UF/IFAS specialist gives tips for keeping your home in ready-to-sell condition
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When you own a home, it’s easy to stop seeing its flaws — the gate latch that never works, the faded shingles on the roof.
But rest assured: Potential buyers will spot those problems in an instant.
To help Floridians look at their homes with a critical eye, a University of Florida housing specialist has published a guide that uses the results of a national survey to pinpoint areas that might need attention.
Randall Cantrell, a faculty member with the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said the average homeowner spends $2,000 to prepare a home to be sold. So keeping up with needed repairs can make life a lot easier when it comes time to put your house on the market.
Cantrell conducted a national survey in 2011 of more than 400 homeowners, asking them to rate 81 items that could improve the home’s overall performance in three areas: maintenance tasks, energy and water conservation measures, and family operations. Based on their responses, he created a document for each category, suggesting short-term and long-term changes.
Cantrell said he was inspired to write the publication about keeping one’s home ready to sell after living through a painful home sale in 2011, before the real estate market began to perk back up. Even though his home had been well cared for, he still found himself paying for changes to make the home better appeal to buyers. “I thought if I can help people not have to go through what I just went through, I should do it,” said Cantrell, a state extension specialist in housing and community development.
In the short-term category for keeping one’s home ready to sell, he lists such tasks as ensuring that the doorbell works, that fences are painted, intact and have working gate latches, keeping cars parked neatly and taking care that the mailbox is properly maintained and has reflective address numbers that are easily seen.
Cantrell even suggests always keeping a fresh-looking welcome mat at the front door.
“If a buyer sees one thing that looks like it hasn’t been taken care of, they will wonder what else hasn’t been taken care of,” he said.
In the long-term category, he suggests changes such as taking care that deck boards are flipped nice side up and fastened with screws rather than nails, ensuring that if you have a garage that its door is sturdy and clean, that tree branches hanging near the house are healthy and the roof’s shingles aren’t loose, wavy or faded.
He also suggests taking time to check that ceiling-fan blades are balanced — and dusted.
Installing photocell sensors on any exterior lights ensures that lights will come on based on when it’s dark and won’t accidentally be left on during the daytime, conserving energy.
Mark Cramer, who has been a home inspector in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., for 23 years, said the way a home shows correlates strongly with higher sales prices.
“There are some homeowners who tend to fix everything, and then there are others who ignore virtually everything until the ceiling’s literally caving in on their heads,” he said. “The former tend to get much better prices for their homes.”