A Pittsburgh Handyman,
With A Few Specialties...


I Can Make Somebody WANT YOUR HOUSE!!

The Universal Myth

Have you ever said things like these? (These are just two examples)

Yes, I know our living room is dark and gloomy. Maybe we should replace those old drapes. But how are we supposed to know what the buyers will want? They can buy any drapes they want after they move in.”

“Yes, I know our mailbox has a big dent. But it’s just a mailbox. It still works. The new people can replace it when they move in, and they probably won’t replace it either! Nobody would ever pass up our house because of a dented mailbox.”

NO! NO! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's what EVERYBODY thinks. And EVERYBODY is WRONG!!!

Buying A House Is Like Buying A Car.

When you shop for a car, you make a must-have list, you explore web sites, and you study comparison charts. And then, Bam! A car hits you just right, and all your research goes out the window! You start out scientifically, but then you get excited and your emotions take over.

It's the same with houses. You want someone to say, 
     “Honey! This is the one! This is the house we’ve been looking for!”

Take a lesson from the car dealers. Would a dealer sell a used car with a missing hubcap? Dealers do not say, “People will know that a hubcap is cheap.” NO!!! They fix problems. In fact, they also wash the car, wax it, and replace perfectly good tires with brand new ones. They sell a car that somebody actually wants, and they sell it for top dollar.

If your house has a dozen little problems, your buyers will never get excited. And if you have fixed all your problems, congrats! But they STILL won’t get excited if your house has no pizzazz.

Powerful Psychology

Actually, the drapes in that first example are not the problem. That gloomy living room will depress your prospects. They won’t analyze it. They’ll just know that your house isn’t the right house.

What would happen if you replaced those drapes with vertical blinds that let in the sunlight? Removed that overgrown bush that’s blocking the window? Brightened up the walls with fresh paint? Now you have a bright and airy living room that gets people excited!

Don’t be a victim of the Universal Myth. Don’t say, “Let the new people fix this stuff after they move in.” Nobody will get excited about your house. You can lower your price $5,000, and people will offer even less than that. They don’t really want your house, but they’ll take it if they can get it cheap enough.

Did you already fix all your problems? GREAT! But it takes more than that these days. Fixing all your problems only brings you up to the “OK” level. You have to add some excitement!

It’s easier to sell a house that somebody actually wants! You can fix a dozen problems for only $1,000 or $2,000, and you wouldn’t HAVE to lower your price $5,000. Imagine excited prospects saying, 
     “Let’s make an offer fast, before somebody else gets this house!”

I Am Proof Of The Universal Myth!

I myself was a victim! Before we put our own house up for sale, we did a lot of work. We installed new carpet, new kitchen cabinets, and a lot more. Surely, the first people to see our house would snap it up!

But the first people came and went. Perhaps a hundred people came and went. We were scratching our heads for more than a year.

Please don’t tell me we were overpriced. We listed at $10,000 less than what several realtors said. We lowered our price several times. We ended at about $25,000 less than their original suggestion.

We asked many people why they didn’t like our house. Some said they didn’t know why; they just didn’t like it. Perhaps some did see something, but didn’t want to offend us. Others said it was because our backyard was too small, although now I know their minds were made up long before they got to the backyard.

Finally, a realtor (of all people!) pointed out several problems that I had gotten used to. And he pointed out a few things that could be made more exciting:

·         He said I should paint the garage. (“WHY? It’s just a garage!”).

·         He told me to power wash the driveway. (It didn’t need it, but you should have seen the difference after it was done!)

·         He noticed some gaps between some baseboards and the walls, and told me to caulk them. (“THAT can’t be why nobody is buying! It’s such a small detail!”).

·         There were about ten small things, totaling less than $1,000 and taking less than a week, part time. None of these little things made much difference, but together they did add up.

He was right! I fixed everything on his list, and the house sold in one day!

Does Your Curb Appeal?

Now let’s move on to YOUR house. We’ll start outside.

First, fix your problems. You HAVE fixed all your problems, right? If you haven’t, you don’t have a chance. I’ve actually seen these things on houses that were for sale!

  • I've seen maple tree sprouts growing in rain gutters.
  • I've seen weeds and overgrown bushes.
  • I've seen houses with railings so rusty that people would not touch them!

People will be depressed before they get inside. You have already lost any potential excitement. I laugh at realtors who hang signs that say, “Must see inside.” WHY must I overlook all these outside problems?

What problems will we see with YOUR house? Does your doorbell work? Is your porch light tarnished? Are there any dead trees? Is there an old swing set that should be removed? A rusty basketball hoop?

Is it time to cut your grass? Pull your weeds? Trim your hedges? I can help if you are out of town, or if you’re just tired of getting over to the old place.

Then Add Some Positives! Add some excitement. Replace something that is perfectly OK with something that catches your eye.

For example, let’s say your house numbers are just fine. They are not tarnished at all. They are functional. Someone looking for your house could find them and read them. Nobody would call them a problem.

What if you replaced them with big, new, shiny brass house numbers? They really catch your eye even if you’re NOT looking for them! It’s easy to add some pizzazz!

Are your porch light and driveway light OK? Why settle for OK? Replace them with new ones that are bigger and more impressive even in the daytime.

How’s your mailbox? Why not install one of those big vinyl ones with the integrated post?

It’s nice that your walkway has no weeds. But what if it had some flowers? Think Positive!

First impressions do count. 
Why do you dress up for a job interview? 
Dress your house up, too!

What Will They See Inside?

If you DO have good curb appeal, I applaud you. But what will people see next? You are still making your first impression.

First, fix your problems. I have seen stained carpet and carpet that was so old it had pathways worn into it! Why won’t these people replace that carpet? It’s the Universal Myth in action again! They tell themselves that they can’t replace it because they don’t know what the new people would want. They are WRONG! People would rather see brand new carpet in a neutral color than old carpet that must be replaced right away. It’s not expensive to replace carpet in one room. It’s even cheaper to just remove it, if you have hardwood floors underneath it.

Are your walls dirty? Are you invoking the Universal Myth? I painted my living room walls white, and the new people promptly painted them a dark chocolate brown. This makes no sense! Why paint walls when the new people will just paint over them anyway? Because dirty walls turn people off. They will never paint over your dirty walls because they will never buy your house in the first place.

Then Add Some Positives! There are many small things you can do that make a big impact. Replace a ceiling light with a paddle fan. Replace your old interior doorknobs with shiny new lever-style ones.


Nobody ever has enough storage. Adding more storage is the quickest, cheapest, big-impact, no-brainer thing you can do.

Consider A Shed. A shed can hide an ENORMOUS amount of clutter. I can build you a shed that can be disassembled when you sell and reassembled at your new home.

Garage Storage: Does your car sit outside because of all the clutter? The Universal Myth makes you say, “The new people will realize that we will empty our garage when we move. They should imagine an empty garage.” Start thinking like your buyers. If they buy your house they won’t have any place to store all their stuff either! Their car will be outside too!

Why not install new shelving? I can install tool racks, bicycle racks, pegboards and other organizers. There are even shelves that hang over your car’s hood.

I can get your car back into your garage where it belongs. And here’s a BONUS! If you take this shelving with you when you move, you will be able to get your car into your NEW garage, too!

Attic Storage: Consider better access to your attic. You don’t have to go as far as a folding staircase. I can just cut a hole and install a hatch opening. You can access your attic with a stepladder. You can stow away all your luggage, camping gear, seasonal things, and that clothing that will fit again someday. Your garage and basement won’t be so cluttered.

Bedroom Storage: Closet organizers are definitely in the PIZZAZZ category. A cluttered bedroom is proof that a shelf and a rod don’t cut it anymore. Let your prospects see rooms that are neat and look bigger. And let them imagine THEIR kids with neat bedrooms, too.

Your Kitchen

The kitchen sells the home. But don’t spend $10,000 or $20,000 because you will never get it back. Besides, you can do plenty for a lot less.

Do you have a range hood and a countertop microwave? You can remove that eyesore range hood, install a new microwave oven, and free up a ton of counter space. What’s that you’re saying? You can’t see spending $500 on a new microwave if you’re about to move? That’s the Universal Myth talking again. Imagine your prospect seeing a brand new microwave and lots of counter space. Now imagine that same prospect seeing your old range hood and a countertop microwave wasting space. And imagine yourself lowering your price $5,000 because you didn’t want to spend $500. Besides, if you install the new microwave you can take that old one with you. What’s that you say? You don’t want it either? Exactly!

How many other appliances are using up your countertop space? Many appliances can be hung under your cabinets, including toaster ovens, can openers, radios and even TV’s.

How about a pantry? I can hang a rack of shelves on the inside of your cellar door or a closet door.


Replacing your tub can be extensive and expensive. You can do quite a bit for a lot less.

How bad is your medicine chest? Yes, people do snoop. Will they see rust or other funkiness? Yet you ignore the problem because your medicine chest looks fine with the door closed. And it’s so EASY to replace

It’s also easy to replace the sink, including a new vanity, sink top and faucet. Does your faucet have any rust? Is any of that “solid gold” finish flaking off?

And here are a few changes that are quick, cheap, and easy no-brainers: Hang a new shower curtain, remove that old shower head that sprays all over the place and install a hand-held shower massager, and replace that old toilet seat.


I Have Virgin Eyes.

Let me come and look at your house. I never saw your house. I will see the problems that you no longer see. I will tell you what your prospects will not tell you. I’ll give you some suggestions that will make your house stand out!

Take The Honey-Do Challenge!

Give me a call. I will come to your house for FREE. We will tour your house together. Let me point out the things I see.

If we can’t find ten items for your Honey-Do list, I’ll take care of one item for FREE!

Even if you did a lot of work and you think you’re ready to sell, what have you got to lose?

  • If we find nothing, you will know you did a good job.
  • If we can' find ten things, I'll fix one thing for free.
  • But if we CAN find ten problems and improvements, what are you waiting for? Why do you think you can sell a house with ten problems? You DO want to sell your house, right?

There is no obligation. Do these jobs yourself. Or let me do them for you. Or let me do a few and you do a few. Or decide not to do them at all. 

You have nothing to lose. Call me. 412-758-0912. 

You can sell your house faster, and for a higher price, if somebody actually wants it.



Registered Home Improvement Contractor
with the PA Attorney General: PA077766


Copyright Kenneth R. Whitaker 2020

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