How To Clean a Bathroom Exhaust Fan

The most efficient tips on how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan.

how to clean a bathroom exhaust fanTAB62/SHUTTERSTOCK

As you tackle your bathroom cleaning checklist, there’s one more chore you might want to add—the exhaust fan. In fact, it’s more important than you might think to know how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan. That little fan helps get rid of odors, reduces moisture in the air and can even remove airborne contaminates from household cleaning chemicals. A dirty fan covered in dust doesn’t work efficiently. And if your exhaust fan is on the fritz, excess moisture has no where to go—which eventually will lead to mold and mildew. So here’s the plan—don’t neglect that fan. Give it a good cleaning about every six months. Read on to find out how to thoroughly clean your bathroom exhaust fan, but first turn off the fan at the circuit breaker for safety. Then you’re ready to get started.

How Do You Remove a Bathroom Vent Cover?

To remove the cover, gently pull down on the cover to expose the fan; then squeeze the metal mounting wires on either side and slide them out of their slots. This will allow the cover to be completely removed from the fan housing. Now you can see the amount of dust and grime you are dealing with, and get to work.

Clean the Vent Cover with Soapy Water

Cleaning the cover is simple. Fill up your bathroom sink with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Allow the cover to soak in the soapy water for a few minutes. Then scrub the fan cover with a cloth or dish brush removing all dirt, dust and grime. Place the cover on a towel and allow it to air dry while you move on to the next step—cleaning the fan.

Use a Vacuum to Get Rid of Dust on the Exhaust Fan

Before you touch the exhaust fan, unplug the standard two-prong plug that powers the fan. If you want to be extra cautious, you can turn the power off to the bathroom at the circuit breaker. Once you’re certain there is no electricity to the fan, you can safely clean it. Start by removing dust with a vacuum extension wand and attachments. For the fan motor components and fan housing, use a bristle brush dusting attachment. For the more narrow and hard to reach areas, use the crevice attachment. Maintain a light touch so you don’t damage anything.

Remove Grime with a Damp Cloth

Once the dry dust is removed, you’ll probably notice the exhaust fan is still dirty with built-up grime. Take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe down the fan components and housing to remove any remaining dirt. Looking to perform an extra deep clean? Don’t be afraid to further disassemble the fan. Depending on your model, remove any visible screws and remove the motor from the fan housing. Clean the fan blades and surrounding motor parts with the damp microfiber cloth.

Reassemble the Exhaust Fan

With a clean fan and a cover that looks like new, it’s time to put the fan back together. If you removed the motor, now is the time to put it back in place and replace the screws. Next, plug in the fan to restore power. Then put the cover back on by inserting the mounting wires back into their slots, and gently push the cover into place. Now that you know how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan,

Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.
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Mold & Mildew: How To Clean Black Spots In the Bathroo

how to clean black spots in bathroomBURDUN ILIYA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Have you ever been taking a relaxing bath, only to look up and notice black mold growing on the ceiling? Yuck. It’s a problem no one wants to deal with, but unfortunately is a common occurrence in bathrooms—especially if your home is located in a moist climate. The good news is, you don’t have to live with that mold and mildew forever. Find out how to clean black spots in the bathroom with a few supplies and a little elbow grease. Secret bathroom cleaning tips from the pros.

What Causes Black Mold on a Bathroom Ceiling?

Mold on the ceiling is caused by moisture that has no where to go. Mold loves moisture. Steam from hot showers and bathtubs rises to the ceiling, and without proper ventilation it can settle there. If the moisture remains too long, mold spores begin to grow. In addition to being unsightly, mold can also cause health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold can cause “nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation…or skin irritation.” And even more alarming, serious lung infections can occur in people with weak immune systems.
Is black mold deadly? Find out what is true versus what is myth when it comes to mold.

How to Clean Mold From a Bathroom Ceiling

To clean mold from the ceiling, wash the affected area with a store-bought mold cleaner, or a mixture of dish soap and water. Let the area dry. Now it’s time to get out the big guns to kill the mold—bleach. Mix one-quarter cup of bleach with one quart of water and apply the solution with a spray bottle or sponge. Remember when working with bleach to crack a window for ventilation and wear gloves and eye protection. If you prefer to not use bleach, white vinegar can also be effective. Apply straight vinegar to the area with a spray bottle and allow it to sit for an hour, then wipe the area clean and allow it to dry. Are you making these 10 bathroom cleaning mistakes?

How to Clean Mildew From a Bathroom Ceiling

Think of mildew as mold’s less threatening cousin. They’re both fungi, but mildew is not as invasive and is easier to clean because it only lives on the surface. Mildew is usually light gray or white in color and has a flat, powdery appearance. To clean it from your bathroom ceiling, simply wipe it with a damp cloth sprayed with any household cleaner. You can use a bathroom cleaner specially formulated to clean mildew, or white vinegar will also do the trick. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water, spray the mildew, and wipe away. Here’s how to use essential oils to get rid of that mildew smell.

How to Clean Mold in the Shower or Bath

Cleaning mold from the shower or bath can be done with the same methods used on the ceiling. Clean the area with a household bathroom cleaner first, then use either a bleach solution or vinegar to kill the mold. To prevent mold from growing in the shower or bath again, keep the bathroom ventilated and control moisture as much as possible. Use a bathroom exhaust fan, crack a window when showering, and make sure to wipe away any leftover moisture with a squeegee. Take further measures by keeping a spray bottle full of vinegar in the bathroom, spray your bath and shower after use to prevent mold growth. Psst! Now that you know how to clean black spots in the bathroom—prevent mold and mildew from growing back with an exhaust fan. Here’s how to clean your bathroom exhaust fan to ensure it’s running properly.

Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.
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15 Trees You Should Never Grow in Your Yard

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Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

 

The best choices for cabinet paints

Paint options for painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets brightens a shabby kitchen. Choose an oil-based paint or a water-borne acrylic enamel. Both create tough, durable surfaces.

best paint for cabinetsFAMILY HANDYMAN

Prime before painting

If you want to give new life to old wooden kitchen cabinets, painting is a great choice. You have several good paint options. Before painting, a careful sanding and good primer set the stage for a smooth, durable top coat for painting kitchen cabinets. For the best adhesion and a harder, more durable finish, an oil-based (alkyd) paint is tough to beat. But you must be willing to put up with the strong odor and solvent cleanup, along with a longer drying and curing time than you’d get if you used an ordinary water-based paint. Plus, the color may yellow over time.
The best paint for cabinets solution to avoid the hassle of oil-based paint is a new-technology waterborne acrylic enamel paint. This type of paint delivers:
  • Good flow
  • Leveling
  • Hardening characteristics of oil-based paint without the odor and long drying time.
  • These new paints dry fast and clean up with soap and water.
The main challenge with waterborne acrylic enamel paint is a smooth finish, but pros say that if the waterborne acrylic enamel is applied heavily enough and worked in small sections, it will flatten out nicely. When painting kitchen cabinets, avoid a dry brush and going over sections already starting to dry. Check out these best-kept secrets of professional painters. These great ideas will produce a perfectly smooth and even paint job everytime. Don’t forget other keys to success when painting kitchen cabinets:
  • Surface preparation (degreasing, cleaning and sanding)
  • Priming (use a top-quality primer)
  • Brushing (use the best-quality brush for the type of paint)
  • Drying (follow label directions).
 
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SIDING How to Replace Vinyl Siding

vinyl siding repair
Cracked or broken vinyl siding is no reason for despair. A simple $5 tool gets the job done in 15-minutes. This article also includes some useful tips on how to get the best match possible for your original siding.

15-minute vinyl siding repair with a zip tool

siding removal tool

Photo 1: A zip tool is the key

Slide the zip tool along the bottom edge to release the vinyl siding from the piece below it. This vinyl siding repair tip will save you loads of time.

How Do You Replace Vinyl Siding?

Vinyl siding repair is tough, but not indestructible. If a falling branch or a well-hit baseball has cracked a piece of your siding, you can make it as good as new in about 15 minutes with a zip tool and a replacement piece. It’s as simple as unzipping the damaged piece and snapping in a new one. Get this vinyl siding repair kit zip tool on Amazon. Starting at one end of the damaged piece, push the end of the zip siding removal tool up under the siding until you feel it hook the bottom lip (Photo 1). Pull the zip tool downward and out to unhook the bottom lip, then slide it along the edge, pulling the siding out as you go. Then unzip any pieces above the damaged piece. Hold them out of the way with your elbow while you pry out the nails that hold the damaged piece in place (Photo 2). Slide the replacement piece up into place, pushing up until the lower lip locks into the piece below it. Drive 1-1/4-in. roofing nails through the nailing flange. Space them about every 16 in. (near the old nail holes). Nail in the center of the nailing slot and leave about 1/32 in. of space between the nail head and the siding so the vinyl can move freely. Don’t nail the heads tightly or the siding will buckle when it warms up. With the new piece nailed, use the zip tool to lock the upper piece down over it. Start at one end and pull the lip down, twisting the siding removal tool slightly to force the leading edge down (Photo 3). Slide the zip tool along, pushing in on the vinyl just behind the siding removal tool with your other hand so it snaps into place. It’s best to repair vinyl in warm weather. In temperatures below freezing, it becomes less flexible and may crack. The downside of replacing older vinyl siding is that it can be hard to match the style and color, and siding rarely has any identifying marks. The best way to get a replacement piece is to take the broken piece to vinyl siding distributors in your area and find the closest match. If the old vinyl has faded or you can’t find the right color, take the broken piece to a paint store and have the color matched. Paint the replacement piece with one coat of top-quality acrylic primer followed by acrylic house paint—acrylic paint will flex with the movement of the vinyl.

Required Tools for this How to Remove Vinyl Siding Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY how to remove vinyl siding project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
  • Pry bar

Required Materials for this How to Remove Vinyl Siding Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
  • Zip tool
Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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Improving Attic Ventilation Installing soffit vents By Merle Henkenius of Today’s Homeowner

STEP TWO // Improving Attic Ventilation

Cut parallel lines

cutting the two parallel lines with a portable circular saw
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Next, bore a 3⁄4- or 1-in.-dia. hole through the soffit right between the lines and measure the thickness of the soffit panel (probably 1⁄4 or 3⁄8 in.). Then set your circular saw to that depth and cut along the chalk lines. Cut the two parallel lines with a portable circular saw. Set the blade depth to barely cut through the thin soffit material.

Connect the two cuts

connecting the two cuts with a sharp chisel
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
When you near the end of the soffit, stop short and connect the two cuts with a sharp chisel or sabre saw. Once all cuts are made, use a thin pry bar to remove the 2-in. plywood strip. Pull any nails that remain in the soffit framing with a cat's paw. Then inspect the length of the vent cutout. If there's any insulation clogging the slot, pull it out or shove it back up.

Raise the vent up to the soffit

raising the vent up to the soffit and center it over the cutout slot
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Next, lay the strip vent down on a flat wood surface, such as a plywood sheet or long 2 x 4, and drill 1⁄8-in.-dia. screw holes through both flanges. Space the holes 12 to 14 in. apart. With the help of an assistant, raise the vent up to the soffit and center it over the cutout slot.

Attach the vent to the soffit

using a cordless drill/driver to secure the vent to the soffit
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Use a cordless drill/driver to secure the vent to the soffit with ½-in.-long No. 4 sheet-metal screws. Continue installing additional strip vents until you reach the far end. Trim the last vent to length using aviation snips.

Remove any insulation from the new vent

raking back blown-in insulation from the new soffit vent
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
The soffit vents are now installed, but you still need to make sure there's no insulation blocking the new vents. If the attic is insulated with fiberglass batts, just pull back any that are blocking the flow of air. If there's blown-in insulation, like ours, rake back the fluffy stuff with a 3- or 4-ft.-long 1 x 6, or use a garden rake or hoe.

Install the ventilation baffle

stapling a ventilation baffle to the plywood sheathing
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS

Finally, to ensure that the airway to the vent remains open, staple a ventilation baffle to the plywood sheathing in each rafter bay. The molded polystyrene baffles, available at home centers and lumberyards for about $1 each, form channels that hold insulation at bay and direct incoming air upward.

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5 Home Projects You Should Tackle Before You List Your House By Ashley Carter

increase your resale value
Image via iStock
Your home is a major investment, and it’s something that you want to get the most from when you move on. Don’t let minor flaws get in the way of your profits. Something as simple as picking up toys in the yard or clearing away your collection of soda bottles can make a major difference in how potential buyers feel about your home. Add these projects to your checklist if you want to make a good first impression and sell your home for top dollar.

Paint for Neutral Ambiance

Neutral colors are the most appealing choice for home buyers. Painting is a big job, and something that many buyers don’t want to tackle right away. Bold colors are entirely a matter of personal preference. You may love that deep teal on the walls, but it will be more difficult to connect with prospective buyers when you’ve chosen such a distinctive hue. Instead, paint your home in shades that are easy to match, such as eggshell, tan, white or pewter.

Upgrade for Energy Efficiency

Smart homebuyers look at more than the up-front cost of the home. They’ll also consider ongoing expenses such as utilities and upkeep. That’s why Energy Star appliances and newer HVAC systems are so appealing. If you don’t have the funds for these major investments, you can improve your home’s energy efficiency on a budget by sealing and insulating. Address cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Replace the seals around doors and windows, repair any damage to the siding, and check your insulation.

“Sealing your home everywhere you can makes a big difference, not only in your energy bills, but in the comfort of the home,” said Julie Jacobson, a Redfin real estate agent in California. “Inexpensive weatherstripping available at your local hardware store will do the trick. Your local utility company or county may even offer rebates and incentives for making these upgrades.”

Clean Up for Spacious Impressions

Cluttered homes look smaller and hectic. Clear the odds and ends, and make your home look as much like a showroom as possible. If the idea of organizing all these items is too overwhelming, simply box them up and stash them in unseen areas, such as under the bed. You may even want to rent a small storage space while you’re staging your home so that you can clear out your closets and show off their spacious nature or empty the garage and make it look more appealing.

Landscape Carefully for Curb Appeal

First impressions are critical when you’re selling your home. Many prospective buyers will do a drive-by before scheduling a viewing. If they don’t like what they see from the street, they’ll never step inside the home. Keep your yard well maintained with manicured bushes, carefully tended flower beds, and a clutter-free lawn. Small improvements such as painting the front door, straightening the mailbox, and replacing that missing stone in the walkway will go a long way toward enticing a buyer.

Polish Up the Bathroom for a Like-New Look

You don’t have to remodel your whole bathroom for the same level of appeal. At a minimum, you should recaulk the tub for a fresh, clean look. If you can’t eliminate stains and discoloration completely, reglaze the tub to make it look like new. Keep this room meticulously clean, regularly sweeping up stray hairs, dusting light fixtures, and cleaning the mirror so that it looks pristine.

A well-staged home will draw more buyers and entice the type of bidding war every seller wants. Make the effort to present your home well, and you’ll reap major rewards for your efforts.

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How to Build a DIY Fire Pit in One Day By Angie Bersin April 4, 2019

Adding a DIY fire pit to your backyard is an excellent way to keep the fun going long after dark.

Instead of an unsightly dirt fire pit, spend a day making a new statement piece for your yard. If you’re wondering how to build a fire pit — we’ll show you how!

When selecting and building your DIY fire pit, make sure you avoid using wet stones. If you are using river rocks, be sure to give them several days of direct sunlight to properly dry.

1. In-Ground DIY Fire Pit

In-ground diy fire pit with stones
Photo by Tom Hodgkinson
The in-ground fire pit is becoming increasingly popular among DIY fire pit builders. Before digging into the ground, make sure you call 811, the federally mandated “Call Before You Dig Number.” Someone will come to mark the approximate location of any underground lines, pipes, and cables so you can dig safely. Once you dig your fire pit to the desired size, line the dirt walls with stones or brick. Follow these additional steps to get started:
  1. First, want to create a bottom layer of gravel, then cover it with the “bottom” of your fire pit — larger stones or bricks or an even covering such as quick drying cement.
  2. Be sure to have drainage or it will turn into a mosquito pond.
  3. Create your top rim by making small cutouts in the dirt for your bricks or stones.
  4. Finally, dry stack your desired additional layers, or create a small wall using fire resistant adhesives or quick drying cement.

2. Overlaid Stone DIY Fire Pit

overlaid stone fire pit
Photo by Our Fairfield Home
For an artistic-looking fire pit, instead of evenly shaped bricks, grab several unique rough rocks, and construct an overlaid stone fire pit. If your pieces are hearty enough (pictured is Pennsylvania Blue Stone) you won’t need any cement for this pit either — but use common sense when building up your walls. Here are some additional tips to secure your structure:
  • If the stones do not feel secure, add in some non-flammable masonry adhesive, landscape adhesive or Liquid Nails.
  • For the center, line the bottom of your fire pit with one or two inches of sand.
  • The outside of your fire pit should be lined as well, and no grass or other yard matter should be within two feet of your pit.

3. Tin DIY Fire Pit

Tin DIY fire pit with burning coals and wood
Using whatever barrel-shaped scraps you can find, you can create this all-in-one tin fire pit. Tin fire pits are extra safe as they ensure your fire is adequately contained, and are much preferred in areas with wide open plains and active winds such as El Paso. You can spruce up your repurposed tin barrel nicely with some high-heat paint (like Rust-Oleum) and stencils.

4. Gravel DIY Fire Pit

gravel fire pit
Photo by Homeroad
There is no digging required for this DIY fire pit design! Select some handsome gravel for your foundation, spread it out to create your overall fire pit space, then stack your fire pit stones. The fire pit pictured was built with crushed concrete rock with some additional aesthetic details. The pit’s stones ought to be more than heavy enough to be dry stacked — no need for adhesive or cement. Hang some outdoor lights above your fire pit to finish off your welcoming ambiance for backyard guests.

5. Raised DIY Fire Pit with Fire Bowl

raised fire pit with fire bowl
Photo by http://www.hometalk.com/elloradrinnen
If you want an elevated fire, this is an ideal design for you. You can build up your fire pit walls to the desired height (only use even bricks for this design, not the rough stones mentioned above) and then top off with a fire bowl. Ensure that your fire pit is the proper size for the bowl by building the first layer of the wall around the screen top of your fire bowl. When purchasing a fire bowl, make sure it has holes for drainage in the center (dumping out fire bowls filled with water is a hassle).

6. Grate Drum DIY Fire Pit

grate drum fire pit
Photo by Charles Peace

For a less formal, down-home fire pit look, simply add a smoker fire basket (sometimes also called a vertical drum) to the mix. You can either buy one pre-made, or you can craft one yourself using flexible metal grating from the hardware store and a few bolts to fasten it into a circle. Quite a few Hometalk DIYers like to use old washing machine drums, which cost about $10 from used appliance stores. Then insert your drum into the center of your fire pit. If you choose to build a solid wall design like the fire pit pictures, make sure you leave a drainage route for rainwater.

Whichever style you choose, just make sure you enjoy responsibly. Hometalk breaks down all the necessary safety precautions before, during, and after building your fire pit in “Stop! Your Must Have Handbook for Building DIY Fire Pits.”

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Well Water Safety: DO’s and DON’Ts

If your home uses well water, then there are some very important “do`s”, “don`ts” and other considerations for which you need to pay particular attention. This article will help you keep your well water supply safe for your family.

DO's AND DON'Ts IN YOUR YARD

Let's start first with the area of the yard where your well sits, and the part of your well that is above ground. When landscaping around your wellhead, be sure to keep the top of your well at least 12” above the ground around the casing, so that surface water can never enter your well. And you will want to ensure the area around your wellhead slopes away from the well to prevent surface water from pooling around the casing, which can cause contamination and damage to your system. Keep the area around your well accessible and clean of leaves, grass, other debris, and piled snow. And take care when working or mowing around your well, as a damaged casing can jeopardize the sanitary protection of your well. And anytime there’s been flooding near your well, do not use water from your well until it has been tested for bacteria contamination (helpful accessory: water quality testers). Your well should be at least 100 feet away from potential contaminants sources such as oil tanks, septic tanks, or chemical storage tanks. Avoid using, mixing or storing hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, motor oil, gas, weed killer or other pollutants near your well. Do not dump waste near your well or near sinkholes, as this may contaminate your water supply. And if you have a septic tank, be sure to have it pumped regularly to prevent possible contamination of your groundwater from it overflowing. You should routinely conduct a thorough check of your wellhead. Make sure that the well cap is not broken and is free from any holes or corrosion, and it is at least 12" above the ground with a watertight seal (see costs and reviews of well caps). If it doesn’t already have one, you should install a sealed sanitary cap to prevent contamination from insects, small animals, and other surface contamination. And if you have an abandoned well on or near your property, it should be sealed. Abandoned wells can be sources of potentially polluted groundwater, which could make water from your working well unsafe to drink.

OTHER DO's & DON'Ts

If you have infants in your home, you should have your well especially tested for nitrates. Most wells will test for high concentrations of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. So to improve doing laundry, bathing and the taste of your water, you should consider adding the appropriate water softener system. And if your well water has too much iron in it, then you should NOT use bleach when laundering, because it will cause a chemical reaction that will stain your clothes. Instead of laundering with bleach, you can use hydrogen peroxide, borax, Iron Out, or pre-soaking and rinsing your laundry in store-bought water and bleach. You should regularly disinfect your well once an inspection has determined that your water system is free from any sources of apparent contamination. Disinfection not only cleans your well, but also helps maintain its production capability. But be careful not to over-chlorinate your well. And whenever you are uncertain about the safety of your water supply you should have your well tested for bacteria. Be sure to install backflow prevention devices on all outside faucets with hose connections, as this will help keep pollutants from being siphoned back into the hose and into your water supply. And when using a hose to add water to pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals, you should never put the hose inside the tank or container, as this can potentially result in these very dangerous chemicals being siphoned back into your water supply. Always use a licensed water well driller and pump installer for any service done on your well or pump. You will want to keep careful records of your well installation, any maintenance or inspections, repairs, and all water test results and disinfections. And keep your well records in a safe place.

TESTING

At least once a year, you should have your well tested for total coliform bacteria, which will give an indication of whether there is a likelihood of more dangerous bacteria present. And every three years have your well tested for pH, TDS, nitrate, and other contaminants of local concern. In addition to ensuring the safety of your drinking water, you can also use the results of your well tests to make the appropriate water filtration decisions for your home. While waiting for your well test results, to ensure safe drinking water for your family, you should only drink bottled water or water from a known, safe, source. Or if necessary, you can make water safe to drink by boiling the water for five minutes. All water tests should be conducted by a certified lab. After you receive your results, compare them to the drinking water standards for public systems by the EPA. And you might want to consider having a downhole inspection done of your well, by a contractor who uses an underwater camera. This can help ensure that you well still has tight construction and that the downhole equipment is working properly.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

If you ever notice any changes in your water (odors, color, laundry problems etc.), You should have your well immediately tested. And if your sinks and toilets are a reddish color, or if you notice your clothes look dingy or slightly orange over time, or develop an odor even after laundering, then your well water may have too much iron in it. And most important of all, if your water is ever cloudy, smelly or discolored, DO NOT drink the water.
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How to Sell Your House in 2019 from Redfin

Interior view of home - How to sell you house in 2019

So, you have found yourself at that point of selling your house and moving on. Maybe you’re downsizing to a smaller house because the kids have finally left the nest, or you got a job in a new city and need to relocate, or finally, you retired and want to head south to warmer climates. Whatever your reason, you’re ready to sell your home. Luckily for you, we put together a comprehensive guide for first-time and seasoned home sellers. Continue reading to find out how to sell your house this year.

1) Hire a Home Inspector

You’re probably thinking wait, isn’t that what the buyer is going to do? You’re not wrong. When a buyer has made an offer and you’ve accepted it, the buyer will most likely hire a home inspector of their own. So, why would you hire a home inspector? First, if a home inspector turns up something that’s in need of repair, wouldn’t you prefer to resolve it long before entering into negotiations with a potential buyer?

In fact, if you end up needing to make repairs expected to take weeks to fix, you may lose that buyer altogether. Hiring a home inspector is a proactive approach to getting your home ready to sell. Known as a pre-listing home inspection, you can find out the exact condition of your property, what repairs need to be addressed beforehand, fix them, then focus on the next task to get your home sold fast.

Also, knowing the condition of your property will further assist you during the negotiation phase with potential buyers.  As you may already be aware, since you’ve already bought a home yourself, buyers often use their home inspection as a way of getting concessions from sellers, such as asking you to drop your list price. If you’ve already addressed any repairs that turned up in an inspection report, it is less likely that any new repairs will come up and impact your position during negotiations.

2) Make Repairs and Small Upgrades to Your Home

After your inspector makes a comprehensive list of repairs you should make, it’s time to get started either making the repairs yourself or contracting the right person to do them. This is may also be a great time to make small upgrades to your home that will help your house to sell fast. You don’t need to renovate your kitchen or anything, but that red accent wall that was extremely popular a decade ago might need a fresh coat of paint more neutral in color.

Understand Your Homes Selling Points First, try understanding your home’s selling points and then try to highlight those features to make them really stand out. Not sure what those features are in your home? Just think about what sold you on your home when you first toured it. Was it the kitchen, the open floor plan, or that personal studio space? These are the features you want to concentrate on because they are most likely to sell your home again.

Brighten Your Home You also want to think about ways to brighten your home and improve your curb appeal. Simple ways to brighten your home is painting your ceilings white and choosing a wall color that is brighter and more neutral. Though you may have enjoyed that accent wall, not everyone has the same taste as yourself. You want to make your house appeal to the largest audience possible to not only sell your home fast but to also invite more offers.

Improve Your Curb Appeal Furthermore, improving your curb appeal is crucial for future homebuyers. You only make a first impression once, and the curb appeal of your home is the first impression of your home for potential buyers. Though you may not necessarily have to paint the exterior of your house to impress homebuyers, simple things like trimming your hedges, freshly mowed lawn and making sure any exterior lights aren’t burnt out can go a long way. Even freshly laid beauty bark and newly planted flowers can really make your yard pop!

Though this can be a lot of work, you will be happy that you did it because homes often sell faster and for more money when these small upgrades are done. If you don’t want to do all that work yourself, don’t know how to, or just don’t have the time, there are concierge type services that can do it all for you. This way you can focus on moving to your next home.

3) Declutter and Prep Your House to Sell

There’s an expression in real estate, “clutter can cost a sale.” Decluttering and prepping your home is something you want to really focus on. Especially if you’ve lived in your house for five years or more, there is a good chance you’ve collected a lot of stuff. Don’t worry it happens!

Renting storage units are becoming an increasingly popular method to decluttering one’s home before selling it. The idea is to limit the amount of stuff in your house so that potential buyers can envision themselves (and their stuff) in that space. Even removing photos is a great way to allow people touring your home to think about what they would hang on those walls or what they’d place on that fire mantel. Basically, you’re trying to present your house as a canvass from which potential buyers can create the next chapter of their lives.

Furthermore, by eliminating the majority of your stuff in your house earlier you can start deep cleaning your home more easily. And yes, you want to deep clean your home. If you sold your car to someone (not a dealership) you would probably wash it and vacuum the inside of it before you let someone test drive it, right? Well, the same goes for selling your house. You want to present your home in its best possible light so that it sells fast and you get competing offers.

Also, don’t just focus on deep cleaning just the inside of your home. You can use a pro wash to clean the outside of your home as well. These products typically attached to your garden hose and then you just spray your house down. It’s kind of like washing your car, just without the scrubbing.

4) Find a Real Estate Agent

Finding a real estate agent is easy, finding a great real estate agent can be more of a challenge. Getting referrals and reading online reviews is a great way to start narrowing down your options, and hopefully, you’ll end up with a couple of good potential candidates to interview.

You’ll want to understand what you’re looking for when hiring a real estate agent to represent your best interests. Here are some questions to consider asking any potential candidate:

  • How many clients have you served this year?
  • Has a client ever filed a complaint against you?
  • What is your fee?
  • What services do you offer beyond negotiations and escrow?

These are just a few questions to consider asking while interviewing real estate agents. A more comprehensive list of interview questions can be found here.

After you decide on a real estate agent, you and your agent should come up with a plan of action. This plan should include a timeline, from the pricing of your home and getting it listed on MLS to open houses. It should also include when a price reduction strategy needs to take effect to get your home sold. You and your agent should be on the same page at all times and a plan of action will help ensure that.

5) Price Your Home to Sell

Now is the time to find out what price you should list your home! You can start by using online tools to help you get an idea of what your home is currently worth. This is a great starting point to get an idea of your home’s worth, but you should never set your sights on a single number and expect it to happen. Market conditions change all the time and so too does buyer behavior. Being open-minded about pricing your home as well as adjusting price is key to get your home sold.

Another option that many homeowners do to get a list price for their home is to hire a home appraiser. Home appraisers are licensed professionals that will assess the value of your house based on the state of your property and overall housing market conditions. They will look at the size of your property, the interior and exterior conditions of your house, any upgrades, additions or home improvements you’ve done, and then calculate your home’s worth based on the local market conditions.

Looking at comparables of recently sold homes in your area will also help you settle on a price with your real estate agent. These homes should be similar in size, location, and sold within the last few months. Anything outside of those parameters would not be considered true comparables and could give you false information for pricing your home.

Furthermore, you want to be strategic about your pricing. You want your house to sell fast while being competitive for current market conditions. Instead of lumping the price of your house in with others in the area, strategize your pricing based on your home’s selling features. In other words, if there are three houses for sale in the same area as your own and priced at $350,000, you might be able to justify $360,000 or more because you have a larger lot size or maybe you’re located in a popular neighborhood.

6) Get Professional Photos Taken of Your Home

Nothing sells a home faster than professional photos. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They are searching online, looking at every home that comes up for sale within their filtered interests the moment it’s listed. If your house is being represented online by poorly shot photography, your listing will see very little traffic. Not to mention, it has been widely observed that listing your house with professionally shot photos, on average, sell for more money than other listings.

Furthermore, 3D walking tours of homes have become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. Many agencies include these types of services as a component of their overall services to you as a seller, however, you should ask while interviewing your real estate agent what services are provided so you don’t find yourself paying out of pocket later.

7) List Your Home to Sell

Your real estate agent will get your home listed online on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), in order to l start showing up on real estate search platforms to potential buyers.

You may be wondering when is the best time to list your home? If you’re thinking about waiting for a specific season, then you might be waiting for nothing. In 2016, Redfin analyzed more than 7 million home sales to identify specific seasonal trends in homes being sold. What was determined was that though spring was slightly better for homes that sold within 30 days and for above asking price, winter was surprisingly a close second. What plays a bigger role in a house being sold quickly and/or above asking price has more to do with current market conditions than the season a house is sold.

Also, don’t limit the marketing of your house to your real estate agent and online search. Market your house yourself! Spread the word through your family and friends, share your listing on social media, send out emails asking people to share your listing with others, and even advertising with online ads are ways of getting your house in front of more people and increase the chance of selling your home faster.

8) Have Open Houses and Personal Showings

Your first open house is what you’ve been working towards and now it’s about to happen. It’s time to step up your game and stage your home to sell. Here is a list of things to consider that will really help you make your house shine:

  • Clear the clutter: You may have already transferred most of your belongings to a storage unit by now. Focus on just cleaning up the clutter that gets left out on countertops and tables. Put away newspapers, mail or magazines, or if you have children help them pick up their toys.
  • Deep clean your house: Nothing turns off a buyer more than an unclean bathroom. That could also be said about the rest of your house. Now more than ever is that time to wash your windows, window sills, and scrub your grimy glass shower doors.
  • Add white accents: White accents such as flowers or towels in the bathroom create a sense of welcome cleanliness.
  • Arrange furniture: You don’t have to necessarily rent furniture to stage your home. You can most likely use what you have. The key is to limit the number of furniture pieces in any one room and then arrange them in a way that’s inviting to people as they enter the room.
  • Bring in light: Think about removing your curtains or keeping them drawn back to allow as much light into your house as possible. If you have rather large elaborate curtains, consider storing them away until you get to your next home.
  • Showcase your floors: Floors are key feature homebuyers are looking at, especially if you have wood floors. Show them off by removing any rugs or unneeded furniture so that more of your flooring can be seen. If you have wood floors, think about getting them polished to really make them pop!
  • Create a welcoming ambiance: You may have heard about that old trick of lighting a candle that smells like freshly baked cookies? Well, it’s not wrong, but a single candle might not do the trick. Focus on reducing odors in your home. If you have a mudroom, or a cat or dog, use a neutralizing spray for a few days before an open house to limit any odors that you may not actually realize are there.
  • Organize all closets and drawers: Homebuyers touring your home will most likely look in your closets to determine space and, frankly, to see if their stuff will fit in there. Also, they will likely open kitchen drawers and cabinets as well, so make sure everything is nice and tidy.
  • Dust: Concentrate on all the areas that you’ve most likely have turned a blind eye to for some time, like ceiling fans, baseboards, on top of doorways, appliances, etc.
  • Make your entrance inviting: If the exterior of your house has outdated light fixtures or worn out address numbers, consider replacing them along with your welcome mat. A new mat is always inviting to people touring your home.
  • Secure your valuables: If you didn’t already store your valuables away in the storage unit you rented, you’ll want to make sure that these are not kept in plain sight. In fact, if you have a safe of some kind, that would be a perfect place to store your valuables while open houses and home tours are taking place.

Unlike open houses that are planned in advance, personal showings can happen at any point during the home selling process. The key is to be flexible and maintain your home’s cleanliness to make it easier on yourself in case of unexpected tours that may just pop up at moment’s notice. You want to make a great first impression every time!

10) Have a Plan in Case Your Home Doesn’t Sell Quick Enough

You and your real estate agent should have already gone over this beforehand, but not every house sells after the first open house. There are many factors at play and depending on the condition of the housing market for your area, your real estate agent may have to use some other strategies in their arsenal to get your house sold.

If it’s lowering the price of your home or holding more open houses, you’ll want to agree on what the next steps should be in case your house isn’t seeing any offers.

11) Negotiate the Selling Price of Your Home

One thing to consider is that the buyer is trying to get the absolute best price they can, while you’re doing the exact same. There will be multiple factors to consider as each home sold and purchased is different. For example, if it’s a buyer’s market that means the buyer has the upper hand because there are multiple listings with fewer offers being made. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make huge concessions in order to sell your home.

This is where your agent really steps up. They will help you navigate the negotiation process, and will give you their advice on how to proceed when offers are being made. Luckily, you interviewed and hired the right agent, so you know they have your best interests in mind. There are several factors and tactics to consider when entering this phase. Your agent will help you every step of the way as you navigate through the negotiation process.

You most likely have made many great memories in your home. Your children may have grown up in your house and marks of their heights years past still scar the wall near the kitchen. It’s difficult, but try to separate yourself – emotionally – from your house. Whatever your memories may be, just remember they are not lost, but they also have no place in negotiations. Try to remain objective during this process and rely on your real estate agent for advice and how to proceed.

12) Sign and Close

This is the moment you and your agent have been working towards. You’ve agreed on a price with the buyers, any and all inspections and appraisals of your home have been completed, and you are now signing the papers to sell your house. Congratulations, you’ve done it!

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