Category Archives: Selling a Home

What to do when you’re stuck at home

Here’s a short list of projects you can do around your home. None of which have anything to do with organizing. If you want to do a little of that you can see our previous post on Clearing out the Clutter. All of these are projects we ask our clients to do when getting their homes ready for the market.

Wash all your outlets and your light switches. Seriously these start to look really dirty and grimey after awhile. If you have any cracked or mismatched outlets it’s time to replace them. You can order these online at Home Depot or Lowes and they don’t cost a lot.

Clean the grout in your bathtub and shower. This is not a fun one but it just has to be done. To clean bathroom grout, I recommend using a baking soda and water paste and apply it to the grout and then giving it a good scrub. If your caulk is moldy you may need to take a few additional steps. Start soaking cotton balls in bleach and setting them on top of the caulk. Let it sit there over night if possible. The next day remove the cotton balls and wipe down. If this doesn’t work to remove the stains, it’s time to re-caulk.

If you have white trim and doors it’s time to touch them up. Our trim and doors take a beating and the white shows dirt and grime over time. And trust me when I tell you that when they look rough everything in the room looks rough. I like to keep a can of trim paint on hand and for periodic touch ups. I find it’s easier that way.

Paint the laundry room floor. Another task that’s not for everyone but if you have a concrete floor in your basement laundry room you will be amazed at how good and clean your laundry room will look once it’s painted.

Deep clean your appliances inside and out. There is nothing that will turn a buyer off faster than dirty appliances. Well maybe a dirty bathroom but let’s focus here. For step by step instructions on how to clean stainless steel appliances click here.

Clearing out the Clutter

If you feel like COVID19 has taken over your life and being stuck at home is the worst thing possible I have some good news and something you can do while stuck at home. Declutter your space! If you were hoping for a better option just hear me out. Now is a great time to clean out the clutter because you have the time and organizing your space will help you regain a sense of control and reduce stress.

Wondering where to start, here are 4 area’s of your home you could clean and declutter in less than a day.

Organize your closets: This is my favorite activity. Seriously just ask Matt, getting rid of stuff makes me happy, I somehow feel lighter without exercising or dieting. To get started all you need to do is pick a closet, grab a box, bin or a few garbage bags and start removing the items you no longer use, want or like. If it’s in good condition put it in a bag to give away. If it’s seen better days now is the time to throw it away. And if just doesn’t belong here take it to it’s rightful home.

Clean your storage spaces: Warning, tackling this space will require much more time that organizing the closets. Mostly because these spaces tend to be bigger and everything is in a box. And to organize and declutter correctly you will need to open and go trough each box, following the same guidelines as above if you no longer use, want or like the item it will need to be removed and either donated or thrown away.

Organize and clean your kitchen cabinets: Again I like to take this project one cabinet at a time. My greatest piece of advice is to avoid the temptation to empty all the cabinets at once. That can quickly get overwhelming and lead to chaos, something no one needs at the moment. Simply remove everything from the cabinet, wipe it down with soap and water. Put only the items that you use, want and work back in the cabinets. Move on to the next cabinet.

Declutter your bathroom vanity: This is a super quick and simple project because if you’re like me the majority of the products that land down here can simply be thrown away.

Want to turn this into a family activity? Have everyone pick a closet and turn it in to a contest, who ever has the cleanest and most organized closet wins a prize.

New Requirements for Minneapolis Home Sales

Starting today (Jan 16, 2020) the City of Minneapolis is requiring an Energy Disclosure Report to be included with the Truth in Housing report which is required by the City of Minneapolis to be completed prior to selling your home.

Backing up for just a minute just in case you’re not familiar with the Minneapolis Truth in Housing Report. This report, commonly called the TISH is required by the City of Minneapolis for any sale of a single family house, duplex, townhouse and first time condo conversions in the City of Minneapolis. This report was put in place to ensure the quality of housing available in the city.

Over all it’s a fairly easy process to complete. It requires making an appointment with a licensed evaluator prior to listing your home. They come out and evaluate your home, it typically takes less than an hour but there is a cost involved for the home owner, prior to this change the cost of this inspection at Structure Tech, a company in Minneapolis that performs these types of inspections was $200 going forward the cost will be $300.

After you’ve scheduled your appointment an evaluator comes to the home, evaluates the property and files a report. A full list of what they evaluate can be found on the City of Minneapolis’s website. A copy of the report is required to be at the property while it’s for sale so potential buyers can see it. A copy is also given to the buyer at closing. If there are any required repairs they need to be taken care of and completed prior to the sale or the buyer has to accept responsibility for the repairs. If the buyer accepts responsibility these repairs need to be completed within 90 days of closing.

Going forward in addition to the normal list of things they evaluate they will be evaluating 4 key area’s and giving your home an Energy Score. The 4 areas are; attic insulation, wall insulation, single pane windows without storms and the heating system. But unlike the rest of the Truth in Housing report, there will be no required repairs related to the energy disclosure. The primary goal of the report will be to educate home owners and potential buyers on the energy costs related to the home.

To test wall insulation the TISH evaluator will drill a small 2″ hole in your wall to determine the amount of insulation in the walls. This will only happen if your home was built prior to 1980 – which is 90% of the housing stock in the City of Minneapolis. The TISH evaluator will find a discreet location that has an exterior facing wall, typically in a closet. A colleague recently had this done and had them do it behind the stove. Once the inspection is complete, the hole will be sealed with a plastic cap.

The new Energy Disclosure report was adopted by the City of Minneapolis in an effort to make home buyers and renters more aware of their potential energy costs before they buy or rent a home. The City of Minneapolis hopes that sharing this information will help the city reach its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 by inspiring home owners and landlords to make the necessary changes to be more energy efficient.

What To Do WhenYour House Smells Bad

I’ve been going on quite a few staging appointments lately. Helping our clients get their homes ready for the market is one of my favorite things to do.

Most of the advice I give out is easy for me to give, declutter, remove the personal pictures and paint that red wall please. But I often find one piece of advice hard to give and that’s when your house smells.

Everyone’s house smells to some extent and that’s normal but what’s not normal is when the scent is overwhelming. It’s that strong scent that greets you at the door and doesn’t leave until well after you leave.

There’s never an easy way to tell a client their house smells. Even when I can pinpoint what the scent is; pet smell, a cooking scent or smoke. It’s always hard to broach. It’s also not so easy to eliminate.

It’s usually a several step process to truly rid the home of the smell, not mask it, because air fresheners don’t work. (They actually create another problem for the scent sensitive.)

First thing you need to do is stop what’s causing the scent. If you smoke inside the home go outside. If the kitty litter needs to be cleaned clean it.

Next you need to air the house out and clean. I guess you could consider these two steps but I like to do them simultaneously. Open all the windows and start scrubbing. You may have to leave the windows all day or maybe for a few days but it’s worth it. Sometimes we get lucky and that’s all it takes.

But sometimes we don’t get lucky and we have to try a few more things. A product that we’ve found that works wonders for most cooking and pet related scents is called DampRid – it’s promoted to get rid of musty scents but it works for so much more. If you’re local you can pick it up at your local ACE Hardware.

And finally if all else fails it usually means that the scent has been absorbed by your furniture and carpet and that means we need to deep clean those items. That usually requires hiring a professional carpet and furniture cleaners to do the work. In extreme situations we also suggest paint because believe it or not even the walls absorb scent

Now this may feel like a lot of work for a scent you may or may not notice but the bottom line is this strong scents can and do turn off buyers so it’s worth your time and effort.

Paint Colors to Sell Your Home

When you’re selling your home you want to appeal to as many buyers as possible. Which is why Realtors have been asking their sellers to paint their walls for decades when getting their home ready to sell.

Why? You always ask since paint is so cheap and personal can’t the buyer just do it after they move in? Here’s why.

First a coat of fresh paint goes a long way in making your house feel fresh, clean and updated.

Neutral walls don’t offend. They don’t become that thing that gets stuck in a buyers head. You don’t want to be that awful house with the red walls. Because that’s what starts to happen. It’s the one thing that set them off, now they’ll find more and soon they don’t want your house.

Buyers want to move right in. In addition they want the house to look like all those houses they’ve been saving on Instagram and drooling over on HGTV.

So how do you select the right paint colors to sell your home? The first thing you need to do is take a look at your current decor and existing woodwork. If you have a lot of brown tones in your home I typically recommend Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige. And before you start to tell me that beige went out in the 90’s let me explain. This beige is different. But seriously trust me it’s not the same. Accessible Beige is a soft neutral that leans gray without showing any yellow or orange and works beautifully in almost every room. (You should always test it first.)

Paint Colors to Sell your Home | Matt Engen Group | Real Estate Blog
In this kitchen because of the wood tones we used Accessible Beige.
5734 Garfield Avenue, Minneapolis

Another neutral color I highly recommend if I don’t have to worry about existing woodwork is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. This is a very popular color at the moment. It’s a light gray that does’t overwhelm and it looks great against white trim.

Paint Colors to Sell your Home | Matt Engen Group | Real Estate Blog
In this living room we used Revere Pewter
1204 Jefferson Avenue St Paul

One final tip I always recommend when it comes to painting your home for sale is to paint the whole main floor one color. It improves the flow of the home. It’s also faster and cheaper to paint with fewer colors because the painters can be more efficient.

Decorating for Fall

Adding fall decor to your home when it’s for sale can be tricky. After all you want to appeal to as many potential home buyers as possible, keep the clutter you worked so hard to remove at bay and still enjoy the season. Not an easy task if you ask me but it is possible.

The key is to focus on a few key area’s to decorate, without going overboard. This way you can still enjoy the season without distracting potential home buyers.

The front door. This is a great and easy place to add some seasonal fall decor. This can easily be done by refreshing your front pots with seasonal flowers like mums, aster and purple fountain grass, placing a harvest themed wreath on your door and adding a few pumpkins.

The dining room table and/or kitchen island. Another favorite of mine and super easy to accomplish. All you need is a tray, a vase filled with seasonal flowers or grasses, a candle and a pumpkin, preferably one painted to match your decor, then place them together on the tray and viola you have a centerpiece that’s easy to move on and off the table or island when needed.

The fireplace. Tis the season for fireplaces so it’s a great idea to highlight the fireplace and cosy up the space around it. This can be accomplished by adding a few pumpkins in a row across your mantle, placing a few candles and some greenery and either end and finishing off the space by placing a basket filled with plush pillows and a faux fur throw next to it.

Simple fall decor ideas when your house is listed for sale. This image is highlighting the fireplace.
Here’s a beautiful example.
I found this one on Pinterest too!

Declutter your closets

Decluttering your closets is an important step when getting your home ready to sell and this task should not be overlooked! Seriously, potential home buyers will look in every single closet and you want to show them that your home does in fact have ample storage.

To get started set aside some time and get some boxes or bags. Depending on your closet you may need to schedule a whole day, but for sure a couple hours.

Next step is to take everything out of the closet and separate it into 2 piles. Love, it’s going back. No longer love, it’s going away.

Now, clean the closet. Wipe down the walls and vacuum or scrub the floors.

After you’ve cleaned the closets it’s finally time to put everything back in. A few tips to keep things looking orderly; try to keep things off the floor including shoes, organize by color, if you’re using bins, label them and if possible use all the same color or type of hangers.

Once everything is back in your closet give yourself a quick pat on the back but don’t forget about that other pile. You know all that stuff you no longer want. It’s time to load it up and either throw it out or donate it. You are not done until this step is complete.

#closetorganization #stagingyourhome #mattengengroup

How to Keep your House Clean for Showings

Keeping your house clean for showings can be stressful, I get it. But if you start with a clean slate and follow these 3 tips every single day I promise your house will always be show ready.

  1. Get in the habit of re-setting every room. If you brought in a cup of water, take it out. If you snuggled in with a blanket, put it away. I could go on, but I think you get the point. If you used it, put it away when you’re done.
  2. At the end of the night take 15 minutes and make sure there are no dishes in the sink, the dishwasher has been started, the floors have been swept and the trash has been taken out.
  3. Before you leave the house make sure the bed has been made, the breakfast dishes have been put away, the window treatments have been opened, the kitchen and bathroom surfaces have been wiped down and you’ve flushed all the toilets.

When you break down the cleaning to manageable chunks it shouldn’t get overwhelming. Last piece of advice, if you live with others, delegate and the process of keeping your house clean for showings gets even easier.

Your Curb Appeal To Do List

  1. Mow the lawn
  2. Wash the windows, the siding and the front door
  3. Weed the gardens and remove any dead or dying plants
  4. Mulch the gardens
  5. Sweep the sidewalk
  6. Purchase a new welcome mat
  7. Place a pot of flowers on the front step

How to Prepare Your Home for Showings

Preparing your home for the world to see is hard work. I wish I could say it’s easy but it’s not. And the one thing I’ve realized after helping so many of our clients through this process is that you you can’t do this work until you disconnect from your home and see it as a buyer would see it.

That means taking off the rose colored glasses, seeing beyond the cute little quirks you’ve grown used to. The door that doesn’t quite close in the bathroom, the broken cabinet in the kitchen and that outdated paint color in the foyer. Making the repairs and sprucing up the home by adding a few extra special touches even if you think they’re silly go along way in creating a memorable experience for the buyer.

Let’s start with the Exterior

But where do you start? Let’s break it down and let’s start at the exterior, after all that’s where a buyer will start too. Take a good hard look at the trim, is it in need of paint? How about that front door? The landscaping? Do you have any dead overgrown bushes? If the house is in good repair buyers will think it’s been well maintained and if they like the way the outside looks they’ll naturally want to go inside.

Moving inside

You’ve heard this advice no doubt 1,000 times. The key to making the interior shine is to clean and declutter. And then clean and declutter again. Space is everything to a new home buyer. If you’re stuff doesn’t fit in this house how will theirs? And if you don’t know what to do with a room, they won’t either. A few things to ask yourself as you move around your house. Is this piece of furniture necessary? Is it blocking the flow of the room, a window? How do the walls look? When is the last time they’ve been painted? Oh and don’t forget the trim, trust me when I tell you that when you paint the walls, the trim that you thought was ok before will no longer be ok. One things leads to another when you rip the band-aid off.

3215 Wellington Lane N, Plymouth MN 55441 | Matt Engen Group

Now let’s set the stage

Now that you’ve identified all the necessary repairs, fix them and let’s move to setting the stage. This is the fun part. Or at least this is the fun part for me. Let’s start again outside by placing a couple pots of flowers or winter greens by the front and back door. If you have a deck be sure to put some flowers on the table. Get a new welcome mat, sweep and lay fresh mulch if necessary.

When you move inside don’t forget to continue with the flowers. A few of my favorite spots; the dining room table, the kitchen island and the bathroom counter. Make sure the kitchen sink is empty, take out the garbage, wipe down the sink and the counters – don’t forget the stainless steel appliances. Fluff the pillows and add a throw to the sofa. Make sure the beds are made. Hang new towels in the bathrooms. Please make sure the toilet seat is down. Sweep or vacuum. Open up all the window treatments and turn on every single light. And finally check the temp of the home. The buyer should be comfortable, never too cold or too hot.

5432 Irving Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419 | Matt Engen Group

And I know this sounds like a lot but it will make for a successful showing. I promise. Also please never ever ever turn down a showing. Multiple buyers can view your home at the same time, the Realtors will work it out. If you turn them down you most likely will never see that buyer again, they’re quick to move on.