Lisa Phillips | Gloucester Real Estate, Essex Real Estate, Rockport Real Estate


While many homes are sold on the basis of emotional appeal or location, there are plenty of other factors which can help tip the scales in your direction. As a home seller, the more advantages and desirable features you can offer to potential buyers, the greater your chances of attracting multiple offers.

If your kitchen and bathrooms haven't been updated for decades, that could easily become a major stumbling block to attracting qualified buyers. Unless their plan is to remodel your kitchen after they buy your home (which is not likely), house hunters are generally not going to look kindly upon old laminate counter tops -- especially those with the ghastly colors from the sixties and seventies! The good news about making your outdated kitchen and home more marketable is that you have the option of resurfacing old countertops rather that completely replacing them.

Although it's generally a good idea to have professionals do this, you can cosmetically improve the appearance of your kitchen countertops by resurfacing them with granite sheets or tile. Resurfacing is also a relatively inexpensive way to help restore aging kitchen cabinets -- another aspect of your home that potential buyers are going to notice.

According to a recent study, quite a few buyers are drawn to features like stainless steel appliances, subway tiles, farmhouse sinks, Shaker cabinets, exposed brick, pendant lights, and quartz countertops. By the way, Quartz does offer some advantages over granite because it's more scratch resistant, maintenance free, and doesn't need to be sealed or polished.

Other features which attract home buyers include energy-efficient windows and appliances, sufficient insulation in attic and elsewhere (many older homes lack this), low-maintenance flooring (not carpeting), roofing that's been replaced within the past decade, finished or semi-finished basements, first-floor/separate laundry rooms, newer hot water heaters (extra points for tankless units), outdoor security lighting, fenced backyards, and dry basements. If you do have issues with excess moisture or leaks in your basement, it may be helpful to install a sump pump, a dehumidifier, French drains, or other dry basement remedies to address those issues before they're brought up by prospective buyers.

While there are certain aspects of your property that can not be changed, such as proximity to neighbors or the school district in which you're located, their are plenty of cost effective ways to improve the appearance and functionality of your home before you try to sell it. To identify problems before they become obstacles, some homeowners hire a property inspector to point out issues. That way, they're not blindsided by unexpected structural, mechanical, electrical, drainage, or energy conservation issues they might not be aware of. In addition to a reputable property inspector, a seasoned real estate agent can also be one of your best advisors when you're ready to put your home on the market.


Selling a house may prove to be difficult, particularly for those who are competing against dozens of rival sellers in the same city or town. Fortunately, there are lots of things that you can do to gain a competitive advantage over rivals in a fierce housing market.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get a leg up on the home selling competition.

1. Focus on Curb Appeal

How your residence looks to buyers can have far-flung effects on the house selling journey. Thus, if you allocate time and resources to upgrade your house's curb appeal, you can differentiate your home from all others in your area. And as a result, you could speed up the home selling cycle.

To enhance your home's curb appeal, eliminate clutter and debris in front of your residence. Also, if there is any damaged home siding, you should fix this problem.

If you are unsure about how to improve your home's curb appeal on your own, you can always hire professionals to help you out, too. These professionals will take the guesswork out of home exterior improvements and allow you to upgrade your residence's curb appeal without delay.

2. Set an Aggressive Initial Asking Price

If you price your home too high, you risk alienating prospective buyers. Or, if you price your house too low, you risk missing out on the chance to optimize your home sale earnings.

Ultimately, it is beneficial to establish an aggressive initial home asking price. If you learn about the local housing market, you can compare your residence to available houses in your city or town. Then, you can use this housing market data to help you establish a competitive initial asking price for your home.

You may want to conduct a home appraisal as well. That way, you can receive a property valuation that you can use to help you set an aggressive initial home asking price.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

Navigating a fierce housing market often is challenging for first-time and experienced house sellers alike. Lucky for you, real estate agents are available who can help you simplify the house selling journey.

By hiring a real estate agent, you can collaborate with a home selling expert. Typically, a real estate agent will work with you to create a custom home selling strategy. And when you are prepared to sell your home, a real estate agent will ensure that you can put this plan into effect and achieve the best-possible results.

Furthermore, a real estate agent will help you review any offers to purchase your house. He or she is happy to provide honest, unbiased home selling recommendations. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you immediately sell your residence and get the best price for your home.

Ready to sell your house? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can quickly and effortlessly sell your home in a competitive real estate market.


If you’re planning to stay in your home as you age, or "age in place", it’s wise to begin planning to renovate your home for your future self sooner rather than later. This will save you money and headaches down the road. I know it’s not an exciting topic of conversation to discuss aging and how to make your home more accessible. However, it’s certainly an important one. And even if you never use these features yourself, they are great to have in a home even if just for visitors, such as your parents.

Renovating before retirement ensures you have the cash flow to fund each change you make to your home. By making these changes now when you don’t need them, instead of as you go, allows you time to do research on best pricing and how to add features that will look seamless in your home. Just because you are “senior proofing” your home doesn’t mean it has to look like an assisted living facility.

The best, and arguably most important, place to start is in the bathroom. This is also a room that accommodations can double as accessible and chic. For example, a lipless walk-in shower, also known as the European Wet Room, eliminates the need to step up which can result in tripping. But it also opens up the room to appear more spacious and allow natural lighting to reach every corner. When renovating choose dimensions that leave enough room for a wheelchair to enter.

You may also want to consider adding a built-in shower bench. This could be a seamless tiled addition styled like a window seat or a chic wooden seat that folds up and out of the way. Grab bars don’t need to be an eyesore either. There are so many options on the market for bars that integrate with your bathroom’s style instead of looking like an afterthought.

When house hunting for a new home, look for one-level open floor plans. Open floor plans are very on trend and a feature many buyers are looking for anyways. They come with the added bonus of having plenty of room for someone in a wheelchair or walker to get around. If a home you are looking at has any hallways measure them to make sure they are wide enough to be accessible for these kinds of mobility aids.

Choosing a home that is a one-floor plan is another subtle way you can “senior proof” your home. Stairs can become troublesome when mobility becomes limited due to arthritis for example. A lack of a staircase to climb also means never having to buy a chairlift down the line. Potentially saving your future self-money and the integrity of your home’s decor.


Have you heard a lot about HUD homes, but aren’t sure if you should buy one or what the process entails?  HUD stands for The Department Of Housing And Urban Development. The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) is a part of HUD. The FHA is where federal mortgage insurance comes from. If a home is foreclosed on and insured by the FHA, the lender has a right to file a claim for the balance due on the mortgage. The FHA will pay this claim, and then transfer the ownership of the property to the HUD who will sell the home.


Will A HUD Home Provide A Price Break? 


The answer to this question is not necessarily. A HUD home is appraised just like any other home for sale. The price is based on the fair market value of the home. The prices may be adjusted according to any repairs that need to be made to the home. It’s a good idea to have your realtor look into comparable prices for HUD homes, as these properties aren’t guaranteed to be a deal.


Know that HUD homes are sold as-is. There isn’t much negotiating like that of a typical home purchase. As the new owner, you’ll be responsible for all of the repairs. It’s a good idea to invest in a home inspection before you buy a HUD home for this reason. You’ll have a better understanding of what you’re getting into with this type of home purchase. 


How Do You Begin The Search For A HUD Home?


Housing and Urban Development homes are listed by state on the department’s website. This is a good place to start your search. The site also lists brokers who are approved by the HUD. You can then contact local brokers to show you the HUD properties that you’re interested in.


The Process Of Making An Offer


Buying a HUD property can be very different than buying any other type of home in that the offer process is a bit different. These properties are sold through bids. You must hire a licensed real estate agent to assist you in this process, you can’t just put a bid in on your own. You’ll need to be sure that your offer is placed during the designated offer period. Either the highest bid is accepted or the bid that came in first in order will be taken. Generally, the HUD wants to take the offer that will get them the most profit.


Careful With Financing


The HUD does not finance homes. You’ll need to apply for a mortgage just as you would in buying any other home. Before you can even make an offer on a home you must have approved financing. If for some reason you get through the process of having your offer accepted on the home and the financing falls through, there’s a chance that you could lose your earnest money deposit.     

     



Whether new or old, many homes can have issues that aren’t obvious from photos. Many of the most common problems in a home have to do with the plumbing system. Since water can be so damaging, it’s especially important to get these issues out in the open prior to sale.

Some sellers might be aware of their plumbing issues, others may have no clue at all. Oftentimes, if a home was previously occupied by only one or two people who didn’t entertain many guests, they may not be aware of the strain that a larger family could have on things like the septic system.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common plumbing issues that a home has and help you identify these issues before you buy a new home.

The small fixes

Let’s start with some problems that are common and simple to address. When touring a home or performing an inspection, test all of the home’s faucets. Dripping faucets might not seem like a big issue, but the cost of wasted water can add up on your utility bill.

Leaking pipes are another issue that is seemingly harmless, but can lead to bigger problems that could cost thousands of dollars to repair. Check ceilings, floors, and underneath cabinets for signs of water damage.

Flush the toilets in the house to see if they continue running. Toilets that continue running water is often a simple fix, like replacing the chain or flapper in the tank. However, a leaking toilet could be symptomatic of a bigger problem that could include having to replace the toilet.

Sewer line and septic systems

Ask the owner about the history of the sewer or septic system. Find out if they’ve had problems recently and when the last time they were taken care of. If there is a septic tank or field on the property, look for signs of issues such as the grass having been dug out, water pooling in the yard, or foul smells in the area.

When it comes to septic and sewer issues, always reach out to a professional. They will be able to give you an accurate assessment and estimate of costs.

Inspect the pipes

Spot-checking the pipes in the home will tell you a lot about the state of the plumbing. Pipes that are old, worn, and lacking insulation are signs that plumbing issues could be coming. Rust is a major red flag. The water lines that lead out of the house for lawn faucets should also be wrapped to avoid freezing in the winter months.

Hot water heater

Just like the septic system, you’ll want to ask about the history of the home’s hot water heater. If it’s over ten years old, you might have to replace it soon after purchase.

You should also consider the size of the hot water heater. You’ll want to be sure it can accommodate your expected water usage. If children are in your future, having a bigger hot water heater might be something you want to plan for to avoid cold showers in the morning.