PREPPING YOUR HOME FOR A SUMMER SALE

Seasonality plays an important role in the housing market. Home buying and selling activities swell during the spring and summer months of the year, and trail off during the fall and winter, according to Housingwire.com.

As a homeowner, you want to get top price for your property. This means presenting your house in its very best light. It’s important to prioritize repairs and upgrades so that you aren’t spending money unnecessarily on things that aren’t going to provide a good return on the investment or even impress prospective buyers. Your goal is to have everything looking good without spending an arm and a leg in the process.

Your home’s exterior is the first thing buyers will see. If you’ve got a fence enclosing the yard, make sure it’s in good shape: replace any sagging or missing boards, and be sure there are no stains or chipped and missing paint.  Keep the grass neatly trimmed and add sod if there are brown or dead patches.  Porch decorations and furnishings should appear clean and new; otherwise, store them out of sight.  Remove weeds and trim bushes and branches.  Keep your driveway and your walks free of leaves, dirt and other debris. Plant a few flowers for added curb appeal.

Replace missing shingles and make sure your gutters, siding, and shutters are clean and in good shape.  Fresh paint on trim will go a long way toward revitalizing your home’s exterior.

Summer Sale_blogKitchens and bathrooms are big selling points in any home.  It isn’t necessary to buy all new appliances or to do a complete renovation, since it’s likely a new owner will want to put their own “touch” on these spots once they move in, but replace fixtures, drawer pulls and perhaps even cabinet doors if these are outdated, scuffed or showing wear of any kind. Consider upgrading your lighting, particularly if it’s original to the house. It can go a long way in making a room look brighter and more welcoming.

Study your bathrooms carefully, as though you’ve never walked into them before now, looking at them through the eyes of a potential buyer.  Make sure the grout around the bathtub and shower is clean and mildew-free.  If necessary, regrout around tub and tiles; it’s a quick and relatively easy procedure, and it will make a huge difference in the room’s appearance.  Polish away any rust or water stains in sinks, tubs, and toilets.  Replacing just the seat can make the entire toilet look new.  If the walls look dingy or faded, a good paint job will bring the room back to life.  As with your kitchen, give some thought to upgrading the lighting.  And don’t forget to polish the mirrors!

Make sure all wooden floors shine and all rugs and carpeted areas are freshly shampooed and vacuumed.  Hardwood floors remain the most popular choice among homeowners, but there’s little point in replacing your old carpeting—unless it’s looking particularly worn or outdated—since a buyer will almost certainly have his or her own specific choice in mind once they’re ready to move in.

Check to be certain that all the “little things” are working the way they should.  Are any doorknobs loose or difficult to turn?  Is the garage door working well?  How about the garbage disposal?  Make sure there are fresh lightbulbs in every socket and even new batteries in the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  Wipe fingerprints and smudges off of the thermostats and light switches.  “The devil is in the details,” they say.

Many of these suggestions are things you can tackle on your own, but remember that your local Handyman Matters TEAM is always available to help with any and all household “honey-dos,” small or large.

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SUMMERTIME TOUCH-UP JOBS AROUND YOUR HOME

The warmer months lend themselves to a handful of household improvement tasks that can be accomplished with a minimum of fuss and preparation, still leaving you with plenty of time for pursuing more enjoyable pastimes.

For starters:
Ideally, gutters should be cleaned twice a year, in the spring and again in the autumn, freeing them from debris and clogs that can cause back-up and flooding in summer and ice dams in winter.  Cleaning gutters requires no particular skill beyond owning a ladder and avoiding unnecessary risks (it’s always wise to alert a family member or friend to what you’re doing before you climb up a ladder, just to be safe). Tackling this job in the spring allows you to also inspect for leaks and breaks and, if need be, arrange to have them replaced while the weather is still good.

Take time to inspect all of your windows, checking to see how well they’ve come through the brutal winter months, and, if needed, now would be the time to re-caulk the casings and frames.  This serves a dual purpose since it both keeps warm air out and cool air inside (and the reverse in winter, reducing your energy bills) and prevents rain and hail from seeping into walls, potentially causing mold or rot.

While we’re on the topic of windows, summer is the ideal time to wash them—a task nobody particularly enjoys–but here’s a tip for making the job a little easier and less frustrating:  Prewash the glass with soapy water, rinse and then wash again with a solution of 50% distilled (white) vinegar and 50% hot water.  Vinegar is non-toxic and naturally antibacterial and is great for breaking down the film that often forms on the glass.  Afterward, rinse with plain water and dry right away, preferably with a damp squeegee, running it from the top of the glass to the bottom.  Remember, too, not to wash your windows when the sun is shining directly on them.

Consider landscaping ideas that are both attractive and practical.  Well-placed trees provide not only shade but protection for your home against chilly wind blasts in winter and sun beating down on windows in summer.  Consult with your local nursery for xeriscaping suggestions, matching plants to your home’s soil conditions and those that require minimal watering.

Additionally, trim existing bushes and relocate plants that may be growing close enough to your home’s siding or foundation to cause damage.

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Finally, while this doesn’t fall precisely into the “simple and quick” category, keep in mind that summer is a convenient time to tackle interior painting and flooring jobs, since warmer weather allows you to have the windows open so fumes from paint, varnish, and glue don’t overwhelm you, your family, and pets.

You can tackle all—or just a few—of these suggested tasks and then retire to your patio or garden with a cool drink in hand, knowing you are enjoying a well-earned rest!

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Inspecting Your Yard for Hazards

With summer fast approaching, your family will be spending more time in your back yard, and you’ll likely be entertaining guests there during the warmer months, as well.  Now is the time to conduct an inspection of your yard.

Get Your Outdoors Ready_R2CFor starters, check your lawn and surrounding areas for holes that may have developed.  Not only do they present tripping hazards, but if they collect water, it can create an environment attracts mosquitoes or other pests.

Remove fallen tree branches and additional clutter that winter may have deposited on your property.  Keep grass trimmed and bushes pruned.  Check also for dangling tree limbs that haven’t yet fallen, but are likely to do so soon, and arrange to have them taken down before they can fall and cause injury.  If you keep a woodpile for a fireplace or stove, make sure the kindling is securely stacked and check to see that it hasn’t become a home for various critters that might pose a problem for your kids or your pets.  Remember, too, that spring is tick season, so take precaution by giving your dog a flea collar and checking him, your kids and yourself regularly after you’ve spent time outdoors.

Examine decks and stairs for warping and splintering that can cause stumbling or falls.  Check concrete slabs and steps for crumbling and loose sections.  If your deck has not been sealed or waterproofed in a few years, it’s time to apply a new coat to prevent rotting and other damage.

If you have an outdoor grill, give it a thorough going-over to make sure it’s still in good condition.  Take care to store combustible and flammable items securely and out of reach of children and pets.  The same applies to pesticides or any other chemicals you may have been using.

Finally, if you’ve got small children or a dog for whom the back yard is a regular play area, make sure the fence is in good condition and that winter and winter conditions have not left “escape areas.” If your dog spends prolonged periods of time outside, make sure there’s ample shade available for him during those hot summer afternoons as well as a source of water.

If you’re planning to do some landscaping and to add new plants and flowers, take time to check out the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website (www.aspca.org) which provides a list of plants that are toxic to dogs (including common things like daffodils, azaleas and more).  Before spreading mulch, consult the bag to make sure it doesn’t contain items such as cocoa beans (a frequent component of mulch) which can also be fatal to your four-footed friend.

Following these few simple steps can ensure that you, your family, guests, and pets will enjoy a safe and healthy summer on your deck, patio, and garden.

As always, when help is needed, look no further than your locally owned and operated Handyman Matters.  We are here to help you love your home.

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