Michelle Anne Murphy - South Shore Real Estate Services | Scituate MA Real Estate


When you’ve gone through the lengthy and tiring process of seeking out, bidding on, and buying a new home and then sell your home, the last thing you want to worry about is cleaning your old house before you leave.

 However, there’s multiple reasons you’ll want to ensure your old house is clean before you leave. First, as a common courtesy, you’ll want the new owners of your home to have a good first experience and to maintain your rapport with them after closing day. However, there are also legal and financial issues at play.

If your contract states that your home needs to have been “broom-swept” or some other form of cleaning before you leave, then your new owners could technically postpone closing. Furthermore, some states have laws requiring that homes are cleaned by their previous owners before they move out.

 Although it can be difficult to define just how clean a home needs to be, legally speaking, your best option is to do your part to leave the home relatively clean, whether that means cleaning it yourself or hiring a cleaning company.

Legal reasons for cleaning your old house

As mentioned earlier, some states state cleaning requirements in the purchase contract when you sell your home. Their definitions of clean can often be vague, but usually include sweeping floors, wiping down surfaces, stripping nails and hangers from walls, and carrying out all furniture and garbage.

These rules are mostly designed to protect people who purchase a home from getting stuck with bulk items and other surprise issues that they’ll have to pay for.

An exception to this is when your home is sold “as is” or when you have some form of written agreement between you and the new owner that some part f your home will be left as is.

Cleaning your house

The ideal time to clean your house is once you’ve moved everything out. However, if you’re moving over a long distance, you might not be able to return to the house once it’s empty to give it a final cleaning.

In this case, your best option is to have your furniture and boxes packed away neatly in the garage, or in the corner of one room. Doing so will allow you to sweep, clean surfaces, wipe down cabinets, and so on, while your belongings are still in the house.

Just be sure to keep a broom handy once you’ve put everything on the moving truck so you can give one last sweep of the floor before you say goodbye to your old home.

Cleaning checklist

It can be difficult to keep track of everything you’ll want to clean before you move out, so here’s a list to go by:

  • Sweep all floors

  • Vacuum all carpets

  • Wipe down cabinets, shelves

  • Try to sweep under appliances, oven, etc.

  • Spray sinks and tubs, leave air freshener in bathroom

  • Wipe inside of refrigerator, if applicable

  • Remove all nails from walls

  • Do a final walkthrough and remove any trash you’ve missed


Buying your first home is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. But, it does come with its advantages. Among them are tax breaks and deductions that you can take advantage of to save money if you play your cards right.

In today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the tax breaks and deductions that first-time homeowners should seek out this tax season to help them lower their tax bill.

Mortgage points

While earning points is a good thing on the basketball court, it can be a financial drain on a mortgage. Mortgage points are what buyers pay to the lender to secure their loan. They’re usually given as percentage points of the total loan amount.

If you pay these points with your closing costs, then they are deductible. Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their IRS Form 1040 can typically deduct all of the points they paid in a year, with the exception of some high-income taxpayers whose itemized deductions are limited.

PMI costs

If you’re one of the many people who made a down payment of less than 20% on your home, odds are that you’re going to be stuck with PMI, or private mortgage insurance, until you pay off at least 20% of the loan balance.

The good news is that homebuyers who purchased their home in the year 2007 and after can deduct their PMI premiums. However, the state on premium insurance deductibles is something that frequently comes up in Congress, so homeowners should ensure that these deductions are still valid when filing their taxes.

Mortgage interest

Mortgage interest accounts for the biggest deduction for the average homeowner. When you receive your Form 1098 from your lender, you can deduct the total amount of interest you’ve paid during the year.

Property taxes

Another deductible that shouldn’t be overlooked by first-time buyers is local property taxes. Save the records for any property taxes you pay so that you can deduct them during tax season.

Home energy tax credits

Some states are offering generous tax credits for homeowners who make home improvements that save energy. There are a number of improvements you might qualify for, including things like insulation and roofs, as well as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

IRA Withdrawals

Many first-time buyers withdraw from an IRA account to be able to make a larger down payment on their home or to pay for closing costs. In most other cases, withdrawing from an IRA will count as taxable income. However, if your IRA withdrawal is used toward a down payment or closing costs, the tax penalty is waived.


Keep these tax breaks and deductions in mind this tax season to help you save money and get a larger refund.


A buyer's market can challenge even the most diligent home seller. Fortunately, we're here to help you stir up plenty of interest in your house, regardless of the current housing market's conditions.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get ready to sell your residence in a buyer's market.

1. Assess the Housing Market

You know a buyer's market favors homebuyers over home sellers, but you still have no idea how this market operates. Fortunately, if you allocate time and resources to learn about the local real estate sector, you'll be better equipped than ever before to maximize the value of your home.

Take a look at the prices of recently sold houses in your city or town. That way, you can see how long these homes are generally available before they sell. You also can examine the sold prices of these houses to better understand how you should price your residence.

Furthermore, you should assess the prices of available houses in your city or town that are similar to your own. This housing market data can help you establish a competitive price for your residence from day one.

2. Perform a Home Inspection

A home inspection commonly is performed after a seller accepts a buyer's offer on a house. However, if you perform an inspection before you add your residence to a buyer's market, you can take a proactive approach to address various home problems.

During a home inspection, a property expert will examine your residence and detail his or her findings. You then can use the home inspection results to prioritize home improvement projects and upgrade your residence. As a result, you can enhance your house and find ways to differentiate it from the competition.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

Selling a home in a buyer's market is exceedingly difficult, especially for those who choose to work alone. Thankfully, real estate agents are available to guide you along the home selling journey and ensure you can achieve the optimal results.

By hiring a real estate agent, you can receive extensive assistance at each stage of the home selling journey, even in a buyer's market. First, a real estate agent will learn about you and your home, as well as your home selling goals. This housing market professional then will offer recommendations to help you enhance your home and ensure it stands out to potential buyers. Next, a real estate agent will list your residence and host open house events and home showings. And if a buyer submits an offer on your house, a real estate agent will help you review this proposal and make an informed decision.

When it comes to selling a home in a buyer's market, there is no need to worry. Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can separate your residence from the competition and boost the likelihood of a profitable home sale.


When you’re shopping for a home, it’s easy to be overzealous in your attempt to find the perfect property. One of the biggest regrets of home buyers is that of paying too high a price for their dream home. There should be a balance between cost and the right property for you. No matter what kind of house you’re looking to buy or where you plan to buy it, a little planning goes a long way to help you get the most for your dollar when buying a home. Below, you’ll find some tips to help you avoid the dreaded mistake of overpaying for a home.


 Look For Amenities That Increase Value


Does the neighborhood you’re looking to buy in have a lot of cool perks? Perhaps the property is close to the heart of downtown or close to one of the most desirable schools in the area. These features add value to the home based on the demand in the neighborhood. 


You should also consider if the neighborhood is known as what’s termed “up and coming.” The potential that a neighborhood is also a factor in the price of a home. Is there a lot of construction going on in the area? Is the home you’re buying in a great area but considered a “fixer upper”? High potential properties in desirable areas can actually give you a bargain. A nice property in an area that is still being established can also be a bargain but beware. You may end up paying a higher price as sellers and developers understand that people are eager to move into the neighborhood. Also, if a neighborhood seems to be built up too much, it’s not a good sign. An overdeveloped area can lead to decreased property values over time.         


Inside the home, look for things that have been updated to increase the value of the property. An updated kitchen and bathroom add the most cost to a home as these are the most expensive rooms to renovate. Other perks in a home that greatly increase the value include new flooring, new roof, being situated on a cul-de-sac or dead end street, and easy access to highways and main routes.  


Know That Some Features Decrease Value


Things like power lines, poor economic growth in the community, high-traffic areas, foreclosures, and unkept homes can all drag down the value of a property. If you happen to be looking in one of these areas, understand that you shouldn’t be paying top dollar for a home there. Look for bargains. Whether you plan to stay or simply flip a property, you need to know at what point the price will be right without overpaying for the home.    



As a home seller, your goal is to optimize your property sale earnings. Yet doing so may prove to be difficult, particularly for those who are operating in a fierce real estate market. Lucky for you, we're here to help you differentiate your residence from the competition and boost the likelihood of a profitable home selling experience.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you optimize your home sale earnings.

1. Enhance Your House's Curb Appeal

How homebuyers perceive your residence when they view it for the first time may impact your ability to maximize your home sale earnings. If buyers see a home with a pristine front lawn, dazzling garden and other stunning exterior features, they may set up home showings right away. Then, after buyers see all that your residence has to offer, they may submit homebuying proposals that match or exceed your expectations.

Ultimately, your house's curb appeal can make a world of difference during the home selling journey. If you allocate time and resources to trim the hedges, mow the lawn and perform other home exterior upgrades, you can boost your residence's curb appeal in no time at all.

2. Remove Clutter from Inside Your Home

Although you may have collected many antiques, paintings and knick-knacks over the years, these items may actually do more harm than good when you try to sell your house. In fact, your personal belongings may make it tough for buyers to envision what life may be like if they purchase your home.

Oftentimes, it helps to rent a storage unit before you list your residence. This will enable you to keep assorted personal belongings safe and outside your home until your residence sells.

You also may want to host a yard sale or list items online prior to selling your house. This will allow you to simultaneously remove clutter from your house and earn extra cash.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

For home sellers who want to maximize their home sale earnings, it pays to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional will work with you throughout the home selling journey to ensure you can get the best price for your home.

Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you, learn about your house and craft a home selling strategy. He or she then will host home showings and open house events to promote your residence to potential buyers. And if a buyer submits an offer to purchase your house, a real estate agent can provide a recommendation about whether you should accept, reject or counter this proposal.

A real estate agent can respond to your home selling concerns and questions too. As a result, he or she can help you make informed decisions throughout the home selling journey.

Ready to list your home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble enjoying a quick and profitable home selling experience.