Most would-be buyers and sellers believe the real estate “deal” is negotiated at the signing of the contract.

Most would-be buyers and sellers believe the real estate “deal” is done at the signing of the contract.

In many cases, the deal-making and negotiations only start at the contract signing. Even in more competitive real estate markets, negotiations still happen once in escrow.

Issues typically arise after the home inspection, and those issues tend to result in another round of negotiations for credits or fixes.

Here are three buyer tips for negotiating repairs after a home inspection.

1. Ask for a credit for the work to be done

The sellers are on their way out. If the property is moving toward closing, they’re likely packing and dreaming of their life post-sale. The last thing they want to do is repair work on their old home. They may not approach the work with the same conscientiousness that you, as the new owner, would. They may not even treat the work as a high priority.

If you take a cash-back credit at close of escrow, you can use that money to complete the project yourself. Chances are you may do a better job than the seller, too.

Finally, if you get the credit, there will be less back-and-forth to confirm that the seller correctly made the repairs.

2. Think ‘big picture’

If you know you want to renovate a bathroom within a few years, then you likely won’t care that a little bit of its floor is damaged, that there’s a leaky faucet, or that the tiles need caulking. These things will get fixed during your future renovation.

However, the repairs are still up for negotiation. Asking the seller for a credit to fix these issues will help offset some of your closing costs.

3. Keep your plans to yourself

A good listing agent will walk the property inspection with you, your agent and the inspector. Revealing your comfort level with the home or your intentions, in the presence of the listing agent, could come back to haunt you in further discussions or negotiations.

If they sense you are uneasy with the inspection, they’ll be more willing to relay that to the seller. Conversely, if you spend two hours measuring the spaces and picking paint colors, you lose negotiation power.

If you mention you’re planning a gut renovation of the kitchen, the sellers will certainly hear about it. And they’re going to be less likely to offer you a credit back to repair some of the kitchen cabinets.

Eyes wide open

A word of caution: You should never complete the original contract assuming that you can and will negotiate the price down more after the inspection. It will come back to bite you, particularly in a competitive market.

If the property inspection comes back flawless, there’s nothing to negotiate. If you attempt to negotiate anyway — to recoup what you lost in the initial contract negotiations — you risk alienating the sellers and possibly giving them an incentive to move on to the next buyer.

You need to go into escrow with your eyes wide open. A real estate transaction is never a done deal until the money changes hands and the deed is transferred. Stay on your toes. Otherwise, you may risk losing out on further viable negotiation opportunities, which could lead to buyer’s remorse.

Shopping for a home? Check out our Home Buyers Guide for tips and resources.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published December 18, 2013.

About the author

Brendon DeSimone

Brendon DeSimone is the author of Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling. A 15-year veteran of the residential real estate industry and a nationally recognized real estate expert, Brendon has completed hundreds of transactions totaling more than $250M. His expert advice is often sought out by reporters and journalists in both local and national press. Brendon is a regularly featured guest on major television networks and programs including CNBC, FOX News, Bloomberg, Good Morning America, ABC’s 20/20 and HGTV. Brendon is the manager of the Bedford and Pound Ridge offices of Houlihan Lawrence, the leading real estate brokerage north of New York City.

Simple trick, big impact — it's the easiest DIY you'll tackle all weekend!

Hanging curtains is often one of the first projects new homeowners tackle. Curtains bring style, warmth and texture to your room’s design. But how do you transform your window from this …

To this?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Follow this step-by-step tutorial to easily hang your new curtains and avoid some of the most common design mistakes.


  • Curtain rod (usually comes with hanging hardware)
  • Curtains
  • Curtain hooks (depending on curtain style)
  • Drill and drill bits (pilot hole drill bit and screwdriver drill bit)
  • Stud finder
  • Anchors and screws
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Level

Step 1: Choose the right curtains

Choosing the perfect curtain doesn’t have to be hard, but there are some points to keep in mind for selecting a curtain that is the perfect size for your space.

When you hang your curtain rod higher than the window — almost to the ceiling — the window will look bigger, and the curtains themselves will look much more high-end. But hanging the curtain rod higher than the window requires curtains that are longer than your typical curtain.

The first thing you need to decide is how the curtains will attach to the rod. We used these curtain rings with hooks, which we took into account when calculating the length of the curtain.

However, if you’re using curtains that feed directly onto the rod, you will not have to account for the length of the rings.

Once you have chosen the rod and decided how the curtains will attach to it, it’s time to figure out how long the curtains need to be.

To make the window appear larger than it actually is, and to make the ceiling appear higher, you want the curtains to hang above the window and flow all the way to the floor.

Traditionally, the rod is hung about 4 inches below the ceiling to achieve this look. Take the measurement of the height of the entire wall and subtract 4 inches. Then subtract the length that will be provided by the curtain hooks, if you’re using them. Your final number is the length of the curtains you need to purchase.

Rookie Tip: If you can’t find curtains to fit this exact measurement, you may have to hem them. In that case, wait until after you hang the rod to hang the extra-long curtains, and then start the hemming process. This will ensure the curtains are the exact length you want them to be.

We’re no seamstresses, so we took ours to our local cleaners to get them hemmed.

Step 2: Measure some more

Now it’s time to figure out where to hang the hardware to attach the curtain rod. We chose to hang our curtain rod 5 inches from the ceiling. Don’t be afraid to hang them even closer to the ceiling for an even longer and more dramatic window treatment.

Next, determine how wide you want the curtain rod to be outside of the window frame.

We had a wall on one side of the window, and we wanted to keep the rod symmetrical on each side of the window, so our width was limited. We ended up hanging the rod’s hardware 10 inches outside of the window frame.

Rookie Tip: Many people make the mistake of placing the curtain rod directly on the outside of the window frame. But anchoring the rod 8 to 12 inches outside the frame on each side will make the window appear much larger.

Plus, when the curtains are open, they won’t block any part of the window — instead, they’ll only block the wall. That means you’ll get much more light flooding into the room.

Step 3: Make the mark

Once you have all your measurements set, hold up the rod’s hardware and mark exactly where you want to drill your pilot holes to attach the rod securely. We used a level while holding up the hardware to make sure it was vertically level, or plumb.

Step 4: Check for studs and start drilling

When you have everything marked, it’s time to start drilling. It’s important to use a stud finder to identify whether you’ll need to use a screw and an anchor (in areas with no studs) or just screws (when studs are available) to hang each piece of hardware.

In our case, two of the pieces of hardware needed to be reinforced with screws and anchors, while one of the pieces of hardware did not need anchors, just screws.

Step 5: Hang the curtains

Using the marks as your reference, you’ll have your curtain hardware hung in no time at all. Before adding the curtains, hang up the rod and make sure it’s level. If it is, it’s time to put up your new curtains.

Attach all curtain rings and put them on the rod. Then put the rod back on the hardware. You may find that the curtain panels need a little steam to get them looking crisp.

Finally, clean up any dust left on the floor by the drilling and move the furniture back into place.

Next time you hang curtains, remember: Go high and wide to get the most professional look in your space.


About the author

The DIY Playbook

Hey There! We're Bridget and Casey, the best friends, Chicago gals, and editors behind The DIY Playbook. Even though we consider ourselves busy girls with full-time jobs, a DIY blog, and never ending to-do lists, we believe there is always time to improve our spaces in order to create homes we love. On our blog, we strive to inspire our readers to inject their sparkling personalities into their own spaces with affordable and attainable DIY solutions. We hope to use this insight to bring DIY projects here to the DIGS blog in order to inspire both homeowners and renters to create a home they love. So grab your paint brush & your hammer and let's get to work!

Don't leave your home out of the Valentine's Day fun — send it a love note or two with these quick tips.

When February rolls around, we’re often thinking of little ways to show our loved ones how special they are to us. Why not take the opportunity to do the same for your home?

While you can’t send your home a box of chocolates or a card, there are plenty of things you can do to show it a little love this Valentine’s Day.

Make easy DIY updates

Even if you’re not planning on selling your home anytime soon, it’s always good to make small improvements to increase your home’s value. Plan a quick weekend project, like one of the following:

  • Install a no-touch faucet on the kitchen sink
  • Swap those brass drawer pulls from the ’90s with a more modern design
  • Replace the old fluorescent light fixtures in the bathroom
  • Upgrade the frameless builder-grade mirror to a more stylish one
  • Paint the front door and shutters a vibrant color you love

These simple changes can make a huge difference in how you see and enjoy your home — and make it easier to sell when the time comes.

Buy it something pretty

Just like buying a new ensemble usually lifts your spirits, purchasing something you love for your home will instantly put you in a great mood.

Buy that gorgeous vintage door you’ve been eyeing online (after carefully measuring, of course). Upgrade the curtains the previous owner left behind, buy something colorful and cheery to change the room’s look, or take the plunge and finally purchase that department store rug.

Cultivating great style in your home doesn’t usually happen overnight, but occasionally purchasing items that that make you happy will eventually result in a space you love.

Make happy memories in it

When you first looked at your home, you might have said something like, “This would be a great space for entertaining.” Since moving in, however, have you actually entertained in your home?

If you haven’t (or if it’s been awhile), consider hosting a potluck or a casual dinner with friends and family.

But don’t think you have to scrub the floors for three days and prepare a feast. There’s no need to get too fancy when you host — all you really need is great friends, lively conversation, and good food. Make a menu, choose the music, and hang some string lights or light some candles to create a festive atmosphere.

Save money on it

If mortgage rates are down and you’re interested in lowering your monthly payments, you might want to consider refinancing your home.

Though saving money on your mortgage is the most obvious reason to refinance, many homeowners choose to refinance so they can change from an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate mortgage. This can make payments more predictable and less dependent on how the market is doing.

Knowing that you are making the best financial decisions when it comes to your home will ultimately make you happier to be there.

Make sure it’s protected

Reviewing your home insurance policy may not be the most exciting way to spend an evening, but it’s a good way to make sure there aren’t any obvious gaps in your coverage.

Read your policy carefully. Are you overly insured? Or are you overpaying for the amount of coverage you’re getting? Remember that standard coverage often doesn’t often pay for flood or earthquake damage, so check your policy and understand what’s covered in the rare case of a disaster.

If you find areas for improvement, shop around for a new insurance company or work with your existing provider to create a plan that makes you feel more prepared and secure. Understanding the ins and outs of your insurance policy is the best way to look after your pocketbook — and it will likely help you sleep better at night, too.

A home is more than just a roof over your head — it’s a place that’s meant to be loved and enjoyed. Try some of these quick tips this weekend, and you’re sure to fall in love with your home even more.


About the author

Jamie Birdwell-Branson

Jamie Birdwell-Branson is a freelance writer based in the Midwest. Her work has appeared on Elle Decor,, InStyle and The Billfold, among others. She lives in a 1940s Colonial-style home with her spouse and her dog named Pizza. You can connect with Jamie on Twitter at @jbirdwell or her website.

Set the scene for lounging, sipping a cocktail, and enjoying an intimate meal together.

Creating a fantasy escape at home is an excellent way to surprise your significant other or a treasured friend. An inexpensive solution to date night, this at-home indoor picnic is a recipe for romance and a chance to just relax.

It’s all about comfort, ordering in from your favorite restaurant (Thai is a great choice), and setting up a movie night or romantic playlist.

Leave those work-week vibes at the door, and spread out with popcorn, a spiked Thai iced tea, and some mood-setting accents. The floor pillows, layered blankets, and picnic side crates all transport you to another place. This great setup delivers much needed hang-time, with no commute and no stress.


Re-plating takeout means one less trip to the grocery store, and no mad dash to make a reservation in time. Pair your meal with a lovely cocktail or special libation. If you’ll be ordering sushi, grab a bottle of sake, and if Southern comfort food is on the menu, just grab some seasonal brews.

Cheers to a lovely night in. Hope you made it a special one!

Spiked Thai iced tea

For each serving, pour 1-½ cup brewed and chilled Thai tea, such as Pantai Thai Tea Mix. Stir in one teaspoon of honey simple syrup (one part honey, one part water, heated until the honey dissolves, and then cooled). Add one ounce of whiskey, then top with a splash of coconut milk (not to be confused with coconut water).

Design resource guide

  • Lucite tray, CB2, $40
  • Gold cutlery, Target, $20 for 5-piece set
  • Graphic linens, Minted, $24/pair
  • Blank canvas white plate, Crate & Barrel, $5

Production sponsors: Patina Rentals

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Originally published February 10, 2016.

Flipping homes is a thrill, but don't forget your own home's potential. Enjoy that new-home feeling again with these simple tips.

If you’re anything like me, you may find that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush of flipping houses. I’ll admit — buying an old house, fixing it up, and flipping it for a profit is pretty exciting. But if you get too distracted by flipping houses, it’s easy to let your own home fall by the wayside.

While profitable remodeling projects can be more tempting to work on, you can still benefit from tackling projects in your own home. Remodeling your home will not only up its value, but also improve the way you feel about it. After all, who wouldn’t love to cook in a newly remodeled kitchen?

Here are five easy, inexpensive projects that will really make a difference in how you feel about your home.

Add a new coat of paint

Whether you decide to paint your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom (or all three!), a coat of paint can instantly transform the look and feel of a room. The best part about painting your own home is that you don’t have to stick to neutrals, because you aren’t trying to attract any buyers.

If you’ve been dying to paint your kitchen red or your bathroom blue, then do it! This is your chance to paint your home the colors that make you happy.

Refresh your kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in a home, so it should be one of the first rooms you remodel. And unless you moved into a brand-new home where you were able to design your kitchen from scratch, chances are there are a few things you’ve been eager to change.

If you’re lucky enough to have nice wood cabinets, don’t worry about replacing them. A splash of paint and some new hardware can work wonders and make your kitchen look brand new, without having to spend hundreds on new cabinets.

The same goes for laminate or wood countertops. There are plenty of DIY kits you can buy to transform your countertops for a fraction of the cost.

A new backsplash is also an inexpensive way to add some life to your kitchen — plus it’s a cinch to install.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Install new doorknobs, faucets, and light fixtures

While they are probably the easiest feature to overlook, new doorknobs and fixtures can make a huge difference in a room. Depending on the type of doorknobs you purchase, and considering that most homes have quite a few knobs, the price can add up pretty quickly.

If you don’t have the time or money to replace all your doorknobs at once, work on replacing just a couple every month, starting with the most obvious ones.

Faucets can get pretty expensive as well, especially if you want to replace them in both your kitchen and bathroom(s). If you want to save some money, I recommend searching online or heading to the clearance section of your local home improvement store.

If you’re lucky, you can find great deals on some beautiful faucets. Replacing all your faucets at once might not be feasible, so don’t be afraid to take your time with this project. Before you know it, you’ll be able to enjoy the luxury of attractive faucets in all your rooms.

As for light fixtures, you may already have fixtures that you like, but they just need a color update. Instead of buying new fixtures, grab a can of spray paint and go to town. It’s amazing what a difference a $3 can of spray paint can make!

Revive your bathroom

coat of paint, wainscoting, and a fresh shower curtain and linens are all super easy ways to instantly transform your old and tired bathroom.

If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you could even replace the flooring or change up the vanity. Getting ready in the mornings will be that much more enjoyable if you can do so in a beautiful bathroom.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Boost your curb appeal

While it’s always satisfying to remodel the interior of your home, you don’t want to forget about the exterior. Fortunately, there are a couple of simple changes you can make to really boost your home’s curb appeal.

If you can’t afford to replace the front door, try painting it instead. A new porch light fixture, house numbers, and a mailbox can also make a huge difference for your home’s exterior.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to stop coming up with excuses. Go fix up those kitchen cabinets that you’ve hated since you moved in!


About the author

Christina El Moussa

Christina El Moussa is an experienced real estate investor and reality TV star. She and Tarek El Moussa co-founded Real Estate Elevated, a program providing real estate investment training. The program is focused on helping students all over the country successfully find and flip houses. Please visit Real Estate Elevated for more details.