The Real Estate Cupboard #113 Archives by Steve Hubbard, Certified Buyer’s Representative

Improving the Condition and Appearance of Your Home

No matter whether you are buying or selling a home, it’s condition and especially its appearance can have a significant impact on the price for which it is purchased or sold. And so if you’re selling, look for ways to improve the appearance of your home. Often just small inexpensive corrective action can make a big difference well beyond the cost, especially if you do it yourself. And if you are buying and can think in terms of the little things that might make a difference in your enjoyment and appreciation of the home you are considering and maybe even get excited about taking care of some of these things your self, you might be more willing to take on a home that you might otherwise have rejected. And so I thought some tips on how to go about doing some of these things would be helpful. Let’s say for example there are burn marks on an otherwise beautiful wood floor. Well, if it is only a superficial burn mark marring the finish but not the wood, first try a commercial furniture cleaner. If that doesn’t work, you might try rubbing the burn with rottenstone, a siliceous limestone powder usually used for polishing metal, in light oil. Or rub the burn area with a fine steel wool and then dab on a little liquid bleach with a cotton swab. To get the color back to where it matches the surrounding wood, use colored furniture wax or polish, artist’s oils, shoe polish, a crayon or felt tip pen or perhaps a wood stain. Start light. It’s easier to darken than to lighten. If the burn is really bad, use a single edge razor or utility knife to scrape away the charred wood. Then fill with a wax or shellac stick tinted to match the lightest grain of the wood. Wax is easier to use and can be removed if necessary. To accomplish this, heat a curved grapefruit knife or a special curved knife called a “burn-in” knife over the stove. Then fill the burned area by melting the wax stick with the heated blade using the knife to guide the wax into the depression left by the burn. The whole should be filled slightly higher than the surrounding area so that when the wax has cooled the excess can be scrapped off to the level of the surrounding area with a razor or knife. In order to match the grain of the wood, use a fine tipped brush to paint darker streaks across the patched area joining them to the darker grain lines of the surrounding floor. Finally seal the patched area with polyurethane or varnish as called for.

How about something as simple as washing the windows. You have no idea what a difference really clean windows can make to the appearance of a home. Here are some tips: Do it on an overcast day or at any time the sun is not shining directly onto the glass since direct sunlight causes streaks. You can make your own less expensive window cleaner by mixing 2 tablespoons of household ammonia or white vinegar in one quart of warm water. If the temperatures are below freezing (certainly not something we need to worry about right now) add ¼ cup denatured alcohol or 1 tablespoon glycerin so your cleaner won’t freeze. Using a spray bottle, sponge or a well-wrung out rag, start at the top. If the window is divided into many panes do one horizontal row at a time. To clean dirt out of the windows corners use a tooth brush or cotton swab. When drying the window with a paper towel or chamois wipe one side of the glass horizontally and the other side vertically so that if there are streaks you’ll know which side they’re on. Use a soft dry cloth to remove them.

There are any number of other things one can do to improve the appearance of a home. I will address some of these from time to time as opportunity permits.

Steve Hubbard owns and operates Steve Hubbard Real Estate Services.
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