Is Your Home in Tip-Top Shape for Sale?
by Phoebe Chongchua
Ah, spring is in the air and that means a lot of people will start their spring cleaning routines. That couldn't be more important than for those who are selling their homes.
There's nothing quite like walking into a home for sale that's fresh, bright, clean, and sparkling. Of course, the opposite is true too. It's highly discouraging to walk through the house and not be able to study it because it's cluttered, dirty, and you can hardly see out the windows. With this in mind, here are a few areas to be sure you focus on before you have buyers coming through your home.
Window cleaning. If you have a lot of windows that are high, hiring a window cleaner might be needed. But if you think you can manage, then try some insider tricks. Mix one-quarter vinegar with cool water in a spray bottle. Instead of using paper towels, roll up newspapers and wipe the windows with them. The newsprint won't rub off on the window and it will save you the extra expense. Window washers recommend using a strategic wiping pattern. Starting at the top, so you don't have to be concerned with drips, wipe top to bottom. Then on the inside rub right to left. This way you'll see where there are streaks. Keeping the windows crystal clear allows buyers to see the natural light coming into your home and any beautiful landscaping.
If your screens are damaged with small tears or sagging it's worth repairing or rescreening them. Just make sure you have a good spline roller. A rundown house will attract low offers. HVAC Systems. Air condition and heating ventilation systems should be checked, cleaned, and in good working condition. Something as simple as a dirty filter can produce a thick layer of dust in your home when the HVAC system is used. Even though dust isn't a permanent problem (like a structural issue), it's not appealing to buyers and can leave an overall bad impression about the home. On top of that, dirty filters can cause everything from very poor air quality to poorly running systems that will drain your wallet.
Get rid of Insect nests. Bees, wasps, hornets love your home. Make sure you eliminate them by getting professional help if necessary. Insects buzzing around can be quite a scare for some buyers. Again, this problem isn't about the house, necessarily, however, it could make buyers uncomfortable. The same goes for pets. Don't have them in the house when it's being shown or even in the backyard—not everyone is a pet lover.
Clear soil buildup. You may not live at the bottom of the hill, but homeowner, Mary Kelley says, "You don't have to have had a mud slide from the hill behind you. Heavy rain can cause soil buildup and then the water may seep under the foundation of the house."
The rain can cause the soil to move, even on the slightest slope (not even visible to the eye), and settle against the house foundation, causing dampness which may be harmful to the foundation…not to mention it's unsightly. Weed out driveway and exterior areas. Maybe you have an asphalt driveway. If the asphalt has even a hairline crack you could be headed for trouble. One homeowner had a tiny hairline crack between her house foundation and the concrete pool deck.
"I didn't even realize there was a gap there, then I saw this little green blade thing coming up. I thought it was grass. It was such a tiny little blade. I just ignored it. In a few weeks, with our continuing rain, I could see that it was going to be a palm tree. A palm tree has a very large, rigid trunk and it could actually damage the foundation of the house, pool, and deck," says Kelley.
Kelley says she has snipped the pesky baby palm tree off three times already and it keeps coming back. "I may have to try pouring 'RoundUp' on it and hope it kills it," she says.
Post check. While we're on the subject of slipping foundation and water, how's your wooden fence doing? It's not a good sign when buyers get to your home and suddenly the fence collapses due to age or wobbly posts from soil saturation. If they're loose, secure them.
Check to see if the wooden posts are rotting in the ground and, maybe weeds are growing around them trapping moisture and causing it to penetrate the wood. If that's the case, solving the problem before a buyer discovers it is best. Taking care of these not-so-common spring cleaning items before you put your home on the market is a matter of making a good first impression with buyers, and that may be the only impression…so make it count.
Published: May 14, 2010