Fall in Love with Your Balcony

Posted On October 20th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

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Whether big or small, it’s the perfect time to make your balcony space more inviting to enjoy and relax in the cooler weather. Here are 3 simple steps to turn any balcony into a new, cozy hangout.

Rugs – Extend your outdoor space with colorful rugs and decorative pillows. For a cozy effect, hang fabric from the underside of your neighbor’s balcony. Be sure to ask your neighbor ahead of time as a courtesy.

Trunks and Crates – Use sturdy box crates as extra seating or side tables. Paint them to add color or leave natural, depending on the look you desire. Add cushions for comfortable sitting. A charming trunk can double as storage, especially for outdoor cushions.

Pots – Breathe a little life into your balcony with potted chrysanthemums, pansies and/or ivy.

 

In Loving Memory of John E. McEnearney

Posted On October 10th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

Founder

John McEnearney, the Chairman and founder of McEnearney Associates, passed away on October 8 at the age of 87.

John graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1949 and served on active duty as a Naval  officer for 27 years. After his successful and highly decorated career in service to our country, John  became a real estate agent in Alexandria in 1976 and quickly became one of the top professionals in  Northern Virginia. He went on to acquire his broker’s license and founded McEnearney Associates in  1980 in Old Town.

Over the years, McEnearney Associates has expanded to seven residential offices, a commercial office,  a Relocation Department and three locations for Property Management. The firm now serves the entire  metropolitan Washington, D.C., area and is consistently ranked among the 75 largest real estate firms by  sales volume in the United States.

“When my father founded McEnearney Associates more than 34 years ago, his goal was to gain the  respect of the public and to provide real estate services that are second to none,” says Maureen  McEnearney Dunn, president of McEnearney Associates. “His devotion and loyalty to the company  and our associates, clients and customers is a testament to the major contributions and success of the  firm throughout the years. John absolutely loved everything about the real estate business and was  completely devoted to his agents and staff.”

John earned a highly valued reputation for exceptional service and outstanding performance in the  real estate industry and in the community. He served on the Board of Directors of the Northern  Virginia Association of REALTORS® and was recognized as Businessman of the Year by the Alexandria  Chamber of Commerce in 2006. He was an active supporter of more than 50 organizations, including  The Hopkins House; Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN); Alexandria Senior Services and Children’s National  Medical Center. His personal contributions to so many organizations were in addition to his philosophy  of corporate giving from the company. Always invested in the personal and professional well being of his  agents, McEnearney created a family firm in which everyone is a part of the family.

In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions can be made to Capital Caring (formerly Capital Hospice)  and So Others Might Eat. A funeral mass will be held on Friday, October 17 at 11:30 a.m. at Saint Luke  Catholic Church, 7001 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22101. Burial at Arlington Cemetery with full  military honors will be scheduled for later in the year.

 

Market heats up in D.C. and Prince George’s, but cools in Northern Virginia

Posted On October 3rd, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

DC Market Blog


By David Howell, McEnearney CIO & VP


This year has seen a slowdown in the Washington area’s real estate market compared to the frenetic pace of 2013, and there’s no reason to believe that will change over the remaining three months of the year. However, there is no reason to hit the panic button, as the overall market remains pretty solid.

Almost every major indicator is down compared to last year — there are fewer new contracts, homes are taking a bit longer to sell and they aren’t selling as close to list price as last year. Regionally, there has been a significant increase in the number of homes on the market, and that means that would-be buyers who were hard-pressed to find their home of choice in last year’s exceptionally tight market are finding many more choices now.

That is especially true in the outer suburbs. There are 60 percent more homes on the market in Loudoun and Prince William Counties today than this time last year. In the District, there are only 7 percent more homes on the market.

And that highlights one undeniable fact: There isn’t one set of market conditions throughout the region, and in fact, there are significant differences that impact the likely direction of the market for the rest of the year.

Washington has the strongest market in the region, with an overall supply of homes on the market of less than two months. This low level of supply relative to demand means that D.C. is still a seller’s market. On the other hand, Loudoun County has the highest in the region with a 4.5-month supply. It is reasonable to expect continuing upward pressure on prices in D.C. while the foot is coming off the gas a bit elsewhere in the region.

We look to the pace of new contract activity as the best indicator of short-term market direction, and every jurisdiction in the metro area has seen a decline in contract activity in August and so far in September compared to last year.

But we also look at something we call the “Urgency Index” to help us take the temperature of the market — think of it as a rudimentary consumer confidence index for housing. We look at the number of new contracts in a month and then see how many of those homes were on the market for 30 days or less. In the extremes, we have seen as many as 95 percent of the homes going under contract sell in 30 days or less (in April of 2004) and as few as 16 percent (December 2007). The Urgency Index today not only provides some insight into the direction of the market over the next few months but also highlights the significant differences in our region.

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As this chart indicates, every jurisdiction has seen a drop in the percentage of homes going under contract in 30 days or less, but D.C.’s drop has been very modest. At just over 60 percent, it is the highest in our metro area. Last year, Northern Virginia had the highest Urgency Index in August at 67 percent, and that has now dropped to 50.2 percent, settling Northern Virginia in as the third best jurisdiction in the region.

But this is the real message behind these numbers: The lower the Urgency Index, the slower the market in that region will be over the next few months. That bodes well for D.C. and Prince George’s County, while things may be a bit slower in Northern Virginia and elsewhere.

Bear in mind that none of the indicators we track point to a bad market anywhere in the metro area  – we simply expect the last three month of 2014 to be slower than the last three months of 2013.

 

 

Pumpkin Patches

Posted On October 2nd, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

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Rekindle the nostalgia of fall with a visit to a pumpkin patch. Delight in the fall foliage and smell of spiced apple cider while picking a pumpkin and tasting seasonal fall treats. All around the area are local pumpkin patches with activities for the whole family. Here are just a few:

Butler’s Orchard
Germantown, MD. Open Sat and Sun from 10 AM to 5 PM. 
Pick a pumpkin, take a hayride, and explore a hay maze. Enjoy crafts, food, and family activities.

Clark’s Elioak Farm
Ellicott City, MD. Open Tue-Fri from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sat-Sun from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. 
Enjoy the petting farm, a pumpkin patch, hayrides, pony rides and storybook characters from the Enchanted Forest.

Cox Farms
Centreville, VA. Open daily. 
One of the largest fall festivals in Virginia. Activities include unlimited hayrides, giant slides, rope swings, farm animal feeding, a pumpkin patch, live entertainment and much more. Open daily until Nov. 4th.

Pumpkin Village
Leesburg, VA. Open daily from 9:30 AM to 6 PM. 
The farm play area includes giant hill slides, a hay maze, unlimited hayrides, straw mountains, miniature pumpkin village, spider web crawl, pirate play ship and much more.

 

5 Curb Appeal Tips for Fall

Posted On September 30th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

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Fall is here, and as the trees begin shedding their leaves your home becomes more exposed, making its exterior appearance extra important. Whether or not you are thinking of buying or selling a home, these simple tips are sure to make your home look its best this fall season.

Spruce Up Your Lawn - Are you seeing brown spots? Dig up the area, breaking up the clumps, and mix in compost to improve soil quality. Apply moist sod, grass seed and fertilizer, or another lawn patch product of your choice, and then use a fine spray from a hose to keep soil moist but not drenched, watering day and night until spots are repaired.

Remulch! - Your garden also needs some maintenance. Remove those dying summer annuals and add a fresh layer of mulch. This not only helps freshen the look of your beds, but will feed and protect the soil for any perennial plants you have trying to make it through the winter.

Pot Your Fall Flowers - Once your lawn is looking its best, spice it up with bright punches of color. As your summer landscape starts to fade, grab some beautiful flower pots and place them strategically throughout your front garden and patio steps filled with vibrant mums, pansies, sedum, asters, ornamental cabbage and flowering kale.

Highlight Your Front Door - Making your front door the focal point of your home’s exterior is a good tactic no matter what the time of year. During the fall, a fresh coat of paint and a simple wreath of fall foliage and flowers can add an impressive touch. Painting your door a vivid red can also really make your entrance stand out in the fall foliage.

Add Outdoor Lighting - As the days get shorter, it becomes increasingly important to provide potential homebuyers and guests with a safe path to your front door. Use decorative lights to illuminate walkways, and install flood lights or lanterns to brighten up entrance areas and cast a warm glow on your home.

 

 

 

Is it Time to Fall into a New Home

Posted On September 23rd, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

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Statistically, the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area experiences an increase in home sales during the fall. There are several reasons why it may be just the right time to buy or sell a home.

Not as busy as spring market. While home demand is not as high as during the springtime, fall buyers and sellers tend to be more motivated. Buyers enjoy less competition from other buyers in the slower season. Sellers that didn’t sell during the peak market may entertain new offers. With fewer clients, both buyers and sellers can appreciate more attention from REALTORS® and mortgage professionals during the course of their real estate transaction.

Cooler weather is good for moving. Moving is a huge chore as is. With the heat and humidity of summer gone, making the actual move can be physically more comfortable.

You don’t have school-age kids. Late August and September kids are going back to school, and parents usually like being settled into a routine. If you do not have school aged children, moving in September and October may be a great option for your schedule.

New home for the holidays. Perhaps you want extra space to entertain friends and family. Settling into a new home for the fall and the winter holidays allows you to start new traditions and create lasting memories.

 

Where We Live: Rock Spring in Arlington, Va., is unapologetically residential

Posted On September 22nd, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

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By Audrey Hoffer


Since school started, the children line up at 8:15 a.m. at the corner of Williamsburg Boulevard and North Edison Street in North Arlington’s Rock Spring neighborhood. Not at the bus stop. They wait impatiently, hopping from one foot to the other, for a turn on the blue swing hanging from the huge tree next to the bus stop.

“Can you imagine a better tree?” asked Mark Luncher, a neighbor from around the corner, one of two Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee representatives and vice president of the Rock Spring Civic Association. “The schools are great, and they were one of our motivations to buy here.”

He lives with his wife, Julie, and three children, Kait, 17, Adam, 14, and Bryce, 9, in a 1952 red-brick rambler they bought from the original builder and owner in 2006.

Driving is required: Rock Spring is only a few miles from the frenzy of downtown Washington, yet it’s a serene single-family residential community with some houses backing up to woods and others on tree-lined streets.

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“There are no apartment houses, no businesses. It’s like a desert island with nothing but homes,” said Carl Cunningham, president of the civic association and a 35-year resident with his wife, Lucy. “Some areas look almost rural. Our access to everything is so easy, even though it depends on the automobile.”

“The fact that we have to go somewhere to get to a store, we like that,” said Lynn Pollock, the other NCAC representative and a resident since 1999 with her husband, Bob, and three sons, ages 17, 20 and 22.

“A lot of people moved here so they could live in a suburban setting, let their kids walk to school and not worry when they’re out playing,” she said.

 

Calming traffic: Houses stretch along tranquil streets that are curvy, flat and hilly. Many are modest older red-brick ramblers, Colonials and mid-century structures, but renovations and additions are common, including second stories built on rooftops, as are “tear-down” homes — new construction where an outdated, typically much smaller house once stood.

Some houses have front porches and garages, and others don’t. Some remakes meld seamlessly with adjoining properties. Others have decorative features such as columns that seem incongruent with the prevailing style.

Arlington County “only regulates lot coverage — how much of a footprint the house and driveway occupy — it doesn’t regulate taste, so you can put up whatever you want,” said Luncher. “Developers tend to max that out,” which is why new builds are typically larger than older homes, he said.

“I’m hoping that as the county continues its urbanization, which has been good so far with the Metro corridor, it’ll try to preserve the basic character of the neighborhood,” said Cunningham. “That’s what the people love.”

On the bus corner, Luncher pointed out improvement projects shepherded by the civic association. Williamsburg Boulevard is a major thoroughfare especially during weekday rush hours. “It’s as busy as Connecticut or Nebraska avenues in Northwest. We’re trying to manage that traffic and create safer pedestrian crossings,” he said.

“We’ve reduced the number of lanes from four to two, added bike lanes, are working on safety crossings with medians,” he said, pointing to orange cones down the street where construction is in progress, “and we’re creating storm-water retention basins” to retard water runoff.

Living there: The neighborhood is bordered roughly by the Fairfax County line to the northwest; Albemarle and North Glebe roads to the northeast and east; and Rock Spring Road, Little Falls Road and North Kensington Street to the south and west.
According to Betsy Twigg, a realty agent with McEnearney Associates in Arlington, the housing is primarily single-family, owner-occupied plus a few rentals.

Eight properties are on the market, at prices ranging from $749,900 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom rambler to $1.895 million for a five-bedroom, 41 / 2-bath Craftsman.

Four properties are under contract, ranging from $875,000 for a four-bedroom, two-bath Colonial to $1.699 million for a five-bedroom, 51 / 2-bath Craftsman.

Over the past year, 21 properties sold, ranging from $625,000 for a four-bedroom, two-bath tear-down to $1.850 million for a five-bedroom, 51 / 2-bath Craftsman.

Shopping: Lee Harrison Shopping Center, with Harris Teeter, Cardinal Bank, Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, Starbucks, H&R Block, Wild Birds Unlimited, Baskin-Robbins and other shops, is three-quarters of a mile away. Development in Clarendon, Rosslyn and Ballston has pushed a lot of small retail to Lee Highway, just a mile away, said Luncher. A FreshFarm Market at the intersection of North Courthouse Road and North 14th Street is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and across from the Ballston Metro station on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

Transit: Rock Spring sits between two Metro stations on the Orange and Silver lines, East Falls Church and Ballston. Arlington Transit operates two ART bus routes and Metrobus operates one through the community. Both connect to the two Metro stations.

Downtown Washington is a short drive from the neighborhood. The National Zoo is seven miles away.

Schools: Jamestown and Notthingham elementary schools, Williamsburg Middle, and Yorktown High. A new elementary school is under construction on the Williamsburg Middle School campus and is expected to open for the 2015-2016 school year.

Crime: According to the Arlington County Police Department, the neighborhood had one robbery, five aggravated assaults and 23 burglaries between August 2013 and August 2014.

 

Sale of Jefferson Park Home Commands Record Price

Posted On September 12th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

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By Catherine Probst


The Goodhart Group of McEnearney Associates has announced the sale of 208 Virginia Avenue, an estate home in Alexandria‘s Jefferson Park neighborhood that has set a record in real estate circles.

The estate was the first home built in the neighborhood, in 1920. It sold for $2,662,500, commanding what the Goodhart Group calls the highest sales price outside of Old Town since the summer of 2011.

Known as Journey’s End, the 2-acre estate was the home of Judy and Charles R. “Charlie” Black, Jr. Charles Black is chairman of Prime Policy Group and is known in political circles for his work advising Republican presidents and helping run presidential and congressional campaigns. Judy Black is a policy director at the law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

There was some creative thinking behind the sale, worthy of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing.” Goodhart explains how it happened:

“When we listed the house initially, it was with three lots and listed for $3.9 million May 6, 2013. The house sits on lot 10 and the other two lots, 9 and 11, flank the house on either side.

Since we had interest but no contracts on the combined property at $3.9 million, in November 2013 we decided to break the lots out and listed the lots separately from the house. The house was listed at $2.5 million and the lots at 700k each. We had immediate activity on both lots with several contracts.

In the meantime, a couple who had been watching the property and was alarmed that it would be divided up decided to write an offer for the entire property but make it contingent on the sale of their Old Town home. The owners preferred selling the entire property and since it was heading into winter we decided to accept the contingent offer.

As spring arrived however, the Old Town home did not sell and the owners and I decided to let that contract go and market the property again as a whole package or three separate parcels. Lot 9 would require a boundary adjustment to make it developable. Again we received offers on the lot.

In the meantime, I was meeting with one of my past clients who was looking for a special property and I asked him if he had ever considered Virginia Avenue. He had but the price tag, at $3.9 million, was beyond what he was looking to spend.

I told him that we had a firm contract for Lot 11 and therefore the remaining two parcels would be available. After some work and some very creative financing we were able to sell the two lots to him at $2,662,500, settled recently, and lot 11 to a developer for $787,500 which settled in June. So the entire deal for the three lots was $3,450,000.”

 

Your First Home: What Every New Homeowner Needs in Their Brand New Kitchen

Posted On September 12th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments
Kitchen-Basics

Are you a first-time homeowner with a sleek, contemporary kitchen like this one at Lookout North Residences by Hudson Harbor in Tarrytown, N.Y.? Then you’ll need a few essentials to stock up on.


By Patricia L. Garcia,  NewHomeSource


If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you likely have a few items that you’re carrying over from your rental or parent’s house. But, as time goes on, you’ll realize that you might be missing a few practical items.

So, to help those who are experiencing their first home, we’ve come up with a series of articles to help you stock up on handy items you may not have even considered before moving in. Since you’ve purchased a newly built home, you’ll save time by not having to do any repair work or deal with old plumbing. In the first of our “Your First Home” posts, we’ll cover the basics of kitchen necessities — can opener, anyone?

1. Be Practical

As Wendy Santantonio, a Realtor with McEnearney Associates in Alexandria, Va., says, “Forget the customized gadgets and small appliances.” If you go for trendy items that aren’t practical – like, say, that fondue set that you’ll probably use once or twice a year – they’ll likely go unused and take up valuable storage space.

Instead, you’ll find more value from items that are practical and that serve many purposes. “Focus your budget and your space on items that can serve multiple functions and lay a good foundation for your culinary and entertaining needs,” Santantonio says. “Consider investing in durable pots and pans and a good set of knives. Choose basic white dishes that can be dressed up or down, as well as lidded glass bowls that can meet your prep, serving and storage needs.”

2. Go For Quality

You may be tempted to purchase inexpensive cooking items, like those that come in sets, to hold you over until the pricier house gifts start rolling in. However, while these sets may be inexpensive, they might not be of the highest quality. Now that you have a new home, it’s time to stop skimping.

“Having been a chef for a long time, I’ve always believed that a few quality items beats a collection of cheap gizmos,” says Tannar Agar, founder and CEO of The Chef Shelf based out of Fort Worth, Texas. “Quality knives and pans make cooking safer, easier and more fun. If I could only spend $500 on my kitchen, those (items) would be the first purchase.”

3. Knives

As mentioned above, quality knives are critical for any kitchen.

“The knife is the most important – and also most dangerous – tool in the kitchen,” says Rachel Sherwood, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based food stylist, culinary expert and author of The Pretty Plate.

Dull or low-quality knives are dangerous because you have to work harder to cut food, making it easier to “slip” and cut yourself. You don’t have to have a set of professional knives, which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars for just one, but you should have three basic knives for all of your cooking needs, suggests Sherwood:

- paring knife: for cutting small fruits or cutting a piece of cheese;

- serrated knife: for breads and cakes; and

- chefs’ knife: for all of your main chopping tasks.

While, you’re at it, don’t forget the cutting board!

4. Appliances

A food processor may not seem like a necessary kitchen item, but it will help keep your menu varied and recipes manageable. From dough to hummus, this kitchen workhorse will make cooking and baking a breeze. “It chops, kneads, slices and blends, so you’ll be making pizza dough, croquettes or veggies burgers, chapped salads and dips like hummus, in minutes,” says Rachel Asher, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based food writer.

Sherwood also suggests a crock pot, which can make easy dinners while you are away at work, and a mixer, which will make mixing easier than doing so by hand.

5. Pans

Also on Sherwood’s list? Pans of all types:

- Sheet pan: for cookies and bacon;

- Baking pan: for cakes, brownies, casseroles;

- Sauté pan: for cooking meats and vegetables; and

- Sauce pan: for soups and sauces.

6. Utensils

Don’t get lost in the sea of kitchen gadgets out there. There are a few basics that Sherwood suggests to perform basic tasks:

- Mixing bowls: for holding items and mixing salads, cookie or cake batter;

- Whisk: use to make fluffy eggs, creaming batters, blending sticky substances, blending sauces and whipped cream;

- Rubber spatula: to scrape up all the goodness from a pan or bowl;

- Spatula: for turning food that is being cooked in a pan, such as burgers;

- Tongs: to easily grab things or flip them;

- Grater: to shred cheese, vegetables, chocolate or cinnamon sticks;

- Strainer: to separate a solid from a liquid, draining pasta, vegetable and removing particles from sauces or soups;

- Peeler: for peeling veggies, but can also make “vegetable ribbons” and shave items like chocolate and cheeses;

- Slotted Spoon: for removing items from a liquid;

- Garlic press: to easily mince garlic; and

- Zester: to remove rinds from citrus, to grate fresh spices like nutmeg and to finely grate chocolate and hard cheeses.

Now that you have your list, go forth and prosper, er, cook well in your new kitchen!

 

Top 5 Recommendations for Preparing Your Home for Sale

Posted On September 9th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

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By Michelle Sagatov, McEnearney Associates Realtor


As one of my colleagues likes to say, “It’s time to get your Martha Stewart on!” The closer you can get your home looking like a model home, the greater your chance for creating emotional appeal and therefore maximizing the sales price. Below are the Top 5 Items I recommend for a seller to do before listing any home that is not being sold as a fixer upper or tear down.

1. Curb Appeal

Ever hear of the term, “Never Judge a Book by its cover”, well buyers judge and if your front yard is not welcoming, maintained and kept up, chances are the buyers may ask to “Keep on going” once they see your front yard and never make it inside. Schedule to have your lawn trimmed and edged, planting beds mulched & plants lightly trimmed if needed, and add a little “pop” of color with flowers. Make sure you have a fresh welcome mat, fresh coat of paint on your front door and polish and clean your door hardware.

2. Spic and span

Whether you are going to do it yourself or hire professionals, make sure you deep clean your house. This includes cleaning windows, dusting trim, bleaching grout & caulk, dusting blinds & ventilation grills, cleaning the oven & microwave, sweeping the garage… basically the ultimate spring cleaning. While you’re at it, replace old shower curtains and decorative towels. They will look crisp and smell new.

3. Declutter

The object is no longer about function so put away all the small kitchen appliances and miscellaneous items on your kitchen countertops. You want them to feel as spacious as possible. Do the same for bathroom counters. Box up any unnecessary knick knacks and personal photos. Organize your closets and box up anything not being used for this season. Walk through each room in your house and collect anything that may be considered clutter. If necessary, rent a storage pod for items you do not have room for.

4. Walls and Floors

In case you were wondering… it is almost always better to paint and address the floors than to offer a credit. If you are selling your home as move-in ready, potential buyers want to see the full potential. A credit sounds nice, but it is not as powerful as a well presented home. Paint the walls if necessary. You can get away with touch-up paint or use a magic eraser if there are just a few minor scuffs. If the carpet is just lightly soiled then try a good steam clean first.  If the carpet is worn down, then it needs to be replaced. If the hardwood floors are scratched or worn, then sand & refinish them.

This may be more work than you were hoping for, but I guarantee it will be worth the return on investment. If you are on a tight budget, most of these items can be done yourself.

5. Depersonalize

Let’s face it we all have our own unique style, whether it is art, bright colors or having 100’s of pictures of our beautiful family. However, when you are putting your house on the market, the goal is to sell the house and in order to do so a potential buyer needs to be able to see themselves living in your house. In order to maximize your price and sell your home quickly, appealing to a broad range of buyers is towards your advantage. The only way to do this is to tone down the wall colors, take down the personal photos, and remove any art work that maybe too extreme.