your cabinet finish,” Karakaian says.
If that doesn’t work, create a paste of water and Tide Powder, apply it to the spot and let it sit for a few minutes, before lightly rinsing and then wiping away with a microfiber cloth, she recommends.
Pay special attention to cabinets near the stove, oven, and microwave, as they may have food splashes on them. Another area on cabinets that’s often forgotten is the wood detailing, Karakaian says. “These tight spots can get very dusty.” A clean, soft toothbrush and the dish soap mixture can help you get the nooks and crannies clean.
CHARDAY PENN/GETTY IMAGES
To clean countertops made of natural stone, such as quartz or granite, use simple dish soap—Karakaian prefers Dawn—and water to gently rinse away any particles with a microfiber rag; never use a harsh, abrasive sponge. The same process works for laminate counters.
For caked-on gunk, carefully use a razor to loosen the substance, then clean as normal. Rings from a wine glass or a coffee stain can be erased by letting a dash of Bar Keeper’s Friend sit on the surface for a few minutes before wiping it away with a cloth and warm water. For an even faster fix, the Magic Eraser will buff that red wine stain out in a jiffy.
To clean chrome, stainless steel, or metal finishes on the sink, Karakaian likes to use Bar Keeper’s Friend powder, letting it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a cloth. You’d be surprised at how much grime builds up right by the drain, so spend a bit more attention on that area. For a natural alternative, sprinkle a bit of baking soda, let sit for a minute or two, then scrub. While you’re at it, also remember to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal
Deep cleaning a dishwasher takes a bit of time and elbow grease, but luckily, it doesn’t have to be done too frequently—about once every month should do it, depending on the model and the type of water you have. The exterior, however, is a completely different story. Grimy fingerprints, food splashes, and hard-water stains stick like crazy to stainless steel. Clorox scientist and cleaning expert Mary Gagliardi suggests wiping down the exterior with a Clorox Wipe, paying special attention to the areas around the seal, which tend to harbor bacteria, and the hinges, which can be hard to reach.
Cleaning your stove top is vital—not only because a dirty stove top looks bad, but also because food splatters contain bacteria and can lead to grease buildup, says Johnny Pallares, owner of De La Rosa House Cleaning. Bacteria, particularly from raw chicken, meat, or seafood, can lead to food poisoning, while grease can lead to a grease fire. That’s why you need to clean and disinfect your stove top.
How you clean your stove top depends on which type of stove top you have. In general, warm water with a few drops of dish soap and a microfiber towel are enough to tackle the job. For hardened food stains on a glass electric cooktop, use a small razor blade to gently chip away the spot, Karakaian says.
PAUL BIRIS/GETTY IMAGES
Plan on cleaning the exterior of your fridge weekly to wipe down smudges and fingerprints, especially on and around the handles. Water and dish soap wiped on and off with a microfiber towel works for stainless steel. If it’s very dirty, use Bar Keeper’s Friend.
As for the inside, aim to clean your refrigerator once a month by removing all the food and tossing anything that’s old or expired, then wiping down the shelves and drawers.
ALFRED EVELINA/GETTY IMAGES
The first step to cleaning your kitchen floor is to sweep or vacuum thoroughly. Next, “use the thin-nose nozzle attachment and vacuum all the crevices and corners, and up to the baseboards,” Karakaian says. Be sure to hit right under the oven and refrigerator, as well as other spots where crumbs frequently land.
If the floor is tiled and you’re going to clean your grout, whip up a thick paste of baking soda and water, or Dawn and water, and attach a microfiber cloth to a mopping tool, like a Swiffer or Bona. Glide the mop across the floor, left to right and top to bottom, catching all the dust and other particles. Vacuum up whatever doesn’t stick to the cloth.
The more often you use it, the more you’ll need to clean your microwave. If it’s only mildly dirty, try simple soap and water on the inside and out. If there are grease or food splatters on the inside, fill a microwave-safe bowl filled with equal parts vinegar and water, place it in the microwave, and heat for one minute, says Karakaian. Let it sit undisturbed for another minute before carefully removing—it could be hot. This process loosens all the gunk stuck to the sides and top of the microwave, so wiping it clean should be easier. Don’t forget to remove the turntable and wash it with soap and water.
Though the exact steps you’ll take to clean your coffee maker are a bit different if you have a Keurig machine, the general idea is the same. Have white vinegar on hand—it’s food-safe and good for cleaning both the interior and exterior of your coffee maker (though you’ll want to check your specific model’s user manual first). In most cases, you can use a vinegar solution to clean the inside of your appliance and also descale it. To clean the exterior of a stainless steel or plastic coffee maker, make a mixture of one part vinegar to one part water, spray it down, and then wipe away any coffee stains or fingerprints. If your carafe is dishwasher-safe, go ahead and run it through a cycle.
Source: Readers Digest, Kaitlin Clark
A favorite pastime of many buyers scrolling through real estate listings—or walking through an open house—is fantasizing about what life could be like in that home.
You might spot a swanky “Mad Men”–style bar that would be perfect for book club nights. Or maybe you’ll begin planning the feasts you could whip up with that six-burner stove! And what about the garden’s burbling fountain? Ah, that sound would be perfect for falling asleep to every night.
But here’s the thing every buyer should know: When it comes to house hunting, what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. Indeed a seller can rightfully haul off some items you may think automatically come with a house you purchase. So here’s a helpful reality check before your imagination runs too wild. (Bonus: We share tips to keeping some of those fixtures you absolutely love.)
What’s included in a home sale?
Precisely what comes with a home is not cut and dried, and each state has its own set of guidelines regarding this issue. But there are some guiding principles.
“If an item is attached, it is considered a fixture and by default should stay with the house,” says Dj Olhausen, an agent with Realty ONE Group in San Diego. “On the other hand, if an item is not attached, it may very well leave with the seller.”
If that still seems vague, “fixture” is a real estate term used to describe items that are physically attached to the house via nails, screws, bolts, glue, cement, or electrical wiring. Standard fixtures inside the home include ceiling fans, blinds, plumbing and heating elements, and built-in appliances. Outside the four walls, items that generally stay put include mailboxes, shutters, backyard office sheds, and in-ground landscaping.
You might assume a refrigerator that looks built-in stays with the house or that the sellers will take their kid’s swingset with them. That’s where the acronym MARIA can help you identify fixtures:
- Method of attachment: If you need tools to remove the item, it’s probably permanently attached and considered a fixture. That’s why curtain rods stay with the home, but the curtains—which can be easily slipped off—usually go with the seller.
- Adaptability: If an item is adapted to be an integral part of the home, even if it isn’t physically attached, it usually stays. Examples include garage remotes, pool covers, lightbulbs, and even a floating floor.
- Relationship of the parties: In a dispute over what stays, it comes down to whether the seller installed what appears to be a permanent fixture. So if a home has shutters, the buyer can argue those were meant to be a forever fixture and should stay behind.
- Intention: Similar to above, if it seems the homeowner intended for the object in question to be a permanent part of the property, it stays. For instance, a desk in a home office specifically built to fit into an alcove—even though it isn’t bolted down—could be deemed a fixture.
- Agreement: When in doubt, refer to the purchase agreement to determine what’s included in the sale and what isn’t.
Just keep in mind there are some common-sense exceptions to the definition of “attached to the property.” For example, let’s say the owners have a dresser that’s bolted to the wall to prevent it from toppling over on a toddler, or they have bookcases attached with earthquake straps to keep them from tipping over. In those cases, the actual furniture isn’t considered a fixture.
What about outside the home?
“In general, any object attached to the ground is considered a fixture, while anything that can be moved freely will be deemed personal property,” says Olhausen.
Still, when you are touring a home, it may not be apparent if something is attached or not.
“So when it comes to deciding if an outdoor item is viewed as a fixture or someone’s property, ask yourself if it can easily be removed without the use of tools,” says Olhausen.
For example, electric vehicles typically require hardwiring and electrical system upgrades for a charging station.
“I have found that some sellers are taking the connector [a portable, plug-in charger], but the electrical setup stays with the property,” says Wendy Gladson, a real estate consultant at Compass in Marina del Ray, CA.
Personal property that will definitely leave on moving day includes items like potted plants, sheds that lay freely on the ground, or any item that can be moved without being disassembled, according to Olhausen.
Everything is negotiable
You may really want that coat and shoe organization unit that fits perfectly in the entry hall or maybe that beer fridge in the man cave. So remember, there is wiggle room when it comes to what stays and what goes in a home sale.
However, the local housing market may dictate how far you get when you try to negotiate. In a cooler market, buyers have more leverage when asking for items. But you might not get the extras you want in a hot seller’s market.
If you’re still confused, don’t worry—you’re not on your own trying to figure out what stays or goes. Your buyer’s agent will know what fixture exclusions are explicitly stated in the multiple listing service, and will also help you negotiate for items you want.
“Just do not assume anything,” says Suzi Dailey an agent with Realty ONE Luxe, in Laguna Niguel, CA. “If you want something, it should be written into the contract.”
Source: Realtor.com, Lisa Marie Conklin