What People Say About Your Home When You’re Not There


If you’re putting your home on market, you’re probably dying to know what home buyers will have to say as they tour your property. While you hope there’ll be nothing but oohs and aahs, that’s not always the case.

Just so you know what potential buyers are really thinking when you’re not there, we asked Realtors® to reveal some of the most noteworthy—and cringeworthy—statements they’ve overheard as potential buyers inspect the goods. Wince, take note, and act accordingly.

‘What’s that smell?’

Apparently, home buyers follow their nose, so get the funk out before they arrive.

When Heather Witt Leikin, a real estate adviser at The Partners Trust, was asked about a home’s odor recently during a tour, she had what she thought was a logical answer: The smell was of carpet cleaner, because the owners had just cleaned the rugs for the showings. Sure they looked nice, but the smell was harsh, nasty even—so much so that the buyer said, “I could never live here” and scrammed. Odious odors, by far, top the list of things home buyers comment on. Here are some of their favorite things to say:

  • ‘Did someone die in here?’ “I have shown homes where the smell was so bad that the clients asked, ‘Did someone

Guess What? Spring Home Buying Starts Now (Thanks, Punxsutawney Phil!)


This spring is shaping up to be the busiest housing market we’ve seen since 2006. Now, thanks to America’s favorite rodent, we can predict that this year’s strong spring housing market will start sooner than normal.

God bless you, Groundhog Day! When the country is so over winter, all eyes turn to one famous groundhog, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil (sorry, Staten Island Chuck!), and await his prediction on the advent of spring.

But just how accurate is our pal Phil? I pulled the history of his forecasts and aligned them with historical weather data. The combination that gave me the most overlap and seemed a reasonable test of an early spring was to look at the average temperature in February for the contiguous 48 states as recorded by the National Climatic Data Center.

If Phil sees his shadow on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, tradition holds, winter will last six more weeks. Logically, that would also mean that February should be average or colder than average. If no shadow is seen, spring will come earlier, and February should be warmer than average.


I assembled the February temperature data back to 1921, and found that the average February was 34 degrees Fahrenheit.


The Next Wave of Desert Eichlers

Exterior View

“What would Eichler do?” is an apropos mantra for real estate developer Troy Kudlac.

Joseph Eichler, the genius real estate developer of the affordable housing subdivisions of Mid-Century Modern design built in California during the1950s–1970s. Kudlac is the developer who has dipped into the Eichler archives to build the homes anew.

His brand-new Desert Eichler 2 in Palm Springs is on the market for $1,290,000, and is close to getting an offer. (Desert Eichler 1, also in Palm Springs, was finished a year ago and sold in a day.)

Kudlac was able to revive the Mid-Century Modern designs by licensing plans from Monique Lombardelli. The designs were originally drawn up by architect Claude Oakland, and they’ve since been updated to meet modern building codes.

“We are the first to do this,” Kudlac says. The last original homes were built by the developer over 40 years ago.

Pool and patio

Kudlac isn’t stopping now. Desert Eichler 2 is part of a new Eichler community, built on land that’s “probably one of the last locations of connected lots in Palm Springs,” he notes.

He’s got Desert Eichler 3 about to hit the market, and plans to start construction on three more, which will make up an all-new Eichler

Keller Williams Reaches New Milestone

Keller Williams surpassed 133,000 associates in 2015, which they say makes them the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count. The increase in agents marks a net gain of more than 20,000 in 2015 alone.

Find out how real estate franchises compare in our Residential Franchise Report.

The rise in agent count also helped Keller Williams post a record year for closed transactions, sales volume, agent commissions, and profit share growth.

Keller Williams reached 843,547 closed transactions in 2015, up 19 percent year-over-year. Sales volume rose 24 percent to $228 billion. Another record for the franchise: 99 percent of Keller Williams’ offices were profitable in 2015, according to a news release.

“Through our commitment to growth and innovation, we’re building momentum and disrupting the real estate industry,” CEO Chris Heller, Keller Williams, said in a statement. “We’re honored to be getting into business with the best talent and excited about the innovations we’re introducing. In combination with our unique company culture and our focus on enhancing the customer experience, Keller Williams’ associates are strongly positioned to grow, thrive and succeed.”

Apple Offers Owners Broken Screen Relief

Apple reportedly will soon accept iPhones with cracked screens or cameras and give you credit in return so you can purchase a new one.

Trade-in values for broken devices will reportedly be $50 for the iPhone 5S, $200 for the iPhone 6, and $250 for the iPhone 6 Plus. Larger storage size devices will be worth even more.


“The broken iPhone values appear to be worth about one-third less or half the value of comparable devices in good condition,” Forbes.com reports. “The broken iPhone trade in program may encourage consumers to upgrade their devices rather than paying for a just a screen repair – which may be cheaper in some cases.”

Also in adding some protection to devices, Apple retail employees will soon be able to install screen protectors on iPhones that are purchased at the Apple store, Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac reports.

More Owners Tap Into Equity, Conservatively

As home values rise, more home owners are tapping into their equity with cash-out mortgage refinances. But they’re not taking out nearly as much as they did in the past.

Read more: Equity Gains for 2015

The average amount taken out by owners was more than $60,000. According to Black Knight Financial Services, the average loan-to-value ratio after the refinance was 67 percent – the lowest level ever. On average, borrowers then left 33 percent of equity still in the home after the cash-out refinance.

Forty-two percent of mortgage refinances last fall had borrowers who took cash out of their homes and did not refinance just to get a lower interest rate – the highest share since 2008, CNBC points out.

“All totaled, there was $64 billion in equity tapped via cash-out refinances over the past 12 months, the highest dollar amount for any equivalent 12-month period since 2008-2009,” says Ben Graboske, Black Knight senior vice president. “Even so, this amounted to less than 2 percent of available equity being tapped. This is slightly below the post-crisis norm, and 80 percent less than the total amount of equity extracted from the market in 2005-2006.”

Lenders are also being more stringent about who can do

Housing Winners = Super Bowl Champs

predicts a Denver Broncos win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 this weekend. That could prove to be good news for the national housing market as well, the real estate site says.

Read more: Here Are the 20 Hottest Housing Markets

“Although there is no economically driven correlation between the outcome of the Super Bowl and the housing market, we have found a promising real estate predictor for the Super Bowl that’s more effective than a coin toss,” says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist.

Realtor.com® used January’s performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to predict the Super Bowl’s outcome. “Out of the 49 games to date, this predictor has anticipated the outcome of the Super Bowl 82 percent of the time,” realtor.com® states.

This year, the stock market ended January down 5.5 percent, which realtor.com® says indicates a win for the Denver Broncos. If the market had risen in January, the Carolina Panthers would be the anticipated winners.

History suggests a Denver win is also good for the overall housing market, says realtor.com®.

“Denver’s past wins in the Super Bowl – in 1998 and 1999 – were also strong years for housing,” according to realtor.com®. In 1998, home prices rose

The Right Shape for Your New Logo

Whether it’s for a multinational brokerage firm or just the header on your business blog, a logo that can convey your mission statement is important. And new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research indicates that something as basic as the overall shape of a logo can have a significant impact on the way consumers perceive your brand.

Researchers found that when people looked at ads that contained logos that were circular, they perceived the products that were being advertised to be more comfortable. When the same products were displayed alongside angular logos, the products were seen as more durable. Consistency in these ads turned out to be important, too; when an ad headline about durability was paired with a circular logo, the logo shape effect wasn’t effective.

But logos appear to affect consumers’ feelings about much more than simply products, according to the study. Researchers also found that study participants who looked at a circular logo first were more likely to predict that a company would be sensitive and understanding about a particular customer’s needs.

“We need to worry about what we’re saying to consumers verbally versus what we’re signaling accidentally or deliberately through other kinds of cues,”says Amitava Chattopadhyay, one

So You Wanna Buy a House? Step 6: Perfect the Art of the Offer

We’ll get right down to it: Shopping for a home is fun. But once you find “The One,” things start to get real—real fast. Think of making an offer on a home as setting the roller coaster in motion: You might have sharp drops in emotion and slow, trudging climbs to success, but the ride won’t end until the car slows down and the safety bar is lifted. (OK, this metaphor is now officially over.)

You need to learn how to make the right offer, the one that will end with your receiving the keys to your new house. So check out this installment of our weekly 2016 Home-Buying Guide for some agent-approved negotiation tactics to make the process a whole lot less bumpy.

Pick the right price

Just because the home is listed at $300,000, it doesn’t mean it’s actually worth that much. It all depends on the market. If you’re buying somewhere hot—especially places with low inventories—offering substantially below asking price is “probably wasting your time,” says Mindy Jensen, a Realtor® with Equity Colorado. But if the place has been sitting unsold for a few months, even the sellers probably don’t expect full price. Your best reality gauge are comps, or what similarly sized homes nearby have sold for recently.

Work with your real estate agent to

Buy Your Own White House

Home buyers now have a chance to live in their own White House, though it won’t carry the infamous 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address. Two replicas of the White House are currently for sale across the U.S., offering buyers an opportunity to feel presidential in their own estate.

Read more: The Wealthy Still Want a Trophy Home

In McLean, Va., just outside Washington, D.C., a scaled-down version of the White House is for sale for $3.25 million. The home was created using blueprints from the original, but omits the staff offices and workday wings. The home was created as a patriotic gesture by a Vietnamese man in the 1970s pursuing an engineering doctorate degree who couldn’t return to Vietnam due to the war. The U.S. had taken him in as a refugee. He decided to build a replica of the White House as a tribute to his new homeland.

The White House replica, built in 1995, sits on 1.6 acres and boasts 14,000 square feet. The home boasts seven bedrooms, nine baths, marble floors throughout, steel-reinforced marble staircase, and 11-foot ceilings and foyer moldings that are a duplicate of the original. The home also features an oval office, formal rooms, chef’s kitchen, wine

Mortgage Rates Move Lower Than Expected

For the fifth consecutive week, mortgage rates trended down, surprising even forecasters. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is now at its lowest average since April 30, 2015.

“Market volatility — and the associated flight to quality — continued unabated this week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped another 15 basis points, and the 30-year mortgage rate fell 7 basis points as well, to 3.72 percent. Both the Treasury yield and the mortgage rate now are in the neighborhood of early-2015 lows. These declines are not what the market anticipated when the Fed raised the Federal funds rate in December. For now, though, sub-4-percent mortgage rates are providing a longer-than-expected opportunity for mortgage borrowers to refinance.”

Read more: Holding Firm Against the Tide

This week the market forecasted zero hikes in 2016 for the Fed’s short-term rates, which could keep mortgage rates low. Analysts are now predicting that the closely monitored Fed Futures market has nearly a 60 percent chance of no rate hikes at all this year, marking a “dramatic U-Turn from only a month ago when the market was pricing in a 75 percent probability the Fed would increase rates at least once in

Man Builds $1M Home to Up Nearby Values

Builder Andy Salon in Vallejo, Calif., wants to increase property values in the city’s heritage district so he decided to build a nearly $1 million home to help boost surrounding property values.

Salon purchased an empty lot in the area and built a two-story, four-bedroom, 2,600-square foot home in Vallejo’s Heritage District, outfitting it with European-inspired luxury features, and is asking $949,000 for the home. The home cost him $739,000 to build.

Read more: Owners More Upbeat About Home Values

“I’m very proud of this house,” Salon told the San Jose Mercury News. “I hope it brings the highest price of any home in the area. That will raise the ‘comps’ here, and increase property values.”

A home similar to size of Salon’s home recently sold several months ago in the area for $650,000.

Salon’s home features energy efficient features, such as tankless water heaters and water-saving fixtures and appliances, as well as boasts a panoramic view of Mare Island and the eastern hills.

Shelley Tappin, president of the Solano Association of REALTORS® and broker-associate with Tipp Realty in Glen Cove, told the San Jose Mercury News that she likes what Salon is doing with the home.

“It is rare to find a new home in

Commercial to See ‘Modest’ Growth

Global and domestic economic hiccups won’t likely slow commercial real estate activity this year, according to a new report published by Situs Real Estate Research Corp. (RERC) and the National Association of REALTORS®. Boosting activity this year, the report cites steady job gains and stable leasing demand.

Commercial real estate activity is forecasted to gradually grow this year, across all commercial sectors, according to the report “Expectations & Market Realities in Real Estate 2016—Navigating through the Crosscurrents.” Commercial property values and price gains, however, are expected to flatten, after having recently surpassed 2007 peaks in some major markets.

Read more: 2015 Marked Best Year for Office Sales in Years

“Historically low interest rates, especially in treasuries, combined with commercial real estate’s stable prices and value make this asset an attractive investment,” says Ken Riggs, president of Situs RERC. “Looking into 2016, the commercial real estate market should moderate, which could stabilize prices.”

Vacancies in the commercial sector are forecasted to decline slightly this year across property types – except in the apartment sector, which will likely see a modest increase by the end of the year as new project completions enter onto the market.

Rising rents and steady investor returns will likely continue as

Boost Curb Appeal with $100 in 4 Easy Steps

Does your listing need a more inviting first impression from the outside? Stager Cora Sue Anthony with Antony Staging in Oakland, Calif., says you don’t have to break the bank to get an instant lift to a home’s curb appeal. In fact, in a short video she highlights how spending just $106 on some paint and a new light fixture could instantly amp up a home’s curb appeal.

Here are four steps that can entice buyers:

1. Paint the front door. Try out a bold color – such as red – to get buyers’ attention focused on the door.

2. Paint the mailbox. Try either red or black. Anthony says since she painted the home’s door red in the video example, she painted the mailbox the opposite color – black.

3. Paint the railings. Use black to add depth.

4. Change out the light fixture. Make sure the new light fixture matches the aesthetics of the home’s exterior, but this can dress up the outside while also brightening the space.

How to Fix the White House’s Lousy Wi-Fi (and Yours, Too)

The White House may have everything from five full-time chefs to 28 fireplaces to a bowling alley, but here’s one surprising thing it has in common with most of our considerably more humble abodes: crappy Wi-Fi.

President Barack Obama said as much during an interview for CBS’ Super Bowl pregame show. When talking about how he hopes to help the transition for his successor, he said the whole “tech thing” tops his list, since apparently the White House has a lot of Wi-Fi dead spots. First lady Michelle chimed in that their daughters Sasha and Malia “are just irritated by it.”

Well, join the club, Obamas!

After all, few things aside from taxes and national disasters are as dispiriting as the inability to surf, stream, or send/receive messages whenever you want, wherever you want—particularly in your own home. Regardless of your beliefs or your political leanings, access to Wi-Fi is an American right! (Well, not really … but maybe it should be.)

Please, Mr. Postman

Send me news, tips, and promos from realtor.com® and Move.

So what causes Wi-Fi dead spots, anyway? The answer depends on your house. According to tech site makeuseof.com, thick plaster walls that contain chicken wire can

So There’s a Problem With Your New Home—What Can You Do?

Jessica and Jim Jepsen thought they did everything right when it came to buying their home.

Thanks to an estate sale in March 2012, they got a great deal on a five-story, split-level California-style house in Valparaiso, IN, a college town about an hour east of Chicago. A well-regarded home inspector from a nearby town checked out the house and said there were no major issues to cause concern.

And so, on a Monday, the Jepsens closed on their dream home and immediately moved in.

That Friday, Jessica came home while it was raining and found a deluge pouring through the roof and into the living room.

She soon discovered that the previous occupant had replaced the rubber roof with shingles—a violation of local building code that seriously compromised the water-proofing abilities of the roof.  All told, it’s led to a nightmarishly complicated $70,000 repair that the Jepsens are still dealing with. And as it turned out, rain problems were just the start.

“When the previous owner put shingles on the roof, they also caused ventilation issues,” Jessica says. “We’ve been piecing together the best route to fixing all the problems, because no roofer around here knows what to do—and they kept suggesting ‘the right’ fix, but none of it ever really

Americans Less Optimistic About Owning a Home

National optimism? What national optimism? Fewer Americans think it’s a good time right now to buy a home, according to a report released on Monday.

Stagnant wages and climbing housing prices led to a 1.7-point drop last month in consumer optimism toward owning a home, according to Fannie Mae’s monthly Home Purchase Sentiment Index. The index dipped from 83.2 points in December to 81.5 points in January. It ranges from -36.5 to 163.5 points.

“People need to see bigger wage increases to be able to afford a home and collect the down payment,” said Steve Deggendorf, director of strategic research at Fannie Mae.

Just 31% of the survey’s 1,000 participants said it was a good time to buy last month. And only 12% of respondents said their household income was significantly higher than it was a year ago—down 3% from December.

“Jobs are increasing, but wages really haven’t caught up,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, a New York City–based think tank. He added that it’s become harder for aspiring homeowners to save up for a down payment than it was for previous generations. “It certainly puts homeownership out of reach for a lot of Americans.”

This could lead to

The Coolest—and Swankiest—Cabins We’ve Ever Seen

The word “cabin” may conjure up a slew of adjectives such as quaint, cozy, or rugged. But a new book, “150 Best Cottage & Cabin Ideas,” proves that some of these dwellings have come a long way from their rough-hewn roots.

The coffee table–style tome, written by Barcelona-based Francesc Zamora Mola (author of “150 Best Mini Interior Ideas“), features cabins with architectural elements that are as beautiful as the surroundings they inhabit.

For a whole new perspective on these typically modest abodes, check out some of these prime examples:

A two-way fireplace

This cabin in Walden, CO, features a double-sided fireplace so you can kick back next to some crackling flames indoors during winter or outside on the patio during warmer weather.

Walden, CO

David Wakely Photography


Heavy metal

This Norwegian cabin’s aluminum siding not only serves as protection against the elements, but the reflective surface also helps the home blend in with its surroundings.

Vestfold, Norway

Nils, Petter Dale


Building blocks

The Brockloch Bothy home in Scotland is a modular collection of four interconnected cubes, each with its own pyramid roof.

Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland



Anchors aweigh

Long and white with porthole windows, this Finnish cabin’s maritime theme is perfect for its surroundings, nestled in a

The Housing State of the Union: We’re Back, Baby!

Next week, we’ll hear President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Here at realtor.com®, we think it’s also a great time to review the state of the nation’s housing market. Let’s go!

Once the final data on 2015 are complete and tabulated, I’m pretty sure that we’ll see that it was a great year of growth and improvement—one that sets the stage for a return to normalcy in the months and years ahead.

But not all parts of housing are close to normal.

On the sales front, there were more sales of both existing and new homes in 2015. Judging from the data reported through November, new-home sales were up 13% and existing-home sales were up 7%.

That higher volume of sales was supported by strong household formation (1.4 million households formed in the past four quarters ending in September) and another year of solid job creation (an average of 210,000 jobs per month through November). Normal, nondistressed sales increased among first-time and repeat buyers, and buyers who were relocating and/or changing jobs.

Not every type of sale increased in 2015—and that’s OK. Distressed sales declined, as did sales to second-home buyers, investors, and international buyers.  Net-net, we got more of what we want and

How to Fix the White House’s Lousy Wi-Fi (and Yours, Too)

The White House may have everything from five full-time chefs to 28 fireplaces to a bowling alley, but here’s one surprising thing it has in common with most of our considerably more humble abodes: crappy Wi-Fi.

President Barack Obama said as much during an interview for CBS’ Super Bowl pregame show. When talking about how he hopes to help the transition for his successor, he said the whole “tech thing” tops his list, since apparently the White House has a lot of Wi-Fi dead spots. First lady Michelle chimed in that their daughters Sasha and Malia “are just irritated by it.”

Well, join the club, Obamas!

After all, few things aside from taxes and national disasters are as dispiriting as the inability to surf, stream, or send/receive messages whenever you want, wherever you want—particularly in your own home. Regardless of your beliefs or your political leanings, access to Wi-Fi is an American right! (Well, not really … but maybe it should be.)

So what causes Wi-Fi dead spots, anyway? The answer depends on your house. According to tech site makeuseof.com, thick plaster walls that contain chicken wire can mercilessly block Wi-Fi signals (which are essentially radio waves). So can hefty metal objects such as file cabinets and any wave-radiating tech in your home—think cordless phones, microwave ovens, wireless security