Nothing pays dividends to a seller like a well-maintained home. Invest the time to make your home sparkle. Use this checklist as a guide to a faster, more profitable sale.
ENHANCE “DRIVE-UP APPEAL" -- This is your first opportunity to make a favorable impression.
PAINT – If needed, exterior paint will enhance the salability of a house. Before painting, scrape or water-blast any blistered or peeling paint; repair gutters and down spouts, and replace deteriorating wood. Wood, trim work, gutters and wrought iron should receive primary attention.
FRONT ENTRY - Give special care to this area. Eliminate all flaws! Woodwork should be freshly and neatly painted, including the door if necessary. Replace a badly worn or broken doorbell button. Polish the door brass. Paint or replace an unsightly mailbox. Put out a new or clean door mat. Do a thorough weeding and pruning job on any flower beds near the entry, and try to have some flowering plants growing. Keep the porch, porch ceilings, and walks swept and dust free.
YARD - Mow and trim the lawn. Weed flower beds; remove or replace dead plants or trees. Water regularly during the growing season.
DRIVEWAY, GARAGE/CARPORT -. The garage should appear neat, clean, and organized. Clean grease or oil spots. Check the garage door, make sure it opens freely and that the automatic door opener is in good working order. If possible, do not park vehicles in front of the house or in the driveway.
FENCE - Repair, paint or stain as necessary.
ROOF - Remove visible debris and any tree branches bearing on the roof. Check for missing or loose shingles especially on the ridge row. A roof inspection by a qualified roofer and repairs made prior to marketing your home will eliminate unpleasant surprises later on. Most insurance companies will require that your roof be damage and claim free prior to issuing a new policy for your buyer.
AIR CONDITIONERS/EVAPORATIVE COOLERS - Repair or replace any rusted exposed metal. Correct improper drainage.
SWIMMING POOL - Adjust chemicals until the pool sparkles. Remove dust and cobwebs from filtration equipment. Store chemicals and tools neatly.
LOOK AT THE BASICS AROUND THE HOUSE
WINDOWS - Repair or replace torn or bent screens. As a last resort, remove them entirely; no screens are better than unsightly ones. Replace any cracked or broken panes. Drapery rods should be affixed firmly to walls and work smoothly; draperies should be clean and hang properly.
DOORS - Repair or replace doors with holes; remove all decals. Check to see that all doors open and close freely; including closet doors and patio or sliding glass doors. Oil any squeaky doors; tighten the hardware, particularly doorknobs.
WALLS AND CEILINGS - Patch all major holes in wallboard and plaster. Loose handrails on stairways should be secured to walls. Clean or paint air-vent covers and replace filters. Dust ceilings around vents. Check ceilings throughout for evidence of leaks. Be sure repairs are made prior to painting.
FLOORS - Repair or replace missing or damaged pieces of tile; polish if needed. Repair of a loose stair, tread-plate or loose carpeting on a stairway is a top priority.
CARPET - Professional cleaning is the best answer for soiled carpet. Loose carpet should be anchored properly and any split seams repaired.
CHECK MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL FEATURES
LIGHTS - Every light socket in and around the house should have a good bulb of the recommended maximum wattage. Don't overlook those outside in the garage, utility room, halls, closets or over the kitchen sink and in the oven and exhaust fan. Ceiling fixtures should be clean and sparkling.
APPLIANCES— Those that will be sold with the home should be in good working condition. If specific equipment does not work and you do not intend to repair it, point this out on your Seller’s Disclosure Form.
PLUMBING - Badly chipped or irreversibly stained sinks and tubs should be re-enameled, patched or replaced. Leaky or excessively noisy toilets and every dripping faucet should be repaired.
SPRINKLER SYSTEM - These should be working property; check every station for defective heads.
ARRANGE FOR A SPACIOUS LOOK
Openness stimulates positive feelings in buyers. Overstuffed rooms or closets give the impression of being smaller than they really are. You can not change the size of what you have so present it in the most pleasant way. If necessary, rent a mini-warehouse to store your excess belongings while your house is on the market. Don't have any furniture narrowing or blocking walk ways.
CLOSETS AND STORAGE AREAS –Open up your storage areas by getting rid of items you are not using, and rearrange remaining items neatly.
COUNTERS AND CABINETS -- Overcrowding gives the impression of inadequacy. This applies to both bathrooms and kitchens.
HINTS ON HOUSEKEEPING
BATHROOMS – These rooms need to sparkle! Vanity, sink, faucet hardware and mirror are the focal points. Other potential problems might be, soap film and mildew on shower tile, a moldy shower curtain, accumulated dirt in the track of a sliding shower door, soiled or missing grout, stained toilet bowls, dirty or battered bath mats and shower enclosures with hard water film.
KITCHEN - Most buyers will inspect this area carefully so extra time invested here is well spent. Clean the stove inside and out. Replace badly stained or corroded reflector plates under the heating elements on electric range tops. Don't neglect the kitchen exhaust hood.
WINDOWS - Clean windows are an absolute necessity if a house is to look its best.
REMOVE UNPLEASANT ODORS
WET TOWELS AND WASHCLOTHS - Replace all used towels with fresh ones before showing.
SOILED CLOTHES - When the house is being shown, keep dirty laundry out of the living area; move it to the utility room, garage or storage area.
GARBAGE - Take all trash and garbage out of the house, particularly any food-related discards from the kitchen. After running garbage through a disposal unit, grind up part of a lemon to add a fresh smell.
CATS AND DOGS - Before every showing, move the cat's litter box out of the house and be sure to clean up the yard after the dog.
VALUABLES - Never leave small valuable items lying around on counters or visible in closets or cabinets. Get them out of sight, if not out of the house. Don't invite a problem. Remove all guns from the property or hide them in locked, especially designed containers under the bed.
EXCLUSIONS FROM THE SALE - Make note of the items you do not intend to include with the sale of the house. Some items that often cause misunderstandings are light fixtures, draperies, large mirrors, water softeners, garage door openers and TV antennas.
KEYS - As you are readying the house for market, make a note to gather all the keys, including keys for doors, deadbolts, garage doors and any padlocks around the property.
INSTRUCTION MANUALS - Gather manuals and warranties for the mechanical equipment in the house - kitchen appliances, water heater and softener, air conditioning and heating units, evaporative cooling units, pool and filtration and electronic air filters.
ONE FINAL NOTE - The seller has an obligation to disclose everything known to him that materially affects the condition of the property.