How Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid?

Whether you are a home buyer or seller, you’re likely to work with a real estate agent for your transaction.

How do real estate agents get paid?

According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, just 9 percent of homeowners in 2012 opted to sell their home without the services of a real estate professional, and many of those For Sale by Owner transactions involved buyers and sellers who were related or already knew each other. On the buyers’ side, 88 percent of home buyers worked with a real estate professional.

Unlike other professionals who bill their clients at hourly rates or present an invoice at the end of a project, real estate professionals are paid at the end of a sales transaction. If a real estate agent works with a buyer or a seller for weeks or months without a resulting transaction, they aren’t paid for their time. Realtors earn a commission based on the sales price of the home and receive that commission only after the transaction goes to settlement.

Commissions are negotiable between listing agents and their clients. Some brokerages offer commission discounts for sellers, but a typical commission is 6 percent of the sales price. In many cases the commission is evenly split between the buyers’ agent and the listing agent, but sometimes the split is negotiated unevenly. For example, a seller could agree to pay a 5.5 percent commission divided so that the listing agent receives 3 percent and the buyers’ agent receives 2.5 percent.

Brokers and Real Estate Agents

While some Realtors are also brokers or associate brokers, positions that require extra training and licensing, commission payments go to the broker who manages the real estate brokerage where the Realtor works. The commission is then split between the broker and the agent according to their agreement. The commission split varies from one agent to another, with new agents sometimes earning a smaller percentage of the commission than experienced agents or successful ones who sell more homes or more expensive properties.

Who Pays the Commission?

Technically, the total commission is always paid by the seller at the settlement table, where the fee is subtracted from the proceeds of the home sale. However, in a sense, the buyers are paying the commission because they’re paying to buy the house and the sellers have taken the Realtors’ commission into account when determining a listing price. The commission is split at the settlement table between the listing agent’s brokerage and the buyers’ agent brokerage; then the agents themselves are paid by their brokers.

Contracts and Commissions

The exact percentage of the Realtors’ commission should be spelled out in the listing agent’s contract with the seller so that the listing agent gets paid if the property sells, regardless of who buys it. Listing agents and their brokers spend time and money marketing a home, advertising and preparing the home for sale, so they’re being paid for those services. Buyers’ agents typically have a contract with their clients so that they are paid when the buyer completes a purchase even if the buyers found that particular property on their own.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, the professional support of a Realtor who represents your interests should be worth every dollar of the commission.

This article was originally published by Michele Lerner on realtor.com. See the original article here.

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Get Ready for the ‘Maximalism’ Movement Entering Interior Designs

Hotel design - Photo Credit: Igloodgn, http://igloodesign.ca

Hotel design – Photo Credit: Igloodgn, http://igloodesign.ca

A new philosophy is taking hold in interior design, and it puts the onus on style without clutter. The recession has finally dwindled and people are yearning for all of the sumptuousness, texture, and good looks that they can get.

This exciting new movement is being called “maximalism.”

So many of us were attracted toward the bare, simplistic movement often referred to as “minimalism” in the last several years. But this new idea of maximalism looks to break that mold and go after the bright, bold, detailed accents that are connected to this new ideal.

During the recession everyone took it down a notch and gravitated toward repurposing. Many people were downsizing and reusing and recycling. People made do with as little as possible.

But are the days of repurposing and reclaiming items fading away and being replaced by maximalism?

The new maximalism means that the recession is almost over, and people are spending again. It’s the place where “more is more” and less is most definitely a bore.

As more designers and the public move toward this notion of maximalism, I’m quick to point out that this does not necessarily mean accumulating things. In fact, it’s quite the opposite!

Maximalism as it pertains to interior design is about having elegance and sophistication in materials but striking a delicate balance between style and keeping disorder at bay. This requires a lot of editing.

What’s important here is maximalism, yes, but not the clutter and not over decorating — it’s all about curating spaces.

It’s important that we not be afraid of bringing luxe and detail back into our lives. It’s not necessarily the opulence of the 1930s and 1940s, but opulence with restraint that truly reflects what our lives are like today. Luxe is not intimidating.

Maximalism is a term that is used to emphasize work-intensive practices and concentrate on the process of creation itself. The term was coined by historian Robert Pincus-Witten to describe a group of artists associated with the challenging start of Neo-expressionism in the late 1970s. Charlotte Rivers describes how “maximalism celebrates richness and excess in graphic design,” characterized by decoration, sensuality, luxury and fantasy.

Heeding this new maximalist movement and integrating it into interior design projects is of particular importance to real estate developers. The fact that consumers are well on their way to seeking out this emerging trend proves the actual weight of this new model of interior design.

When developers are putting up a property they have to be ahead of the curve by eight or even 10 years because it all boils down to this: You have to be able to forecast beyond the trend and forget about “trendy” because by the time it is built, it is not going to be vogue anymore.

Maximalism likely will be the new wave and full future of interior design trends.

I see even more lavishness in the future of interior design, which often follows off of the heels of fashion runways. Since the recession started in 2007 we have been starved, but not anymore – real estate purchasers want a full package. They want to see color, light, detail, pattern, and they want to have fun.

Real estate developers need to realize this and adopt it over the upcoming year with a strategic focus on being ahead of the design curve. Luxe is coming and people want it. It just can’t be ignored.

Anna Abbruzzo and Alain Courchesne

Anna Abbruzzo and Alain Courchesne

About the authors: Anna Abbruzzo and Alain Courchesne are the Principal Designers of the award-winning interior design firm Igloodgn, with headquarters in Canada. The design duo successfully works with real estate developers to scale projects to the next level for both residential and commercial properties. Igloodgn’s previous clients have included the major burger restaurant Mister Steer; opulent housing development unit Roccabella Towers; exclusive men’s retailer Dom Rebel Threads; and the elegant Spa Calme. For more information, visit Igloodgn at http://igloodesign.ca/.

Source: http://styledstagedsold.blogs.realtor.org/2013/11/25/get-ready-for-the-%E2%80%98maximalism%E2%80%99-movement-entering-interior-designs/

Key Factors in Securing a Mortgage

For most Americans, buying a home is the most expensive purchase of their lifetime, and obtaining a mortgage can be particularly stressful.

Research and preparation won’t take all the worry out of applying for a home loan, but it will go a long way toward reducing your anxiety.

Here are key factors lenders may consider when reviewing your mortgage application.

Credit report & score

Your credit report documents your track record of borrowing from and repaying banks, credit card companies and other lenders. It’s crucial that you check your credit report well in advance of a home purchase in order to give yourself enough time to spot any issues that might raise concerns.

Your credit score is a numeric evaluation of your credit risk level. Lenders will review your credit report and score, among many other factors, to make a decision about whether they will approve your home mortgage application.

Credit cards & other debts

Your debt-to-income ratio, or the amount of credit card and other debt you have compared to your income, is also calculated before securing approval from a lender. If you’re carrying a balance owed on your credit cards and other debts, it may impact your credit score.

Experts suggest that consumers should be especially aware of their credit card charges during the months leading up to a mortgage application. Think twice before canceling a credit card, especially an account that establishes a long-term credit history. You’ll also want to avoid applying for new credit during the three to six months prior to applying for a mortgage.

Employment status

The length and terms of your employment will also be verified by lenders to ensure you bring in enough income to afford a mortgage payment. Whether you’ve been in your position of a long period of time, have multiple sources of income or are self-employed, it’s especially important to have the right paperwork to share with lenders.

Be prepared to provide pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns in order to verify your work history.

Down payment

The expected down payment can be up to 20 percent or more of the home’s purchase price. If your credit history is less than stellar, you may need a larger down payment in order to secure a loan. Down payment requirements vary by lender and loan type, so be sure to verify the required down payment with your preferred lender.

Your lender will also want to know that you have enough cash to cover your closing costs; if you don’t, you might have trouble getting your application approved.

Know what’s off-limits

When deciding whether to extend you a loan, lenders might ask countless questions about your income and expenses. They can ask whether you’re involved in any lawsuits, have filed bankruptcy in the past seven years or been involved in a foreclosure.

The Fair Housing Act and other federal laws, however, put some questions off-limits. Borrowers, for instance, are not required to disclose payments from a spouse or former spouse unless that income is being used to qualify for the mortgage. Lenders cannot ask how much you receive in child support or alimony, but they can ask if you want to disclose this amount because you’d like to use the income to qualify for the mortgage. If you pay child support or alimony, your lender typically will require this information because it affects your ability to repay the loan.

Lenders can’t ask if you’re pregnant or planning a family, but they can ask about your dependents and their ages.

Also, thanks to protections provided by the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, you cannot be asked if you are ill or disabled.

The mortgage loan application process can be daunting, as lenders need to gather a considerable amount of information to determine whether you’re a good investment. Knowing what lenders look for should help put you at ease and ensure that you’re well-prepared for securing the financing you’ll need to buy your home.

By Experian Consumer Services | Zillow Blog

Source: http://www.zillow.com/blog/2013-11-25/key-factors-in-securing-a-mortgage/

Empty Feeling: How to Fill All That Space in Your Bigger Digs

You’ve moved on up. You made apartment living a thing of the past. Or you found a way to trade that small, starter home for a larger model.

Finally, room to stretch! But also, more space to fill.

All those fabulous Pinterest finds and that living room of your dreams take time, and money, to assemble. Follow these tips to keep your sanity and your budget in line when sizing up:

Don’t Buy Until You’ve Bought

Make sure the ink has dried on your closing papers before whipping out your plastic at a favorite home store. It’s hard, especially when you’ve waited a long time for a place to call your own. But you don’t want to be left holding the bag (or a very, very large furniture purchase) if a deal unravels.

Live First, Buy Later

Your new home is a longterm investment. There’s no need to rush into anything. Give yourself time to acclimate to the new space, create new living habits, and get a feel for the types of appliances, furniture and colors that will work with your newly expanded lifestyle. A little patience is better than a large piece of furniture you’ll come to regret.

Budget, Budget, Budget

Resist the urge to splurge just because you have the space to do so now. There’s no need to take on more debt for the sake of a sofa, especially when you’ve just taken on so much debt with a new mortgage. A thoughtful approach matching needs, wants and finances will ensure you’ll have a space you truly love at a pricepoint you can live with.

Invest in Basic Tools

If you had been a renter, remember that you no longer have a landlord or property manager to call when things go wrong. If you sold a home to move into another, there may be differences in plumbing, electrical fixtures or landscaping that require different tools to adjust. The mauve kitchen may drive you batty, but a gushing, midnight leak you can’t turn off could end up causing costly damage.

Hit the Most-Used Rooms First

As glorious as that dining-room-set of your dreams might be, a table and chairs that will get occasional use aren’t as vital as a place in the kitchen to sit for breakfast and dinner. And consider putting up bedroom curtains to fend off early morning jolts of sunshine before you get started on painting the future basement rec room.

Keep Things Moving

You may have envisioned a sofa by that window and the TV in the corner, but flipping them could provide a better flow to the room. You won’t always know what works until you try new arrangements, and since you now have plenty of time and space, why not experiment?

Retain Those Small-Space Habits

You’ve lived for so long without under-the-stair storage, do you really need to rush to fill it? Or those painfully organized kitchen cabinets — a necessity in your former galley space — what if you kept those systems and used the new space to indulge in that roaster you’ll finally have room for? Living the organized life of a small space in a large abode gives you room to play with as time progresses.

Don’t Fear the Footage

While creating a cohesive look and investing in the right furnishings can feel like a daunting challenge when you have only two bedrooms, adding two more bedrooms and a playroom could easily make the task seem overwhelming. So, take a deep breath. This is supposed to be fun. Make a budget. Attack each room one by one. Give yourself plenty of time. Soon you’ll marvel at how much your larger house feels like a home.

Originally published by Anne Miller of Realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

How to Put New Life Into Old Furniture

Whether you buy it at a garage sale or it’s already gathering dust in your home, old furniture can become new again — or, at least, look like it.

How to Put New Life Into Old Furniture

You can customize things to reflect your individual taste for a fraction of what you might spend buying entirely new décor. And what you save in cash could more than make up for the time you spend restoring the furniture, depending on your creativity and tastes.

As with any type of interior design, the more you plan, the better your results will be. Knowing the possibilities and limitations of different decorating tactics will help manage your expectations about redesigning.

With that in mind, here are some of the things you can do to make older furnishings look newer:

Drapery and Pillows

How: Housewares stores sell a wide variety of pillows, curtains, tablecloths, and even sheets that could cover up worn-out seating or — in the case of curtains and sheets — serve as makeshift doors. You could also buy fabric by the yard and make your own.
Pros: This is one of the simplest options you have for dressing up old furniture.
Cons: There’s only so much you can achieve with this type of outer layer. Overdo it and the result can look cluttered.

Slipcovers

How: Most slipcover retailing happens via mail-order and websites, which makes comparison shopping a snap.
Pros: It doesn’t get much quicker and easier than this, especially if your furniture conforms to the exact dimensions of the slipcover.
Cons: Sizes and colors are limited, and catalog photos can only go so far in showing how something will look once it’s on your piece of furniture. One-size-fits-most can result in a loose fit that will look like you bought a slipcover instead of completely new décor.

Professional Upholstery

How: An upholsterer may pay you a house call to provide an estimate and save you from having to transport the furniture down to the repair shop.
Pros: The results might turn out better than anything you do yourself. The scope of services provided can include structural repairs, such as refilling stuffing, replacing springs, or strengthening frames.
Cons: It can easily cost as much as new furniture. If your item has sentimental value or qualifies as an heirloom, then hiring a professional upholsterer makes the most sense.

Do Your Own Upholstery

How: Take good measurements of your furniture, including the surfaces that are normally hidden from view — they are where you will be applying the staple gun. Buy upholstery-grade fabric with at least half a yard of excess to give yourself room for some trial and error.
Pro: You really can have a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture for a relatively modest investment of money. How much time it takes is up to you.
Con: This is the most challenging and time consuming of all the options mentioned here. Consult a good how-to guide (a number of them are linked throughout this article) or consider taking an upholstery class. Approach the effort as a learning exercise until you get the hang of it.

Painting or Refinishing

How: Invest in a good drop cloth, mask, gloves, solvent, and sandpaper when embarking on any kind of painting or refinishing job.
Pros: As long as you sand down the object first, and then apply the paint, stain or finish carefully, the end result can look just like new. This will be even more so if you follow it with new fixtures, as described below.
Cons: The odor is substantial, and so is the potential for kids or pets to get in the way or ruin the project if it’s not done in the right location. Plan accordingly.

Knobs and Handles

How: Handles or knobs on armoires, dressers, and entertainment units can wiggle loose or become tarnished. Instead of just replacing one that has fallen off or into disrepair, you could buy a new set in a completely different style and the result could look like a whole new piece of furniture.
Pros: New hardware can dramatically prolong the life of storage furnishings.
Cons: If you don’t measure the original hardware and the corresponding hole before going to the store, you may need to make another trip.

Headboards

How: Jazz up a plain bedframe by adding a headboard, or make an old one look newer with a fresh coat of paint or new fabric covering. If you’re really ambitious, you could make a footboard too, although that’s a little trickier. Any piece of wood or metal that is about the width of your mattress and at least a foot higher could pass for a headboard.
Pros: This gets you away from looking like you’re sleeping on a futon.
Cons: Beware of headboards that lean against the wall rather than attach to the frame (and good luck trying to make a footboard stay in place without using some tools).

As with any crafts project, go easy on yourself when trying your hand at the more creative tactics mentioned here. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses if the end result isn’t what you had envisioned. That’s one of the benefits of refurbishing something old instead of buying completely new: You can always sell, trade, or give away anything that doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped.

By Jackie Cohen of realtor.com. To see the original article, click here

Make Your Home a Hot Commodity This Winter

Although the holiday season can be a hectic time to show and sell your house, there are distinct advantages to staging and showing your home at this time of year—you have a chance to show your home at its very best, adorned with warmth and cheer that’s sure to charm. Nothing is more inviting than a home brimming with greenery, twinkling lights and holiday decorations.

Make Your Home a Hot Commodity This Winter

Inviting and Warm

First impressions are important. If you live in a snowy area, make sure walkways are cleared. Do you have late fall leaves littering the ground? Rake them up. Also, make sure the walks and stairs are free of ice.

A few exterior holiday lights or decorations show pride in ownership and seasonal cheer, but they don’t add anything during the day when potential homebuyers will be looking at your home, so don’t overdo them. Another thing to consider: Would-be buyers may view it favorably if nearby homes are brimming with lights—it shows unity and neighborliness—so you’ll want to find a tasteful balance.

As you set out to win over holiday homebuyers, here are a few other tips to keep in mind:

  • Trim outdoor trees so unexpected winds don’t knock down branches that could damage your home or hurt someone.
  • Place a holiday welcome mat outside the front door.
  • Keep the door area clear of bicycles, toys or parcels left by the mail carrier.
  • Hang a festive wreath on your door.
  • Play holiday music in the background.
  • Keep the house cozy. Entering a cold house could chill potential buyers’ enthusiasm.
  • Light a fire in the fireplace just before the agent shows your house. (But never leave a fire unattended.)
  • Choose a tree and decorate it to complement the room where it’s displayed. You don’t want the tree to appear to take over the entire living or family room. Remove furniture, if necessary.
  • Keep decorations on the conservative side. You want your house to be noticed, not your decorations.
  • If your house is being viewed in the evening, tell your agent how to turn on the holiday lights. And be sure the agent turns the lights off, or you have a plan to be home immediately, following the showing.
  • Make sure your agent turns the home security system back on after showing your house, especially if you have gifts under the tree.
  • Be certain your windows are sparkling clean.
  • Let there be light. Open blinds and curtains and turn on interior lights to reduce the pervasive dreariness of winter months.
  • Bake holiday cookies and treats to fill the home with enticing aromas before the prospective buyers arrive.
  • Leave those holiday treats and hot chocolate for your guests.

Ultimately, you want to convey the love, comfort and joy your family has shared in the house so that buyers will be eager to move in and create their own holiday memories.

From realtor.com. To view the original article, click here.

De-pet your home before you sell

Selling your home is a real art form these days. The marketing! The staging! Yet there’s one thing that you, Joe or Sally Homeowner, often forget: Would-be buyers don’t care how much you love your pets. And they’re not interested in seeing — or smelling — evidence of Fido or Fifi.

© Robert Daly/Getty Images

“People are really, really sensitive about pets,” says Don Aslett, owner of a cleaning businesses and author of “Pet Clean-up Made Easy.”  “One of the biggest reasons people will or won’t buy a house is odor, believe it or not,” says Aslett, who also operates the Museum of Clean in Pocatello, Idaho.

So how do you scrub all evidence of your pets from your home before you sell it, especially if you’ve lived there with them for a decade or more?

Step away from that can of Lysol. We’ve got some expert tips that really work.

Make your pet scarce

If at all possible, keep your animals out of the house whenever you’re showing your home, the National Association of Realtors advises. There’s nothing more off-putting for a homebuyer than opening the door to an aggressive or hyperactive dog. If the pet must be at home, put it away, and make sure the real-estate agent knows exactly where it is. Remember: Few buyers think your dog or cat is as charming as you do.

Go on a hair hunt

“The first thing that you want to get rid of is evidence of hair,” says Julia Szabo, author of “Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot’s Digs Stylish & Spotless.”

“You’ve got to get a really good machine to pick up stuff,” Szabo says. She recommendsDyson’s Animal or Bissell’s Pet Hair Eraser. (Bissell also makes the Spot Bot Pet, a portable deep-cleaning machine that can remove pet stains from carpet and upholstery while the owner walks away.)

If you’re going to “stage” your home using your own furniture, vacuuming alone doesn’t always cut it. Szabo recommends checking out Sticky Sheets — big, adhesive sheets, like lint rollers, that pick up everything on sofas and chairs. “It’s almost like you’re Brazilian waxing the cracks in the furniture.”

And don’t forget to vacuum and launder your drapes. They can hold plenty of hair and smells.

Find trouble spots on the floor

© De Agostini/Photo 1/Getty Images

© De Agostini/Photo 1/Getty Images

Your floors are going to pose the biggest challenge to de-petting your home.

How do you know that you’re locating all the trouble spots you need to address? Here’s an advanced move: Buy a battery-powered ultraviolet (aka “black”) light like the Stink-Free Stink Finder (about $18) or Bramton’s Simple Solution Spot Spotter (about $12), Aslett says. Used in complete darkness, these lights will show everywhere that your pet has peed, sprayed or vomited. Mark the spots with masking tape so you can focus on them.

Of course, follow all directions, and test cleaners on a small, less-seen area first to test for colorfastness.

Tackle the carpeting

© SuperStock

© SuperStock

“If you have carpeting, such as wall-to-wall carpeting, that traps a lot of odor and a lot of hair,” Szabo says. The padding beneath the carpet can often grab and hold odor and stains, too. Urine can even seep into the plywood or presswood subfloor and into places like the carpet tack strip (usually raw wood), cleaning guru Aslett says.

The bad news? For serious pet stains, even professional carpet cleaning won’t do the trick. In fact, adding water (think carpet shampooing, or even a humid or rainy day) can simply “reactivate” the smells. Not what you want at an open house!

The good news? You can try to extract it all.

Aslett highly recommends applying a cleaning product that is a “bacteria/enzyme digester.” These products literally enter the carpet or other problem area and break down the stains and smells. Don’t expect instant gratification; often you have to apply them and leave them to dry for a day or two. Aslett suggests Simple Solution Stain and Odor Remover by Bramton or Urine Erase.

When the “stain” part of the pet stain is worse than any odor, bubbling oxygen cleaners are a particularly good choice, Aslett says. These use hydrogen peroxide to break down stains and odors. One product that our experts really love — Szabo has used it successfully both on hard and carpeted surfaces — is Get Serious! It not only removes the odor and stain, but also pulls out the pheromone that encourages pets to visit the spot again, she says.

Clean up your hardwoods

© Ableimages/Getty Images

© Ableimages/Getty Images

Some seemingly hard surfaces will absorb urine — flat- or matte-finish latex paint, unfinished wood, unsealed concrete and vinyl tile between the cracks. In these cases, where urine has been absorbed and can linger, use a chemical deodorizer and cleaner first, Aslett says. If the odor problem is quite serious, seal, varnish or repaint the surface afterward to help lock in any odors.

Another hardwood floors tip: Many animals don’t love the smell of citrus, Szabo says, and they will avoid it. To clean her hardwood floors and the wooden legs of furniture nicely while also keeping her pets off of them, Szabo scrubs them with citrus after she’s juiced lemons and oranges for drinks. She then wipes with a damp sponge to pick up any residue. “No amount of Murphy’s Oil Soap got my floors as sparkling,” she says. “It’s labor intensive, I’m not going to lie. But even if you do just around the edges” — for instance, by a wall you’ve just painted — it should help “corral” your animals, she says.

Touch up the walls

If you’ve been in your house for a while, pay close attention to your walls: Animals sometimes like to spray them or rub up against them. The oils in their coats can discolor them over time and leave lasting odors. If the problem is subtle, trying wiping it clean. Aslett recommends a water-soluble deodorant such as Nilodor Surface Deodorizer.

If stains are stubborn, wash and then repaint with a non-VOC paint (one that doesn’t off-gas), Szabo suggests. But if you’ve lived in the house for a long time, you might have to tear out and replace some drywall to get rid of the entrenched animal scent.

Clear the air

© Photo Researchers/Getty Images

© Photo Researchers/Getty Images

A great way to improve the atmosphere of your rooms, Szabo says, is to clean your home’s furnace or air-conditioning filters. Then take essential oils — only the real stuff, from a health-food store — and dab several drops on the filter before replacing it. “This a wonderful, great way to pump scent through the air and is less obvious than, say, lighting a bunch of candles, which screams, ‘I’m hiding something.'” Szabo recommends lavender oil or patchouli. “They operate very nicely on a person’s olfactory sense.”

Think you need to go deeper? Get your ducts cleaned before showing the home. A home’s air ducts can collect everything from animal dander and hair to skin cells, mold and dust — things that will agitate a particularly sensitive would-be homebuyer. Also, if you have cats and have been using clay kitty litter, definitely get your ducts cleaned, Szabo says. The micro-dust generated from clay litter goes everywhere, she says. (And if you’re still in the house, switch to a non-clay litter.)

Discover the scent to sell

“Realtors are always saying to bake an apple pie if you’re selling your house, because it works,” Szabo says. When selling a house that’s had pets, what you don’t want is for it to seem like perfumes or pies are trying to mask anything. So, a clean smell is great.

But to add some quick atmosphere, bake an apple for 15 minutes with a cinnamon stick inside it, she says. Or, take a stick or two of cinnamon and put them in a pot of water and gently simmer it on the stovetop. You can also throw in some cloves and orange rind. “This is kind of a Christmasy smell that most people like.”

Get out the scrubbing bubbles

© STOCK4B-RF/Getty Images

© STOCK4B-RF/Getty Images

A lot of people keep the litter box in a bathroom, where over time the porcelain and grout can get stained. A great way to remove stains, Szabo says, is to pour out some baking soda, then some dishwashing liquid and finally add some plain white vinegar. You’ll get a foaming explosion of acidic suds. “It’s like a natural bleach and it will draw out the odor,” she says. It’s cheap, effective and avoids the use of noxious chemicals. 

Also add some baking soda and vinegar to the washing machine (with detergent) when washing dog beds and other materials animals have used. “It really does cut down on odors,” she says.

Bag odors

Sometimes you just want to throw a bag over an odor. One of those places is the mattress where an animal might often sleep but which you need to leave in the house for staging.

Use Get Serious! on the mattress — apply and then blot, Szabo says. If the mattress is a serious challenge, Szabo recommends a mattress protector by Crypton to seal in “whatever ick might be in there, for the purposes of showing the house.”

Here’s another way to bag odors: Moso Natural Air Purifying Bags. The burlap bags ($9.95-$22.95; they look a bit like pillows) are filled with bamboo charcoal. Hang one anywhere you want to eliminate odors. The bag works like a low-tech dehumidifier, swallowing moisture and stink. Put it in closets, where pet smells can gather. To refresh it, simply hang it in the sunshine.

Consider buying an ozone machine

© steam-brite.com

© steam-brite.com

Some people swear by ozone generators — machines that generate the gas ozone — as a way to clean up indoor air pollution, and some companies sell ozone-cleaning services. Be wary of these. The Environmental Protection Agency says,”There is evidence to show that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is not effective at removing many odor-causing chemicals.”

Call in a pro

If urine damage is really bad and has occurred repeatedly over a long period, it’s really hard to remove the evidence, Aslett says. Seriously consider calling in a professional deodorizing technician, not just a carpet cleaner. Though sometimes the carpet can be saved, “In most cases replacement (of carpeting and padding, and sealing of the subfloor beneath) is the most realistic solution to widespread urine damage,” Aslett writes.

Some people resist the cost; they shouldn’t, Aslett says. “You’ve got a $400,000 house – and you’re going to let a $2,000 carpet ruin the sale?” he says. Put down new carpet.

One final tip, as you look toward your next home: “The best cure for pet cleanup is N-O-W,” Aslett says. At your next home, jump on any of Spot’s accidents ASAP, so you’ll have less to worry about in the future.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be wagging your tail when the homebuyers coming knocking and the offers come pouring in.

This article was originally published by Christopher Solomon on MSN Real Estate. See it here.