Spring Cleaning! This is when most people give their homes a really deep clean from top to bottom. We clean every window, scrub the floors, shampoo the carpets, etc. There are parts of our homes that may be dirtier than even your toilet seat and chances are most people are not cleaning them as often as they should, if at all. Take a look and see how you are doing!
Check out this great infographic on DIY projects that will save you money around the house, as well as a few that won't!
Most of us will never notice the everyday wear and tear on our homes. Some dirt and dust here, a few dings and scratches there. These things are front and center for potential buyers and agents with a good eye for details. It is almost always worth the minimal time and effort needed to fix these issues. I have put together a short list of minor to moderate repairs that can not only make your home show better, but will help it sell faster.
1. Holey walls - Make sure any nail/screw holes get patched up. It's quick and easy and can make a world of difference. Spackle and sand properly and then touch up the paint. Sometimes it even makes sense to just add a fresh coat of pain to the walls anyway.
2. Look down - Have you ever really looked at your baseboards? Most of the time, they are going to be scuffed, scratched, and just plain dirty. Kids, pets and everyday dirt and wear can really leave baseboards needing some attention. Wipe them down, use wood putty to fill any deep gouges and add a fresh coat of paint. You will be amazed at how fresh looking baseboards can make a room look more appealing.
3. Check your screens - Overtime window and door screens can wear out. Kids and pets can accelerate the process. Replacing screens is fairly easy to do with the right tools and less expensive than purchasing new screens altogether. You find a great tutorial right here.
4. Check your faucets - Leaky faucets not only look bad, but they can actually increase your water bill, depending on how fast the drips are. This is another fix that most homeowners can handle themselves.
5. Cabinet dings - Most kitchen cabinets will have a few scratches or dings. You can buy a few products to help remove or lessen the appearance of scratches. Old English Scratch Cover and the Tibet Almond Stick are two great products that serve this purpose. This is also good for wood floors as well.
When you decide to list your home for sale, try to look at your entire house with a fresh set of eyes, bring a neighbor or a relative over to help spot the things that you may not notice on a daily basis. Your Realtor should also be able to give you some great pre-listing advice.
September is sort of a unique month for home owners. It's the time when many people finish projects that were started earlier in the summer, but never completed. It’s an excellent opportunity to see what can be improved, replaced, or repaired while the weather is still nice enough for outdoor projects. It is also a great time to get a jump on fall maintenance and even prep for winter maintenance.
You know how newscasts will often have teasers in them so you stick around for the whole broadcast? "Something in your house can kill you! Stick around after the break to find out what it is!". Well, this is my take on the scary newscast teasers.
Clothes dryers...harmless appliances or secret death traps waiting to strike?
When most people clean their homes, they don't think of cleaning the dryer. Sure, you might clean the lint trap every week, but is that good enough? Every year, there are around 15,000 dryer fires in the U.S. Most of them occur because dryer lint builds up in the exhaust duct or the dryer itself. Dryer lint is extremely flammable, so much so that many people use it in backyard fire pits to help get the fire going. Clogged dryers also must work much harder to get the job done, decreasing their life span. So here are a few quick tips to help ensure that your dryer doesn't kill you in your sleep;
Summer is almost here, and it’s time to get your house in order for the hotter months. MSN Real Estate has put together some tips to put your furnace to bed, store your space heaters, prep your cooling system, repair window screens and more.
May Home Maintenance Checklist
When it comes to lawn care and home maintenance, people tend to think in terms of spring and summer. What they fail to realize is that not only can they repair summer damage to the lawn in the fall and over the winter, but that they can actually improve the lawn so it will be healthier and have fewer weeds in the spring. The same goes for your home, fall is the time to make sure that your home is ready for the cold and snow ahead.
If September is rainy, begin raking leaves as they fall and grass clippings as you mow; otherwise they'll form mucky hide-outs for pests. If needed, thatch now, followed by fertilizing and overseeding. Overseed bare patches in an established lawn will make your grass more lush, and moss and weeds won't have as much room to take over. If your lawn doesn't need thatching, over the next couple of months you can apply a fall or winter fertilizer to encourage nice green grass and healthy root development.
Fall is an ideal time to shop for and plant new trees and shrubs. They'll have a chance to establish roots over the winter, and at nurseries you'll see the beginnings of true fall colors. Reduce watering for established shrubs and trees so they can harden off in preparation for winter. Watch fruit trees for signs of mildew. Now is also the time to take cuttings from roses.
Pick tomatoes if the weather is cooling down, and let them finish ripening indoors. You can now harvest carrots, corn and potatoes. The root vegetables can be harvested for months to come, but corn isn't as forgiving of cold.
Inside your home look around your doors and windows: Is the weatherstripping torn or missing? This can become expensive if ignored. On doors, make sure the bottom seal is working properly. There are many sweeps, gaskets and thresholds designed to seal this gap. Doors generally need weatherstripping in their jambs as well. Adhesive-backed foam pads are easy to install for this purpose. Newer, energy-efficient windows generally don't require added weatherstripping, but if your windows are older, weatherstripping can keep drafts at bay and energy costs down.
Think of caulk as weatherstripping in a tube. Any gap on the outside of your home can be a candidate for caulking. Look at transition spots: corners, windows, doors, areas where masonry joins siding, or places where vents and other objects protrude from walls. Carefully read manufacturer's directions to make sure the caulk you buy will work where you plan to use it.
September inspires nesting in mice as well as humans. Mice are looking for a winter home now, and that newly insulated attic would be just the spot. Mice can squeeze through 1/4-inch openings; rats need a half-inch. Make sure all exterior vents are screened, and that there are no gaps underneath garage doors.
Check your gutters and roof. Do a quick visual check to make sure gutters are clear and secure. They'll be performing double duty soon with rainstorms and falling leaves. While you are up there, take a look at the roof as well. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys, and damage to boards along the eaves. Pay close attention to valleys and flashings. Many leaks originate in these spots. Some patches and roofing cement now can prevent thousands of dollars of water damage later in the winter.
I recently saw a great article by Karen Haywood Queen from bankrate.com, about how putting off, or even skipping minor home repairs, can end up costing you thousands of dollars. While money is tight for most people right now, that $200 repair now, can end up saving you $2000 down the road. So it is best to take a small financial hit now then end up breaking the bank later. Here are 4 tips that will cost you a few hundred now, but may save you several thousand in the future.
Annual HVAC inspection: The inspection should cost between $200-300 depending where you live and what type of HVAC system you have. The best time to have the inspection is spring or fall. HVAC companies aren't as busy then, and you won't be in dire need of heat or air conditioning.
What might this inspection find? The furnace blower is not working properly. Cost to repair or replace: $100 to $150. Possible consequence of letting it go: a broken heat exchanger. Potential savings down the road: $300 to $1,000 to replace the heat exchanger or $750 to $3,500, depending on the energy efficiency, to replace indoor or outdoor furnace components.
Chimney inspection: Should cost around $100, more if you want your chimney cleaned. You should inspect before your first fire in the winter.
What might this inspection find? There's no chimney cap. Cost to add: $150. If you let it go, rain can get into your chimney, damage the chimney liner and damper, and even saturate mortar joints, causing mold. Potential savings: $2,000 to $4,000 to replace the chimney liner. Other problems may include a cracked chimney crown, which can be repaired for $300 to $500; chimney flashing that needs caulking, which can be done for $80 to $100; and waterproofing the exterior brick, which runs $350 to $600. All of these fixes will prevent rain from entering and mold from forming.
Termite inspection: Should cost between $75-200 and can be done anytime, although termites are more active in the spring and early summer.
What might this inspection find? Subterranean termites or flying termites. If left untreated, these bugs damage framing, trim, drywall, furniture, carpet, and copper and other soft metals. Termites cause more than $5 billion in damage a year in the U.S. The average homeowner loss for termite damage is $3,000, but losses can be as high as $30,000 or even $80,000. Most homeowners insurance does not cover repair of termite damage.
Check your deck! Powerwashing and sealing your deck can cost between $100-400, depending on if you have to rent a washer and how large your deck is.
Every 2-3 years your should Power wash to get rid of stains, algae, mold, mildew and moss. Algae and mold can make your deck slippery and dangerous. Sealing your deck after it is cleaned helps prevent water damage. Wood soaks up rain like a sponge, expands and then shrinks. Sealing makes the water bead up and roll off. If you let it go, your deck will warp, nails will pop out and the deck won't last as long. You can save between $4,000- $20,000 or more to replace your deck, depending on size.
Dryer vent cleaning. Dryer lint is incredibly flammable. If your dryer is not on an exterior wall, the vent leading outside is most likely clogged. The only cost is about 30-45 minutes of your time.
Depending on if you have a gas or electric dryer, unplug and shut off the gas. You will need to move the dryer out a bit in order to access the vent. Remove the clamp with a screwdriver and reach in the back of the dryer to remove any built up lint. A vacuum works good here. Stick the vacuum hose into the vent tube to get all the lint from there too. Replace the vent tube and clamp and do not not forget to remove and clean the outside vent. Turn the dryer on for a few minutes to see if any loose debris comes out.
The facts are these; it is a buyer's market right now and sellers need to make their home stand out. How can you do this? Aside from updating your kitchens and baths to he latest trends, there are several things you can do for low, or even no cost, that will help your home stick out to buyers. Proper staging is key. If it's still too cold and dreary outside, focus on the interior of your home.
Walk through your home as if you were a buyer. Can you move around freely in each room? Do the rooms flow easily into one another? If not, you can open up the space by removing excess furniture. You want to create easy traffic flow from one room to the other.
Another issue that we all deal with is clutter, junk, stuff, whatever you want to call it. Most people just have too much stuff. If you can afford it, rent a small storage space to store your excess furniture, and any non-essential things you may have around your home. You want to have a clear and clean palate so that potential buyers can imagine themselves and all of their clutter, junk and stuff in. If you do not want to spend the money on a storage space, invest in some larger plastic containers to store everything in. Stack them in the basement, attic, garage, shed, wherever. Just get them out of the living areas. An clean and organized home is pleasing to the eyes.
Toilets, tubs, closets and cabinets. Yes buyers will look in all of these. Bathrooms should always stay cleaned. Storage is always going to be something that potential buyers will want to asses in a new home. I know that many people, when cleaning up their house, tend to throw stuff into closets. Take some extra time and keep closets, cabinets and drawers organized.
Running toilets, leaky faucets, squeaky doors, ripped screens, these are all easy projects that most people can do themselves for little cost. Ask your Realtor to walk through your home and take note of any of these potential issues. These can be big turnoffs for potential buyers, so make sure these are addressed before that For Sale sign goes in the yard.
Natural light is always pleasing, so make sure your windows are clean. Open up any heavy window treatments or blinds. Make sure to dust your blinds!
A clean, well organized home, is always important when trying to sell!
I am a Realtor living in suburban Cleveland Ohio. My goal is to help my clients make the best and most informed decisions in both selling their home and searching for a new one. This blog is a source for real estate news and tips as well as some random musings and insights.