Keeping your house in move-in-ready mode takes diligence

Published Date 1/15/2019

After having purchased a home we were crazy about, why do we often go on autopilot, thinking it will remain in its pristine condition in perpetuity? Realtor and Independent Journal writer Ann Snortland explores this, asking how we somehow get used to the cabinet door that doesn’t quite fit right, or the paint that is starting to peel around the outside of the windows.

What we don’t think about, however, is that while all those little maintenance projects add up, we are unwittingly eroding the resale value of our homes. Not selling right now? It doesn’t really matter. Because at some point your house will be sold. Even if it’s in the distant future, letting things go will only mean spending twice as much or even replacing things that might have been repaired or refreshed. And when that day comes to sell, you will want to get the highest price the market will allow. “That requires a home that is sale ready,” says Snortland. “This is where all that deferred maintenance comes back to bite.”

She goes on to say that the best way to protect the resale value of your home is to do something every year, fixing little things right away while updating the house in small bites. “This way you get to enjoy the improvements, and the house is kept up, and up to date. Both of which are important to the price you can get and how fast your house will eventually sell. This is the case in any kind of market.”

So how do you get yourself into this mindset? Why not pretend you are going to sell it? Imagine there will be an open house. If you put yourself in a buyer’s shoes and walk around writing down all the things you would notice if you were looking to buy your house, you’ll get an idea of what needs to be done. Okay, perhaps you wouldn’t be as meticulous as you would be if you were really selling it, but it’s a start.

Snortland says to pay particular attention to the condition and style of the kitchen and bathrooms since those are the rooms that sell houses. Is the kitchen sink a relic? Do the appliances match, and function properly? What about flooring? Are there four different types of flooring between your front door and the kitchen and they’re all outdated? What about leaks under the sinks or in the shower or that toilet that needs to have its handle constantly jiggled?

The next step is to separate the list into things you can handle with just a few dollars and those that require professional help and a larger investment. Perhaps over the next three years you can address one or two big ones each year, and the rest can be done in weekend warrior mode.

“When you are ready to sell, walk through your home with a Realtor and make a list of any remaining items that need to be addressed prior to listing your home for sale,” says Snortland. “A good Realtor will concentrate on the things that will have the greatest impact for the least amount of money.”

Source: Independent Journal, TBWS