Most Important Things To Do Before Listing Your Home

Working with a professional real estate agent is an intelligent way to navigate the challenges of local markets. We are experiencing challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Sanibel & Captiva Island. The Sanibel Causeway reopened to traffic on January 2nd, 2023. This is great news. It is a good time to make a plan if you want to sell [...]

Top Home Staging Mistakes to Avoid

Beach House with a View

Beach House with a ViewHome staging is an important step when selling your home. Proper staging will gather interest from qualified buyers both online and in person. The basics of staging are tried and true. They include cleaning, decluttering, depersonalizing, curb appeal, and painting. Consider the basics, make a plan and go over your plan with your seller’s agent. They are sure to point out ways to make your plan even more effective. Here are some of the top home staging mistakes to avoid when selling your home. 

Not Starting with a Plan: Keep yourself organized and on schedule with a plan. Write it down. Follow the plan. You can do the work yourself, or hire it out. Just follow the plan. 

Not Working with a Seller’s Agent: Hire a seller’s agent. They will be working with you every step of the way when you are selling your home. This includes the staging process. If you’ve already assembled a staging plan, present it to the agent. They will help streamline your plan by omitting items deemed unnecessary and including items you may have overlooked. 

Not Cleaning Thoroughly: Clean, clean, clean, and clean some more. Clean the floors, clean the walls, clean the appliances, clean inside the appliances, move the appliances, and clean underneath. Clean all the bathrooms thoroughly. Clean all the rooms of your home. Clean your home inside and out. 

Not Getting Rid of Clutter: Removing excess furniture and clutter is critical. We will sometimes recommend sellers rent a storage space for excessively large furniture. This will open up space in a home. It is also important to remove family photos and overly personal items. Buyers need to envision themselves living in your home. Excessive furniture and personal items are distractions that take up valuable physical and emotional space. Clear the clutter! 

Not Painting Interior Rooms: The interior rooms of your home need a fresh coat of paint. You will want to choose a light neutral color for the walls. This will help walls to reflect natural and artificial light and make rooms appear more spacious. 

Not Staging with Respect to Photography: A large number of interested buyers will first be viewing your home online by way of digital photography on a website. It is important that the staging works well both in person and in photographs. You want to draw buyers in virtually. They will then make arrangements for viewing in person. 

Professional photographers have a number of tricks up their sleeves when staging homes. One trick of the trade is to utilize windows or the fireplace as a focal point. You can place furniture so these elements appear in the same shot, which will give viewers a proper sense of scale when viewing photographs of interior rooms online. 

Not Maintaining Your Yard: Curb appeal is part of the staging process. This includes your landscaping. It is important that your front yard looks its best no matter the season. The grass should be mowed in the spring and summer. Leaves should be raked in the fall. Walkways need to be clear of snow in the winter. Basic yard maintenance is imperative for home staging. 

Decorating with a Specific Style: Staging a home is different from interior decorating. Interior decorating will focus on a particular style and incorporate a number of elements to reinforce the chosen aesthetic. Hiring a professional designer to stage your home is often money well spent. They will know how to create inviting and interesting spaces and avoid overwhelming potential buyers with superfluous items and specific styles. When staging your home without the help of a professional designer just remember to keep things simple. Don’t over decorate. Less is more! 

Removing all the Furniture: We always recommend decluttering spaces. This includes removing excess furniture. But you don’t want to remove all of the furniture. It will make rooms appear smaller. Too much furniture, or excessively large items such as couches, has the same effect. It is a balancing act. When uncertain, simply defer to a home staging professional, your seller’s agent, or a friend or neighbor with an objective eye free from emotional attachments. The antique dining table that has been in your family for over two hundred years and seats 16 guests comfortably might be a perfect staging element depending on the size of your formal dining room, or it might need to go. It’s a balancing act that can be achieved with careful judgment. 

Phaidra McDermott is your exceptional and trusted real estate professional on Sanibel Island and Captiva Island. I look forward to helping you market and sell your home. Contact Phaidra today!

DIY Projects to Increase Your Home's Value

Painting a Room

There are quite a number of excellent home improvement projects that add value. Sometimes it is hard to decide where to begin. Hiring an engineer to perform a home inspection, inviting a home appraisal specialist to appraise the property, or partnering with a qualified real estate agent is a great way to help create a home improvement list. [...]

Tips for Staging Your Most Important Rooms

Beautifully Staged Home

Beautifully Staged HomeProperly staging your home before selling has proven to increase the value and will often result in a quicker sale. The most important rooms of your home include the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen. The dining room, landscape, and bathrooms are next on the list. Guest bedrooms and the children’s bedrooms are generally considered less important. Here are some tips for staging your most important rooms. 

Declutter: Getting rid of clutter is the number one recommended staging tip for all the rooms of your home! This project can prove a little overwhelming for homeowners who have lived in their houses for many years. Don’t try to declutter all at once. Schedule time in your week and follow the schedule. The living room is a great place to start. Have boxes marked and on the ready for keeping, donating, and throwing away. With a little help from family or friends, the project will be far less intimidating. Treat the helping hands to a delicious meal. They are more likely to return next week knowing it is a catered event. 

Clean, Clean, Clean: Your most important rooms need to be exceptionally clean. Clean the windows, clean all the surfaces, sweep the floors and vacuum the carpets. Remember to move your appliances and clean them underneath. Clean inside your appliances. When you step outside for a little fresh air don’t go empty handed. Bring the broom! Sweep the front porch and tidy up your entryway. Clean, clean, clean! 

Depersonalize: Potential buyers will want to imagine themselves living in your home. Personal photographs of you and your family, vacation photos, and other personal nostalgia need to be removed. This is a good time to assemble your favorite photos and vacation souvenirs into a storage bin and have them ready to hang and display in your next home. Keep in mind that when finished the walls shouldn’t be left bare. Bring in new artwork to showcase the local market: coastal and nautical photographs are appropriate for Captiva and Sanibel, Florida. Strategically placed mirrors are another trick of the trade. Mirrors help buyers see themselves in your home right away. 

Fresh Paint: Your most important rooms need a fresh coat of paint. We recommend light neutral colors. A light color will make rooms feel more spacious and reflect both natural and artificial light. A fresh coat of paint on your front door is also of great value. Neutral colors of gray, black, or brown are often your best choice. A recent survey from Zillow demonstrated that painting your front door black can increase the price of your home by $6,000. Every market is different. It’s always best to consult with your seller’s agent to help determine the best course for your particular staging regiment (including door color). 

Minor Repairs: Simple repairs include fresh caulking around windows, sinks, and tubs. You can tighten the hardware on doors and replace stripped screws. Updating doorknobs and hinges can also make a big difference. But you don’t need to go overboard with minor repairs. Buyers won’t be expecting your home to be perfect. It is reasonable to have scuff marks on baseboards and a ding or two on a wall. Your home was lived in and it has a history. 

Landscape: Although your front yard is not technically a “room” in your home it does require attention for staging. Best practices include your weekly lawn care routine and weeding the flower beds and garden. When time permits you can return to the front yard and make additional improvements to catch the eye of potential buyers by planting fresh flowers, edging the pathways, trimming the bushes, pruning trees, and adding new mulch. The front yard and outdoor spaces are the first things buyers will see when viewing your home and you want to make a good first impression.

Phaidra McDermott is your exceptional and trusted real estate professional in Sanibel Island and Captiva Island and can help you sell your homeContact Phaidra today! You may also be interested in reading summer staging tips or fall staging tips.

Where to Find Live Music on Sanibel Island

Live Music with Acoustic Guitar

The music and nightlife scene on Sanibel Island is fairly low key, as it is a family oriented community. The restaurants and bars host local musicians and smaller acts in the evenings and on weekends. An evening performance of classical music is a short drive away in neighboring Ft. Myers. If you have a younger family member looking to cut [...]

Things to Consider Before Buying a Home for Retirement

Retirement Couple Walking On The Beach

When thinking about buying a home for retirement it is important to remember you will be growing older in the home. In addition to getting your finances in order, you will want to remember the importance of your social network, the proximity of grocery stores and healthcare, recreation, transportation, and the layout of the home (so you can [...]

Important Things to Disclose When Selling a Condo

Sellers Disclosure

The rules governing real estate sales vary from state to state. A seller’s disclosure is a document required by many states, but not all. Florida has a property disclosure-resident property form (SPDR) and a condominium disclosure form. Historically Florida has not required sellers to complete the forms, though the Florida Supreme Court [...]

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a 2nd Home

Beautiful Shoreline on Sanibel Island

Beautiful Shoreline on Sanibel IslandCaptiva Island and Sanibel Island may very well be the perfect location for your 2nd home. With the pristine beaches and heartwarming sunsets, you will enjoy year-round along with the golfing, biking, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, boating, and friendly shopping you will probably never want to leave. But you can return whenever you like knowing your little piece of paradise is in your hands. Phaidra McDermott is a lifelong resident of the islands and is well positioned to assist you in locating and purchasing your perfect waterfront home or condo on Sanibel Island or Captiva Island, or finding that once in a lifetime building opportunity! There are a number of things to consider when buying a second home. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before buying a 2nd home. 

1. Will this bring my family happiness? Of course, it will! A vacation home on either of these beautiful Florida islands will greatly improve your quality of life. Your family and friends will look forward to the yearly island pilgrimage as they join you for the month-long party in your waterfront home on Sanibel or Captiva Island. Perhaps you will plan your vacations around hurricane swells and cold fronts during shoulder season to take advantage of surf-able waves for the annual family surf-off (and don’t forget to bring breakfast in bed to the designated officials…nepotism can’t exist when everyone is family, so you’ll want to take advantage of every possible angle when garnering favor with the judges). And of course, the yearly shelling competition, organized by grandma, will bring smiles to the grandchildren and aspiring marine biologists in the family. 

2. Can I afford this? Owning a second home is expensive. You will want to run the numbers. A higher down payment is required for a second home, and you will have to meet a debt to income ratio of 43% or less to qualify for a second mortgage with most lenders. 

3. Can I rent out my 2nd home? Renting out your vacation home is a great way to make the numbers work. Of course, there are things to consider, like bylaws when renting out a condominium and peak rental times. Sanibel and Captiva Island do offer something unique, it’s always a great time to visit. You will be able to rent your home all year long, though some seasons will command a higher income. The peak season is December to April, as the rest of the country is looking for a retreat to escape the winter cold to enjoy the 72º-75ºF average island temperatures. You can rent out some of the prime months of the year (and command the highest rental rate during the high season) and enjoy your home with family and friends for the rest of the year in low season and shoulder season. The surf’s up during shoulder season on the island, thanks to the hurricane swells, and you’ll be sitting pretty in the waves hanging ten. There are plenty of investment and rental property opportunities available on the islands. I am here to answer all your real estate questions. 

4. How will I manage my property? Working with a property management company can ease some of the daily operations when you plan to rent out your home. A property management company, such as Select Vacation Properties, can take care of marketing your home to renters and streamline the reservations, house cleaning, maintenance, and local bureaucratic regulations. 

5. How will this affect my taxes? If you purchase strictly as a 2nd home and do not rent the home, you will be able to deduct mortgage interest up to $750,000. The IRS will recognize your home as a rental property if you rent it out 14 days or more per year, and the interest paid on the mortgage can’t be deducted though there may be additional tax benefits (deducting property tax, deducting operating expenses). You will definitely want to discuss this with your accountant before moving forward. 

I look forward to helping you locate your perfect tropical vacation home on Sanibel or Captiva Island. Contact me today!

Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't FSBO


Selling your home is a time consuming endeavor, especially for those inexperienced in the process. The allure of saving on agent commission fees leads many home sellers to forgo hiring a knowledgeable and well connected real estate agent. The “can do” independent spirit of the American homeowner can be put to far better use. Partnering with [...]