Home Maintenance Mistakes The Buyers Notice

Advice on the subject of home maintenance was recently the topic of a Realtor.com® checklist. Aimed at soon-to-be sellers, the six items were all noteworthy: washing the windows, servicing the heating systems, cleaning the gutters, etc., were worthy of mentioning. All major mechanicals should be tended to, of course—but sometimes good preparation also means solving some minor irritants that we homeowners may have come to tune out. A slow-dripping faucet in the laundry room, a cracked windowpane in the corner of the garage, or a slightly corroded door knocker at the front door are the kind of items we vow we will ‘get to’ someday. Preparing your home for sale means that the day has arrived.

The cumulative effect of too many of those unattended minor issues can add up to one major issue—the kind that, however illogically, lowers the value of the whole property. That’s why experienced sellers take an inventory of needed fixes, then tackle them one after another. It’s amazing how the simple act of organizing a series of tasks makes conquering them disproportionally easy—not to mention how disproportionally enormous is the sense of accomplishment (and relief) that results once they’ve been dealt with.

The sixth item on the Realtor checklist, “Check the Calendar,” incorporated a sort of psychological factor worth thinking about. It dealt with attending to seasonal tasks like storing shovels in the spring or clearing away patio furniture in the winter. If left undone, these silently scream ‘we don’t live here anymore’—a naturally-enough preoccupation by sellers with their home-to-be. To prospective buyers, it can signal abandonment—as well as a pattern of inattention to maintenance issues that’s really untrue (and potentially costly).