Home value is a familiar subject for most people. Whether you already own a home or planning to purchase one some day, we all pay attention to the local housing market. Everyone has an app like Trulia or Realtor.com on their smart phones. Timing the market to buy or sell a home to maximize value. Purchasing a foreclosure to get a good deal (not all foreclosures are good deals, by the way). Upgrading the kitchen or master bathroom. These are the most popular subjects, when it comes to home value. These are all great ideas, don’t get me wrong, but I feel we are missing the most important one. That is simply maintaining your home, so that it can hold its value and over time as well as increase in value. Why do we miss this so often? Well probably because its the most boring one of them all. I see a lot of homes throughout the year and when I am driving around I am always looking at the different houses that I pass. Its sad to see the condition of many homes that I see as well as across America. This is the biggest investment of our lives! If your financial advisor continuously put you in bad investments and your retirement kept losing value, you would fire them. Right? Then why do we allow the biggest investment, our home, deteriorate year after year by not maintaining it properly?
Unfortunately I think the most common reason is laziness. Followed closely by individuals not really knowing what it takes to own a home. Every year you put off maintaining your home or neglect a problem that is happening, you are not only throwing money down the drain, but you are probably causing an even larger financial problem later on.
Maintaining your home does cost time and money. That is why it is important to purchase a home within your budget and leave room for maintenance and emergencies. Unfortunately when we meet with a realtor or loan officer we often don’t take that in consideration. Below I am going to write two lists. One for maintenance items that don’t cost anything but your time and the second one are items that cost money.
Zero dollars out of your pocket:
- Clearing out gutter/downspouts so that the rain water can get away from the foundation. Most basement flooding and foundation problems are caused by inadequate water management.
- Raking the lawn in the fall and spring. Your grass will stay healthier and this will increase the curb appeal of your home.
- Weeding and maintaining the gardens. This will cut down on bugs as well as increase the curb appeal of the home.
- Trim up your trees and bushes (small tree trimming only). Again with the curb appeal, but remember curb appeal is very important on that first impression someone has on your home.
- Do a deep clean of the interior of the house every year and maintain regular cleaning all the time.
- Clean the inside and outside of the windows.
- Remove screens in the fall and clean them prior to putting them back up in the spring.
- Undo and store any hoses in the fall prior to freezing temperatures. Leaving a hose connected all winter will destroy your water spigot.
- Clean the inside and out of your oven regularly.
- Clean the inside and out of your refrigerator regularly.
Cost money, but very important:
- Change that furnace filter regularly. Mostly in the winter and summer when the equipment is being used frequently. This will not only keep the indoor air cleaner, but it will also extend the life of your HVAC equipment.
- Have the furnace and AC tuned up at least every couple years.
- Fertilize the lawn. Again with the curb appeal.
- Plant new grass in any bare spots in the yard. Do this in the spring or fall.
- Fix any areas of the siding, windows or anywhere that has chipping paint. Scrap the chips off and re-paint. A wire brush works great for removing chipping paint.
- If you do not have gutters or downspouts add them immediately and get that water away from the foundation!
- Re-caulk any areas of the exterior that require caulking. Same with the interior.
- Fix any water leaks immediately.
- If you have any wood decks, make sure you stain them every couple years as needed. A lot of this depends on the type of wood, sun exposure, weather exposure and type of stain used. Either way keep it maintained.
- Same with any wood work you have indoors. Make sure it is being properly maintained.
- Have a professional tree company trim and maintain larger trees.
I realize most of these seem like common sense, but you would be amazed at how many homes are neglected. Either do them yourself or pay someone to get it done. Buyers can tell the difference between a home that has been well maintained to a home that quickly added a coat of paint and called it good. Trust me they can.
It is not always about granite counter tops and stainless steel. Increase the value of your home by maintaining it. Simple as that!