house renovation

Top 5 Remodeling Tips

  1. Don’t over improve
  2. Set a budget
  3. Consider the homes in your neighborhood
  4. Choose a timeless design
  5. Set a timeline

Where I Learned These Valuable Tips 💡

First, I’ll give you a little backstory on where I learned these remodeling tips. Ryan and I married and lived in a small apartment in Dallas for a short while, until an opportunity arose for us to purchase a “fixer upper” in Sulphur Springs. As a young couple just starting out, this was a big deal for us! We could purchase this house, put a little money into it and “flip” it, just like we saw on all those HGTV shows! It would be so fun and easy! 😉

Oh, I wish we knew then what we know now. But I guess that’s how life works right? Live, learn and pass on the knowledge. And hopefully don’t make the same mistakes twice. I’m not saying we know all there is about renovation, but we have learned a thing or two; mostly of what NOT to do! Read on to find out what I mean. You will probably get a good laugh in and hopefully gain some knowledge. There’s so much to know about the right way to do a remodel, but here are my top 5 tips for remodeling.

So, let’s start with number one; don’t over improve!!!

Tip #1 – Don’t Over Improve 🔨

We took one look at this house and thought every single bit of it must come out! This wall, that wall, gut the kitchen, gut the bathroom, tear out this disgusting floor! ALL of it! Demo, demo, demo. Until all that was left were some walls and the slab. Well guess what happens when you have a house that has nothing inside of it? You replace everything! 😱 From the kitchen cabinets to the toilets. It all had to, surprisingly, be put back. We could have honestly touched every room in that house to update it, without completely gutting the place. I do stand by the open concept though! I mean, we did do something right! 🤔

Look at the big picture before deciding what needs to be redone and what can stay. It’s highly possible that you can refinish the tub or paint the kitchen cabinets. You’d be surprised what a difference a coat of paint and new hardware can make. If the home does need a complete gut job, purchase it at a price that reflects that. Otherwise, work within a budget and check off the most important spaces first. Especially if you plan to sell after renovating. Look from a buyer’s perspective and put money in the areas that will give you a return. Here’s a great article on some quick and cost-effective ways to spruce things up.

That takes us into the next tip – set a budget!

Tip #2 – Set A Budget 💲

Your budget will depend on your plan for the home and the renovation. Are you buying it as an investment and plan to sell quickly? Then you need to have a good profit margin. If you are buying the home to live in and make the repairs and updates to your liking, then you can think of the return in the long run. You will always build equity in a home, if you make a smart buy. Real estate is the best long-term investment you can make. If you would at least “break even” in the current market, equity will build on that in the years to come.  

Now, don’t just pull this number out of thin air, like we did. Really take the numbers seriously and do your best to stick to it. A great buyer, with a great agent 😉, can determine how much work needs to be done. Then they can guide you on the best price to offer for the property. Make sure there is room for some profit. After all, this is an investment; be smart about it. Your budget for the renovations should be based on your purchase price and what the home could sell for in the market you plan to sell.

The potential sales price also depends on the finishes you will use, so it’s important to have all of this planned in the budget. Extra tip that I wish someone would have told us; plan for unseen issues. When you begin removing walls or flooring, things can come up that you didn’t account for. Have this in mind and set aside some “emergency funds” in the budget. We unfortunately didn’t do this and uncovered some major problems that cost us more in the end.

Going back to choosing finishes takes me into my next tip – take the homes in your neighborhood into consideration.

Tip #3 – Consider the Homes in Your Neighborhood 🏠

This is very important. You can easily over improve in this way as well. Being a step above the competition is great, but this is where design can help on a budget. We chose granite countertops for the kitchen. Back then granite was just becoming popular and therefore it was expensive. It made a great selling feature but hurt our budget and bottom line. If you’re selling million-dollar properties, by all means, go with expensive stone countertops and tile, custom cabinets, hardwood floors, spa tubs, etc. Give the buyer what they’re paying for. But don’t expect a mid-priced homebuyer to pay you $30,000 more than the house next door because you added these features. 🙅‍♀️

Like I said, stand out with your design. You can find some of my favorite designers here. Smart design can make a home feel like it’s worth a million bucks and blow your competition out of the water! Choose a timeless design, which is tip number four.

Tip #4 – Choose A Timeless Design ✨

Timeless: not affected by the passage of time or changes in fashion. We did not know this definition then! 😉 Faux finished walls were on trend, and we decided it was a good idea to do the ENTIRE house that way. For those of you that don’t know what a “faux finish” is; it is a way to make a wall, or whatever you are refinishing, to look something like leather or suede or some other lovely finish. I’m sure it could have been nice as an ACCENT wall, but we decided it was a good idea to do EVERY wall this way. We went with the “leather” look. 😬 The process to do this was costly, time consuming and in the end a very personal preference. Do you know how much money we wasted on texture, paint and stain? Ugh! I could cry thinking about it.

Anyway, it’s best to not be so bold on an investment property. Neutral colors and simple choices can save on both renovation costs and time on the market. Buyers are looking to make the space their own. If you give them a neutral palette, it’s easier for them to envision themselves living in the home. Think light, bright and airy!  

Finally, my last tip is to set a timeline for your renovation!

Tip #5 – Set a Timeline 🗓

Just like your budget, stick to it! Well as much as you can anyway. Nothing ever goes as planned in any remodel but push to get it done on time. It will cost you money in the long run if you don’t. Like the old saying goes; time is money. We made this mistake too, as you could have probably guessed. Actually, we couldn’t have even finished on time if we wanted to because we ran out of money! I mean really, how many things can you do completely wrong?! 😩 (Tip number 2 is extra important). Obviously if you plan to stay in the home, your timeline can be based on what needs to be done first. If you are going to “flip” the property, then you want to consider what your holding costs are. They can be real profit killers. Also, know the market you want to sell in. For instance, right now in 2021 the market is still going strong and running hot. Getting your property on the market quickly is your best bet!

Value In Lessons Learned 👍

My hope is that you can take this and learn from our embarrassing mistakes. I know I have. I wouldn’t have changed anything we did though because we gained a lot of wisdom. I’m a firm believer in the value of lessons learned. And if this helps you in any way, then you’ve shared in the value of the lesson as well. As an agent, I can’t help but tell you, that I’d love to help you to purchase your first, or thirtieth, investment property. It’s fun and exciting to take something old and beat up and turn it into something fresh and new! Even if it’s something you want to call home. You get to give it your touch and make it your own. Remodeling is tough and can be frustrating, but it is also rewarding. I dare you to give it a try. Let me know if and when you do. I’d love to come check out your work! Good luck! And remember, budget, time and design are the most important aspects to getting a return on your money! 🤑

Thanks for reading! Tell me; have you had any remodeling disasters that you’ve learned from? Please share in the comments below…

Prepare Your Home To Sell Quickly

What you NEED to Do BEFORE Listing Your Home

You’ve decided to sell, but don’t know where to start. The to-do list is LONG! Preparing to sell your home shouldn’t be rushed. There are, of course, extenuating circumstances that happen. But, if you have the advantage to plan it out, I recommend giving yourself at least three to four weeks to get everything together. This will also give you time to plan your next steps as your prepare your current home for the market.

It can seem overwhelming when you think about what needs to be done in and around your home to get it show-ready, but, if you break it down by each space, the task suddenly becomes very doable! I’ve been through the process a couple of times and have learned a few tricks to share with you.


Last year, during quarantine, when we all had an ungodly amount of time on our hands and stuck at home, I began to tackle every room in my house. Eventually, every drawer, cabinet, closet and even the attic had been cleaned out and completely organized. I was thankful I had done this when we decided to jump into the crazy pandemic market and sell later that summer.

I know it probably seems simple and maybe even obvious, but as I did, declutter your home. A decluttered space will not only help your home show better to potential buyers, but it will also help in the moving process. You will have already cleaned out all those extra bobby pins, half-empty shampoo bottles, and Tupperware lids that don’t have matches. You’ll be able just to pack up and not worry about sorting through the junk.

A clean and organized home also stands out in the market. You would be surprised at how many sellers skip this step and more than likely regret it, as their home will sit longer than it should. Most buyers have a hard time seeing past the “stuff” to see the great features of your home. Help them see it!

Curb Appeal

Next, assess your curb appeal. Do your beds need tending? Sometimes just pulling weeds, adding some pops of color with some inexpensive plants, and fresh mulch can make all the difference! What about the trees and shrubs? Can you see your front entry? If not, trim things back a bit. Make your home feel welcoming. And please don’t forget about your windows and doors! So often we see dirty windows and porches, and the difference between a smudgy window and a clean one is HUGE!! Natural light can travel through easily which makes your home feel airy and bright. Give your windows, doors, and even the exterior of your home a good washing. Touch up paint, inside and out, can also go a long way! Fresh paint is always a good idea!


Then there’s staging. You know how I said most buyers can’t see past “stuff”? This is true even with furniture and decor. Keep things simple. The more their eye is drawn to the details in your home, such as a fireplace, beams along the ceiling, a beautiful chandelier over the dining table, or the view that surrounds the property, the better. Showcase those things all while helping them understand the functionality and purpose of the room. The same can be said to help hide the negatives in the room. Not enough light? Add some with lamps, showcase the window if there is one and use neutral colors throughout the room. Is there an awkward layout? Place furniture in a way that helps it flow and fits into the room perfectly. Play off the architectural details of your home when choosing furniture and textiles. The buyer will fall in love with a space that looks and feels beautiful!

Staging the outside of your home is also a great idea. Add some outdoor furniture on your front porch, if there’s room. Potted plants also make a great first impression. Do the same for the back of your property. Help the buyer envision themselves sitting there having coffee and enjoying the view. It will also help them feel like there is “extra square footage”. The more space the better!

Repairs and Cosmetic Fixes

It’s best to tackle the repairs around your home before trying to sell. A home inspection done for a buyer will more than likely catch all of the things you didn’t think it would. Getting the “to do list” done beforehand will give your home a better “grade” on the report. This will help avoid hiccups in the selling process as well. As a seller, you are required to disclose any defects you’re aware of, so you might as well fix them so they are not an issue. While you have your tools out, go ahead and change some of the dated fixtures around your home. Cabinet pulls, bathroom towel rods and fixtures are usually pretty inexpensive, easy to change and can update the room! You know the brass that the 90’s wants back? Give it to them! Not everything from that decade is back in style! 🤪

Assess, Do, Sell

So, you see, it doesn’t have to be a complete remodel to get your home marketable. Sometimes just a good sprucing up is all you need to do to show buyers why your home is the best on the market! Think of it as a quick makeover. But it certainly doesn’t need to be rushed. Make a plan, give yourself some time and grace. You’ll end up with a fresh home to present to future buyers, which in turn makes for a quicker sell and more profits!

What about you? Did you also take advantage of quarantine and declutter or get some home projects done? What would you still like to do before you sell your home? If you need some guidance with the steps, ask one of us! We’d love to help!

Home Inspection

Waive The Home Inspection??

Strategy to Win

Should you waive the home inspection to win in this market? Buyers are doing all sorts of crazy things to get their offer accepted, including offering thousands over ask and waiving appraisals and inspections. I most recently heard of vacation cruises offered to sellers! What?! 😱 There’s no doubt this market is CRAZY!! To waive the home inspection isn’t just crazy; it’s a bad idea, in my opinion! Although you can still get the inspection done, you can’t use it to negotiate repairs. That is not a position you want to be in.

A home inspection is the best way to understand what’s going on inside a home. However, having Uncle Joe or your father-in-law, unless licensed professionals, inspect your home or future home is not the best way to go about it. A professional will check every nook and cranny and go into full detail about the potential issues, big and small. Believe me, as a seller you almost feel violated! 😅

We Want to Win – With Your Investment

We would never recommend bypassing an inspection to our clients. In our opinion, the option period and home inspection are the best use of your time and money. Spending that extra bit could potentially be the key to uncovering a huge, costly issue that you would be stuck with if the inspection had not been done.

What could be found in the home inspection.

A lot of times, home inspections will reveal minor things that can easily be negotiated. In that instance, the buyer and their agent will likely ask the seller to take care of the most important things before closing. With proof of receipts and a final walk-through, buyers can feel confident that they are getting a sound home. If the inspection reveals more significant issues, negotiating can still occur. Sellers can agree to make the repairs, take the cost of repairs from the sales price, or through seller’s concessions. If an agreement cannot be made, the buyer can walk away from the home without penalty during the option period.

How to Better Structure Your Offer

There are more creative ways to structure your offer to make it appealing to a seller. Some things that are important to a seller in this market are time frame, financing, shortened option period, etc. Offer them to stay in the home for a certain time after closing. As a buyer, you know it’s difficult to find a place to go. Make sure you have strong financing with a large down payment, if you aren’t paying cash. Shorten, don’t opt out, of the option period with more compensation for their time. These aren’t the only options, but some ideas. Your agent can also discuss with the listing agent prior to writing your offer what their seller is looking for.

The Seller and The Home Inspection

In the aspect of a seller, the home inspection is just as necessary. If you feel there could be underlying issues with your home, an inspection is a great way to find out. Being a prepared seller and being proactive in the repair process could save you time and money as well. By taking care of issues before going to market, you have an advantage to a quick and easy closing process. Problems found after a contract is signed could be a costly mistake; or worse cause the deal to fall through. Most homes in this market are closing in 30-45 days. That’s not a lot of time to handle found issues. Rushed repairs are a recipe for stress and disaster! Keep in mind, sellers need to disclose any and all issues they are made aware of. Buyers will be more at ease knowing the repairs have been made.

The Home Inspection – An Investment in Itself

The cost of a typical inspection is usually around $300-$400, depending on the size of the home. A few hundred dollars compared to possibly thousands lost to needed repairs, is a no brainer!

All of this to say, a seller, and especially a buyer, should get a home inspection done on any home, new or old. It’s like a report card – it luckily won’t fail every grade but will reveal where improvements can be made. A great agent will walk you through writing the best offer, including the need for an inspection. They will help navigate the report, and make the negotiations if needed. Luckily, I know of one, or two. 😉

Tell Me Your Thoughts…

What do you think about waiving the inspection as a buyer to win the offer? Risky or nah? 🤔

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Our Family

Realtor in Sulphur Springs – A little about me

Us after Ryan's fight

Hello! My name is Sunni Chester. I’m a mom, wife, and local Realtor in Sulphur Springs, TX. My husband, Ryan, and I work as a team, helping people reach their real estate goals and dreams. It’s probably the best job in the world! We get to work together, meet new people, share in one of the most memorable parts of their lives, and do it all while enjoying raising our 13-year-old son!

Ryan and I have been married for 15 years and together 16. We met while working in Dallas. God set up our meeting; I know that for sure! After only dating for a few months, we knew we wanted to get married, but we weren’t sure how our families would react to the news. So, we finally decided to meet with our pastor privately and marry without telling anyone! Rebels!! Everyone turned out to be ok with it… eventually!

Ayden, our son, may have been a surprise, but he has been our biggest blessing! He became the center of our world and still is. We love to watch him play football and see his growth as an honor student. He truly gives his all in everything, and we couldn’t be prouder.

God and family, to me, are everything. Life is meaningless, without either. I love the life I’ve been given and hope that I can make even a small impact while I’m here on this earth. Here, I want to provide you with valuable content and fun things to read. I plan to bring you along in my life – work, vacations, everyday occurrences, new finds, and family time. While also giving you my insight as a realtor here in this community and beyond. Please let me know if there’s a topic you’d like for me to cover. I’m always open to suggestions! Thank you for taking time out of your day to hear from me! And if you are looking for a Realtor to work with in Sulphur Springs, we’d love to talk to you!

Tell me, what is it that you find most interesting when visiting a blog or on social media?