Laura Schindler - Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Commonwealth


If you intend to list your house in the weeks or months to come, it usually pays to assess real estate market data. In fact, there are many reasons why you should conduct housing market data analysis, and these include:

1. You can learn about the ins and outs of the real estate market.

Let's face it – navigating the home selling process can be difficult, regardless of whether you've sold houses in the past or plan to list a home for the first time. Fortunately, housing market data can help you better understand the real estate sector, increasing the likelihood that you'll make informed decisions at each stage of the home selling journey.

Remember, evaluating the prices of available houses in your area, finding out how long these residences have been listed and reviewing other pertinent housing market data can make a world of difference. If you use this information to understand the current state of the real estate market, you can boost your chances of enjoying a fast, profitable home selling experience.

2. You can determine a competitive price for your house.

What you originally paid for your house is unlikely to match your home's current value. Luckily, you can analyze real estate market data to find out how your house stacks up against the competition and price your residence appropriately.

Look at the prices of local residences that are similar to your own – you'll be glad you did. If you study this pricing data closely, you can narrow the price range for your house. Then, you can establish a competitive initial asking price for your house.

3. You can reduce the risk of encountering home selling pitfalls.

Want to avoid setting an initial home asking price that is too high or too low? Or, do you want to ensure that your house is buyer-ready from the moment that you add it to the real estate market? If you evaluate housing market data, you can obtain the insights that you need to avoid potential problems during the home selling journey.

Lastly, if you need extra help as you prepare to sell your house, you may want to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can provide you with a wealth of real estate market data and offer expert home selling recommendations. That way, you can optimize the value of all of the housing market data at your disposal.

Let's not forget about the comprehensive assistance that a real estate agent offers as the home selling journey progresses, either. A real estate agent will help you list your house, promote it to the right groups of buyers and negotiate with a buyer's agent on your behalf. And if you ever have home selling concerns or questions, a real estate agent will gladly respond to them.

Take a data-driven approach to selling your house – perform real estate market data analysis, and you can gain the home selling insights that you need to succeed.



 Photo by Prawny via Pixabay

Circa 1965, having beautiful wood paneling was the envy of the neighborhood. It was like bringing the outdoors in. But 50-60 years later, it usually just makes a room seem dark and dated unless you live in a log cabin. In most cases, you can remove the paneling and paint the drywall underneath. Here's what you'll do.

What you'll need

  • Primer
  • Brushes
  • Paint rollers 
  • Painter's tape
  • Plastic floor protection
  • Paint pan
  • Putty knife
  • Spackling paste for nail holes
  • Safety goggles
  • Screwdriver
  • Flashlight
  • Pry bar
  • Hand sander

Step one: make sure there's drywall under there

Some home builders simply hung the panels directly onto the studs. Others hung drywall first. Then they nailed the paneling over it. Before you begin this project, you need to know what you have. 

*Pro tip* Find out if you have drywall by removing the outlet and light switch covers. Then peer into the wall with your flashlight. You should be able to see the rough edges of drywall in there. If not, don't proceed unless you also want to hang the drywall. It's not that hard. But it's a two-person, multiple weekend job for the average DIYer. We want you to know what you're getting into. If this is more than you feel comfortable with, contact a professional.

Step two: remove the paneling

Put on your safety goggles. Insulation, nails or a piece of wood could go flying during this job.

Next, use a pry bar to remove any molding or trim, carefully if you plan to reuse it. Now, you'll see the edges of the panel. Pry it off panel by panel. It will be nailed into the studs, so you'll need to put some upper body strength into it. Break boards to get it off the wall. But try to keep the drywall underneath as undamaged as possible.

Step three: repair the drywall

You'll definitely have nail holes to fill after removing the paneling. You may also have small gouges. They are easy to fix. And you'll need to do that to have a smooth painting surface.

Apply spackle to the holes with your putty knife. Then allow them to dry before sanding the surface smooth. You may need a second coat. But know it doesn't have to be perfect. That's what primer is for.

Step four: prime the wall

Primer helps fill small imperfections and smooth the painting surface in preparation for painting the wall. Lay down your plastic and apply painter's tape where needed. Then roll your wall with primer. Use the paintbrush to get corners and crevices that a roller won't reach. 

*Pro tip* If you take a break, put the end of your roller and paintbrush in a large freezer bag and seal it as well with tape or a rubber band. If the primer or paint dries on the brush, you may have to replace it. That's an extra expense you can avoid.

Let the primer dry on the wall. Then use your flashlight to see if there are any thin spots. Apply more, as needed.

And you're all ready to choose your paint color. Goodbye, paneling. Hello, 21st Century. For more home projects to update and improve your home, follow our blog.


Making a good first impression on prospective home buyers is the key to getting your house sold within a relatively short period of time. Once your house is on the market, you'll want to make sure any major flaws, aesthetic issues, and potential buyer turnoffs have been fully addressed before the first prospects walk through your front door.

Although serious house hunters often return for a second -- and sometimes third -- walkthrough of your home, first impressions determine whether they'll be back for another look.

Since time is of the essence and you may be on a limited home improvement budget, it's necessary to prioritize the projects that will have the most impact on the image you project. When it comes to making cost-effective decisions on preparing your house for showings, your real estate agent can provide helpful insights and objective advice. Seasoned agents can size up a property within minutes and identify ways to improve the look and feel of your home. Although every homeowner is going to have a different set of priorities and issues to deal with, there are a few focal points that would apply to just about everyone.

Curb appeal: To attract the maximum number of prospects to your home (and to put them in a receptive state of mind when viewing your house), it's essential that your property looks well maintained. In addition to having a manicured lawn and bushes that are neatly trimmed, your curb appeal also depends on the condition of your driveway, walkway, and house foundation. The appearance of weeds, cracked surfaces, and peeling or faded paint are sure to be seen as "red flags" to many people and will detract from the impression your home conveys.

Clutter control: Getting a handle on clutter in and around your house is a vital aspect of enhancing its appearance and marketability. Whether you're dealing with storage areas that are jam-packed to the hilt, too much furniture in your living room, or a front yard that's littered with bicycles, lawn equipment, toys and junk vehicles, clutter is a visual cue to people that "something is wrong here!" Clutter inside your house can cause rooms to look smaller and living space to appear as chaotic and uninviting. Even clutter in garages, basements, closets, and attics can send the wrong message to potential house hunters. On the other hand, uncluttered space is like "a breath of fresh air," and can go a long way toward winning over one or more interested prospects.

General recommendations: While everyone's situation is different and unique, cleanliness, proper room lighting, and basic home staging techniques can help maximize your chances for a successful showing. Applying a fresh coat of paint, where needed, also increases the eye-appeal of everything from your front steps and hallways to bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen areas. Thoroughly steam-cleaning carpets and refinishing faded hardwood floors can also be cost-effective ways to bring out the full potential of your home


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Water efficiency is good for both the environment and your wallet. Changing habits, such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth saves about 3,000 gallons a year. This is great, but if you want to take it a step further to conserve water, here are four DIY ways to bring better water efficiency to your bathroom.

Replace Your Old Toilet with a New One

Many homes still have outdated bathrooms, including toilets. Even if in good condition, these toilets are definitely not water efficient. Experts suggest they use 4X more water than modern toilets do. Considering toilets account for about 30% of overall household water use, this is substantial. Replacing a toilet is a great way to reduce use. When purchasing a model, be sure to look for the WaterSense label because toilets with this certification use far less water than other models. Low-flow models use about 1.6 gallons as opposed to 4 to 6 gallons—a significant difference.

Upgrade Your Old Toilet

If you aren’t ready to invest and/or install a new toilet, but want to scale back on your water use, you can upgrade your old one. A few modifications can do the trick.

  • Install an adjustable flapper and save up to three gallons per flush.
  • Hang a tank bag in your tank so it can displace water. It’s less water savings than replacing a toilet, but every bit helps. (Sometimes people place bricks in their tanks, but these deteriorate and can create clogs, so it’s not recommended.)
  • Install a fill cycle diverter to eliminate excess water going down the trail and save about a half-gallon of water per fill.

Every bit of water saved puts money back in your pocket and helps with conservation of this precious natural resource.

Faucets & Shower Heads

Faucets account for over 15% of indoor water use in a household. If you don’t currently have faucets and showerheads with the WaterSense label, consider replacing them. According to the EPA, consumers can reduce water flow by as much as 30% by making this change.

Fix Leaks

Identifying any leaks in your bathroom can save about 10% on a water bill every month.

  • Inspect the toilet flapper and valve seal. (Consumer Reports suggests pouring food coloring into the toilet tank and seeing if it appears in the bowl 15 minutes later to help determine leaks.)
  • Check to see if faucet washers and gaskets are intact, if they are compromised, they’ll need replacing to stop leaks.
  • Look at showerheads to see if they are dripping water—if there is a gap in the connection, they may need to be taped up or replaced.

Many homeowners can DIY leaks, but keep in mind sometimes attempting to fix pipes or tackle any of the more complicated aspects of plumbing can open up a can of worms and lead to further problems. In these instances, it might be time to call a plumber for inspection and/or to get an estimate.

Homeowners making an effort to conserve water can also potentially improve their resale value if they eventually decide to sell. Many of today’s buyers actively seek out homes containing green or efficient features. Conserving water is a great place to start!


Image by Artur Pawlak from Pixabay

When you think “natural stone home” you might have a particular look in mind. It might make you think of storybook cottages or even ancient castles. While stone has been a building material of choice for thousands of years, there’s no reason it has to look vintage. In fact, there are many options for natural stone to use on the interior and exterior of your new home.

Why Natural Stone?

Natural stone is durable and will last the lifetime of your home with minimal need for repair or maintenance. It’s expensive to install, but will add great resale value to your home. It’s also a great insulator and will keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer while saving you money on your utility bills. Most stone is fire resistant and also can stand against any kind of extreme weather it’s exposed to. It can also be beautiful: many people choose natural stone for their home exterior simply because they love the look.

Natural Stone Varieties

Here are the most commonly used types of natural stone used in home building today:

Sandstone - As the name suggests, sandstone forms when sand undergoes extreme amounts of pressure. A lot of designers and builders like working with this stone because it’s very easy to customize. You can chisel or break it into exact shapes and sizes needed for decoration or for wall coverage.

Limestone - Limestone is a popular building stone that people love for its unique look. It’s a porous stone which makes the surface easy to scratch, stain and weather. However, that’s one reason some designers prefer it. Using limestone on your house exterior will result in a beautiful “lived-in” aesthetic while remaining durable.

Travertine - Travertine is actually a type of limestone that forms in and around natural hot springs. It’s cream colored and has a specific texture with small cavities that look like speckles. The cavities make this type of stone more susceptible to moisture which is why it’s more frequently used for indoor surfaces with a protective finish.

Flint - Flint is another popular stone because it’s easy to work with and durable. Like sandstone, it can easily be cut and shaped to meet specific needs. However, it’s much harder and highly resistant to scratching. Flint has been a great option for construction ever since the Roman Empire and you can find many landmark cathedrals and churches built with flint in Britain and Europe. That said, it doesn’t require you to have a vintage look to your home. Many modern builders use flint today for home exteriors in a variety of styles.

Granite - Granite is a favorite for kitchen countertops, but also an excellent choice for exterior siding. It’s one of the hardest natural stones you can find, second only to famously indestructible diamonds. Granite has a unique grainy appearance made up of a variety of colors and also comes in different ‘main’ colors like pink, gray and brown. You can get granite polished or keep its coarse natural texture depending on the aesthetic you’re going for.

Marble - Marble is another natural stone you might have encountered indoors, either as flooring or countertops. It’s also commonly used on building exteriors. It has a naturally smooth texture that can be further polished to shine and reflect the light. Marble also comes in a range of colors and color combinations. It is a luxurious option with a price tag to fit: it’s one of the most expensive natural stones available for construction.

Artificial Alternatives

Natural stone can be a beautiful addition to any home interior or exterior for homeowners willing to pay more up front. While it is a very durable and long-lasting material, it is expensive both to purchase and install. Luckily, there are great alternatives including manufactured stone and even foam imitation stone. These options come with their own set of pros and cons, but are far more affordable. Make sure you take the artificial versions into consideration and the natural options in order to make the best decision for your home.




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