Home Impovement

Neutral Paint Colors

Paint can drastically change the look of a home. When it comes time to sell, here are some of our favorite neutral paint colors. If you have a favorite color, please share in the comments below!! :)

Shoji White SW 7042 - Sherwin-Williams *This is the exterior color of Stephani’s house.

Shoji White SW 7042 - Sherwin-Williams
*This is the exterior color of Stephani’s house.

agreeable gray SW 7029 - Sherwin-Williams

agreeable gray SW 7029 - Sherwin-Williams

Oyster White SW 7637 - Sherwin-Williams

Oyster White SW 7637 - Sherwin-Williams

STONE RH STON - Restoration Hardware

STONE RH STON - Restoration Hardware

Alabaster SW 7008 - Sherwin-Williams

Alabaster SW 7008 - Sherwin-Williams

Classic Gray OC-23 - Benjamin Moore

Classic Gray OC-23 - Benjamin Moore

Sand Dollar RH SAND - Restoration Hardware

Sand Dollar RH SAND - Restoration Hardware

Ash RH ASH - Restoration Hardware

Ash RH ASH - Restoration Hardware

Preparing your home for fall

Having experienced the first few rainy days of the season, we have home preparation on our minds. In order to avoid winter damage, homeowners should prepare for the upcoming wet weather. Here are some tips.

  1. Clean the gutters. This is one of the most common maintenance items that homeowners in our area forget to do.

  2. Visually inspect your roof and repair any damage or tile slippage.

  3. Check water drainage to make sure downspouts are free of debris and direct water away from foundations, walkways, and driveways.

  4. Inspect trees. Check for damaged limbs that may break or that are too close to the roof.

  5. Store your outdoor cushions and cover outdoor furniture.

  6. Service your HVAC. Don’t forget to change the air filters!

  7. Inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney.

  8. Fertilize your lawn.

  9. Get ready to change your sprinkler settings.

  10. Clear out a closet near the entry of your home to use for you and your guest’s coats and umbrellas.

fall home prep

What I did to sell my home in less than 1 week

Being a realtor, I know what can help or hurt a listing. When it came time for me to sell my own home, I was determined to make it look perfect and to sell it quickly. If I can’t sell my own home quick, why should clients trust me to sell theirs?

Regardless of being a Realtor, when it comes to your own home you can’t help but think like a Seller. Of course I wanted to sell my home for $100k higher than the value. If I don’t have to invest more into the home, I don’t want to. I don’t want a “For Sale” sign out front or strangers in my home while I am gone… I had to constantly take a step back and make sure I was doing what I would tell my clients to do.

After a lot of hard work, my home received an offer the first week. The feedback I received from the showings and the brokers tour were great. There was nothing I could do to make my home more sell-able. Besides pricing it reasonably, here are the steps you can take to help sell your home as quick as possible:

Step 1 - Research 

Go to model homes to get inspiration. Take pictures so you can imitate the looks at home.  A well staged model home is not overly decorated. It is decorated to enhance the beauty and architectural features of the home while masking the non-desirable items. You rarely notice the lack of storage in a model because it is staged to appear abundant.

Step 2 - De-clutter

This is VERY important, even for homes without clutter. Rent a storage unit, DO NOT put everything in your garage or closets. You will need to de-clutter those areas as well. 

Go room by room, and take most of your personal decor away. You want the buyer to be able to see themselves living in the home with their things. Rooms are better off empty than cluttered.  
  • Remove extra or oversized furniture. (If you have a small dining room, take a leaf out of your table and remove extra chairs)
  • Stage your closets. Keep only the clothes in season and store the rest. This is especially important if you are currently tight on storage. 
  • Say good bye to junk drawers. Buyers often open kitchen and bathroom drawers. 
  • Clean out your refrigerator, pantry and under the kitchen sink. People look in all of those places when they are considering purchasing your home.
  • Store most the children's/pets toys. It will make it easier for showings if you do this up front!

Step 3 - De-personalize

  • Remove every single photo in your home that has a person in it. No exceptions. If the frame must stay, replace the photo with a magazine cut out. I did this in several decorative frames in our bonus room, above the master bed and on my kids nightstands. Go to the local grocery store and pick up a couple home design, photography or even the free luxury home magazines. This will keep your home decorated and de-personalized. (Remember the model homes? They have frames throughout but it doesn't feel like you are walking through someone else's home.)
  • Paint all walls a neutral color. This may be hard work, but it is worth it. Some buyers cannot see past colored walls, and others over estimate the cost to repaint. 
  • If you have any outgoing pieces of art or furniture, put it in storage. The buyers want to envision themselves living in the home, not you.

Step 4 - Clean

Deep clean your home. Here are some commonly missed areas that we often notice in homes. 
  • Light switches
  • Stove hood
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Refrigerator 
  • Kitchen and Bathroom knobs
  • Baseboards
  • Windows and window sills
  • Sliding glass door tracts
  • Showers/bathtubs
  • Enclosed light fixtures- Exterior, chandeliers, showers/bathtubs (Clean out the dead bugs)
  • Dust Exhaust vents & ceiling fans
  • Dust window coverings
  • TV screens (Use special electronic cleaner. DO NOT use Windex. It leaves a film.)

Step 5 - Repairs

Take the initiative to fix small things that you know of. Most likely, the buyer will request them to be done anyways. 
  • Re-screen sliding doors or windows screens if necessary. (This is a VERY easy DIY! You only need to purchase a small Screen tool and some screen. I learned how to do it by watching a YouTube video. https://youtu.be/M0IJhQlHhNE)
  • Touch up every nail hole, mark or scuff on the walls or baseboards. Keep the paint handy over the next couple days. After you think you have found them all, you will find a couple spots you missed.
  • Re-caulk bathtubs or showers if necessary
  • Add bark to front and back yard

Step 5 - Bring someone else into your home for a second opinion

After I thought my home was ready to go, I had my mother (who is also a realtor) walk through the house as if she was the pickiest buyer. She was the one who pointed out that my slider needed to be re-screened and my TV needed to be cleaned.

Step 6 – Bury a Saint Joseph statue (optional)

I was determined to get my home sold quickly! My husband thought I was joking, but I was serious. I made him dig a 12” hole near the For Sale sign for my Saint Joseph. I put him upside down with his hands facing the front of my house. Can’t hurt, right? 

Showings and Open Houses – First impressions are crucial!

  • Turned on soft instrumental jazz music throughout the house and yard. 
  • Turned on front yard and backyard fountains
  • Turned every light in the house on, including table and bedside lamps. 
  • Mopped the floors. 
  • Wiped down the kitchen counters.
  • Made sure my air freshener was on.
  • A quick run through - I would go through the house with a laundry basket and toss any misplaced clothes or toys in it, and store it in my car. 
My home backed to a busy street, so minimizing road noise was important. I cancelled our first open house because of the rain. I knew the rain would make the cars sound much louder than normal. I didn’t want a bad first impression. 

“You have to spend money to make money.”

I chose to invest in a few items to get my home ready to sell. I believe my small investment had a great return. Below are the items I thought would help the sale of my home.
Decor - I purchased a large mirror and piece of art at World Market to replace my family portraits.
Plants - We added a few large pots and flowers near the front door. I also found a great wreath at Home Goods. 

Bark -
We purchased bark for our yard and spent a Saturday with the kids, spreading it around. It made the yard look great!
White Tea Scent DiffuserScent Air - I saw this in a model home and have been obsessed with it since! It is the best air freshener and you can control how strong the scent is. I loved it so much, I have purchased two diffusers and have subscribed to a monthly refill shipment.

Color Seal Grout - I think I paid about $1,600 for my downstairs living area (roughly 1500 SF) to have the grout redone. This made a huge difference. My grout had become discolored from kids and dogs, it even started deteriorating because I had it cleaned so often. We were contemplating installing hardwood floors because the grout drove me crazy. We saved a significant amount of money by having this done, and it looked amazing! I wish we had done it when we first moved in.

Carpet replacement/ cleaning - I invested about $1,000 total in carpet replacement and cleaning. I had a carpet cleaning company come with a black light to find hidden spots from my naughty dogs. It is very important to hire a good carpet cleaning company to treat and extract the pet stains, instead of shampooing them into the carpet. (I highly recommend Upright Carpet Cleaning and Restoration 916-291-3661.) I had our carpet and pad replaced in the downstairs work out room.

Check out the final product: 

Quick Cleaning Tip - Cleaning Baseboards

cleaning baseboardsToday I discovered a (life changing for me!) baseboard cleaning tool that I am excited to share- dryer sheets. With two dogs in my house, I have to clean my baseboards frequently and loathe doing it. Getting on my knees with a bucket, cleaners, and rags... Not fun.

I have read in the past about dusting with dryer sheets and decided to try it on my baseboards. It was amazing! It was so easy to clean with and a bonus is that it coats as it cleans for residual dust-fighting power. When used on your baseboards it can not only help repel pet hair, but will generally keep the things that get tracked in and out of our home off the walls and on the floor where it can be swept up. It can turn the weekly (or monthly) task into something that is done every few months or even a few times a year.

Tips for Increasing your Home’s Value

Eliminating Buyer Turnoffs - As the real estate market continues to recover, buyers are out in full force. Many of today’s buyers make judgments about a home within seconds of viewing the listing online. Since the housing crisis, they are more cautious and want to make sure they are buying the best house for the best price. Here are 8 tips to increase your homes value by eliminating buyer turnoffs.


Nothing turns off a buyer quicker than a dirty house. When selling a home, it needs to be in the absolute best condition it has ever been in. Go the extra mile, steam-clean tile and grout. If the carpets are old and smell bad, replace them. If they are newer, have them cleaned.


Pet odor is the number one most offensive smell to buyers. Put pet beds, litter boxes and toys away.

Cooking smells can also turn a buyer off. Strong spices, bacon and onions tend to linger long after the meal. To diffuse them, leave a window slightly cracked while cooking. After you are done with the meal, boil cinnamon in water to freshen up the house. Plug-ins and sprays can make the problem worse for people who are sensitive to smells.

Cigarette smoke throughout a home can be a deal breaker. If you are a smoker, have the entire house painted. Paint will be more cost effective than accepting the low offer you may receive if you don’t.

Too many personal items

When buyers tour a home, they are trying to envision how the home will fit their lifestyle. If your house is cluttered with too many personal items, the buyer will have a hard time picturing themselves in your home.

Decorating to live and decorating to sell are different. Anything that screams ‘you’ is what you don’t want. When there are family photos on display, buyers get very distracted. ‘Oh, do I know them? What do their children look like?’ Removing personal items will keep the buyers focused on the home.

Unusable space

When buyers see a room with no purpose they think of it as wasted space. When visiting model homes, notice that the extra spaces are staged as a reading area or gift wrap station? Creating a use of the space will help justify the price a buyer will pay for the square footage.

What may be lack of organization can come off as lack of storage. Most people looking for a new home have outgrown their previous one. An organized home shows that you’ve still got room to grow and gives them a reason to buy.

Lack of natural light

If your home appears dark, add higher wattage light bulbs to existing lighting and install more canned lighting.

Mismatched Appliances

When it comes to selling, the kitchen is the most important room in the house. Having mismatched appliances is a turnoff to buyers. Contact the manufacturer of the appliance that can provide you with a listing of face panels that will fit. Also, many white or black appliances come two sided that can easily be switched around. 

Backyard Privacy

Plant tall shrubs or trees if your house backs to neighboring homes. Gazebos and open umbrellas will also help create the feeling of privacy.

Tips for Increasing your Home’s Value

Consistently spending time maintaining your home will preserve your investment and prevent costly repairs in the future. Whether you plan to live in your home for years, or put it on the market soon, a well maintained home shows pride of ownership and yields a substantial return.  Increasing your home’s value does not always require investing money; proactive upkeep can go a long way.


·        Have your carpeting cleaned professionally at least once a year to remove deep-down dirt and stubborn stains. Avoid excessive pile crushing by moving heavy furniture periodically. With proper maintenance you can extend the life of your carpet.

·        To prevent water intrusion and dry rot around bathtubs and showers, install enclosures and re-caulk or re-grout as necessary. One of the most common places to find dry rot inside a home is the baseboards around a bathtub. Use the bathroom vent or a window when bathing to keep moisture from lingering.
Kitchen Maintenance

·        To avoid discoloration on kitchen cabinetry, never hang wet dish towels on the top of
your cabinet doors or drawers. Damage in many kitchens
can be found on the cabinetry underneath the kitchen sink.

·        Clean stone counters and stainless steel appliances with a cleaning solution made specifically for that item. Cleaning with the wrong
solution can ruin the finish on the counters and appliances.

·        Clean your dishwasher strainer, pump, and spray arms every three months and the dishwasher float (the water level control) periodically.

·        Cleaning your range hood frequently will prevent grease deposits from forming a hard residue that can be difficult to remove. Regularly wash the grease filter, the hood, the underside of the hood and light bulb (when it is cool) with a mild detergent or degreaser.


·        Water heaters should be drained periodically to keep the heating element working efficiently. Most steel water heater tanks are lined with glass to prevent rust, but constant temperature fluctuations cause the glass to expand and contract, making small openings. When water eventually penetrates the lining, the tank begins to rust. At the same time, the heated water causes limestone to form in the tank. As it forms and settles to the bottom of the tank, the sediment eventually becomes thick and reduces heating efficiency. In electric tanks, the limestone builds up on the heating element and forms a hard crust that can eventually make the heating element stop working.  Annual maintenance will keep your hot water flowing.

·        Annually clean your clothes dryer vent located behind the dryer.

·        Air filters should be replaced every 3 months to protect the unit from dust and debris. Never operate your unit without an air filter.

·        Check the batteries in your smoke detector every time you change your air filter.

·        Install Carbon Monoxide detectors to comply with the July 2011 law requiring CO2 detectors in all residential properties.


·        The seals at all roof penetrations, flashings, and the water tightness of rooftop elements, should be checked periodically to maintain your roof.

·        Gutters collect water from the roof and carry it toward downspouts. Together, gutters and downspouts direct water off the roof and then down and away from your home.  The role of gutters is all too often overlooked by new homeowners, but the role they play in keeping your home dry is vital. Gutters should be cleaned in the spring and the fall. Debris in gutters can conceal rust, deterioration or leaks. When clogged, water can flow onto the roof and into the home instead of the downspouts. Downspouts should be draining water away from your home to prevent water damage to the siding and foundation. Caring for these elements will extend the life of your roof drainage system by many years.

·        Remove your window screens once a year to clean out the dirt build-up on the sills. A build-up of dirt can transfer to the exterior walls or trap water on the sills which will lead to water damage.

·        Check annually for large cracks in your stucco, and repair those wider than 1⁄16 inch.


·        Soil should be built up around your home to create a barrier to direct water away from the foundation. If the lot is sloped and water is directed towards the home, diverting water away from the home with a French drain is important. If your yard starts to puddle the French drain may be clogged. Annual lawn maintenance is often required to keep sloping in place.

·        Trim trees so they are at least 2 feet away from the roof and
gutters to prevent the
gutters from clogging.

·        Don’t plant plants or
grass too close to your
home. Watering plants
near the house can
cause leaks into the
interior and other water problems. Although vines look beautiful growing on the exterior of your home, they prevent the walls from drying and can deteriorate the surface.

·        Make sure your sprinklers are not spraying your home or near the foundation; it could damage the exterior or cause leaks.

·        Pools need to be regularly cleaned to prevent the surface from being ruined. During rainy periods, it is a good idea to lower the water level to prevent your pool from flooding.

·        During icy temperatures, drain and insulate your hose spigot to prevent it from freezing.


Tips for Increasing your Home’s Value

Being a Realtor and a resident of Serrano, I see many homes with the same floor plan and the original basic builder options. To set your home apart from the others, don’t overlook the finishing touches that help add value and style.

An updated kitchen is perhaps the most profitable investment you can make to a house.  A few finishing touches can change the overall look of the room.
Replacing a faucet is a relatively simple and inexpensive update that can instantly liven up the kitchen. Adding decorative pendant lighting over an island area, replacing outdated knobs and a sleek new faucet can add a great deal of style to the kitchen.  
If replacing the dated cabinetry is not in your budget, consider refacing. Painting, staining or adding veneers will transform the once drab kitchen into a prime selling point to a potential buyer.

Bathroom fixtures can be found in affordable sets that offer a hand towel holder, a towel bar and a toilet paper holder. Pairing the updated fixtures with a new bathroom faucet can change the whole feel of the room. Switching out the shower curtain for a bathtub enclosure will make the bathroom appear much larger (and prevents the common dry rot around the tub).  Inexpensive bathroom mirrors can be hard to come by, especially for larger rooms. Framing in the builder grade mirror can be a good option. Many tutorials on how to do this yourself can be found on Pinterest or YouTube.

Tip for kids bathrooms – switch out the towel bar for towel/bathrobe hooks to keep the bathroom looking tidy. The kids will be more likely to hang their towels and it will look better when they do!

Dining room
When it comes to updating a house, the dining room is often forgotten. Switching out the dated chandelier and setting the table can add a great deal of decorative appeal.

Before purchasing any fixtures in the hardware store, search online. Amazon often has the same items for less. Lacking inspiration? Houzz.com is a wonderful website to get ideas from.

Tips for Increasing your Home’s Value

el dorado hills energy efficent home

Tips for increasing your home’s value – Energy Efficiency

By Stephani Menser, Realtor and Serrano Resident

Being a Realtor, I see thousands of homes per year and one of the biggest trends right now is making your home more efficient. This increases your home’s value drastically. A buyer has more purchasing power for an energy efficient home because of the lower monthly utility costs. A few popular energy saving modifications are listed below.

Add Solar Panels to offset your energy costs. This is the most popular trend I have noticed in my home buyers “wants” in their future home. The amount of energy savings varies depending on the amount of panels and the exposure to the sun, but you have the option to purchase or lease. The tax credit is 30 percent of the cost of the solar equipment added to the home and is available through 2016.

Add insulation to your garage doors. According to statistics, insulating doors may improve the energy efficiency in your garage by 71 percent. By controlling the temperature throughout the hot summer months and cold winter months, you will have substantial savings on your energy bills.

Go tankless! A tankless water heater only produces hot water when you turn it on and it never runs out. 

Switch out old plumbing fixtures for new water conserving ones and lower your water bills.  A new California law will require the retrofitting of non-water conserving plumbing fixtures. Old faucets, showerheads, toilets, water heaters and more will need to be replaced by January 1, 2019.

If you have a hot tub, add an extra layer of insulation to it.  A thermal blanket is a cost effective way to help maintain the water temperature.  These Styrofoam sheets float on top of the water and trap the heat that would be escaping from the top of the hot tub. These blankets cost less than $100 and help a great deal during the winter.
As your incandescent and CFL light bulbs burn out, switch to energy efficient LED light bulbs. While LED’s may cost more than CFL’s, they provide better lighting, last 10 times longer and use 75-80% less energy than CFL light bulbs. The lifespan for these bulbs is around 22 years and the prices have recently dropped.

Tips for Increasing your Home’s Value

Being a Realtor, I am frequently asked what makes a home in Serrano worth more than the identical one down the street. Upgrades, views, location and amenities play a large part, but there are many affordable ways to help increase the value and set the home apart from the others.

 Serrano, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
First impressions are crucial. The exterior of the home should be inviting. Fresh paint on the front door, a nice wreath, door mat, new bark and (Serrano approved) flowers add desired curb appeal.

A good cleaning goes a long way. Sparkling appliances and tidy cabinets show signs of a well maintained home. Adding light air fresheners, cleaning grout, baseboards and light switches show pride of ownership. Invest in “Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sponge’s”, they work wonders! For stainless steel stoves, try oven cleaner to get rid of those hard to remove stains. For grout, there are many options, but “Comet Gel with Bleach” works very well. Transforming the home from lived-in to move-in condition dramatically increases the value.

Get an expert opinion before investing in a costly remodel intended to add value.
Best return on investment upgrades:
kitchen and bathroom counter tops, knobs on cabinetry, flooring and updated appliances. Exterior paint is also a good investment. It is important to keep the home protected from the environmental elements to prevent expensive repairs in the future.

Items NOT to invest in for value purposes: Pools should be added for your enjoyment, not with intent to add value. Typically, the value added with the pool is less than the cost of the pool.
Custom paint is one of the worst investments for value purposes. Not everyone has the same taste and extravagant, over the top walls can hurt the value of your home.

When considering any home improvement projects, do not go overboard. Keep in mind that the value of your home is partially determined by the value of the neighboring homes.
If you have any questions regarding value, give the Menser Real Estate Group a call! We are always happy to help, 916-289-9866.