Houses kept shipshape hold value better

STARTING OUT

August 07, 1994|By Dian Hymer

What can I do to help maintain the value of my house?

One of the first things you should do after you settle into your new house is establish a home maintenance routine. Houses that are maintained in top condition hold their value better than houses that are left to deteriorate.

Just before closing, ask your agent to find out from the seller if there are any routine maintenance items you should be aware of. For example, is there a sewer pipe that will back up unless you call out a rooting service once a year? How often do the gutters need cleaning? Is there an area of the roof or a skylight that needs routine caulking?

Ask the sellers to provide you with a list of people who have worked on the house, such as a roofer, painter, handyman, plumbing and heating contractor, electrician, chimney sweep and pest control operator. If you can't get this information from the sellers, ask your real estate agent to recommend reliable workers.

Study the inspection reports you had done when you were in contract to buy the house. Make a list of all the repairs that the sellers didn't complete before closing that still need fixing.

If it's impossible to complete all the repairs at once, prioritize the items and complete the ones that need the most urgent attention first. The inspector who examined the house for you may be willing to help you prioritize the list if you feel too inexperienced to do this yourself.

Don't make the mistake of indefinitely postponing needed repairs until small problems develop into major, and costly, projects.

FIRST-TIME TIP: Make a thorough examination of your house each year before the rainy season begins. Patch and seal voids and cracks in the exterior to keep water out. Make sure doors and windows are watertight. Have the roof checked for needed repairs, clean gutters and downspouts, and make sure the roof water is directed away from the foundation. During the rainy season, check to see if water accumulates around the exterior of the foundation. Call a drainage expert, if necessary, to make recommendations about how you can improve the drainage system.

Make sure your furnace and fireplace are in good repair. Replace batteries in smoke detectors and recharge fire extinguishers on a regular basis.

Plan to have termite inspections done every few years. Some homeowners wait until they sell to order a termite inspection and are then met with an unpleasant surprise.

As good preventive maintenance, keep bathroom and kitchen tile and fixtures well grouted and caulked.

Repair all plumbing leaks.

THE CLOSING: Keep a log of all the improvements and repairs you complete during your period of ownership. This will come in handy when you sell because it will document your regime of good home maintenance for the new buyers.

Send questions and comments care of Inman News Features, 5335 College Avenue, No. 25, Oakland, Calif. 94618.

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