Small Home Improvements that Make a Difference

Small Price… Thoughtful Improvements

Sometimes the smallest of home improvements can make a huge difference…especially when they are thoughtful additions. They don’t cost much, and may not make a huge difference in the overall appeal of the home, and certainly not in the price of the home, but they can add a nice touch that will cause a buyer to look twice. Consider some of these ideas:

1. USB Outlets. For $25 these would be great in a home office or kitchen nook or bedroom. I want one. Or a few. USB Outlet

2.  Sealing and Insulating the shell of your home can save you as much as 10% on your energy bills. A Step-by-Step DIY Guide from Energy Star tells you how. Savvy buyers will notice the effort and appreciate the energy savings. A 12 oz can of Gaps and Cracks Insulating Foam costs $4; Window and Door Insulating Foam costs $5; and a caulk gun and tube of caulk is $10 to $15.

3. A programmable thermostat is between $50 and $150. Again, buyers will appreciate it. And you might appreciated it with reduced energy costs.

4. A yard spruce up will cost you some elbow grease and maybe some weed killer, $25; some grass seed, $25 to $50; and some pretty flowers… $25 to $200. But the impact will be worth so much more. Studies show that within the first 30 seconds after entering a home the buyer has already decided whether or not they want to buy it. First impressions count.

5. And last, but not least, a coat of paint does miraculous things. A can of paint can be had for under $25. An afternoon of work will make a room clean and fresh.

3 Home Improvements Sellers Should Avoid

Savvy home sellers are aware that they need to present their home in it’s absolutely best condition to get the top dollar, in any real estate market, no just a buyer’s market. The question of which improvements to tackle first is asked very often.

Kitchens and Baths. That’s what we answer because they are what often sells a home. But, when making improvements, a home owner can go overboard. There are improvements that cost a lot of money but won’t necessarily increase your home’s value. Here are 3 things to avoid:

1. Avoid Expensive Landscaping

  • Those gorgeous stone hardscapes look fantastic and certainly give a
    home superb curb appeal. Landscaping always increases the sales appeal of a home, but the return on investment is another calculation. Hardscaping can be significantly more expensive than landscaping, so choose wisely. Keep it at a minimum.

    Home Improvement ROI

    Traditional Landscape design by Chicago Landscape Architect Romani Landscape Architecture

  • Inexpensive plantings will do the trick just as well as expensive ones. If a dead or overgrown shrub or tree needs to come out, replace it with something that is low maintenance and native to your area. Sometimes a pop of color is all that’s needed, and whatever you have planted just needs to be kept trim and neat.
  • Best Rule: Cut, Color and Fill
  • A fresh coat of paint on the front door and a few planters of colorful flowers will do wonders and won’t break the bank

2.  Avoid expensive floor coverings.

  • If after cleaning, you determine that carpet needs to be replaced, get a mid-grade neutral shade. It will look great, and will meet wear expectations. Buying the top grade will be a waste of money, especially if the buyer decides to replace it anyway!
  • If the wood floors are dull or worn, try a good cleaning and new finish. Sometimes they might require a refinishing.
  • Minor rooms like laundry rooms or powder rooms don’t need expensive flooring. Some laminates look just as good as hardwoods for less.

3.  Avoid Over-Converting Rooms

  • If you make over a room for a very specific purpose – like a home office or a library – make your improvements as non-permanent as possible. That way a buyer will be able to easily convert the room back to the original purpose. If they are faced with too much work, they might just give your home a pass.
  • This also goes for rooms with too much… Too much color, too much
    wall paper, too much clutter, too much personality… It’s always best to neutralize before you put your home on the market. It’s best if buyers can “see their stuff” in your space.

    Over Decorating

    AHHHH! Get a Paint Brush!

For more tips on Home Improvement ROI, see the Remodeling website.

The Highland  Group
Chris & Karen Highland *        301-831-9947
Turning Point Real Estate “ 301-831-8232
email us:
Text Us: 301-401-5119

Staging Tips: Make Your Space Look Larger

10 Ways to Make a Small Room Look Larger

RISMEDIA, –Most people have one: that room in the house that they wish was just a little larger. What many don’t realize is that with a little work and some TLC, they could have exactly what they’re looking for.

Here, Lowe’s offers 10 designer tricks to help you make any room look larger:

1. For the illusion of a larger room, use a color scheme that is light rather than bright or dark. Pastels, neutrals and white are all color possibilities.

2. Use a monochromatic color scheme on the furniture, rugs and walls. Select different shades and textures of your single color.

3. Lighting is a key element in opening up a space. Recessed spot lighting is visually appealing and is perfect for a small space. A torchiere light is great for bouncing light off of the ceiling and back down on the room.Skylights and solar tubes are natural alternatives for adding light to a room.

4. Limit the number of accessories to avoid the cluttered feeling.

5. The floor and the ceiling are the fifth and sixth walls of every room. A light-colored flooring such as light oak or a light-colored carpet will make the room appear brighter and more open. The same applies to the ceiling”use a light color or white to “open up” the space above.

6. Increase the appearance of the size of the room by adding wall mirrors. They not only reflect images, they reflect light and color. Be a little daring! Use mirror tiles to mirror an entire wall. Your room will appear to double in size.

7. Don’t place too many pieces of furniture in a small space. A love seat may work better than a full-size sofa depending on the size and shape of the room. Add two medium-sized chairs or two small wood chairs. Place the chairs closer to the wall and then pull them into the area when additional seating is needed.

8. Add paintings or prints to the walls. One large painting works better than a group of small paintings.

9. The visual balance of a room is also important. A large, brightly colored element can overwhelm a room and decrease the appearance of space.

10. A glass table, whether it is a dining, coffee or end table, will keep the appearance of an open and free space.

For more how-to project ideas, visit Lowe’s How-To Library at


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The Highland Group

Chris & Karen Highland *        301-831-9947
Turning Point Real Estate “ 301-831-8232
email us:
Text Us: 301-401-5119

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Curb Appeal for Your Frederick Home in No Time

Gardening and landscaping are an important aspect of curb appeal. Let’s face it though, most people don’t have a lot of time for it. Many people don’t think they have room for it.   But even if you live in a condominium and only have a small balcony, there are many things you can do to “bring the outdoors in”.

I’ve discovered a good resourse I wanted to pass on:

Gardening in No Time: 50 Step-by-step Projects and Inspirational Ideas by Tessa Evelegh (Author), Debbie Patterson (Photographer) is a very nice guide to 50 projects that anyone can accomplish, all specially designed for people who are short on time. The step-by-step projects range from small container gardens to landscaping projects, all great for increasing the curb appeal of your home and bringing more natural elements to the inside.

Most buyers find plants and flowers appealing. When you’re considering how to get your home ready for the market, don’t forget your landscaping and indoor plantings.   Green plants are known to improve indoor air quality; you may have heard of the study by NASA which many have written about.   Wikipedia has a list of the top 25 air-filtering plants.

Enjoy your spring gardening.



The Highland Group
Frederick, Md   21704
301-831-9947 Direct

TEXT Us:   301-401-5119

Frederick Sellers: Give Your Home the Sniff Test

When a Frederick home seller is getting their home ready for the market, the look of the home is not the only thing to be considered; all five of the senses need to be given thought.   The most overlooked… the odors in the house.   Overwhelming odors can be offputting to buyers at best, and leave a negative impression at worst.

Here are 6 places to pay attention to:

1.   Closets – odors tend to build up in closets because they stay closed.
2.   Bathrooms – besides the obvious odors, mildew on surfaces and towels can be either subtle or overt.
3.   Bedrooms – dirty clothes, bed linens, and musty drapes can cause odors.
4.   Kitchens – Onions, garlic and ethnic spices can linger in the air from last night’s dinner.
5.   Basements – Basement rooms often don’t benefit from the airflow that the main floor rooms have, and musty odors can build up.
6.   Pet smells – homeowners can get used to pet smells and forget that buyers will immediately notice the lingering smell of pets.

Homes for Sale in FrederickSolutions:

  • Natural solutions like baking soda are the best for possible sensitivities that others may have to cleaning solutions.   Baking soda absorbs the odors from the air, not just masking them like commercial air fresheners.
  • Before leaving before a showing, put towels and dirty clothes in the washing machine.   You’ll want to set out the “good towels” anyway.
  • Use absorbant air fresheners in the closets.   They will absorb the stale odors in the air.   Put air fresheners inside gym shoes or any others that build up odors.
  • Use a dehumidifier in the basement to keep the musty smell away.   Place fans to circulate the air periodically.
  • If you’re going to clean with strong odors like bleach, clean the night before so the odors are not so strong to “hit someone in the face” when they enter a bathroom.
  • Place pet beds and items outside or in a garage before a showing.   They should be out of sight anyway, for buyers who may have allergies or sensitivities.
  • Above all, keep the house clean.   Don’t let it build up and you won’t have a huge amount of work to do right before a showing.   It can seem tedious when you have your home on the market, but it will pay off with a speedy offer.

For more seller tips, visit the seller page on our website, Selling Real Estate in Frederick Md.



The Highland Group – Real Estate Teams
50 Citizens Way, Ste. 400
Frederick, Md   21701
301-831-9947 Direct
301-695-3020 Broker

TEXT Us:   301-401-5119

Preparing Your Home For Sale

First impressions make a significant impact on a buyer’s decision-making process!Once your home goes on the market, it becomes a product. Home Styling or Staging simply allows you to highlight the best of your home and de-emphasize  its flaws. It’s not about decorating, but actually turning your home into a model, to appeal to the broadest range of prospective buyers. The goal is to make people feel like they could live there, and the best way to do this is to “neutralize” the surroundings.

Frederick Homes for SaleTry out these helpful styling tips taken from Setting the Stage – REALTOR ® Magazine Online. They’ve compiled the best tips from stagers and real estate pros”things you can do for little or no expense”to put a home in prime showing shape.

  • Clear out closets and clutter”sellers can give away or pack up toys, linens, and small kitchen appliances to store offsite. Buyers are also forgiving of storage boxes neatly tucked away in a garage or basement.
  • Focus most on the most visible areas”the foyer, kitchen, living room, master bedroom, and family room.
  • De-personalize the home by removing photos, mementos, and dated items.
  • Use plants in colorful pots or inexpensive wicker baskets to fill in empty spaces.
  • Look to home catalogs for little details on beautifying the home. For instance, group books, pictures, and objets d™art appealingly on bookcases.
  • Try angling one or two pieces of furniture slightly and move furniture 4 inches to 6 inches from the wall to create more interesting room spaces.
  • Put away large collections” porcelains, plates, and so on.
  • Remove valuables, prescription medicine, collectibles, and breakables.
  • Trim trees, prune shrubs, and make sure the lawn is mowed and watered regularly.
  • In summer, turn on the sprinklers for five minutes, 30 minutes before the open house. It makes the lawn and driveway sparkle.
  • Refrain from cooking anything that leaves a distinctive odor, such as fish, garlic, or cabbage.
  • Hire a professional service to clean the home, including the carpets and the windows.
  • Set the dining room table with attractive linens, dishes, and stemware.
  • Arrange fresh or silk flowers throughout the home.
  • Light a fire in the fireplace in fall and winter.
  • A mirror in a pretty frame can make a small room feel more open.
  • Use as much natural light as possible. Add extra lamps in dark rooms or corners.
  • Make functional repairs”fix dripping faucets, sticking doors, and broken fences.
  • Bring in another pair of eyes”even if it™s not a professional stylist. The person may see problems you and have missed.

Search the MLS:

The Highland Group – Real Estate Teams


50 Citizens Way, Ste. 400
Frederick Md   21701