Twila Palmer - Westford Real Estate | Westford, MA Real Estate, Chelmsford, MA Real Estate


The last thing you want is a smelly house. When you are trying to sell your home the presence of household odors can affect the sale-ability and the bottom line price. Some of the most common offensive odors are cooking odors, particularly fish and curry odors, smoke from cigarettes or oven fires, pet odors or the odor from illness or incontinence. In order to remove stubborn odors you will need to give the home a thorough cleaning. Here are some tips to get you on your way to a fresh smelling home. 1. Open windows and doors. Place a large fan in a doorway or window. Have the fan where blow fresh air in. Use a second fan to exhaust the odors out. 2. Believe it or not the smells could be coming from your attic insulation. Odors from cooking rise in the heat and are trapped in the attic insulation. The insulation cannot be cleaned or effectively deodorized so it must be replaced. 3. Clean carpets and upholstered furniture using a steamer. A commercial steam extractor can be rented from an equipment rental place. Things like mattresses and foam pillows will most likely need to be replaced as it is almost impossible to get odors out. 4. All clothing, bedding, and drapes in the home will need to be laundered or dry cleaned. Odors get trapped in these are can linger. Check labels for care instructions and follow the directions. 5. Odor causing particles can get trapped in the duct work. You may need to have the ducts professionally cleaned to remove the particles. Before you do that, you might consider changing the furnace or air conditioning filters once a day until you no longer smell offensive odors. 7. Wash all the ceilings, walls and floors. Use a cleaner designed for this as you would not want to damage the paint or wood floors. 8. Wash your stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer inside and out. Don't forget the back of the stove and the coils of the refrigerator. 9. Place small dishes of vanilla extract, baking soda, sliced lemons or potpourri throughout the house to capture the odors and replace them with a better alternative.

A common question for sellers is if they will owe capital gains tax when they sell their home. The answer to that question: it depends. The capital gains tax law known as the Taxpayer Relief Act went into effect in 1997 but there is still a lot confusion over who pays what and why. If you sell your home you will not have to pay capital gains tax if:
  • You are selling your personal residence.
  • You have $250,000 in profit or less if you are single and $500,000 if married.
  • You have lived in your home for two of the last five years.
  • The home is not an investment property.
The capital gains exclusion can be used as many times as you like as long as it meets all of the above criteria. If you are going to make more than $250,000/$500,000 in profit you will be taxed at a 20% capital gains tax rate on the amount over the $250,000/$500,000 threshold. There are exceptions to the rule. You may be eligible for a tax break if:
  • You need to sell your home because a change in health.
  • You need to sell your home because of a long distance relocation.
  • You are in the armed services and moved to fulfill your service commitments.
Your individual tax situation may be different, so make sure to consult a qualified tax accountant or attorney.  

Whether you are a buyer or a seller it is time to get off the fence. Despite years of bad news surrounding the real estate market, the time has come when it is both a good time to be a buyer and a seller. Why Buy? Here are just a few reasons why you should get off the fence and buy: 1. When investors start gobbling up real estate you know it's a good deal. In 2011, investors upped their buying by 64%.  While it is still not time to start flipping for a profit the clock is ticking down to an uptick in prices. 2. Interest rates are historically low. You have been hearing this for a while but they are hovering right around 4%. 3. First-time buyers are in a unique position. They didn't lose money in the housing market. 4. It's a great deal! Prices are at all-time lows. So you may be saving as much as 40% off a home if you buy now. Why Sell? Here are just a few reasons why you should get off the fence and sell: 1. Inventory is shrinking. Demand is up and in certain areas and price ranges there is limited inventory so putting your home on the market now will most likely result in a sale. 2. Mortgage availability has stabilized. Mortgage restrictions are loosening and especially first-time buyers are able to get mortgages as they were not affected as much by the financial crisis. 3. Unemployment is not as bad as you think. One is 30 Americans is unemployed as a result of the recent financial crisis. There are lots of able buyers out there. 4. Houses are selling and some are even going to bidding wars. Homes that are priced according to the market are selling and selling quickly. 5. Don't wait for prices to increase. This could be a long wait.

You have decided to sell. But before you put the sign in the yard there are some things you will want to make sure you have done. Time spent doing research and setting the right price will most likely yield you a better return in the end. A home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it.

Track your neighborhood values
Find out what homes similar to yours are selling for in your neighborhood so you will have a good idea what your home is worth.

Buyer or seller market
You need to judge whether it's a sellers' market or a buyers' market in

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your neighborhood. Remember that all real estate is local. You will want to research things like interest rates, home inventory, job forecasts, and even time of year.

Research inventory
How many homes are for sale? If you live in a desirable neighborhood and there aren't many homes for sale, you will have a clear edge here. However, if you see lots of homes on the market and they're not selling very quickly, you might have to reduce the price you had in mind.

Know the average days on the market
Review the homes in your neighborhood and their days on market sometimes referred to as DOM. Look at trends for the past year and assess whether homes were appreciating or depreciating.

Monitor the job market
Is a big company relocating workers to your area? Or are they moving out and shutting the doors? The job market has a lot to do with the real estate market.

Attend nearby open houses
Observe how other properties are showing and compare them to your home. At an open house you can often feel the "mood" of potential buyers.

Get a professional opinion
A real estate professional will be able to help you gather all of the above information and come up with a CMA or comparable market analysis to determine the best price range for you home.


Seems these days everyone is telling you what to DO, but where is the DO NOT list when selling your home? Here are three easy tips on what not to do in the sale of your home.

1. Do not get emotional

That is easier said than done -this is your home after all. The more you think of the sale as a business transaction the better and thinking with your heart is not always the best route to take when negotiating a deal.

Buyers will not place the same value on your home as you do. You will have to put your emotional attachment aside. A house is worth what a buyer is willing to pay. Much to the seller’s chagrin, this means that buyers set the market. In most cases, there is a going fee for homes. The price is typically is determined by location, house style, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, lot size, and

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condition to name a few. What is not taken into consideration are the memories and the love you put into taking care of your home.

2. Don’t go it alone

Real estate professionals are skilled to showcase home selling qualities. They are also skilled negotiators who know how to get you the best deal. According to the 2010 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, homeowners that sold on their own property typically received $59,000 less for their home than an agent-assisted home sale.

It can be very difficult for a seller to show and close the deal on their own home. It is usually very awkward for buyers viewing a home while homeowners are still there. It may discourage them from commenting, criticizing things, or even looking as thoroughly as they normally would. A buyer is leery about trusting and working directly with the seller. Negotiations typically break down without the real estate professional’s expertise.

3. Don’t choose the agent who gives you the highest price

Many sellers get caught up in what an agent will say the house is worth. Refer back to number one on this list. The house is worth what the market will bear. Often times an agent may entice you with a higher list price to get the listing, only to drive down the ultimate selling price of your home because it has sat on the market for too many days. Choose an agent based on their reputation, marketing strategy, and one you can trust. You may want to even throw in a gut feeling on the choice. Remember you will have to work with this person so a good relationship is important.




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