According to Jennifer Hupke, a top-selling agent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and REO specialist, failing to keep up with your home’s major maintenance needs can shave $30k off your selling price. The buyer’s perspective jumps to “if those things are wrong, what else is wrong.”
Plus, homeowners naturally tend to the everyday home maintenance tasks—vacuuming, sweeping, wiping down the appliances—that demand their attention on a regular basis. But the big-ticket items are easier to neglect…until they become a real problem.
So use this yearly home maintenance checklist to keep track of those items you should tackle at least annually. These small investments of time and money over the course of 12 months will yield you a higher price when the time comes to sell:
- Get your furnace serviced by a professional.
- Test the sump pump.
- Clean out those gutters!
- Touch up your exterior paint.
- Check your foundation for damage.
- Gather together your maintenance and appliance records.
- Clean out the garage or basement–wherever you keep your junk.
- Make those windows sparkle.
- Inspect your chimney.
- Evaluate the roof for algae, mold, and damage.
Now let’s dig deeper to find out why these maintenance items are so important.
Get your furnace serviced by a professional.
Your furnace gathers a lot of dirt and debris working hard to keep you warm all winter. Every spring you should clean it out and have it serviced by your favorite technician.
In the worst case scenario, dead animals may have fallen into your furnace or ductwork. Better to find out (and remove any critters) sooner than later.
Hupke mentions that one of the most neglected items she sees is the furnace filter. It takes only seconds to pop it out and replace it or vacuum it off. If you go the vacuum route, just make sure the filter doesn’t rip or tear. (Generally, furnace filters should be swapped out every 2-3 months).
Pro tip: Hupke also suggests rubbing some essential oil on the filter to make the whole house smell nice.
Don’t forget that your furnace is a focal point of the home inspection. If you maintain yours well, it will pass with flying colors. Buyers love a house with “good bones,” which means the functional and mechanical items (like the furnace) all work and are in good shape.
Test your sump pump.
The home inspector will do it and so should you. If you live in an area where floods are a regular occurrence, you are required to have a working sump pump. Follow the pipes in your basement to the sump pump, and test it once a year to make sure it is working.
Use this quick sump pump inspection guide from Roto-Rooter, a top plumbing service in the U.S. since 1935.
Spring for the battery backup in case of power outages. You don’t want to wake up on the morning of a showing with a flooded basement. Buyers will want to know that their investment is well protected.
Clean out those gutters!
Poorly maintained gutters are the leading cause of foundation damage. If your foundation has mold or discoloration, your rain gutters may not be working well. No one wants to spend the weekend cleaning out gutters but the money and hassle it could save you are worth it.
Don’t forget about the downspouts when cleaning out the gutters. Without proper downspout drainage, you could end up with foundation problems or a wet basement.
Touch up your exterior paint.
Touch-up bare spots and worn areas and scrape off any peeling paint outside. If you keep up with touch-ups every year, there is no need to shell out $1,000-$4000 to have your house painted every few years. Buyers notice things like scuffed trim and peeling paint, and it’s a big turn off.
Besides being an eyesore, chipped paint can leave your home’s siding exposed to the elements, putting it at risk for water damage. Plus, FHA and VA lenders require a home’s exterior paint be in top condition.
Check your foundation for damage.
Homeowners could avoid at least 50% of all foundation problems with yearly maintenance and a quick inspection. According to Hupke, who routinely sells homes 68% faster than her peers in the area, a quick inspection now can save you $15,000-$30,000 later.
Look for mold, discoloration or cracks and contact a professional to get an estimate for repair. If you list it with foundation issues, the buyer has negotiating power. Take back control by fixing any problems before buyers notice them.
Gather together your maintenance and appliance records.
No one likes paperwork but when you upgrade an appliance or put in a new water heater, keep the receipt and user’s manual.
Buyers will want to see the value that you have added to the property. Once a year, check to make sure all your receipts and manuals are in order, so you don’t have to go hunting for them when it’s time to list your property.
Clean out the garage or basement—wherever you keep your junk.
Basements and garages are often where all your discarded items go to die. Your unused junk lives there with the spiders until it comes time to sell; now you have a problem.
Every year take an inventory and get rid of any unwanted or unused items. You can hold a garage sale to make a little cash from your castoffs or call 1-800-Got-Junk to come and haul it away for you.
Before listing your house, make sure you sweep and mop the basement floor, clean up any cobwebs and dust shelving. Even the rougher areas of your home need to make a good impression on buyers.
Make those windows sparkle.
Let’s face it, nothing is as dull as cleaning windows but if you keep up with it once a year, not only will you let in more light and make your house more appealing but it will make a good impression on buyers.
Plus while you are washing, you can inspect the sills for any water damage or staining and stave off any issues there.
Inspect your chimney.
If your home has a fireplace, make sure you have the chimney and brickwork inspected once a year. The National Association of Home Builders recommends that you hire a CSIA-Certified chimney sweep to clean out soot and debris and inspect your fireplace for imperfections. Keep things cozy but safe for that new buyer as they dream of roasting marshmallows in their new fireplace.
Evaluate the roof for algae, mold, and damage.
Your roof is another big ticket item that you do not want to have to replace to sell your home. Keep tabs on it year-round and do a thorough maintenance check at least once a year. Look for moss and remove it with a quick power washing.
You can generally rent a power washer cheap for the day, and the result is transformative. Replace loose or broken shingles and save yourself thousands of dollars not having to re-roof your entire property.
These tips come from the mouths of veteran real estate agents with years of experience on how to sell homes fast at the best price possible. If you keep up with these maintenance tasks every year, you won’t have to write big checks just to get your house in sellable condition or lose sleep wondering what the inspection will yield. A little work each year here and there will help you to sell with confidence.