A Toronto woman is sharing her story after she says she was sexually harassed by a real estate agent while looking for a rental apartment in the city.
Originally from Belleville, Ont., Alyssa Graham made the move to downtown Toronto in 2014 and has been living there ever since.
Graham said she started searching for a new place in mid-January, with plans to move in on Feb. 1.
“This certain property that I wanted was listed on Zolo.ca. So I just reached out to them and asked them if it was still available,” Graham told CTV News Toronto.
From there, Graham said she was paired up with a real estate agent who was “very confident” he could find her a place by her desired move-in date.
And while her first pick for a rental property fell through, Graham said she agreed to work with the agent on a go-forward basis.
That’s when things started to get weird, she said.
Graham said she noticed that some of the texts and phone conversations with the agent were “rather flirty.”
“I answered the phone and I said ‘hello’ and he said ‘you sound so sexy when you answer the phone.’”
Nonetheless, Graham said she agreed to meet the agent for a showing at another unit as she was desperate for housing, chalking up his unorthodox approach to being part of his “spiel.”
“This was our first time meeting. He kept calling it a date, he kept asking when we were going to make out, he offered to pay $500 a month in rent for me.”
“When we were leaving the unit, he shut all the lights off and the door was locked. We’re in a pitch-black apartment, I can’t even see my hand in front of me. I’m trying to find a door to get out, but I can’t see anything.”
When the real estate agent eventually did turn the lights back on, Graham said she was eager to remove herself from the situation, but that he continued his advances.
Graham explained that following the showing, the agent was insistent on driving her home and that he would “not take no for an answer.”
She said she apprehensively accepted the offer and was dropped off at a nearby hotel, where she had been staying while in between apartments.
“He dropped me off and was like ‘so can I get a kiss?’” she said. Graham quickly refused and then made her way into the hotel.
The agent then called her asking if he should come up to her room and offered to “get a place for the night” if she was interested, Graham alleges.
After a number of unanswered texts and phone calls from the agent later — where Graham says he claimed that he couldn’t help being attracted to his client — Graham said she decided to report the incident to his employer, Zolo.
“I told them everything that happened, that I don’t think he submitted any offers for me, that he wasted a month of time, cost me money, scared me, made me incredibly uncomfortable, etc.” Graham said.
Graham admits that she was originally nervous to submit the complaint as it would likely result in his termination and that the agent was aware of where she was living.
She said she was assured by the company that she “should be fine” because Zolo has “screenings for things like that.”
“We would have caught that,” she said she was told.
In a statement issued to CTV News Toronto on Thursday , Zolo president Mustafa Abbasi said the company acted quickly to address the issue.
“In January 2021, Zolo received a complaint from a customer regarding their interaction with an agent. We acted swiftly and in accordance with our zero-tolerance policy, terminating the agent effective immediately, within 24 hours of receiving the complaint,” the statement reads.
But Graham said that weeks later, the agent reached back out to her asking for her to retract her complaint so that he could be reinstated.
She refused, but agreed to speak with his boss in exchange for compensation for the money paid to cover her hotel expenses.
“We signed a contract for this, which was also sent to his boss, and I spoke with his boss, and they reinstated him.”
Graham said the agent agreed to pay her $1,500 to cover those expenses, of which he has paid $150.
“I’ve contacted him about the payments countless times, which I don’t like doing as this man made me feel very uncomfortable in the past, he’s now claiming he’s not paying me and has blocked my emails and texts,” she said.
However, in a follow up statement to CTV News Toronto, Abbasi claimed that the agent was not reinstated following his termination adding that he is “no longer affiliated with Zolo in any way.”
With relief, Graham said she was finally able to find an apartment with a female real estate agent and is set to move out of the hotel on March 1. But she says that the “nightmare” experience has left its mark.
“With COVID-19, it’s been hard for everyone, but I’ve had some pretty rough days and he [the real estate agent] knows about those too and he was still giving me the runaround and I guess, just saw me as a piece of ass.”
“I thought I was talking to someone who was genuinely trying to help me, and it turned out not to be the case whatsoever.”
China’s Ailing Real Estate Market Faces Key Test Over Golden Week
Fresh drama at property developers including China Evergrande Group is jeopardising President Xi Jinping’s latest efforts to end the housing crisis.
Just as China enters a key holiday sales season, a raft of headlines are weighing on already-frail confidence in the property market. Evergrande said it has to revisit its debt restructuring plan and a unit missed a yuan bond payment. Former executives at the defaulted real estate giant have been detained, Caixin reported. Meanwhile, China Oceanwide Holdings Ltd said it is facing liquidation and Country Garden Holdings Co is still trying to avoid a potential default.
The news, which contrasts with a slew of recent government measures to prop up housing demand, has fuelled investor confusion over whether authorities have a unified plan to stabilise the market. It couldn’t come at worse time for Chinese developers counting on the upcoming Golden Week holiday period to spark a long-awaited revival in home sales.
“Any setback in the process will negatively affect the still very fragile market sentiment of almost all players in the sector and defeat the policy purpose,” said Zhi Wei Feng, a senior analyst at Loomis Sayles Investments Asia Pte.
A Bloomberg Intelligence gauge of Chinese developer shares fell 0.7% on Tuesday morning, a day after dropping the most this year as the crisis at Evergrande entered a new phase. The developer scrapped key creditor meetings and said it must rethink its debt overhaul plan, raising the risk of a liquidation of the nation’s most indebted builder.
On top of that, Caixin reported that Xia Haijun, an ex-chief executive officer of Evergrande, and Pan Darong, a former chief financial officer, have been detained by Chinese authorities.
The eight-day national holiday starting Friday is the centerpoint of the industry’s September-October busy season. The stakes are higher than ever this year, as the housing slowdown weighs on China’s economic recovery and developers that are struggling to refinance rely on cash from sales to meet debt obligations.
“Property sales this year have been very lacklustre, so for most developers accelerating transactions in the two months will be especially crucial,” said Zhang Hongwei, founder of Jingjian Consulting, which advises real estate companies. If sales aren’t good enough by October, local governments will roll out more stimulus, Zhang added.
An easing of mortgage restrictions at the end of August triggered a spurt of home sales in larger cities that is already losing momentum. That’s prompting speculation policy makers will need to do more to revive sentiment which has been hammered by worries over unfinished apartments, falling property values, high unemployment and dwindling incomes.
Some builders are already taking aggressive steps to entice homebuyers.
One developer in Guangdong is offering incentives to buyers of its Royal Skyrim apartments in Shenzhen to purchase additional properties elsewhere in the province. They can enjoy down payments of as low as 20% at its project in smaller Dongguan city nearby, according to agents.
Thirteen developers from Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province, went to the eastern city of Nanjing to promote their 21 projects earlier this month, hoping that buyers fond of travelling would consider them as holiday residences.
Local authorities are helping out, too. A city government in central Anhui province gave out 5,000 spending vouchers of as much as US$137 (RM642.26) each to homebuyers, according to an official announcement.
To seize the sales window, local authorities have been following each other to stimulate housing demand in recent weeks. Some have loosened rules banning non-residents from purchasing property there.
Guangzhou made such a move in some urban areas last week, marking one of the most significant steps taken in a tier-1 city. Beijing and Shanghai still restrict non-locals from buying property and place limits on how many units each household can own.
“Whether tier-1 cities will step up loosening depends on how much their housing markets recover,” said Chen Wenjing, associate research director at China Index Holdings. “The Guangzhou move signals that it’s not impossible anymore.”
Potential policies include making more people eligible for purchases in suburban areas, where sales are usually more lacklustre. Homebuyers are also watching whether Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen will reduce their minimum mortgage rates for first homes to lower floors guided by the central bank earlier this month.
Still, there are entrenched barriers to a recovery that such measures can’t easily overcome. As well as the tough job market, China’s ageing population and an oversupply of housing limit the upside for investing in real estate.
Former People’s Bank of China policy maker Li Daokui said a recovery may take as long as a year and Beijing should do more to encourage lending to cash-strapped developers.
Officials are treading a fine line on how far to push stimulus. While a persistent real estate slump poses risks to the government’s growth target of 5% this year, it wants to reduce the economy’s reliance on a leverage-driven property market in the long run.
For now, the expectation that home values will keep falling is among the biggest factors deterring buyers. Home prices dropped the most in 10 months in August, led by declines in smaller cities.
“Expectations on housing prices have gradually stabilised, but the outlook on most tier-2 cities and smaller cities is still negative,” said Chen at China Index. “For most cities in China, the home market needs to take more time to recover.”
Downtowns are dead, dying or on life support, says expert with over 50 years of researching urban policy
The hollowing out of U.S. cities’ office and commercial cores is a national trend with serious consequences for millions of Americans. As more people have stayed home following the COVID-19 pandemic, foot traffic has fallen. Major retail chains are closing stores, and even prestigious properties are having a hard time retaining tenants.
The shuttering of a Whole Foods market after only a year in downtown San Francisco in May 2023 received widespread coverage. Even more telling was the high-end department store Nordstrom’s decision to close its flagship store there in August after a 35-year run.
- In New York City, office vacancy rates have risen by over 70% since 2019. Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a stretch of high-end shops and restaurants, had a 26% vacancy rate in spring 2023.
A recent study from the University of Toronto found that across North America, downtowns are recovering from the pandemic more slowly than other urban areas and that “older, denser downtowns reliant on professional or tech workers and located within large metros” are struggling the hardest.
Over more than 50 years of researching urban policy, I have watched U.S. cities go through many booms and busts. Now, however, I see a more fundamental shift taking place. In my view, traditional downtowns are dead, dying or on life support across the U.S. and elsewhere. Local governments and urban residents urgently need to consider what the post-pandemic city will look like.
Decades of overbuilding
U.S. downtowns were in trouble before the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s overhang of excess commercial space was years in the making.
Urban property markets are speculative enterprises. When the economy is booming, individual developers decide to build more – and the collective result of these rational individual decisions is excess buildings.
In the 1980s, the Reagan administration allowed a quicker depreciation of commercial real estate that effectively lowered tax rates for developers. With financial globalization, foreign money flowed into the U.S. property sector, especially to very big development projects that could absorb large pools of liquid capital looking for relatively safe long-term investments.
Years of low interest rates meant cheap money for developers to finance their projects. City governments were eager to greenlight projects that would generate tax revenues. In many downtowns, office space now takes up between 70% and 80% of all real estate.
The pandemic push
COVID-19 finally burst this 40-year bubble. During pandemic lockdowns, many people worked from home and became comfortable with virtual meetings. Telecommuting grew as conventional commuting declined. Workers with the resources and job flexibility moved from cities to so-called “zoom towns” where housing was more affordable and parks and outdoor activities were close at hand.
Now, many employers want their staffs to return to the office. However, workers are pushing back, especially against spending full five-day weeks in the office. New technologies have made it easier to work from home, and a tight labor market has strengthened employees’ bargaining power.
There are significant knock-on effects. A range of businesses, including restaurants, retail stores and services, rely on downtown office workers. At least 17% of all leisure and hospitality sector jobs are in the downtowns of the 100 largest U.S. cities.
In San Francisco, for example, a typical office worker used to spend $168 near their office per week. Now, with nearly 150,000 fewer office workers commuting downtown, about 33,000 people in the service and retail sectors have lost their jobs.
Today, many cities are confronting the prospect of an urban doom loop, with a massive oversupply of office and retail space, fewer commuters and a looming urban fiscal crisis. Washington, D.C., is an illustration.
In December 2022, the city had approximately 27,000 fewer jobs than in February 2020, and it faced a growing financial shortfall from declining property taxes due to downtown business closures and fewer property purchases. The District of Columbia government projects that city revenues will decline by US$81 million in fiscal year 2024, $183 million in 2025 and $200 million in 2026. Washington’s Metropolitan Transit Authority faces a $750 million shortfall because of a sharp decline in ridership.
In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels famously wrote that under the pressures of dynamic capitalism, “all that is solid melts into air.” They could have been describing the ever-changing built form of the United States, with people and money flowing to Main Street stores through the 1960s, then to suburban malls in the 1970s and 80s, then abandoning malls for revived downtowns and online shopping. Now, traditional downtowns may be in similar terminal decline.
Repurposing office space
What can cities do with their surplus office spaces? In some cities, such as Columbus, Ohio, investors are purchasing deeply discounted buildings, demolishing them and finding more profitable uses for the land, such as residential and mixed-use buildings. Other options include converting commercial space into residences or more specialized applications such as biotech labs.
But conversion is no panacea. There are many regulatory hurdles, although cities are changing zoning laws to make the process easier. Many office buildings have large internal floor spaces that makes it expensive to divide them into individual residential units that all receive outdoor light. And glass-sheathed buildings with windows that don’t open are prone to overheating.
Another approach is making downtowns more alluring, through steps such as waiving fees for food trucks and small businesses, offering free parking at night and on weekends and promoting events and eateries. The city of Columbus gives out lunch coupons for downtown restaurants.
Worcester, Massachusetts, offers financial aid for small businesses that move into vacant storefronts. San Francisco is considering a proposal to convert its downtown Westfield Centre Mall, formerly home to Nordstrom and other retailers, into a soccer stadium.
In my view, the growth of commercial office complexes that has long been promoted by investors, developers and federal and city governments has probably come to an end. The nation no longer needs so much office space. It will require more community involvement to find out what people want instead. Some communities may focus on housing, while others opt for more recreational opportunities or green spaces.
The downtown filled with acres of banal office blocks, with accompanying ground-level retail stores and shopping malls, is a relic of the 20th century. It’s daunting but exciting to envision what will take its place.
29 Things That’ll Basically Make Your Home Any Real Estate Agent’s Dream
1. A set of peel-and-stick tiles so you can finally update that backsplash that’s been on your to-do list forever. As the name implies, all you need to do is peel off the the film and stick to your wall. Yes, it’s that easy! 🤯
Each pack is heat-resistant and moisture-resistant, plus easy to wipe if they get dirty. If you’d like to create the tile layout above, it’s so easy: certain tiles come with an area called “overlap here,” so you’ll know where each tile goes! Just align a tile with the jagged edge in the “overlap here” area and you’ll get that tile overlap effect in no time.
Promising reviews: “I absolutely love this backsplash!! It was easy to install and looks like real tile once it’s on the wall! I would definitely recommend this product to anyone looking to add backsplash to an area of their house while staying on a budget. It will turn out looking great! JUST A NOTE: we used an adhesive spray to to make sure the tile stays in place. Better safe than sorry!” —Anna
“Turned out beautifully! Before and after photos attached. I did not install it, so I can’t say how easy it was. This was an economical alternative to a real backsplash for a rental property. I will update my review if I see any problems after going back over there today. Very impressed!” —BGFAtlanta
Get a set of 10 from Amazon for $26.99+ (available in six styles).
2. A water-based carpet spot remover because wine-stained, food-stained and pet-stained carpets deserve to be clean again. This product is great for someone who wants the maximum impact but the minimal effort, because it involves no rinsing, no vacuuming and no waiting.
Promising review: “I seldom write reviews unless the product is excellent. We have had pet stains on our upstairs carpet for a while and due to heavy foot traffic, it was deeply embedded. I had two separate services come and use steam or water and there was little to no effect. I read every spot removal information that I could find online and liked what was said for this product. I cannot believe how well is works. We used a heavy spray, used a wet mop to really rub it in (until it foamed), let it sit for a while and then vacuumed. I truly could not believe the difference. This product really works (and I’ve tried many – that didn’t!). Thank you Folex for my nice looking carpets.” —Elizabeth Thompson
Get it from Amazon for $6.65+ (available in two sizes and in multi-packs).
3. A water-based paint because your front door could probably use some TLC. Coming in a slew of shades with fun names — like “ambitious” and “spiritual” — you’ll 100% find one that will match the look of your home (or mood).
Promising review: “We were selling our house. I needed to paint my front door and dreaded the prospect of spray painting it which would entail masking off large sections and finding an area large enough for spraying. Finding a brush-on paint was a game changer. It does dry quickly. Be ready to work in sections, smooth your paint strokes as you go as it will remember those strokes. There was a natural grain pattern to my door so I just followed that and it came out perfectly. Was so happy we took the time to do this. It really made our front porch pop having a fresh-painted door.” —S. Abbott
Get it from Amazon for $40.07+ (available in 15 colors).
4. A well-lit address sign so it’s super easy to find your home, especially if your packages keep getting delivered to your neighbor’s house (the struggle is so real). Waterproof and solar-powered, this even has a sensor so it can tell when it’s light and dark.
This sign comes with four sets of numbers 0–9, one set of letters A–E, and two additional numbers (3, 4, and 5 digits). It has a smart brightness sensor that switches the light on when it’s the evening/early morning and off during the day. FYI: it’s recommended to place the address sign in direct sunlight for optimal charging performance.
Promising review: “My family just moved in to a home which did not have house numbers. We looked for decorative signs at first but settled on this for practicality. It has been up outside for 5 months now and we can’t be more pleased. The numbers were easy to put on and adhered well. It appears sturdy enough and the visibility is good from the road. The solar light was definitely a selling point for us. I love having an illuminated sign to make our address visible for deliveries after sunset. I did not want to have to drill holes into our vinyl siding to hang this but it was very simple to hang after purchasing some vinyl siding hooks.” —C. Miller
Get it from Amazon for $25.99.
5. A geometric cage pendant light that’ll brighten up the darkest parts of your home while adding some posh, home makeover style. Plus, it will save you space, since you don’t have to sacrifice a table or floor.
The cord measures 4.9 feet. It does not include bulbs, but you can get a set of compatible Edison bulbs here.
Promising review: “This little light is perfect for extra/accent lighting! I’m very impressed with the quality of the metal cage, and it didn’t take more than 10 minutes to install. We needed it to be shorter in order to fit in the space we wanted it, so we just trimmed the wire to our desired length. We’re very pleased with our purchase!” —Amazon Customer
Get them from Amazon for $36.99.
6. Or these vintage-style glass lights for a more industrial look. They’ll look sophisticated hung above a kitchen island, sink, or dining room table, and they’d even look great hung over a workspace. Don’t be surprised when all your potential buyers ask where they came from!
The cord measures 10 inches, so you can adjust the height and create the decor aesthetic you’d like!
Promising review: “These lights are one of those lucky finds that just work out perfectly. We finished a remodel about two years ago and bought these lights as the pendant lights over the island. I absolutely love the look of them! We bought the old-fashioned-looking Edison LED warm lights for them. I still can’t believe that these lights were so inexpensive. They were such a perfect fit! I just thought I’d leave this note for anyone else considering them after I looked them up to see if they were still available after my teenager set one swinging and I was worried about them breaking. They didn’t break, but they are such a good price, I might just buy an extra one to store in the garage for any just-in-case moments in the future!” —Stephanie
7. A handy recessed light converter to turn those blinding ceiling lights into stunning pendants without having to hire an expert. Trust me, you’ve got this!
This converter’s brace adjusts to fit recessed cans that are 4, 5, or 6 inches, plus works for sloped ceilings up to 45 degrees.
Promising review: “This product works exactly as advertised. It converts a recessed light so that you can install another light fixture, and it does not require that you remove the metal can from your ceiling. This is convenient because these cans can be obnoxious to remove, and the hole left in your ceiling is probably bigger than you want for your new fixture anyway. My large dining room stupidly had ONE recessed light for the entire room. I used this product to install a chandelier.” —The Mamos
Get it from Amazon for $20.50.
8. A custom closet organization system that will impress all those open house attendees. It comes with adjustable rods and expandable shelves, so you can make it work with all kinds of closet spaces.
This closet system includes six to seven small shelves, two larger shelves, two top rails, 16-19 brackets, four to five 47.5-inch uprights, two 25-inch upright extensions, and one to two hang rods. It works with any reach-in or walk-in closet with at least one wall that’s 3 to 8 feet wide.
Promising review: “I love this so much! I had a regular closet railing with the hanger racks. After having it fall for the second time, although we used heavy duty toggles, I refused to have my husband put it up again and I did my research. This item was highly rated and I get why; it’s amazing. There are so many ways to organize your closet using the system. I have a few racks that I am not able to use and that is okay with me! I know when I change my clothes over for summer, I can adjust for a lot of Maxi dresses and T-shirts, as well as have room for my shoes! I was able to store so much! Although we are renting, I had to do something to keep my clothes from falling and this will move to my next home! I like it so much we got one for the pantry too…oh yeah, that one will be coming out with me when we move too!” —Sandi
Get it from Amazon for $139.99+ (available in two sizes and two colors).
9. A set of interlocking teak tiles to make your shower feel like it belongs in a tropical beach resort. With no tools required for installation, you can just arrange them by hand and make your shower the envy of the whole neighborhood.
Promising reviews: “Living in Hawaii, you have to select wise items that are weather-, salt-, and red dirt–proof, etc… In total I ordered 11 boxes to complete my yoga deck. I have a few left over to make steps on the back. Very pleased and happy. May order more for an outdoor shower project!” —Adelia
“I love teak and since I bought this new house and I have this nice glass shower, I made this into a spa haven. Easy to assemble and cut-to-size. I did put a teak oil on it prior to putting it in shower. Looks great.” —Kelly Demele
Get it from Amazon for $16.99+ (available in four sizes).
10. A cabinet painting kit for your kitchen because those cupboards deserve an upgrade after everything they’ve endured. If you want to glow up your kitchen without having to rip anything out, this is the easiest way to do it.
Includes two 31-ounce cans of Nuvo cabinet paint, one roller arm, two roller covers, two stir sticks, and one angled paint brush. Each covers 100 square feet of cabinet surface.
Promising review: “This product was super easy to use. We went with the tips in the reviews and bought nicer foam rollers specifically for cabinets and I’m so happy I did, it made it so we barely had to use a brush because of how the foam rolls over the side. We also took the doors and handles off, which I recommend also. It definitely wouldn’t have turned out as nice if we left them on.
This took four coats and five in the larger areas (i.e. next to the fridge, etc). Our kitchen took two kits, but well worth it and still way cheaper than the quotes that we got from professionals. It totally changes the feel of the kitchen and it looks SO MUCH BRIGHTER! I would say give yourself a few days to knock this out as it took us several nights to finish. But would highly recommend.” —T.J. Sarnese
11. And a set of brass pulls to elevate any cabinet and drawer you add them too. This is such a legit hack because they’re the kind of details that might help someone choose your home over someone else’s. Don’t worry, you can thank me later!
Promising review: “If you have any doubts in your mind about these handle pulls…. don’t!!! They are absolutely stunning in person. They are heavy and have a lux weighted feel and look to them. The brushed brass gleams the perfect amount. I truly get so happy every time I walk into my kitchen. These handle pulls make it magnificent. They’re like jewelry for your kitchen. I couldn’t be happier with them.” —Ravi S
Get a set of 10 five-inch pulls from Amazon for $58.82.
12. A two-pack of wood polish and conditioner that’ll restore dull, dried-out wooden furniture or floors. Besides restoring all your wooden things, it also adds a protective coating that’ll have your floors shining as bright as the smile on your realtor’s face when they see them.
Here is a helpful step-by-step guide on how to polish hardwood floors with this formula!
Promising review: “Terrific for reviving wood! I love the scent and it restores luster and shine to older or antique wood furniture, doors, etc. Highly recommend it.” —Deborah Crawford
Get a two-pack from Amazon for $17.99.
13. An industrial ladder bookcase so you can store everything from your BookTok finds to your green babies alongside all your other beloved knickknacks. Just imagine how stunning and fresh this thing will look in your living room!
Promising review: “I was looking for a bookshelf that wasn’t overpowering in our small space but big enough to fit plants, books, and my journals. Loved all the color options but ended up choosing white with a natural wood. It’s perfect for a small space, but you could also put two side by side in a larger space. This is the type of furniture that you can buy for a specific space but then easily reuse in your next space as kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom storage. It’s actually one of my favorite pieces in our new place! Assembly was the easiest of all the furniture we’ve bought to furnish our new place, and I put it together by myself (and I’m not usually great at furniture assembly). Definitely recommend!” —Rachel G.
Get it from Amazon for $133.89+ (available in three sizes and 19 colors).
14. A stone-effect spray paint so you can trick people into thinking the countertops are new when your home hits the market. It’s way more cost-effective to give it a fresh coat of paint rather than buying (and installing) a brand new countertop.
Promising review: “We recently purchased a new home, and we’re not gutting our main bathroom until next summer, but I just couldn’t live with that 1980s green another day. So after reading a lot of tutorials, I decided to go for it and paint the counter. I LOVE how it came out! Once it was dry for 24 hours, I applied several coats of poly and let it sit for 72 hours before I let the counter go back into normal use. It’s held up like a dream.” —Mistella
This reviewer left a super in-depth review, so check out the rest of it here for their tips and tricks.
Get it from Amazon for $24.96+ (available in two colors and multi-packs).
15. A set of stick-on lights to give your home a little extra illumination so you don’t accidentally stub your toe in the middle of the night as you sneak into the kitchen for a midnight snack. These lights will help you get your snack in peace as well as (hopefully) keeping you from accidentally crashing into things and waking up the whole house.
This kit includes a remote that can adjust the brightness and it also includes an adhesive, so you do not need tools to install it!
Promising reviews: “This is a wonderful product; just what I wanted. Super easy to install and I love that it breaks off into sections so you don’t have any hanging over to hide. The remote is awesome and there are lots of brightness settings. I’m going to use these everywhere!” —Queen Halloween
“If you rent and want under counter lights, look no further. These lights are phenomenal! It took me all of 5 minutes to install in our kitchen under the counters. Before all we had was a horrible fluorescent light and now I can just use these and it’s perfect. I even had a strip left over and was able to put lights under all of my counters and above the stove. The dimming feature is great and we use the timer all the time when we leave our dogs home early in the morning or late at night so they have some light. Would definitely buy again.” —Ashlyn McKenzie
Get the six-piece kit from Amazon for $20.99+ (available in three light colors).
16. A container of self-priming paint so repainting your accent wall won’t be as much of a pain before your first showing. The color choices are limitless and if you are struggling over which one to commit to, you can pick up swatches for just $2.
Clare is a Black woman-owned business that’ll help you find the perfect shade of paint for your living space. Browse designer-curated palettes and choose from lots of paint colors that span from neutrals to bold hues. If you’re not sure what shade you’d like to paint a room, you can take Clare’s Color Genius Quiz!
Promising review: “Beautiful, true color! Have been unable to commit to a paint color for my son’s bedroom until I came across Clare. Headspace is lovely! The best part of the experience? I got the swatch and it actually represented the TRUE color. I am beyond pleased and am planning to repaint my bathroom next. Thank you!” —Clare Customer
17. Or a beautiful (and easily removable!) peel-and-stick wallpaper for those who would rather avoid painting (hi, that’s me). This stunning floral pattern will give any home a vintage-inspired look but without the fragility of actual vintage wallpaper.
You can choose from three materials: long term peel-and-stick, canvas peel-and- stick, *or* removable peel-and-stick for your order. A $2 sample is also available if you’d like to check out the wallpaper first before buying an entire panel!
Koko Art Shop is a Miami-based business that specializes in pretty murals and wallpapers!
Promising review: “Product came with ample directions, so I felt confident getting started. My husband and I were able to put up five panels in less than 3 hours (start to finish) with minimal mistakes. Neither of us are very handy or crafty, so I felt like this was a huge win!” —Alyssa
18. A glossy marble-print contact paper to give your surfaces a quick and modern makeover. This will make your counters look way more impressive than the formica that’s hiding underneath, especially to guests and potential buyers. No one needs to know it’s just adhesive and not a remodel.
This marble-print surface cover is so easy to use: measure your kitchen countertop, cut the amount you’ll need, peel off the adhesive liner, and stick it on! Some reviewers also recommend using a credit card to gently smooth out any bubbles that may pop up in the process.
If you want to spruce up other areas around home, this cover also works great for cabinets and other pieces of furniture (bookcases, desks, dressers, and more).
Promising review: “I ordered this contact paper a while ago as a project to upgrade the dingy look of the bathroom counter in my rental. I needed a solution that I can easily remove without damaging the property when it’s time to move out. THIS IS THE GREATEST STUFF EVER. I have just purchased two more rolls to give an old desk a little sprucing up. I would highly recommend this product. Friends have now purchased this and feel the same love that I do for this product! :)” —ErinReneeee
Get it from Amazon for $5.99+ (available in five sizes).
19. A pack of wood repair markers that’ll save your favorite dresser that’s now covered in scratches from multiple moves. All you gotta do is color in your scratches (like a coloring book!) with the marker that matches its original finish and let it dry. And just like that, your furniture will look brand new(ish)!
Promising review: “I can’t believe how well these work! Much better than I was expecting. I just had my home interior painted and the painters damaged a fiberboard medicine cabinet when they removed the masking tape. It ripped off the fake-wood veneer. These markers completely filled in the ugly spots and the colors blended well. I love that it appears to have some clear coat in it too as it dries with a slight shine that makes it look more like wood stain rather than marker. I also used them to stain wood filler in two spots in my maple kitchen cabinets where a previous homeowner had hung a paper towel holder and I really struggle to see the hole! It looks fantastic. I highly recommend this set. It’s a good value and works very well.” —Shane
Get a set of 13 from Amazon for $8.99.
20. A pack of accent magnets for spicing up your less-than-appealing garage door. It’s also worth noting that these are UV and weather resistant, which is definitely a nice plus. Remodeling who? Don’t know her.
This set includes four magnetic carriage-style gate hinges, and two magnetic handles. And if you’d like to add faux magnetic windows to your garage door, here is a decorating kit to help you out.
Promising review: “Just think I almost spent thousands on new garage doors….this is the perfect solution. Great heavy quality, easy to install (minutes) and they transform you garage doors instantly. My neighbors all thought we got new garage doors.” —ksaeger
Get the set from Amazon for $17.49.
21. A jar of the viral Pink Stuff cleaning paste that can and will make all the difference in your home. You can use this on just about anything — stoves, kitchen floors, metal, ceramic, porcelain, marble, wood, silverware, jewelry, glass shower doors, fiberglass, glass stove tops, countertops, toilets, sinks, bathtubs, car wheels, stainless steel — phew! The before and after photos below speak for themselves.
Promising review: “Saw this product on TikTok and wanted to try this out for myself, as I was selling my home and needed to deep clean it. I don’t know what kind of miracle paste this is but it works amazing!! It made everything I wiped down with it sparkle and even made the inside of my old stove look brand new! Has definitely become a staple in my home for cleaning!” —Kelly ODonnell
Get it from Amazon for $4.99.
22. A leather cleaner for that couch or armchair that needs a little extra love. BTW, in addition to your furniture, it can also be used for any kind of leather — like car seats, shoes and clothing. To make the magic happen, just dilute the cleaner with 32 ounces of water, put it in a spray bottle, spritz and wipe. Et voilà!
Promising review: “I am so glad I read the reviews here! This is an excellent product. We scored some leather chairs for a great price. The cleaner was very easy to use. It’s a concentrate and you mix a small amount with water, spray on and wipe off. Easy peasy. I used this before the conditioner. The conditioner is a bit sticky at first, but you get used to it and the leather soaks it up! Beautiful result!! The chairs look and feel great!” —Julie Schneblin
Get a bottle from Amazon for $18.95.
23. Or a set of velvet slipcovers that’ll instantly turn your worn-out sofa into a piece that looks brand new. Sometimes you just want to change up the color of your couch but don’t want to invest in a new one and this is a great option. Alexa: play “Brand New” by Xiumin.
Promising review: “I have never been so excited about a slipcover. Total transformation of our couch and loveseat. I was worried about it not working on our leather couch, but it stays on really well due to the straps and the separate cushion covers. Love!” —Brian/Liz
Get it from Amazon for $33.49+ (available in five styles and ten colors).
24. A hanging basket so you can creatively store things *and* create more space. I just know that when someone is getting a walk-through, you’ll get some compliments on this piece.
Base Roots is a small business based in Nevada that sells handmade storage solutions and wall art!
Promising review: “Sturdy fruit basket, the weaving of the 3 baskets looks very tight nothing is going to fall from that basket. I am really glad I found this one. Very impressed with the sturdiness. Shipping on time. :)” —Stephanie Tarlton
25. A grout cleaner that’ll give your floors the makeover they need without the hours of scrubbing. It’s basically magic in a bottle that your home (and real estate agent, of course) will thank you for.
Apply it to grout lines, let it sit for 5–10 minutes, and agitate the grout with a bristled brush to lift all gunk and rinse.
Promising review: “This stuff is seriously amazing. This is the one and only product review I have ever written, just because I’m so impressed with this stuff. Getting our house ready to sell and decided I needed to finally clean our filthy kitchen grout. This just lifted the grime away, took almost no scrubbing and no elbow grease. Totally worth the twenty bucks a bottle.” —James David Lambert
Get a 32-ounce bottle from Amazon for $21.95+ (available in three styles).
26. A brick whitewash paint for your fireplace that hasn’t been updated in forever. No matter the style of your home, this will give your hearth an instant transformation. Make sure to add picture frames, scented candles and other cute things on the mantel to make it feel niiiiiice and homey.
Promising review: “This is amazing! It looks like a different fireplace. I have been looking at a horrible grout repair that the previous owners did for 20 years. I did this in about two hours! This product is fast, it’s easy to use, easy to clean up, and inexpensive.” —Denise
Get a pint from Amazon for $29.95.
27. A cable organizer box to hide all those unsightly cables so they won’t overwhelm you or your visitors. Once they’re out of sight, you’ll feel so “organized” and “adult” (even if you’re neither). These are also great if you have pets that like to chew on things they shouldn’t.
28. A strong power washer that’ll make your deck and siding look super nice for entertaining szn. Dirty homes, RVs, cars, trucks, boats, decks, driveways, patios, lawn equipment — you name it! — don’t stand a chance against this bad boy.
Promising review: “The first time out and the deck is a whole lot cleaner than it was before I started. I just used the 15-degree nozzle and the algae came right off. Word of advice: use your old shoes. I had to wash all the gunk off my shoes after I was done. I like the quietness of this electric unit and the way it cycles to idle when you stop pulling on the trigger. It takes a bit of time to undue the hose nozzle and put it on the unit and then to undo when you are finished. It was fairly easy to use. My 6×16-foot deck took about an hour and a half. It was covered with 30 years of algae that got slippery when it was wet. So, now I feel safer. I figure I can do it two times a year and keep ahead of the grime.” —P Chapman
Get it from Amazon for $149 (also available in three styles).
29. An outdoor wall light that you can install to brighten up your yard at night. Ideal for someone who loves to host barbecues that go well into the night, or even just someone who dreams of creating their own backyard oasis.
Promising review: “All we can say is WOW! These lights surpassed our expectations! You could buy other similar lights for a lower price, but these are high quality and worth what we paid. The material is heavy duty, great casing to handle weathering. A breeze to install, we had three lights done within an hour with no issues. The look is modern, clean. Would highly recommend!” —Ruth B.
Get it from Amazon for $45.99+ (available in eight styles/designs).
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