Check mechanical systems.
After size, style and location, a home buyer's primary concern is the condition of the basic structure and major electro-mechanical systems. Most buyers do not want to invest a great deal of money correcting problems in such critical areas. A thorough investigation of the following major items should be made in order to determine if they are serviceable:
•o Roof structure and covering
•o Foundation, basement, and/or crawl space
•o Central heating and air conditioning systems
•o Electrical system
•o Plumbing system
Make maintenance improvements.
The maintenance improvements listed below are relatively easy and inexpensive to make, yet they can substantially improve a home's appearance, efficiency and comfort.
•o Trim trees and shrubs which touch or overhang the house.
•o Apply new caulking and weather stripping as needed around windows and doors.
•o Clean gutters of debris and leaves, repair or replace cracked or broken gutters, downspouts and extensions to ensure proper drainage
•o Replace bathroom caulk or grout where necessary to prevent seepage and improve appearance.
•o Ventilate closed basements and crawl spaces, or install a dehumidifier to prevent excessive moisture.
•o Re-grade soil around the house to prevent "ponding" of water next to the foundation
•o Replace dirty filters in the heating and ventilating systems
•o Have the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems professionally serviced
•o Have chimneys professionally cleaned & inspected, and install chimney hoods and caps as required. For wood-burning installations insist on a Certified Technician.
Pay attention to details.
Fixing even minor items can go a long way toward improving that important first impression of your home. Here are some improvements which you might consider:
•o Repair leaky faucets
•o Tighten loose door knobs
•o Replace damaged screens
•o Replace broken panes of glass - cloudy sealed-pane units can often be replaced inexpensively, and will drastically improve the appearance of a window or patio door.
•o Replace burned-out light bulbs, and wherever possible, replace broken light fixtures
•o Secure loose railings
•o Patch small holes in walls and ceilings and repaint
•o Repair or replace faded or peeling wallpaper
•o Repair and coat the driveway
Take safety precautions.
Pay attention to items relating to protecting the home and its occupants from danger. The following are important safety precaution which home buyers will appreciate, are relatively easy to implement and shouldn't cost a lot. And they'll create a great impression!
•o Installing good quality smoke detectors
•o Installing a good quality carbon-monoxide detector
•o Ensure adequate outdoor lighting, especially in suburban and rural locales
•o 'GFCI' outlets outdoors and in wet locations such a bath & laundry areas.
•o Keep the stairwells tidy and free of debris and obstructions, and leave plenty of clearance around the garage door, electrical panel and furnace.
•o Keep flammables and combustibles away from the furnace and other utility areas.
•o If you have direct entry from the garage to the interior of the home, consider installing a hydraulic or other form of auto-closure device on the door.
•o Check the 'down' tension on garage door openers, and ensure that the door reverses without an excessive amount of pressure.
Make cosmetic improvements.
An attractive, clean (and I mean super clean) appearance will enhance your home's appeal. A clean home demonstrates to potential buyers that your home has been well cared for. In addition to making any necessary repairs, remember to:
•o Open the shades and curtains to create a bright, inviting atmosphere.
•o Pay particular attention to the cleanliness and comfort of the kitchen and bathrooms.
•o You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression. Make sure the front door and foyer are absolutely spotless!
•o Kitchen-stove, refrigerator and sink should be spotless, all work space clear.
•o Bathrooms should be neat, spotless and fresh. Repair broken caulking around the tub.
•o Make your closets tidy and uncluttered.
•o Clean walls, floors and windows.
•o Remove dust.
•o Remove all clutter from halls and stairs.
•o Remove clutter and unwanted items from the basement.
•o Clean the outside of the furnace and hot water tank.
•o Repair sticking doors, oil hinges and tighten all hardware.
•o Replace burnt out bulbs and add a higher wattage for brightness.
•o Replace loose floor tiles where necessary.
•o Store unneeded furniture and equipment elsewhere.
•o Clean the laundry equipment.
•o Depersonalize the home - remove family pictures, portraits and mementos
•o Keep the house 'picked-up' (no newspapers, flyers...)
•o Clean the exterior walls & trim, and wash the windows squeaky clean.
•o Trim and edge your lawn, remove cuttings and clutter.
•o Weed and cultivate gardens and flowerbeds; plant some flowers.
•o Trim hedges.
•o Clean sidewalks of dirt, snow and ice.
•o Repair fence and paint if possible.
•o Clean out the garage of all unneeded articles, wash doors and wash the driveway.
•o Wash all windows, repair damaged screens and windows.
•o Remove objects from sidewalk.
•o Make sure the Real Estate sign is visible and upright.
•o Clean gutters and eaves troughs.
•o Pick up litter.
•o Make sure the doorbell is in working condition.
•o Make sure the door is in good shape.
•o Ensure the porch and foyer are clean and tidy.
Prepare for the buyer's inspection.
More and more purchasers are requesting pre-purchase inspections. It's a good idea to assemble in advance, the various house records that can be used to answer questions from the purchaser and their inspector.
You should try to have on hand:
•o Appliance receipts, service records and warranties
•o Information on the age of major components such as the roof coverings, furnace, air-conditioner, etc.
•o Major component warranties (e.g. roofing, siding, windows, carpeting furnace and other appliances
•o Heating, water and electric bills from at least the past 12 months
Are you ready to sell?
Hopefully, this home seller's checklist has helped you gain a clearer knowledge of your home's overall condition - from a buyer's perspective. Now you can make repairs or improvements that will increase your home's marketability. And remember, you ARE marketing your house - you probably wouldn't try to sell your car without making it clean and ready.
Sometimes, especially with an older home, a professional home inspection can also be a good marketing tool. A third party opinion of your home's condition can alleviate a potential buyer's fears. Just leave a copy of the report on the kitchen table for agents and purchasers to read.
Information made available by Derek Dunphy, REALTOR®, Sales Representative. Johnson Associates Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage.