Are You Truly Ready To Downsize? 9 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Giving Up Space

By Lisa Marie Conklin

There’s a host of reasons for downsizing to a smaller home. You might want to pocket the savings and build upon your nest egg. Maybe you’re ready for a new adventure and eager to move to a high-rise condo in the city. Or finally—the kids have flown the coop, and you don’t need the extra bedrooms and bathrooms anymore.

Whatever your motive is for downsizing, an honest evaluation of your expectations is essential to make an informed decision. That’s why real estate agents say it’s wise to ask yourself these questions before you even start looking for smaller homes.

1. Does it make financial sense to downsize?

Moving into a smaller home doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be saving money.

There are also homeowners association fees to consider if you’re downsizing to a condo or townhouse. These fees include things like landscaping, maintenance of common areas, trash, and pest control.

“Consider the amount you will spend on these fees, and be mindful that HOAs tend to go up every year,” says Bozinovic.

2. What are the financial implications of selling my home?

There’s more to consider than just how much you’re going to get for selling your home. There’s also local real estate transfer taxes, loan payoffs, home warranty, commission fees, etc., which will affect your bottom line.

That’s why Wendy Gladson, a real estate consultant at Compass in Los Angeles, always does a “sellers net sheet,” so there are no surprises for her clients.

“Sellers need to be aware of how this sale affects their overall financial picture in regard to possible property tax increases or basis transfers and capital gains tax, and how that fits into their long-term financial planning,” says Gladson.

3. What am I most excited about leaving behind?

While moving into a smaller house may have clear advantages—like less cleaning and yard maintenance—it’s essential to ask yourself if you can break the ties with your larger beloved family home. Are you truly looking forward to saying goodbye to the day-to-day chores of maintaining a larger house?

Jared Wilk, senior vice president at the Shulkin Wilk Group at Compass in Wellesley, Massachusetts, says that when clients tell him they’re excited to relax while gardening or sit on the patio instead of cleaning bedrooms and bathrooms they rarely use, then they are probably ready to downsize.

4. Where will I park?

You might not give parking or a garage a second thought when buying a smaller home, but you should, says Leneiva Head, principal broker/owner of Welcome Home Realty in Antioch, TN.

If you aspire to downsize to a city where mass transit is the preferred transportation method, what will you do with your current vehicles? Will you be able to park on the street? Will you have to purchase a garage space if you choose a condo?

And there are considerations for the suburbs, too.

“What if the smaller home has a one-car garage and one-car driveway, yet you have two vehicles?” asks Head. “No big deal right? Until you realize you have to play musical chairs with your vehicles because they’re in the way of each other.”

5. What will I do with all my stuff?

Here’s a twist: “You should really think about what you want to keep instead of what you want to get rid of,” advises Head.

“Do you have a home gym, office setup, a guest room for visitors, or multiple sets of den furniture?” she asks. “Deciding what you really need to keep will help you answer the basic number of bedrooms question. This, in turn, helps as you decide how small the next home can truly be.”

If you decide to part with your stuff, remember to factor in storage costs.

6. Should I consider a condo instead of a smaller house?

There are pros and cons to both, says Kari Haas, a real estate agent at Windmere Real Estate in Bellevue, WA.

A smaller house can give you more space and privacy from your neighbors—but you’ll still have grass to mow. A condo is typically cheaper, has less maintenance and upkeep, but you might not save as much as you think once you factor in HOA fees.

In addition to the HOA fees, buyers should ask if they can conform to the association rules, which may dictate things like how many pets you can have or what color you can paint your door.

7. Is the floor plan practical for your needs?

When you’re downsizing, every square inch counts, so an optimal floor plan is critical to maximizing space—and your happiness. Yet you shouldn’t bypass a house you deem too small based on square footage alone.

Haas has had clients whose life plans indicated anything but downsizing, but in the end, they opted for a smaller house because of a significantly better floor plan.

8. Where do I want to move?

If you’re one of the many people who can work from home, you might be inspired to set up your home office in a new city or state. But before you pull up the homestead stakes, be sure to find out if your new neighborhood has the services and lifestyle options that are important to you, Gladson says.

If you’re still not sure you’ll jibe with the new location, you might want to rent in the area first before committing to purchasing a home, Gladson adds.

9. Am I ready to downsize?

This is a question that can only be answered once you start looking at homes, Head says.

“That’s when you’ll realize how small smaller really is. You’ll find yourself comparing what you have now to what you’ll have in the smaller home,” she says.

“The bedrooms will be smaller. You may not have multiple living spaces. You may be a lot closer to others in the home than what you’ve grown accustomed to,” says Head.

Being mentally prepared is critical, and you’ll have to be honest with yourself and assess all the factors that will affect your life, or you’ll regret your decision to downsize.

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Second Home vs. Investment Property: What’s the Difference?

second home investment property

By Sara Kuta

You hear these terms thrown around all the time: Second home, investment property, vacation home, rental property. But is there any real difference among them? And does it even matter what you call it?

As it turns out, there are some very big differences between second homes and investment properties, especially if you are financing it.

“Both are fantastic ways to build wealth over time by capturing the appreciation of a real asset,” says Tony Julianelle, CEO of Atlas Real Estate in Denver. However, “both come with inherent risks and expenses that should be carefully considered when making a purchase.”

As with any real estate transaction, you’ll want to do your homework and make a smart choice for your wallet, no matter which path you go down. We chatted with experts to get the scoop.

What is a second home?

A second home is just that: a second property where you and your family spend time, away from your primary home. You might also hear a second home referred to as a vacation property. You may rent it out for a few days each year on Airbnb or VRBO, but you primarily use it yourself.

Buying a second home makes financial sense if there’s one particular vacation spot you visit regularly. Why spend a fortune on hotels or Airbnb when you can own your own piece of paradise that will hopefully appreciate in value over time?

“Let’s say you live in San Francisco, but you are an avid skier in the winter and like to hike in the summer,” says Rachel Olsen, a real estate agent in California. “If you spend many weekends and vacations in Lake Tahoe, it may make sense to purchase a second home there.”

What is an investment property?

An investment property, on the other hand, is one that you purchase with the explicit intention of generating income. The investment property could be right next door to your own home, or it could be in another state—it doesn’t really matter. You’ll be playing the role of landlord, with long-term or short-term renters paying cash to stay in the home.

“Never forget that an investment property is all about the Benjamins,” says Lamar Brabham, CEO and founder of financial services firm Noel Taylor Agency. “The entire point is to turn a profit. No emotions, no affection.”

Before making an offer on an investment property, you’ll want to crunch the numbers to make sure it’s a solid investment. Similarly, consider what factors will be important to prospective tenants (e.g., access to public transportation, good schools, parking, and low crime rates).

How to finance a second home or investment property

If you’re paying cash, you can skip this section. But if you need a mortgage for your new property, you should know that financing a second home or investment property is very different from financing a primary residence. And, while mortgages on second homes and investment properties have some similarities, there are also some key differences.

  • Interest rate: You can expect to see a higher interest rate for both second homes or investment properties than for primary homes. Why? Because lenders view those transactions as riskier. If you get into a tight spot with money, you’re far more likely to stop paying the mortgage for your second/investment property than for your primary home.
  • Qualifying: Whether you’re buying a second home or an investment property, you might need to do some extra legwork in order to qualify for that second loan. Your bank may require you to prove that you have healthy cash reserves (so it knows you can afford both mortgages). It’ll take a long, hard look at your overall financial situation, so be sure everything is on the up and up before you apply.
  • Down payment: Depending on your situation and the lender, you might also need to bring a larger down payment to the table for an investment property or second home, typically 15% to 25%. Again, this is because the bank wants a bigger cushion to fall back on in case you default.
  • Rental income: If you’re buying an investment property, your lender might allow you to show that anticipated rental income will help cover the mortgage payments. However, proving how much rental income the home will generate can be complicated. Prepare to pay for a specialized appraisal that takes into account comparable rents in your area.
  • Location: Your lender may require a second home to be 50 to 100 miles away from your primary home. An investment property, however, can be anywhere in comparison to your primary home, even next door.
  • Taxes: Federal income tax rules are different for vacation homes and investment properties. Generally, you’ll treat your second home just as you would your first home when it comes to taxes—if you itemize, you can deduct the mortgage interest you paid up to a certain limit. (The rules vary if you rent out your second home for part of the year.) If you own an investment property, you get to deduct the mortgage interest, plus many of the expenses that come with operating a rental business, but you also have to report your rental income, too.

Why it’s important to not confuse the two

It’s important that you’re totally clear about the difference and not use the terms “second home” and “investment property” interchangeably. Some people try to pass off their investment property as a second home to get more favorable financing, but you should never do this.

If you lie on your loan application, you could be committing mortgage fraud, which is a federal offense.

Your lender’s underwriting team is aware of this possibility, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes. They’ll take the big picture into account when deciding what loan terms to offer you, says real estate attorney David Reischer.

“A single-family residence by a lake that is located in a completely different state from the borrower’s primary residence is much more acceptable to be categorized as a second home by a bank underwriter,” he says. “A multifamily-unit property with rental income in an urban area is likely to be treated as an investment property.”

Bottom line: Keep everything aboveboard, and you won’t have to worry about a thing.

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These Pandemic-Related Housing and Design Trends Aren’t Going Away

home buying tips

By Ana Durrani

Home trends come and go, but social distancing and staying at home have ushered in a new way of life—and some of those changes have spurred home trends that are likely to stick around well past the COVID-19 era.

“The idea of what is necessary is changing,” says Camille Thomas, a real estate matchmaker and lifestyle expert in Jackson Hole, WY. “The home has become more than a living space.”

This means a lot of people have started to evaluate how they live in their home and what matters most to them when buying.

Here are some of the real estate and design trends people have latched on to during the pandemic that will likely have staying power for years to come.

The great escape

Quarantine has caused more than a few people to pack up their lives and head out of crowded cities to the suburbs (or even the country) in search of more room to breathe. One in 5 U.S. adults says they either changed their residence due to the pandemic or know someone who did, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

In fact, as people buy homes in the suburbs, housing inventories in those areas are dwindling faster than in urban areas, according to realtor.com®’s September Urban vs. Suburban Growth Report.

“People are not wanting to be in a city where it feels too crowded right now,” says Suzi Dailey, a Realtor, who’s with Realty One International in California’s Orange County. “They are leaving cities in favor of homes with more space, a backyard, or some type of view.”

Thomas says in the mountain town of Jackson Hole she is seeing buyers come in from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Houston, and Chicago.

“Some are purchasing sight-unseen,” she adds.

Also, with more companies allowing their workforce to work from home, many people are no longer tied to a specific city for employment. Most housing experts agree that this trend of increasing preferences for suburban homes will continue.

The Zoom room

Regular videoconferencing from home—whether you’re an employee or a student—is a new reality, and it’s become increasingly common to see agents and sellers including Zoom rooms in listings as part of a home’s features. But what is a Zoom room, anyway?

Essentially it’s a dedicated room or corner of your home that features an aesthetically pleasing background for your videoconference calls. Zoom rooms are free of household clutter and typically removed from the high-traffic parts of the house. And experts predict the dedicated video room trend is likely to persist for buyers beyond COVID-19.

“Buyers are looking for extra space to create workspaces for students and working parents,” says Thomas. “Three bedrooms is no longer enough. Now it must be three bedrooms and an additional workspace, at least.”

Clean and cozy design

Interior design trends are always changing. But throughout the pandemic we’ve seen homeowners doing everything they can to create a cozy, simple, clean, and comfortable vibe inside their homes.

“It’s a focus on an open floor plan, lighter wall colors, and no clutter,” says Dailey. Elements that capture this aesthetic are comfortable sofas, throw blankets, candles, herb gardens in the kitchen, and houseplants that make a person feel at home.

“Especially with COVID-19, you do not want a home that feels dirty. That’s why clean, simplistic decor and decluttering have become very popular,” says Dailey.

And that feeling of streamlined coziness is extending to the outdoor areas of the home, too.

“Sales of space heaters, such as the tall standing heaters for porches, patios, and outdoor spaces, are already going through the roof,” says Dailey.

The backyard premium

It’s little surprise that homebound owners—or would-be owners—are focusing more on backyard spaces. Some buyers are even willing to settle on a smaller house or a house in a less desirable area in order to have a large backyard where they can spend more time in the open air.

“For some, that means moving farther outside of town for the same-size house with more land. Others are moving into small townhouses so they can purchase a small farm outside of the city,” says Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design.

 

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Home-Buying FAQ: Your Top Questions About Purchasing Property During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Margaret Heidenry

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown millions of people’s financial plans off the rails, and that certainly includes home buying. If you were hoping to purchase a property soon, you no doubt have a lot of questions—about whether it’s possible to buy or tour a house now, COVID-19’s impact on home prices, and more.

We’re already written a guide to home buying in the age of coronavirus to help you navigate this new reality in real estate, but we know there’s a lot you still want to know. So here are the answers to your most pressing questions about buying a home right now. Whether you’re wondering what’s up with home prices or open houses, read on to learn everything you need to know.

1. Is it possible to buy a house now?

While buying a house today may be more challenging due to health and economic concerns, it is certainly possible. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has declared that residential and commercial real estate services are an essential service that should be allowed to continue. (State orders, however, may overrule that guidance.)

However, certain aspects of the home-buying process might be restricted or look a bit different these days. For instance, as COVID-19 outbreaks gained momentum, certain hard-hit states (such as New York) banned in-person home viewings. And while home closings typically involve the presence of the buyers, the sellers, their agents, and a notary, some states (such as Florida) loosened restrictions and allowed remote or “curbside” closings, where documents are slipped through car windows to lower the exposure levels of all parties involved.

Aside from federal and local restrictions, a lot will depend on the home sellers’ comfort levels. Some sellers might be fine with your touring their house. But others might not be comfortable letting strangers in their home, even if property tours are allowed in your area.

A local real estate agent will have the best handle on what home buyers can and can’t do in your area, so feel free to consult an agent for the most up-to-date information. Here’s more information to help you answer the question, “Should I buy a house now?”

2. Is now a good time to buy a house, financially speaking?

From a financial perspective, there are certainly some advantages to buying a home right now. For one, mortgage interest rates are historically low, which means your monthly housing payments will be lower, too. And putting a property under contract now and locking in a low interest rate gives buyers more control than living in a rental where rents might go up.

Another big consideration on the financial side of the home-buying equation comes down to competition. The coronavirus has dissuaded some home buyers from home shopping for the time being. So buyers who do venture out face less competition, which could put them in a stronger position to negotiate with sellers.

In addition to surveying the housing market and mortgage rates in your area, you should also take a good, hard look at your personal financial situation. You’ll want to gauge whether now is a good time to buy for you. Are your job and income stable, or are you worried about layoffs or the stock market?

If your own financial future is uncertain, you might want to take more of a wait-and-see approach to home buying. Or consider buying a home well under what you can afford just in case the coming months throw you a curveball.

3. How has the coronavirus affected home prices?

The coronavirus has the world economy in turmoil. But so far at least, this does not mean that home prices have plummeted across the board or that buyers can lowball their way to a bargain. Instead, in most real estate markets, home inventory remains very tight.

“I don’t expect the slowdown to be like the last recession where prices fell,” says realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale. “There are more than enough buyers out there to keep home sales from slowing in any major way.”

Some sellers have pulled their listings as they wait for better market conditions. On the flip side, a home seller who doesn’t have the luxury of time is facing a smaller buyer pool, due to safety concerns and limited physical access to touring homes. So buyers could have the upper hand for a short period when it comes to homeowners who need to sell.

The only way to test a seller’s level of motivation is to make an offer. But play it safe. Buyers should not assume that because of the pandemic they can automatically lowball a seller—this could turn the seller off. You might want to try offering a modest discount below asking price to simply start a dialogue.

Here’s a breakdown of how to negotiate an offer on a home in the age of coronavirus.

4. Is it safe to buy a house now?

While no one can guarantee you won’t catch the coronavirus, the real estate industry has worked to prioritize buyers’ and sellers’ health by eliminating personal interactions almost entirely during the pandemic. Even as different states reopen, you can still do most aspects of the home-buying process remotely, or at a safe social distance, when it comes to your home search that you may not have considered doing in the past.

First, you can find local real estate agents online and interview them virtually. While showings may not be easy to arrange because of shelter-in-place orders or continuing health concerns, most real estate listings now offer virtual tours.

When possible, video chats allow agents to walk through a prospective home while you watch from the safety of your current residence. Virtual tours may not be as good as walking through a home, but they can give you a good idea of whether or not you want to see the house in person when it’s possible. And it’s also a great way to pare your options and skip visiting some homes.

When it comes to the financial aspect of home buying, many lenders had already made the entire mortgage process digital long before anyone heard of social distancing.

Another new term? “Desktop appraising,” which allows the appraiser to stay home and review available data that allows lenders to approve mortgages remotely.

And in many states, drive-through or even video closings are temporarily permissible during the pandemic.

Remember, whether all of the above is available depends on your area, so always consult with your agent each step of the way. And read more on whether or not it’s safe to buy a house now.

5. Are open houses or home showings allowed?

Whether open houses are allowed in your area all comes down to how local authorities enforce their lockdowns. Under many quarantine orders, such as in Los Angeles and New York City during the height of the pandemic, open houses have been completely banned. Other states currently allow open houses as long as capacity allows for social distancing. The National Association of Realtors® offers guidelines on open houses, recommending that they be limited to fewer than 10 people, if they’re hosted at all.

In general, in areas where open houses aren’t allowed, individual home showings with just a buyer and an agent are OK. Keep in mind that even if showings are allowed, agents and home sellers must all be willing to make them happen. Check with your agent and local government for more information, and know that what’s permissible could change as this pandemic progresses.

If you do choose to attend an open house or tour a home, here’s what you can do to stay safe:

  • Don’t touch anything in someone else’s home. Ask that the owners open cabinets and closets prior to a showing.
  • Stay six feet away from your real estate agent at all times. If the home is small, ask your agent to open the front door for you and wait in the kitchen while you tour the house on your own. You can ask questions via cellphone as you look around.
  • Wear protective booties; agents generally provide these even in normal times. Carefully throw them away when you’ve finished touring.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after you leave the home.

Or instead of attending an open house or private tour, you can conduct a virtual house hunt. You can also drive through a neighborhood and check out the area from the safety of your car. Here’s more on how to stay safe during your house hunt.

6. Should I buy a house sight unseen?

While buying a house sight unseen has long been the only option for people relocating due to a new job or military service, the trend has been on the rise for more and more folks. In fact, according to a realtor.com survey of 1,300 consumers during the week of April 5, 24% (or 1 in 4) said they’d be willing to buy a home without seeing it in person.

Buyers who consider buying a house sight unseen generally have some comfort level with the neighborhood and know the market. And according to realtor.com senior economist George Ratiu, the comfort level of buying a house sight unseen may come down to age.

“Younger cohorts are more inclined to rely on detailed photos, virtual tours, or live video instead of an in-person visit, with 31% indicating they would be willing to buy sight unseen,” says Ratiu.

Even if you’re buying blind, you shouldn’t operate completely in the dark. Here are some features that buyers find most helpful in such a home search.

  • The ability to take a virtual tour of the home
  • Listing and neighborhood information that is accurate and detailed
  • Plentiful, high-quality listing photos that show the property’s interior and exterior
  • An agent or landlord who can walk a buyer through the property via video chat

7. Can I buy a house if I’m unemployed?

Generally speaking, if you are recently unemployed you should think twice about buying right now. But there are some ways you can proceed, albeit with caution.

For instance, home buying is possible when you’re between jobs if you have enough money in the bank to make an all-cash offer—due to a previous home sale or inheritance—and can skip the mortgage process entirely.

If you do need a mortgage, you’ll need not only a high credit score and a low debt-to-income ratio, but also a source of funds to prove to lenders you can make your monthly mortgage payments. If you are a dual-income family with a spouse or significant other still working, that person could apply for a mortgage. Many lenders also allow for a monetary gift to home buyers from relatives. Sometimes a sizable gift satisfies lenders’ application requirements even if the borrower is currently unemployed.

8. How long will it take to close on a house?

Yes, the length of time from an accepted offer to home closing during the height of the pandemic is taking longer. Closing times used to average about 26 days in January, then hit 43 days in February, and shot up to 60 days in March. They’re likely to take longer still in the coming months.

The simple fact is lenders are buried under paperwork as refinancing applications skyrocketed due to the historically low mortgage interest rates.

In addition to lender backlogs, social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have complicated the home closing process. While home inspections and appraisals are possible, everything is just taking longer during the pandemic.

9. Is moving allowed right now?

According to the American Moving & Storage Association, moving has been deemed an essential service by the federal government.

Still, while moving is legal in the big picture, it might not be allowed for your specific circumstances depending on what stage of the pandemic you are in. For instance, during the height of New York City’s epidemic, some apartment buildings decided to ban residents from moving due to safety concerns and shelter-in-place orders.

Check with your local and state governments (and your HOA or condo board, if applicable) before scheduling any move. And if you have to move, read all about how to move safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

10. How can I prepare to buy a house?

You may be interested in buying a home, but simply don’t feel comfortable getting out there and house hunting right now. Luckily there are still things you can do to prepare so you’re ready to spring into action later this summer or whenever you decide you’re ready.

  • Check your credit score: The very first step in preparing to buy a home is to check your credit score. Credit scores are what mortgage lenders look at to determine whether you are creditworthy, and will dictate your interest rate. So do everything to protect your score. Many companies—from credit cards to utilities—are working with consumers who can’t make payments. If you are having trouble making payments, don’t just skip them. Call your lender and work out a plan.
  • Figure out how much home you can afford: The pandemic has roiled markets and caused tremendous economic uncertainty. So you’ll want to carefully consider how much home you can afford and err on the conservative side. Check an online home affordability calculator, which will help you determine your monthly mortgage payment.
  • Secure mortgage pre-approval: Now it’s more important than ever to get pre-approved to show sellers you’re serious when you make an offer. Pre-approval shows how much a lender will loan you, assuring the seller that you’re financially capable of buying a home.
  • Avoid any major changes: A major tenet of preparing to buy a home is to not make any major changes in your life or your finances. But with the coronavirus pandemic, some upheaval—such as getting furloughed—may be out of your control. Yet much of it is not. For instance, do not buy a car or pricey new furniture, or apply for a new credit card. All of those can lower your credit rating, meaning you may not be able to qualify for a home loan.
  • Check online listings: On real estate sites like realtor.com you can see what properties are available in your area in your price range. And take advantage of the virtual tours many agents are offering to house hunt from your couch.
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7 Small Home Flaws That Can Be Big Deals for Buyers

torn screen

By: Stephanie Booth

After living in the same home for a while, it’s amazing what you can get used to. A creaky floorboard, for instance. A chipped tile that you’ve been meaning to replace but haven’t gotten around to. A doorknob that needs a little coaxing to turn. No big deal, right?

Well, these small flaws can be huge deal breakers when you decide to sell your home.

“Prospective buyers are going to add all the ‘flaws’ they find to the price of the property, and that’s when they start trying to discount the price,” cautions Jane Peters, a real estate broker and owner of Home Jane Realty in Los Angeles.

Curious what some of these seemingly small problems are? Check out this list of minuscule (to you) things that buyers see as big hurdles to closing a sale.

  1. An old electrical panel

Recently, home buyer made a controversial request for a repair at a property listed by Cedric Stewart, a real estate consultant at Keller Williams in the Washington, DC, area.

Apparently their home inspector claimed that $2,000 worth of repairs were needed on an electrical panel to get it “up to code.” The sellers insisted the current panel worked just fine.

“To the sellers, it was a small issue,” says Stewart, “but to the buyers, it was an electrical panel that could fail them at any time.”

To end this particular dispute, Stewart received bids from four electricians and got the repair quote knocked down to $1,200. The sellers offered that amount as a credit in lieu of repair at closing.

“The buyers grumbled,” Stewart recalls, “but they took it.”

  1. Ripped window screens

Window screens will wear out over time, but if yours are torn, take it seriously.

“They’re a pain for anyone to replace,” says Stewart. “Therefore, sellers don’t want to do it and buyers will insist that they do. If the sellers refuse to fix it, the buyers will demand a credit. This can be a major point of contention, and we’ve seen it delay progress before.”

Stewart recalls one seller who agreed to replace a damaged window screen. But on the final walk-through, it still hadn’t been done—and the buyer threatened to walk away from the deal.

“It worked out,” says Stewart, “but it wasn’t pretty.”

  1. The location of your laundry room

Even if you own a state-of-the-art washer and dryer—and plan to bestow both on your lucky buyers—they may not be so thrilled with these nice appliances if they aren’t situated in what they think is the “right” place.

“Some buyers have a problem with the laundry being on the ‘wrong’ level, especially in a three-level house or townhouse-style condo,” Peters explains.

In other words, you might be fine lugging your laundry to the basement, but don’t expect all buyers to feel the same way. Offer to move these items to a new locale to warm buyers up.

  1. Sticky door locks

Live in a house long enough, and you’ll encounter a malfunctioning door latch or lock. That may be no big deal to you, but it may alarm buyers big-time.

If it’s an exterior door, they will likely view this as a major safety issue, explains Stewart. And although it may seem like a simple fix, it’s often a complex one, he says.

Think about it: The company that installed the doors may no longer be around, the model may not be in production anymore, and/or it could be tough to get someone to replace the exact hardware. Consider fixing this problem before a buyer notices it.

  1. Your bathtub or shower

Some people prefer showers, others want baths (particularly parents who must clean up small kids). So if you’re missing one or the other, watch out.

In an ideal world, you’ll have both: a bath with a showerhead above. But even if your bathtub works just fine, make sure the style isn’t too off. Not everyone is excited to soak in a tub straight out of “Stranger Things” in avocado green. If that’s you, luckily there is an easy fix: Consider slapping on a new coat of paint (yes, you can do that). Here’s how to paint a bathtub.

  1. Small closets

“Many buyers focus on closets,” says Peters. “Are there enough? Are they large enough? Walk-in closets are also preferred.”

There are a few things you can do to ease these concerns. For one, try to make your closets look roomier by decluttering them as much as possible. Put excess items elsewhere (like a rented storage unit). You might also consider hiring a contractor to build or extend closets where needed—or at least point out to buyers that they can do this themselves.

  1. The walls of your kitchen

Some people like—no, make that love— open kitchens. So if your kitchen currently has four walls, you could be in trouble.

“Buyers may look at the possibility of breaking down a wall,” Peters says. But be warned, many might not want to do the work, or just get such a bad first impression of your kitchen that they move on. If you think your kitchen’s four walls feel cramped and is stalling your sale, consider opening it up yourself. Here’s how to knock down a wall.

 

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