This Home Maintenance Checklist Will Keep Your House in Stellar Condition All Year
A leaky faucet, creaky door, dirty gutters, weeds galore—as a homeowner, there’s always something that needs your attention. Ain’t it fun?
Studies show regular home maintenance can increase your home value by about 1% each year. But that 1% increase doesn’t account for costs. In 2017, repairs and general maintenance cost US households an average of $168 per month—adding up to just over $2,000 in a year. So for a home worth $200,000, the cost of upkeep negates any increase in value.
Home maintenance may not actively earn you money, but it will keep you from losing money when it comes time to sell. Home value can drop swiftly if you don’t take care of your investment.
We consulted with experts and researched standards from the American Society of Home Inspectors to create a handy, in-depth checklist that will keep your house in tip top shape through winter, spring, summer and fall without eating up precious hours. With limited time on your hands and a mile-high to-do list, pour your energy into these maintenance projects that buyers will notice.
A Tale of Two Home Sales
Real estate broker Julie Wyss, one of San Jose’s top 1% of seller’s agents, recalls two recent listings of hers that were in the same neighborhood:
“One had been completely maintained, but it didn’t sparkle. It didn’t look any better—the kitchens and bathrooms needed updating, the floors needed updating, the doors needed updating,” explains Wyss. The other listing was a “very similar home where everything had been let go. It had been a rental for years.”
Wyss says that first home sold well over asking price within five days, while the more neglected home didn’t sell until several months—and price reductions—later. “So buyers do appreciate when a home has been maintained,” Wyss says.
The difference came down to what real estate agents call the nuts and bolts: “things like the water heater, furnace, roof, windows, plumbing,” she says. If the more functional features in a house have been maintained, even if you’re working with dated countertops and linoleum flooring, then the home has good bones.
Your home maintenance priorities will shift depending on when you plan to sell. Homeowners with a longer timeline should look after the nuts and bolts of their home and make sure that those functional features do not fall into disrepair.
For homeowners with a shorter timeframe—who want to sell within a year or less, for example—that’s when the cosmetic details can come into play. In those cases, because buyers often make decisions based on emotions, it makes sense to prioritize the tasks that will boost buyers’ first impressions.
Home value comprises both the nuts and bolts and the more emotionally appealing cosmetics. So to cover our bases, we researched standards from the American Society of Home Inspectors to learn what nuts-and-bolts issues inspectors report to homebuyers. We also considered those issues that might not be covered in an inspection but could put off buyers concerned with curb appeal and charm.
From there we compiled a handy checklist that will ensure you are ready to sell your home whenever the time comes. We’ve broken down the tasks by how often you should do them, as well as the time of year.
Vacuum the floors.
Wipe down stove top and vent.
Mow the lawn.
Clean window sills.
Wipe down kitchen appliances.
Clean and replace your A/C filters.
Test and replace batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector.
Clean inside drawers and cabinets, and wipe down cabinet doors.
Clean your drains and sink disposal.
Add salt to your water softener.
Replace light bulbs as needed.
Clean out the rain gutters.
Inspect and clean your siding.
Trim unruly leaves, branches, and other vegetation.
Inspect and clean your exterior doors.
Clean and stain your deck, stairs, and other wooden features outside.
Check your pipes, water heater, supply line.
Inspect your foundation.
Give your garage door a 10-minute tune-up.
Touch up paint on exterior walls as needed.
Check your sprinkler system and make needed repairs.
Clean your siding.
Inspect your central heating system.
Check and clean exhaust fans in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room.
Add caulk and weather stripping to windows and doors.
Clean out the rain gutters again before winter precipitation arrives.
Inspect your electrical outlets.
Inspect and clean your interior doors.
Inspect your attic insulation and ventilation.
Check and clean your chimney (if you have a fireplace).
Touch up interior walls with fresh paint where needed.
Winterize your water pipes.
Now let’s take a deep dive into each of these checklist items:
Fill cracks in your concrete driveway, sidewalk, and/or patio.
Inspect your roof.
Test your sump pump.
Inspect your central air conditioning unit.
Kelsey Down, Contributing Author
Kelsey is a writer in Salt Lake City who specializes in real estate, home, and parenting—and the areas where all those subjects intersect. Her work has been featured on publications including Realtor Magazine, Rentometer, and Rented.com.