7 Tips for Staging Your Home

7 Tips for Staging Your Home

By: G. M. Filisko

Make your home warm and inviting to boost your home’s value and speed up the sale process.

The first step to getting buyers to make an offer on your home is to impress them with its appearance so they begin to envision themselves living there. Here are seven tips for staging your home and making your home look bigger, brighter, and more desirable.

1. Start with a clean slate

Before you can worry about where to place furniture and which wall hanging should go where, each room in your home must be spotless. Do a thorough cleaning right down to the nitpicky details like wiping down light switch covers. Deep clean and deodorize carpets and window coverings.

2. Stow away your clutter

It’s harder for buyers to picture themselves in your home when they’re looking at your family photos, collectibles, and knickknacks. Pack up all your personal decorations. However, don’t make spaces like mantles and coffee and end tables barren. Leave three items of varying heights on each surface, suggests Barb Schwarz of www.StagedHomes.com in Concord, Pa. For example, place a lamp, a small plant, and a book on an end table.

3. Scale back on your furniture

When a room is packed with furniture, it looks smaller, which will make buyers think your home is less valuable than it is. Make sure buyers appreciate the size of each room by removing one or two pieces of furniture. Staging your home with an eat-in dining area, using a small table and chair set makes the area seem bigger.

4. Rethink your furniture placement

Highlight the flow of your rooms by arranging the furniture to guide buyers from one room to another. In each room, create a focal point on the farthest wall from the doorway and arrange the other pieces of furniture in a triangle around the focal point, advises Schwarz. In the bedroom, the bed should be the focal point. In the living room, it may be the fireplace, and your couch and sofa can form the triangle in front of it.

5. Add color to brighten your rooms

Brush on a fresh coat of warm, neutral-color paint in each room. Ask your real estate agent for help choosing the right shade. Then accessorize. Adding a vibrant afghan, throw, or accent pillows for the couch will jazz up a muted living room, as will a healthy plant or a bright vase on your mantle. High-wattage bulbs in your light fixtures will also brighten up rooms and basements and is a cheap way for staging your home.

6. Set the scene

Lay logs in the fireplace, and set your dining room table with dishes and a centerpiece of fresh fruit or flowers. Create other vignettes throughout the home-such as a chess game in progress-to help buyers envision living there. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.

Make your bathrooms feel luxurious by adding a new shower curtain, towels, and fancy guest soaps (after you put all your personal toiletry items are out of sight). Judiciously add subtle potpourri, scented candles, or boil water with a bit of vanilla mixed in. If you have pets, clean bedding frequently and spray an odor remover before each showing.

7. Make the entrance grand

Mow your lawn and trim your hedges, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before showings to make your lawn sparkle. If flowers or plants don’t surround your home’s entrance, add a pot of bright flowers. Top it all off by buying a new doormat and adding a seasonal wreath to your front door.

More from HouseLogic

Spring cleaning guide

Green cleaning products for the bathroom

Green cleaning products for the kitchen:  Stoves,  countertops, sinks and drains, and refrigerators.

 Other web resources

How to make a small room look larger

How to arrange bedrooms

Republished courtesy of www.HouseLogic.com

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who occasionally rearranges her furniture to find the best placement-and keep her dog on his toes. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

If staging your home is a major priority for you, you may like a professional stager come visit your house, check out this post I wrote a year ago:  Home Staging Tips by Karen DiMattia, who stages homes in MA and NH.  If you’d just like an extra person’s perspective, you can reach me at 603-318-6953.

If you have extra tips to share that weren’t covered here, please let me know in the reply section below!  ;)

Trusted Professionals Available Upon Request

Trusted Professionals Available Upon Request and

Happy New Year 2012!

This year my goal is to help more people with any part of their life by connecting them with trusted professionals – who do you need this year to help you with ….. accounting, allergies, personal fitness, legal matters, contracting, insurance, and much much more?!

I will be giving out 30 referrals every month and receiving 15, should I know about your business?  Watch my short video below to learn more.


Now call me (Debbie Kruzel) at 603-318-6953 for a professional referral YOU NEED this year in NH or MA!


Northern Ridge Painting and Remodeling

Northern Ridge Painting and Remodeling

Northern Ridge is not your typical painting and remodeling company.  They are dedicated to building a positive reputation with every customer on every project (large or small) as they continue to grow their business in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire region.

Northern Ridge specializes in interior and exterior painting, hardwood flooring, tile, drywall repair, and other small carpentry work.   Their professional, experienced approach to every project leaves every customer feeling confident that their home is in good hands.  (See their full list of exterior and interior services.)

The owners, Brian Alexander and Nick Collopy, created the business after recognizing the need for a strong commitment to customer service and keeping an open channel of expectations between the customer and contractor.  “Remodeling work is unique because every home is different – in age, construction, design, etc.  Our goal is to work with every customer to exceed their expectations and balance quality and budget.”

Northern Ridge Painting and Remodeling has been in existence since 2010.  The two owners have a combined 20 years of experience in painting, flooring, and remodeling work and have been able to produce great results and positive reviews.  They are building their business and reputation one customer at a time!

If you are looking for a local company to do a fantastic job ON TIME and at a reasonable cost, you owe it to yourself to contact Northern Ridge Painting and Remodeling!  Call them at 978-257-339 or 978-387-6341 – they are fully insured and licensed in Mass and NH and they give free estimates!

Underground Oil Tank – What do you do?

Underground Oil Tank – What do you do?

by Earl Cook, Vice President of Peniel Environmental

Underground storage tanks (USTs) were not meant to last forever, 30 to 50 years ago the technology was not in place to insure longterm use.  The typical buried oil tank ranges from 500 gallons and can be as large as 20,000 gallons….  Hence, the potential threat to the environment exists in every state – (find links to NH UST Program)!   Present day technologies now include:  fiberglass tanks, double walled tanks and alarms help keep humans and the environment safe.

Peniel Environmental has encountered such tanks holding product such as gasoline, oil, and kerosene. You may have an oil tank that is providing fuel to heat your home or you could have an underground oil tank of unknown size that was abandoned by you or the properties previous owners.  If you live in an older home  and you heat by gas you’re not out of the woods, it is almost guaranteed that at some point someone heated your home by oil. If your home is a larger building, it would be safe to assume that a UST stored your oil.

So now the question is “what do I do?”.   How do I find out whether or not I have one on my property. Peniel Environmental can help answer both questions, if you have and underground oil tank, we can come up with a solution to remove the tank, or keep the tank in place and still give you the paper work needed for a tank closure. If you’re not sure, we could do the research to see if you had a UST and if was removed properly. If it was removed and no paperwork exists we can take the necessary measures to get what you need to prove the tank is gone.  Certainly this will be important when working with your loan officer and home owners insurance agent!

If you have an underground oil tank or other environmental issue, call Peniel Environmental at 603-801-6526 and get the job done right by the professionals!  Your First Choice in Disaster Restoration Services!

Choosing an Exterior Door

Choosing an Exterior Door

By: Karin Beuerlein

You should understand the pros and cons of steel, fiberglass, and wood exterior doors before choosing the one that’s right for replacing your current door.

Replacing your front door can pay for itself by increasing your home’s value, according to Remodeling Magazine‘s annual Cost vs. Value Report.

What’s more, if you choose an energy-efficient exterior door, you may qualify for a tax credit that can save you up to $500 as well as trim up to 10% off your energy bills. (With utility bills averaging $2,200 annually, that’s a savings of as much as $220.) However, these tax credits are set to expire at the end of 2011.

But how do you know which door is right for you? Make your decision by comparing the three main materials available for exterior doors: steel, fiberglass and wood.


If you’re looking to save money, a steel door may be a good choice, particularly if you have the skills to hang it yourself. A simple, unadorned steel door can sell for as little as $150 (not including hardware, lock set, paint, or labor) and typically runs as much as $400 at big-box retailers. Steel offers the strongest barrier against intruders, although its advantage over fiberglass and wood in this area is slight.

Even better, replacing your entry door with a steel model actually reaps a profit in added home value. Remodeling Magazine estimates the total project cost of installing a 20-gauge steel door at about $1,200–and the project, on average, returns about 73% of cost.

Still, the attractive cost of a steel door comes with an important caveat: Its typical life span under duress is shorter than either fiberglass or wood. A steel door exposed to salt air or heavy rains may last only five to seven years, according to Bob Bossard, general manager of 84 Lumber in Clarksville, Del. Despite steel’s reputation for toughness, it actually didn’t perform well in Consumer Reports testing against wood and fiberglass for normal wear and tear.

With heavy use, it may dent, and the damage can be difficult and expensive to repair. If your door will be heavily exposed to traffic or the elements, you may be better off choosing a different material.


Fiberglass doors come in an immense variety of styles, many of which accurately mimic the look of real wood. And if limited upkeep is your ideal, fiberglass may be your best bet. “Nothing is maintenance-free,” Bossard says, “but fiberglass is pretty close. And it lasts twice as long as wood or steel.

Fiberglass doesn’t expand or contract appreciably as the weather changes. Therefore, in a reasonably protected location, a fiberglass entry door can go for years without needing a paint or stain touch-up and can last 15 to 20 years overall. Although it feels light to the touch, fiberglass has a very stout coating that’s difficult for an intruder to breach; and its foam core offers considerable insulation.

Fiberglass generally falls between steel and wood in price; models sold at big-box stores range from about $150 to $600. Remodeling Magazine lists the cost of a fiberglass entry-door replacement project at around $3,600. Although a fiberglass door doesn’t generate as high a return as a steel door, it recoups about 56% in home value.


Wood is considered the go-to choice for high-end projects; its luxe look and substantial weight can’t be flawlessly duplicated by fiberglass or steel, though high-end fiberglass products are getting close. If your home calls for a stunning entry statement with a handcrafted touch, wood may be the best material for you.

Wood is usually the most expensive choice of the three–roughly $500 to $2,000, excluding custom jobs–and requires the most maintenance, although it’s easier to repair scratches on a wood door than dents in steel or fiberglass. Wood doors should be repainted or refinished every year or two to prevent splitting and warping. (Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.)

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your door as well as its energy efficiency, you can purchase a solid wood door certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which assures you that the wood was sustainably grown and harvested.

Tracing the environmental impact of a particular door–from manufacturing process to shipping distance to how much recycled/recyclable content it contains–is quite complicated and probably beyond the ken of the average homeowner, notes LEED-certified green designer Victoria Schomer. But FSC-certified wood and an Energy Star rating are an excellent start.

A final note on choosing a door based on energy efficiency: Because efficiency depends on a number of factors besides the material a door is made of–including its framework and whether it has windows–look for the Energy Star label to help you compare doors. To qualify for the federal tax credit, look for solar heat gain coefficient and U-factor values less than 0.3.

If you need the name of a contractor/handyman to help you hang the exterior door you choose to buy (or any other project you have around the house), call or text Debbie for a trusted professional with a reasonable rate at 603-318-6953!

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.

This Month in Real Estate – October 2011

This Month in Real Estate – October 2011

Nationally we have a average home price of $168,000, down from last month’s average of $174,000 (which is not unusual for this time of year….following the spring and summer markets).  The average mortgage rate of 4.09% (reported by Freddie Mac) – down from 4.15% last month!

In this issue we learn that price is the most aspect of a new home for buyers and certainly the value of the property matters, so maintaining your home yearly will increase the value of your home.  Watch the short video on tips for winterizing before the winter hits us!



If you would like more information about winterizing your home, view my recent posts on detecting air and water leaks.  If you are considering selling your home, contact Debbie today at 603-318-6953 to set an appointment to answer your questions and review your home buying plans.

Alternatively, read my series of three home selling tips, take a look now!

Sealing Air Leaks Around Windows and Doors in Your Home will Save You Money!

Sealing Air Leaks Around Windows and Doors in Your Home will Save You Money!

By: Jeanne Huber

Sealing air leaks around your windows and doors will prevent wasting precious home heating and cooling energy that costs you money.

An average home loses up to 30% of its heating and cooling energy through air leaks. The most significant air leaks tend to occur around windows and doors. To stop air leaks and prevent your home heating and cooling dollars from vanishing in the wind, it’s important to seal air leaks around windows and doors.

Check for air leaks

With windows and doors closed, hold a lit stick of incense near window and door frames where drafts might sneak in. Watch for smoke movement. Note what sources need caulk, sealant, and weather-stripping.

Sealing air leaks around windows

If you have old windows, sealing air leaks with caulking and adding new weatherstripping goes a long way toward tightening them up.

•Bronze weatherstripping ($12 for 17 feet) lasts for decades but is time-consuming to install.

•Self-stick plastic types are easy to put on but don’t last very long when sealing windows.

•Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber ($8 for 10 feet) is a good compromise, rated to last at least 10 years.

Nifty gadgets called pulley seals ($9 a pair) block air from streaming though the holes where cords disappear into the frames.

Seal air leaks around doors

Check for air leaks, and replace old door weatherstripping with new.

•Foam-type tape has an adhesive backing; it’s inexpensive and easy to install. If it comes loose, reinforce it with staples.

•Felt is either adhesive-backed or comes with flexible metal reinforcement. it must be tacked or glued into place. It’s cheap and easy to install, but it has low durability when sealing doors.

•Tubular rubber, vinyl, and silicone weatherstripping is relatively expensive and tricky to install, but it provides an excellent seal. Some types come with a flange designed to fit into pre-cut grooves in the jambs of newer doors; check your existing weatherstripping and replace with a similar style.

Check exterior trim for any gaps between the trim and your door frames, and the trim and your siding. Caulk gaps with an exterior latex caulk ($5 for a 10-ounce tube) as an additional step in sealing doors.

Seal door bottoms

If a draft comes in at the bottom, check the condition of the threshold gasket. Replace worn gaskets. If you can see daylight under the door, you may need to install a new threshold with a taller gasket ($25 for a 36-inch door). Or, install a weather-resistant door sweep designed for exterior doors ($9). Door sweeps attach directly to the door and are easy to install.

If you would prefer to have a licensed contractor sealing air leaks at your house, I have a couple you could call to get the job done before the winter – call Debbie at 603-318-6953 for more information soon!

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.

 Jeanne Huber is the author of 10 books about home improvement and writes a weekly column about home care for the Washington Post.

How to Inspect Windows and Doors to Stop Air and Water Leaks

How to Inspect Windows, and Doors to Stop Air and Water Leaks

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon, a managing editor at HouseLogic.

Inspect windows and doors regularly to find air leaks and water leaks that create high energy and repair bills. We’ll show you how.

Take a look at windows, doors and skylights to find water leaks, foil air leaks, and detect the gaps and rot that let the outside in and the inside out. You can perform a quick check with a home air pressure test, or do a detailed inspection. Luckily, these inspections are easy to do. Here’s how to examine the barriers that should stand between you and the elements.

Big picture inspection

A home air pressure test sucks air into the house to reveal air leaks that increase your energy bills. To inspect windows and other openings:

•Seal the house by locking all doors, windows, skylights, and shutting all vents.

•Close all dampers and vents.

•Turn on all kitchen and bath exhaust fans.

•Pass a burning incense stick along all openings–windows, doors, fireplaces, outlets–to pinpoint air rushing in from the outside.

Windows and the outside world

Air and water can seep into closed widows from gaps and rot in frames, deteriorating caulking, cracked glass, and closures that don’t fully close.

To find air leaks, pinpoint window problems.

•Give a little shake. If they rattle, frames are not secure, so heat and air conditioning can leak out and rain can seep in. Some caulk and a few nails into surrounding framing will fix this.

•Look deep. If you can see the outside from around–not through–the window, you’ve got gaps. Stop air leaks by caulking and weather stripping around frames.

•Inspect window panes for cracks.

•Check locks. Make sure double-hung windows slide smoothly up and down. If not, run a knife around the frame and sash to loosen any dried paint. Tighten cranks on casement windows and check that top locks fully grab latches.

Door doubts

•Check doors for cracks that weaken their ability to stop air leaks and water seeps.

•Inspect weather stripping for peels and gaps.

•Make sure hinges are tight and doors fit securely in their thresholds.

Inspect skylights

Brown stains on walls under a skylight are telltale signs of finding a water leak and that air is escaping. Cut a small hole in the stained drywall to check for wetness, which would indicate rot, or gaps in the skylight.

To investigate skylight leaks, carefully climb on the roof and look for the following:

•Open seams between flashing or shingles.

•Shingle debris that allows water to collect on roofs.

•Failed and/or cracked cement patches put down the last time the skylight leaked.


If you would prefer to have a licensed contractor find and/or fix the water leaks or air leaks, I have a couple you could call to get the job done before the winter – call Debbie at 603-318-6953 for more information soon!

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.


4 Ways to Rescue Your Plants From the Heat Wave

4 Ways to Rescue Your Plants From the Heat Wave

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Summer’s triple-digit heat is threatening to fry the trees and shrubs you’ve spent all year tending.


You can’t turn off the sun. But you can turn on a spigot and save your plants by watering wisely and well.

“It’s decision-making time,” says Scott Aker of the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., where temperatures this summer have reached 105 degrees.

Your first decision? Let your lawn go.

“Turf grasses are programmed to go dormant in heat as a protective measure,” Aker says. “As soon as we get rain and the weather cools, they’ll get green.”

Also, give your vegetable garden its last rites. Tomatoes and peppers don’t form in heat above 95 degrees, so watering them now will keep the foliage alive, but you won’t see any fruit until September or October – if you’re lucky.

Jim Sutton of Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania has nursed shrubs and trees through several heat waves this summer. He offers four vital tips on how to help your landscaping beat the heat:

1. Recognize stress

Many stressed plants look thirsty. Green foliage turns grey and droops; blossoms and leaves fall to the ground in a desperate attempt to save the shrub. A deep watering often brings a plant back, or at least saves it so it’ll bud next year.

But if leaves are crispy, or the plant continues to look parched in the evening, then it’s reached a permanent wilting point: The point of no return. However, its death need not be in vain. Add your hapless plant to the compost pile to someday nourish its luckier neighbors.

2. Triage. Stat!

In triple-digit heat and drought, save what you can in this descending order:

•Newly planted shrubs and trees, vulnerable and pricey landscaping

•Perennials: Cut blossoms and stalks, which gives plants a rest and raises chances of returning next year.

•Established trees and shrubs, at least two years old, which have deep roots.

•Container plants: Move them onto a porch or under a shade tree.

•Vegetable gardens


3. Watering 101

Here’s a watering rule of thumb: Water deep, not often. Water should reach 8 to 12 inches down, creating a well of water for plants and trees to draw upon in high heat. To determine if you’ve reached your mark, press a large screwdriver into the soil: If it meets resistance, keep watering.

Hand-watering with a garden hose and aerator is best. Count to 10 as you water the base of plants. Move and repeat. If you have lots of property to water, then use a sprinkler, but adjust it so it doesn’t waste overspray on driveways and walkways.

Tree gators (plastic donuts or sacs that slowly release water onto tree bases) and drip hoses are good helpmates, too.

Water in the early morning: Not 7 a.m. when you usually roll out of bed, but when the sun rises at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. However, don’t get fixated on watering in the morning. If water restrictions require only evening watering, soak ‘em good and don’t fret about fungus forming on leaves that stay damp throughout the night: A little powdery mildew won’t kill your shrubs, but dehydration will.

4. Mulch is your friend

If you didn’t mulch in spring, do it now. Mulch will keep moisture in the ground and suppress weeds, which compete with landscaping for water. If you haven’t mulched, water thoroughly, then add mulch to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.


Pool Safety

Safety Around the Pool

Courtesy of Christine Duffy, Libery Mutual

Did you know that year nearly 300 children younger than five drown in swimming pools every year? Your greatest assurance for water safety is adopting and practicing as many safety measures as possible for your pool and the area around it. Even one can make a difference—and save a life.

  1. Practice supervision. Never take your eyes off children in the water—even for a minute. Always designate a “pool watcher.”
  2. Install barriers. In most states, swimming pools qualify as an “attractive nuisance,” which refers to a safety hazard that children find appealing while lacking the experience to know the dangers it may pose. Owners of swimming pools are therefore expected to take reasonable steps to restrict pool access to children or otherwise be held liable for their injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) strongly recommends that all residential pools have a four-foot barrier, such as a fence with self-closing and self-latching gates. If your house is the fourth side of a barrier, secure doors with alarms that prevent children from wandering into the pool area.
  3. Avoid entrapments. Do not play or swim near drains or suction outlets. Suction from a pool’s drain can be so powerful it can trap an adult underwater. A pool with a broken, loose or missing drain cover should be closed immediately until it can be repaired by a licensed professional. Report drain entrapments by calling the CPSC hotline at 800-638-2772.
  4. Practice diving safety. Post “No Diving” signs clearly on all above-ground pools, which are not designed for diving. Never dive off the side of an in-ground pool, especially at the shallow end. Dive only off of a diving board that has been installed by a professional.
  5. Learn and practice life-saving skills. Teach your children how to swim. Learn CPR so you can help save a life in case of a water emergency. Practice your skills regularly and rehearse emergency drills to keep water safety top of mind.

For more information about pool safety, visit www.PoolSafely.gov.

To learn more about Liberty Mutual auto and home insurance or get a free, no-obligation quote, contact Christine Duffy at 978-687-4150 ext. 52049 or visit www.libertymutual.com/christineduffy.

Coverage provided and underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and its affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA.  Reprinted with permission from Liberty Mutual. ©2011 Liberty Mutual Group. All rights reserved.