Every now and then you should look at your house with the critical eye that a realtor might or that a buyer might use to evaluate it. Why? Even if you have no plans to sell, looking at your house like you have to get it ready to sell will give you a list of things that you’ve become “nose-dead” to in your home. You will have a to-do list when you are done.
Starting on the outside –
Start at the street out in front of the house and look at -
- · The visual first impression of your property overall
- · The condition of the driveway and walk (if any)
- · The appearance of any shrubbery or other landscaping – is it well kept or overgrown?
- · The appearance of the front door- the door & its hardware, lighting fixtures, stoop or porch
Walk around the house looking up at the roof and trim. Does the roof look like it needs replacing? Is the trim rotted or missing pieces, does it look like it has been maintained? Look at the windows and the back door. Look at the rear deck or patio. Does it look like it is well maintained or does it need attention? Is there an old rusty swing set back there?
Even though you may always enter through the garage, go in through the front door.
What is your first impression of the entryway? Does it impress you or leave you cold? Is there a coat closet in the entry hall? What is the flow from the front entry? Is there a direct hallway to the rear or must you go through another room to get there?
Walk through each room slowly, looking up for any signs of water damage, at the walls for any paint issues and at the floor for the condition of the flooring. Look for any missing light switch or electrical plug plates. Do the light fixtures look modern or dated? Is there carpet everywhere or wood floors? If there is carpet, is it in good condition? Check for smoke detectors here and on every level, as well as Carbon Monoxide detectors on every level.
What is you impression as you walk into each room? Does it look cluttered? Is your eye drawn to something in particular and is that a good thing? Can you walk easily through the room or is it an obstacle course to get through?
Look at all of the windows for signs of failed seals that need replacing. If the windows are old, aluminum sliders, it might be time to replace them and get rid of those marble window sills at the same time. Is there a fireplace in the living room or family room? What is its condition?
Go to the kitchen. Are the appliances old and dated looking? Is the countertop Formica or a more modern material? Are the cabinets dated or worn looking? Is there hardware (pulls and handles) on the cabinets and drawers? Is the layout dated or modern (more open). How is the lighting in the kitchen? Are there modern can lights and under cabinet lighting? Check under the sink for signs of leaks from the sink or disposal. Is there a pantry? Is it adequate? Is there a dishwasher? How’s the paint? Is there a back splash and how is it? Hopefully there’s not wallpaper here or anywhere else in the house.
Look into the 1/2 bath, if there is one. Does it look modern and updated or old and frumpy? Is
Go upstairs and repeat the room by room walk-through, looking for the same signs of deferred maintenance or needs for updates, especially in the bathrooms. Pay close attention to the ceilings in these rooms for signs of roof leaks. Also check the hand rails or banisters going up the stairs to see if they are loose or don’t meet current code (max of 3”between spindles).
Go to the basement and check it over for the same types of things. Check the heating and water heating systems for any signs of leaks and see if you can determine the age of the heating system. If the house is on a well and septic, check the well holding tank and water softener for leakage. Open the electrical panel box and check for any signs of circuits being doubled up on breakers. Hopefully you don’t find an old fuse box. Look to see if there is evidence of DIY wiring running to the service box.
You will likely end up with a list of things that you need to do or get done. Simple things like painting you can probably do yourself; however, anything involving electrical or plumbing or the heating and water systems is probably best left to professionals.
There is additional advice that I would give you, if you were ready to put your house on the market, but that is a topic left for a future post.