Selling Your Home? Don’t Forget These 6 Maintenance Tasks

If you’re a homeowner, you already know that keeping your property in tiptop shape requires dedication and patience for ongoing maintenance. But what if you’re putting your home on the market or have already accepted an offer? You might be thinking: Not my problem anymore. However, just because you’re selling doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from routine maintenance tasks—and that’s especially true if you’ve already vacated the house. Sure, a well-cared-for house shows better: small things like broken doorbells and leaky faucets make buyers wonder if your property also has bigger issues elsewhere. But more important, a little routine maintenance can help you avoid a catastrophic problem down the line (e.g., burst pipes, roof leaks, critters moving into your attic) that could devalue your property and derail your sale. To prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown, money-sucking, sale-killing problems, focus on these six important areas you can’t afford to neglect.

Maintain the yard and walkways

Whether you’re still living in the house or not, you’ll want to make sure to keep your landscaping tidy—remove dead tree limbs, rake leaves, and clean out flower beds. Curb appeal is so important. If your home is already vacant, have someone tend to the yard regularly so the grass and weeds don’t detract from your home’s appearance. If your home does not have a well-maintained exterior, potential buyers will keep driving. Plus, this kind of neglect can be a bull’s-eye for vandals to break into your property. Consider having lights on timers so the house doesn’t look dark all the time and don’t let mail pile up in the mailbox or newspapers collect in the yard.

Clean the gutters and check the roof

This one’s easy to forget about, even when you don’t plan on going anywhere. But when it comes to gutter and roof issues, neglect can cause a dangerous domino effect. Overflowing gutters can damage your foundation, and lead to drainage issues. And, of course, you don’t want buyers seeing puddling water as they approach your house. Then there’s the roof. It will be thoroughly examined during the home inspection, but it would benefit you to remove the piles of leaves and pine needles from the roof before putting your home on the market. They can give the impression that the house isn’t being well-maintained.

Service your HVAC systems

The mechanics of your home need regular attention, whether you’re still living there or not. That means having your HVAC systems professionally serviced. First up, your furnace: If you get it addressed before you list your home, it won’t smell like dust when you fire up the heat during an open house on a chilly day. While you’re at it, have the duct work cleaned and change out the air filters as well.

Have a chimney? Be sure to have it inspected and swept. You want to make sure there are no cracked flue tiles, and that from the exterior, there are no gaps in the mortar between the bricks. Otherwise, these items will come up in the inspection and give the impression that your home needs better maintenance.

Keep the critters out

If you don’t want to add “family of raccoons included” to your listing (and pay the hefty tab for getting them out), inspect the inside and outside of your home for any areas that need to be plugged up. Take care of holes from damaged siding or fascia under the roofline—and do it promptly. In a colder months, squirrels look for somewhere warm to go, and they’ll find their way into your property. Stove and dryer vents, for example, should be covered with wire mesh to deter pests.

Wash your windows

Most people associate sparkling windows with spring-cleaning, but if your house is on the market, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is—you need to get those babies squeaky clean. If buyers walk through your home and all they see is dirty windows, that will really hinder the showing process.

Check the calendar

Depending on what time of year you bring your house to market, pay attention to any details that scream, “We don’t live here or care anymore.” That means tackling seasonal tasks such as packing away pool floats in the winter or storing away firewood for the firepit in the summer.

It is also a good idea to walk through your property frequently if it is vacant. Replacing dying batteries in a smoke alarm is crucial to prevent the beeping that shows a lack of maintenance and lack of caring that can really turn off a potential buyer.

Staying on top of these regular tasks will make it easier to sell your home with fewer headaches. One of the services I provide is to walk through my clients’ home with them to discuss all the little maintenance issues that they should address before we list their home.  Taking these extra steps can really make a difference in the selling process. Plus, it will preserve the value of your property, and potentially, your profit, too.