Preparing your home for sale: Making repairs before listing your house

Metro West News

Over the holidays I started writing a guide to help homeowners prepare their homes for sale. Within a matter of hours I had ten pages of notes. I suddenly realized why the idea of preparing your home for sale can be so overwhelming. If you’re like me, you probably find it easier to tackle one task at a time. That’s why I thought it might be helpful to share a series of checklists to get your home ready for sale.

If you’re considering selling your home this spring, here are five steps you can take to increase its value:

1. Make necessary repairs.

2. Invest in minor updates.

3. Declutter.

4. Stage your home.

5. Improve your home’s curb appeal.

Over the next five weeks I’ll share checklists you can use in preparing your home to show at its best. This way when it’s time for the spring market, you’ll get the best price possible.

Why make repairs?

People often ask me why they should invest money in their home before putting it on the market. After all, why can’t you just offer a buyer a credit for the work? Certainly you can, and if you’re facing financial constraints that’s sometimes the best option. But if you want to yield the highest price on your home sale, it makes a big difference if you take care of repairs ahead of time.

Who cares about small repair items?

Small problems like a loose railing or a leaky faucet may seem trivial, but it doesn’t take many repair issues to get a potential buyer worried. The last thing anyone wants is unexpected maintenance costs when they buy a home, and if they see little repairs left undone, they often assume there are more problems that they can’t see. To avoid this concern, here’s a repair checklist you can follow to get your home ready for sale.

In the attic

* Tack up any loose insulation. (Caution: Have a licensed contractor handle this for you. It’s safer!)

* Check for signs of roof leaks.

* Have any moisture issues checked out immediately, or they can lead to mold.

In the basement

Identify and resolve any moisture issues. This is a real hot button issue for many buyers worried about mold and water damage.

* Check for foundation cracks. Most homes have some small settling cracks that should not be a concern. However, if there are cracks in foundation that are wide enough to fit a dime into, they may be more than settling cracks. It’s prudent to have them checked out. This way you can assure buyers that there’s nothing to worry about. Likewise, if you notice sagging or settling of the foundation, have it checked out. It will scare away buyers if you don’t.

* Have the furnace serviced if you haven’t done so in the past year.

* Check the water heater for signs of rust or leaks.

Outside the house

* If you have wood siding, walk around the perimeter of the house and check to make sure you don’t have any wood rot. We commonly see wood rot in the lower part of the siding, around window ledges, and on the lower part of the trim around the garage doors. This is inexpensive to fix if caught early. Left unresolved, wood rot can be an invitation to pests such as termites and carpenter ants.

* If you have vinyl siding, consider having it power washed.

* Replace any damaged siding or roof shingles.

* Be sure hand rails are secure.

* Clean the gutters.

Inside the house.

* Repair any stains, cracks, or discoloration to walls and ceilings.

* Recaulk loose or damaged bathroom tiles.

* Fix any leaks.

* Oil hinges to prevent doors from sticking. Be sure to check that any sliding glass doors open and close smoothly.

* Fix burned out lights.

* Make cosmetic repairs, such as fixing broken floor tiles.

Have a real estate question? Contact Leslie Mann at or 508-904-4967 and she’d be glad to answer your confidential questions. Mann is a real estate agent with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Weston, MA.

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