Welcome to our 2021 Home Preparation Guide. The follow tips are a combination of improvements and repair items that are the most common found during a home inspection.
We highly recommend every property owner invest in a Pre-Listing Home Inspection, which will help uncover any serious issues that could kill a transaction later on down the road. If items are found, they can be addressed and corrected prior to the home being listed for sale or disclosed to prospective Buyers and addressed either by offering a concession or by selling “As-Is”.
A good first impression is everything. Prospective Buyers will spend time at your front door while their Realtor fumbles with the lockbox and unlocks the door. In that time, they will begin to scrutinize the exterior of the home so taking time here to unsure that everything looks its best will set the tone for the rest of the showing.
- Make sure water drains from the house when it rains. Simple splash blocks or down spout extensions can help divert water away from the foundation.
- Ensure your door locks work properly and without excessive sticking. A little WD-40 into your lock can do wonders, especially if you don’t use the lock often. If the handle or knob is broken or worn, replace it.
- Paint the front door and the related trim if it shows any signs of fading, peeling paint and repair any wood rot around the base of the door. Their home inspector will find it eventually.
- Clean any gutters filled with debris from the fall.
- If you have an older roof, it may be worthwhile to have a roofer make repairs to torn and broken shingles as well as nail pops and worn exhaust boots.
- Replace any rotted or broken wood on the deck.
- Video doorbells have become almost expected. Consider adding even a basic one as a selling feature.
- In North Carolina, smart home features must convey with the house unless excluded. That would include any hubs that are required for the smart devices to work (i.e. Smart Speaker with built-in Hub).
Your prospective Buyer has already toured your home online before ever stepping foot into the house physically. It’s important that their visit should meet or exceed their online expectations. Consider having your home professionally deep cleaned prior to showings and do avoid any strong incense smells.
Pre-pack much of your house. When it comes to clothes, remove the clothing that is out of season from your closet and pack them away in the garage or storage unit.
- If you have any double pane windows with clouded glass or rust in the between the glass, you may have a broken thermal seal. If you are the original owner of either the windows or the home, your windows can be replaced, sometimes for free or little cost.
- Carpet only lasts 5-7 years, less if you have pets or it’s in a high-traffic area. At a minimum, have your carpets cleaned. At most, have them replaced prior to the home being listed for sale.
- Paint is the best return on investment improvement you can make to your home. Consider a neutral color but it’s okay to leave accent walls with a little color. Don’t ignore the ceiling. ALWAYS PAINT THE CEILING!
- Replace any burned out light bulbs
- Smoke detectors have an expiration date. When in doubt, replace.
- If you home has a fireplace, gas appliance and / or an attached garage, a CO2 detector is needed.
- Secure any loose electrical outlets and replace any broken wall plates.
- If your windows struggle to stay open, they may need a new spring. Replacement parts are available online relatively inexpensively and some even have Youtube instructions on how to make repairs.
- Install an overflow pan under the Washing Machine.
- Replace your furnace air filters and clean any dusty debris from the registers around your home (including the bathroom vents).
Kitchen and Baths are the two areas that are judged the hardest by prospective Buyers so these are two areas I tend to pay the most attention. If your home has worn out kitchen appliances, replacing them with a new matching set can be worthwhile if it’s within your budget. If not, price your home accordingly.
A thorough cleaning or a fresh coat of paint with new hardware can give even the most outdated kitchen a new lease on life. Your pantry should be 1/2 to 3/4 full and your counter tops should have no more than your absolute essential appliances for daily use (coffee maker, blender, toaster). Everything else is packed away.
Should you invest in solid-surface countertops like granite or quartz? If it is within your budget, absolutely. The cost of granite counters have fallen considerably in recent years, leading to their universal appeal.
- Check under all sinks, drains, and faucets for leaks.
- If you have a flexible drain line under your sink, it will show as a repair item on your Buyer’s home inspection report. Consider replacing.
- Check the garbage disposal for leaks or cracks.
- Ensure that your dishwasher is secured either to the countertop above or the cabinet to the side.
- If you have a burner that isn’t working or a cracked cooktop, they can be replaced by an appliance repair company.
Your bathroom should be limited to the essentials. Remove any hanging baskets of soap or freshen up the space by adding new light bulbs, a fresh shower curtain, and clean white towels.
- Make sure that the toilets are not loose. Replace the wax ring if there is any sign of moisture around the base of the toilet.
- If your toilet doesn’t flush properly every time, consider replacing the fill valve with new kit.
- Caulk around the tub, shower pan, walls, and along the base to the floor.
- Fix and replace any missing grout in a tile floor or a tiled shower wall.
Yard / Garden
Yard spaces are important to Buyers and the Spring is a great time to show off a beautiful green lawn. If your lawn was beat up during the previous Winter, consider overseeding it in the very early Spring to help fill in the bare areas. If your grass coverage isn’t your problem, apply fertilizer to green up your lawn and prevent weed growth.
- Replace any worn or broken deck boards.
- Add bright seasonal flowers in the landscape
- Apply fresh mulch / pine straw
- Replace any burned out exterior light bulbs
- Power wash patio, driveway, sidewalks to remove any winter grime.
The most common question I receive is if you should spend money improving your home before it’s listed for sale.
Most Buyers today are looking for turn-key move-in ready properties that require minimal improvements so, for this group, a house that has fresh paint and updated fixtures really appeals. However, if your budget does not support spending additionally on improvements, a house that is very clean, appearing to be maintained, and priced appropriately can also appeal to another audience who are looking for a home they can add their personal style to. The key here is to price the home appropriately for the level of the improvements.