Mistakes to avoid when presenting your house

It’s often hard to remain objective when assessing those things that are near and dear to your heart. Like, for instance, your home.

If you’re preparing to sell your house and want to create the best presentation for prospective buyers, you need to keep an open mind about how it looks to outsiders. Doing so will help you avoid these common presentation blunders:

1. Poorly Maintained

If your house doesn’t look well-maintained potential buyers will assume that they’re going to have to spend time and money on repairs and basic maintenance. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you, be sure to make the necessary repairs to your home before you put it on the market. Your real estate agent can help you spot necessary details as he works for his real estate agent commission.

2. No House Number

Selling your house won’t be easy if buyers can’t find it or have trouble locating it. That said, make sure that you have a house number that’s easily visible and in good repair.

3. Pet Smells

Having a loving and well-loved pet is a highlight for many homeowners. But pet smells, and pet messes are a turnoff to many buyers, so do everything you can to remove smells and evidence of your pets before you begin to show your home.

4. Lack of Light

Proper lighting can create a sense of space and improve the overall impression of your home. Open all curtain and blinds, clean your windows, and trim away foliage outside the home that blocks the light. You may want to use additional lighting to improve the look and feel of a room.

5. Too Much Furniture

An over-abundance of furniture will make a room look and feel smaller than it is. Create space between pieces of furniture and even remove some of it temporarily as you open your home to potential buyers.

6. Poor Street Appeal

The first impression a buyer gets when they first see your house from the outside may determine whether they come inside for a closer look or drive away. Here are some things you can do to improve your home’s curb appeal:

  • Make sure your fence, post box, and street number are in good condition. If not, replace them.
  • Whatever you do, don’t neglect your landscaping. Make sure your lawn is mowed, remove any weeds, and prune and cut any foliage that looks messy.
  • Don’t ignore the importance of your front door. It’s one of the first things buyers notice and consider giving yours a makeover, whether it entails a new paint job or adding new door knob or knocker.
  • Clean the dirt from your garage doors, walls, walkways, and driveway. Your walls may benefit from a fresh coat of paint, as well.

7. Ignoring Clutter

Too much clutter can quickly scare away a potential buyer. Decluttering each room will make your home appear bigger, more spacious, as well as cleaner and tidier. Remove anything that you don’t need – such as ornaments, knick-knacks, extra chairs, etc.

8. A Poor Bathroom of Kitchen

Your bathrooms and kitchen are the rooms that many buyers will inspect the most. They need to be cleared of clutter to make them appear more spacious and may benefit from new light fixtures, hardware, and even a fresh coat of paint.

9. Selling an Empty House

Empty rooms look smaller and are uninviting to many buyers. Furniture and other items in rooms provide thought-starters for buyers who imagine themselves living in your home.

10. Cleanliness

Most buyers are unwilling to look past dirty floors and bathrooms. While it might not bother you, it’s important to remember that buyers are seeing it for.

Conservative responsa approves selling, renting to non-Jews

Up to 50 Conservative rabbis signed on to a religious responsa that says it is permissible to rent or sell homes to non-Jews in Israel.

The statement, issued Monday, counters a rabbinic ruling signed by about 50 Israeli municipal rabbis that prohibits the same.

Written by Schechter Institute President Rabbi David Golinkin, it examines the issue from biblical sources to modern opinions.

It concluded: “(A)ccording to Jewish law, it is perfectly permissible to sell or rent houses to non-Jews in the Land of Israel for all of the reasons cited.

“Finally, if we are concerned that certain areas of the country such as the Galilee need more Jews, we must achieve that by Zionist education, not by discrimination. If there is concern that blocks of apartments are being bought up by Iran and Saudi Arabia, then the government of Israel must deal with this national problem.”

Balancing Acts of Faith and Pork

The question: How Jewish vs. how democratic should the Jewish State of Israel actually be?

That was really the question before Israel’s Supreme Court.

More than a legal question, it led to serious and heated debate. The answer would be a defining factor in the very nature of the state itself. It came to the fore as the court was asked to decide if three cities, Jerusalem included, could ban the selling of pork.

The ruling: That cities cannot outright forbid the sale of pork and should respect communities that are predominantly religious but may sell pork in other areas of the city.

Israel is unlike the United States when it comes to the separation of religion and state. In the United States, the separations are fiercely guarded. So much so that there are raging, obsession-driven debates even over the issues of the role of God in the Pledge of Allegiance — one of the holiest of holies for America’s citizens — and the inclusion of the word “God” on currency.

Things are simpler in Israel. There is a fluid boundary between religion and state. In Israel, the balance is not between religion and state, it is between religion and democracy.

The creation of a Jewish — democratic — state, with each element given equal weight (i.e., Israel) is best viewed as a laboratory experiment. The effort to blend the Jewish and the democratic into a state is a constant balancing act, a tug-of-war, a struggle between the more Jewishly inclined and the more democratically inclined elements of the society.

The Supreme Court ruling is certainly not the end of a long story, it is merely another chapter.

For those Israelis who are in favor of banning the sale of pork products, the argument is more about symbols than it is about religion. Historically, that was true and it is still true today.

The Romans, for example, threw pork into the Temple in order to desecrate it. During pogroms, Jews were held down as pork was forced into their mouths.

Playing the music of Wagner in Israel, as world renowned and acclaimed as it is, is another such example and subject of debate. The notes on the page do not resonate with music but with memories of Nazi Germany, Nazi culture, Nazi racism, the Nazi reign of terror.

As Western as Israel is and Israelis try to be, Israel is still Jewish. Saturday, not Sunday, is the Sabbath — the official, not just religious day of rest. Holidays are set by the religious, lunar calendar, not the solar or secular calendar. English is spoken and almost everything is translated into English (even more than in Arabic), but Hebrew is the official language.

All of these were choices — reasoned, thought out, deliberate choices made by the founding, primarily European-born, fathers of the state. The choices were made for a reason — to recreate a Jewish existence in the biblical, ancestral homeland of Israel.

The founding fathers of Israel were staunchly secular, and yet they understood and encouraged the role of religion for a Jewish state. They provided for deeply Jewish, religious and cultural trappings within the society. They realized that it was the Jewishness of the state that would frame its character and inform its democratic attitudes.

The founding fathers of the United States, in contrast, were staunchly religious. Yet, they were skeptical of the role of institutional religion, because they understood the role that religious culture would play in the formation of their state.

By examining the blend of religion and state in the democratic and cultural experiment called Israel, we can better understand worldwide developing democracies of today. Even more, the only chance for reforming and democratizing Arab states will be through a blend of religion and democracy, just as seen in Israel.

Remember, in Arabic, there is no language for even simple pleasantries that does not invoke the name of God, of Allah. A simple “how are you?” or “good morning” is always answered with “praise God” or “thank God.” Even the most secular of all Arabs respond that way, they have no alternative.

The West has high hopes for reforming Iraq and other countries of the Middle East. In order for those hopes to be realized, it is essential that Westerners realize that whatever is created, it will be a blend of each country’s religion alongside democracy.

Israel’s Supreme Court understood. Western lawmakers and leaders must understand, as well. Not to understand is to doom any and all reform to failure.

Micah D. Halpern is a political and social commentator and author of “What You Need to Know About: Terror.”

Global Confusion

In what may be another case of an e-mail rumor run amok, the Anti-Defamation League is laying to rest allegations that Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club are selling globes nationwide that denote “Palestine” but not Israel.

E-mails spreading the rumor are circulating throughout the Jewish community, prompting numerous calls to ADL offices across the country, said ADL spokeswoman Myrna Shinbaum.

In fact, the Chinese-made “Semi-Precious Stone Mosaic Globe” — a decorative gift that sells in some stores for $249.99 — does indeed identify the state of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital.

But in a curious twist of the half-century threat against Israel, it is something called “Palestine” — and not the Jews living in Israel — that seems to have been pushed into the sea. Above “Israel” and below “Lebanon” to the north, the word “Palestine” inexplicably appears on the globe, “kind of floating in the Mediterranean, without dots or demarcation,” Shinbaum said.

“Should it say Palestine? Clearly there is not an entity today that is called Palestine. There is a Palestinian Authority. But more importantly, Israel and its capital are so indicated.”

That brought relief to Tom Williams, spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores, of which Sam’s Club is a division.
“We’re gratified to see that Israel is correctly on there,” Williams said in a telephone interview from Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

The glitzy globes are landing stateside through different importers. Only some of them say “Palestine,” Williams said, though none replace Israel with Palestine.

As for why the word Palestine is even on there, Williams said, “We don’t know. We’re looking into it, seeing what’s what. It’s a decorative piece more than a globe you would actually use.”
He said several calls from the media notified him of the situation and was unaware of if or how many customers complained.

The fact that so many in the Jewish community were worked up over it illuminates one pitfall of the Internet, Shinbaum said.

“Now you can instantaneously put out information, misinformation, rumor and innuendo, and it kind of becomes fact, because it’s out there,” she said. “And the person who initiates this usually calls for some kind of action.”

In August, CNN came under fire and eventually returned Jerusalem to its place beneath the “Israel” heading on its Web site’s weather map.

However, protests against McDonald’s earlier this month petered out when it was discovered that Israel’s outlets were excluded from the chain’s Web site due to a decision made by the Israeli franchise owners, not McDonald’s.

While the ADL relies on eagle-eyed activists to notify the organization of genuine slights, inaccuracies or injustices, Shinbaum said, “People who get e-mails should be careful before they act on the e-mail, to make sure that what they’re being asked to do is the right thing to do.” — Michael J. Jordan, Jewish Telegraphic Agency