Real Estate Q&A's

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My bathroom has 1964 blue tile, and the shower, vanity, and faucet are all original – from over 55 years ago. My family says it looks dated. Do I need to upgrade my bathroom before I can sell my home?

It’s not necessary to update your home to sell it. While many HGTV shows would like you to believe otherwise, homes with original, decades-old features and finishes are successfully sold every day! What’s more important to buyers is that the home is clean and uncluttered, with everything in working order. Some buyers even prefer the “retro” colors and designs of the 60’s and 70’s, so your real estate broker can show off the cool blue tile in the listing photos.

It’s good to keep in mind that homes that are not updated typically sell for a lower price than homes with modern updates and new finishes. New windows, a new kitchen, and new baths that are tastefully done will all help the home sell for more. But the hassle and expense of managing a renovation is not for everyone, and you can leave that for the next owner to do. Your real estate agent will provide guidance for pricing it “just right” with its retro features.

Present your blue tile bathroom shiny clean with some fun accessories, and it will likely be the highlight of the home tour for potential buyers!

It seems like everyone is looking at homes for sale on their phones and computers these days. If buyers find their homes on real estate apps, what is the reason to have an Open House anymore?

It’s true that technology allows us to view thousands of homes for sale 24/7, with beautiful photos and virtual tours! So why are real estate brokers still hosting Open Houses? There are a few important reasons why we do:

  • Even with beautiful online photos and virtual tours, buyers still want to walk through and experience a home in person. With an Open House, they can do this even if they don’t have a real estate broker to represent them.
  • The Open House is a great opportunity for neighbors to see the home. Neighbors can be enthusiastic evangelists for the neighborhood, and will often share the listing with friends and family.
  • Advertising an Open House actually boosts the home’s visibility on the real estate apps, increasing the number of buyers who will see it!
  • At the Open House, the listing broker can gather live feedback from potential buyers about the home’s features. This feedback is valuable and important for knowing how the home is appealing to the market, and may be helpful for deciding on a final sale price.

Talk to your listing agent about whether an Open House is appropriate for your home sale. It’s an optional marketing activity, and plenty of homes sell without ever having an Open House. What’s the most important for marketing? Beautiful, professional photos for that online viewing.

I plan to sell in the spring, but my budget is small for getting my house ready for sale. Is there anything I can do to my home, that’s not expensive?

Yes! Cleanliness and tidiness are more important than fancy upgrades and modern finishes. There are many low-cost things you can do that will increase the desirability of your home. First, declutter as much as you can. Donate household items to charity, give them away to family and friends, or pack them away to be ready for your move. Simple, uncluttered rooms photograph the best. Second, do that “deep cleaning” that leaves no square inch unturned. Windows, shelves, light fixtures, the areas behind furniture, drawers – leave it all shiny and fresh smelling. Finally, you can invest in inexpensive sprucing of the front entry to the home: installing new house numbers, cleaning up the landscaping, placing a new and welcoming doormat in front of the entrance, and having a pot of flowers on the walkway.

Sorting, packing, decluttering, and deep cleaning can feel overwhelming if you are tackling it by yourself. There are outstanding professionals who can assist with these tasks, who have experience in helping homeowners downsize. One way to pay for their help is to sell or auction household items that you don’t need anymore, or that won’t fit in your next home.

A clean and tidy home results in better photography, and provides a great return on investment for your sweat and hard work. Good luck in your sale!

My cousins have offered to do improvements to our aunt’s home, such as a new roof, fixing some wiring, and redoing the back deck. They would be doing it “under the table” for a much lower cost than a normal contractor, so she can sell it soon. Will we have to disclose to buyers who did the work?

While it seems like a good idea to get repairs done at such a low cost, there are many pitfalls to having friends or family do work at your aunt’s home. During our years of experience selling homes, we have seen many times how homeowners are adversely affected by the consequences of do-it-yourself or hire-a-friend projects.

Here’s why:

First, though friends and family have good intentions, they often lack the experience or technical skill to do the job correctly. If their install or repair is not done according to current building code, this could create expensive “redo” projects or repairs in the future. Second, when friends and family do not have their own business, they are not able to offer a warranty on parts or labor that would protect the homeowner in the future. Finally, since their work is uninsured and unlicensed, if an accident occurs while they are working at the house, who will pay for their medical care? Or if they inadvertently damage the home, who will cover the repairs? This can bring costly risks to the homeowner.

To answer your question, Yes. Buyers often ask for copies of invoices or receipts of work done, and there are standard disclosures that sellers must make about whether proper permits were pulled and inspections were completed for repairs. These answers must be answered honestly.

Our recommendation, and our own firm’s practice, is to only use licensed, insured, and bonded tradespeople who have the technical training and skill to do a job correctly, and who can provide a warranty of their work in writing that can be passed on to the next owner.

My dad has drapes from the 1970s in his home. What’s the best way to use these drapes for his home sale? Shall we have them cleaned? Leave them open? Say that they go with the home? He is rather fond of them.

Ah, the beloved drapes! No doubt they were custom-made, with all the latest fabric and design trends of the 1970s. They were probably fabulous then, and it sounds like your dad has really enjoyed them over the years.

The challenge of leaving the 40+ year old drapes on the windows when he puts his home up for sale is how they will impact the home’s appeal in online photos. Heavy drapes from a bygone era make a home look dated, pushing its market value down. The older, thicker fabric also tends to block light from the windows, making rooms appear darker and smaller. In contrast, leaving windows with very light treatments shows off their size and visually declutters a room.

Our recommendation is to remove all dated window treatments, and instead have (at most) neutral-colored sheers that can be clipped back, allowing lots of natural light into each room. If there are blinds, these can be opened all the way, and the strings tucked out of sight for photos. Since your dad is especially attached to the custom drapes, perhaps the home’s listing is a good excuse to take them down and have them professionally cleaned, pressed, and preserved – so that he can take them to his new home or bequeath them to a lucky family member! :)

My mother-in-law is very attached to her dining room chandelier. She would like to take it with her to her next home, and not include it in the sale of the home. What is the best way to do this?

When a home is sold, the contract language generally specifies that anything “attached” to the home goes with the sale, unless the seller specifically excludes it in writing. So, your mother-in-law can list her home for sale, and display the chandelier in the photos. But her real estate broker should say in the listing that the dining room chandelier “does not convey” or “is not included in the sale”, and make sure it is agreed upon in the contract. Then buyers are aware of this up front, and there are no surprises at closing that would upset the apple cart.

A gracious thing to do would be to provide a gift card for a lighting store for the buyer to purchase a new chandelier. Or, your mother-in-law could take it down now, carefully pack it away, and put a neutral, modern one in its place before the listing. Then it’s already taken care of, and eliminates any chance of a misunderstanding.

A good rule to remember is that all agreements between the seller and the buyer must be in writing, and should be part of the complete purchase and sale contract. Consult your real estate broker or an attorney for the best way to navigate these agreements, for a smooth and successful closing process!

For the last fifteen years, my niece has lived with her grandmother, providing companionship and making sure she is okay. My niece doesn’t drive and doesn’t work. Now that her grandmother has chosen an apartment at an assisted living community, it’s time to sell her home. But my niece says this is her home too, and won’t leave. What do we do?

The challenge of helping live-in companions relocate when it comes time to sell an older adult’s home is more common than many folks realize. In our experience, we have frequently assisted clients with two moves: helping the older homeowner downsize into a care community, and guiding the live-in family member / caregiver to a new home for them. This can be tricky to navigate, because the family member / caregiver is legally a tenant, and as such is entitled to all of the rights and protections of state and local landlord-tenant law. While some are cooperative and understanding, others may refuse to move, creating real and expensive obstacles to the sale of the home.

We suggest several initial steps: Providing plenty of advance notice in writing, offer to cover their costs of packing and moving, and if possible, provide funds for first month’s rent and security deposit in a new place. These can ease the financial burden of relocation. Family members / caregivers who have no way to pay rent elsewhere, because they have no consistent income, may have to adjust to a new chapter in their life where they become self-supporting. If your niece refuses to move, and her grandmother’s care and housing needs can’t be met because of this, a wise next step will be to consult with an attorney for specific guidance.

Real estate agents say that all home-buying and home-selling is done over the internet now, with digital offers and signing through smartphones. Our sweet Nana, who is over 90, doesn’t have a computer or a smart phone. When she sells her home, will she be expected to sign everything over the internet?

Your Nana can definitely sell her home without ever touching a smartphone or clicking a mouse! Real estate brokers can cater the entire home selling process around their client’s individual preferences. While a tech-savvy buyer or seller may prefer the speed and convenience of digital transactions, there are plenty of folks that still prefer to sign their contracts printed on paper, with a pen. When your Nana chooses a real estate broker, let them know that they will need to print the transaction documents and bring them to her for signing. This should be no problem for the broker to coordinate. Signing with pen and paper, instead of digitally, also has no impact on the ability to receive multiple offers, and to enjoy a successful home sale outcome!

I’m getting tired of taking care of my big three-level house with all the repairs and upkeep. I’d like to “retire” to a small apartment, and sell my home. But my kids are protesting that they thought I would leave the home to them, and they don’t want me to sell it. I feel stuck between what they want and what I need. How do I make us both happy?

Taking care of a big house is a lot of work! It requires labor, time, and money to keep everything ship-shape inside and out, year after year. It is normal and expected, after decades of this ongoing investment, to want to hang up the homeowner hat and enjoy a simpler lifestyle of apartment living. Ultimately, since this is your home, it is your decision when and how you will sell the home. In our experience, we have found there are always a wide range of opinions in families about downsizing, and it is virtually impossible to please everyone at the same time.

As a compromise, if you wish, you can offer to stay in the home for a specified amount of time while your kids make arrangements to purchase the home from you. This can be for full market value or at a discount, whatever makes sense for you. A real estate broker can draw up the appropriate documents for this type of “off-market sale.” If they are unable or unwilling by the end of that period to purchase it, then at least they had the opportunity to try. At the end of the day, it’s important to do what’s best for you, your immediate needs, and your long-term care.

The homes in our neighborhood have been selling with bidding wars. We would rather not sell to an investor or builder who will tear our home down or radically change it – we hope to sell to someone who will keep its original charm. Do we have to sell to the highest offer? Do we have to sell to an investor if they beat the others in price?

There are important federal, state, and local laws regarding how a seller may choose the buyer of their home, which were written to prevent buyers from being excluded from homeownership on the basis of their race, skin color, nationality, gender, and many other factors. Historically, many groups of people were discriminated against in housing, and prohibited from buying a home. These laws protect their rights to homeownership.

However, “investor”, “builder”, and “house-flipper” are not one of these protected classes. It is perfectly legal and acceptable for a homeowner to choose a buyer who wants to live in the home, and plans to preserve the original charm with no intention of tearing it down. Sellers can inquire about this of potential buyers during the listing and sale process.

It is also fine to choose an offer that is not the highest price in favor of choosing a lower offer from a buyer who appreciates your home’s features. You are not obligated to take the highest price.

Two things to remember: 1) The decision of choosing a buyer cannot be based on the buyer’s identity as part of one of the protected classes (see for more details). 2) After the sale closes, it is highly unlikely that the past homeowner can influence the new homeowner’s decisions in regards to the home or property.

Ask your real estate broker for guidance in how to share your preference for an “owner-occupant” in the listing without compromising the outcome of your home sale. Good luck!

When we go to sell my mother’s home, will she have to leave with every buyer showing? Her mobility is very limited, and it takes her about ten minutes just to get to the car. I have heard she will have to leave for each showing. Can she stay in the home while buyers view it?

Yes, her real estate broker can share in the private showing instructions to buyer brokers that the seller will remain in the home during showings. This is a reasonable accommodation to request. That being said, when sellers make it easy for buyers to view their home, and allow many showings each day, this can increase the buyer pool and potential for a better sale outcome. Buyers feel awkward when the seller is present, like they are intruding. This can discourage buyer interest. So that your mother doesn’t have to endure the frequent daily interruptions of buyer showings, and to lower her stress, another option is to have her stay elsewhere during the first week or two of her home’s listing. This way, her home can stay “show-ready” all hours of the day, and she won’t have strangers coming and going around her. This has the potential to create thousands more in her final sale price. If she prefers to stay home, however, this is definitely her choice, and her right to request. Good luck!

We’re retired, and want to find a one-story home with some garden space not too far from our doctors. The market seems crazy right now, and we don’t want to overpay for a home. Should we wait till it cools down, or are homes just going to keep going up in price?

Even the most experienced real estate broker can’t predict with 100% certainty what will happen in the real estate market in coming months. However, industry experts who track market data are expecting a slight cool down in the next year from the current red-hot frenzy. We expect more housing inventory to come on the market, which will give buyers more homes to choose from, making competition less fierce. We also expect interest rates to slowly creep up. This may cool off the intense bidding wars. If you are not in a hurry as some buyers are, and have no urgent deadlines, you have the unique advantage of being able to take your time in your home search. It is a good idea to start to look now: attend open houses, set up auto-searches on real estate apps, and start to tour homes that interest you. This will help you to get savvy on home values and the features you like in a home. When you find “the one”, a good real estate broker can help you win the home with expert guidance. It’s never too early to start looking, and then you’ll know when you’re ready to make an offer.

Real estate agents say that homes are sold over the internet now, with digital offers and signing through smartphones. Our sweet Nana, who is over 90, doesn’t have a computer or a smart phone. When she sells her home, will she be expected to do her signing and closing steps online?

Your Nana can definitely sell her home without ever touching a smartphone or clicking a mouse! Real estate brokers can cater the entire home selling process around their client’s individual preferences. While a tech-savvy buyer or seller may prefer the speed and convenience of digital transactions, there are plenty of folks that still prefer to sign their contracts printed on paper, with a pen. When your Nana chooses a real estate broker, let them know that they will need to print the transaction documents and bring them to her for signing. This should be no problem for the broker to coordinate. Signing with pen and paper, instead of digitally, also has no impact on the ability to receive multiple offers, and to enjoy a successful home sale outcome!

Every client’s home sale is as unique as his or her own life story. The home, its features, and its history are unlike any other. In the same way, the homeowner’s specific needs and goals for their home sale journey are unlike anyone else’s.


It’s for this reason that SASH designs a home sale for each client. We listen, we design, and we deliver. We’ve never provided the same home sale twice. Call SASH to benefit from our client-focused mission and services. We look forward to serving you!

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To learn more about SASH Services and our customized home sale options, you are welcome to call or e-mail anytime. Or, fill out the simple form below. We look forward to the opportunity to provide you with outstanding service, from “start to sold.” 

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