REwatch: Seasonal Maintenance is Investment Protection

2013-09-29T09:15:00Z REwatch: Seasonal Maintenance is Investment ProtectionMichelle Krueger Times Columnist
September 29, 2013 9:15 am  • 

There are so many different aspects to consider when making the decision to buy and/or sell a home. One thing the last several years have proven is that real estate is cyclical. It goes up, it goes down and it goes back up again. You really can’t time the market to figure out when it’s the best time to make a move.

The recent stair-step recovery is no exception.

Overall, the real estate market in northwest Indiana and across the country continues to change for the positive. As previously mentioned, average sale prices are up, days on the market are down and there are more closings than last year at this time.

According to analysts, the recent strength of the housing market stems from people rushing to buy before prices and interest rates increase further, a gradual relaxation of lending standards, an uptick in inventory, a smaller share of foreclosures in the sales stream and large-scale buying by investors looking to put houses on the rental market.

Whatever the reasons, builders are building, sellers are selling and most importantly, buyers are buying.

As a result, home values were still heading upward at a healthy pace, rising 12.4 percent from July 2012 to July 2013, according to the Standard & Poor’s Case/Shiller home price index, which tracks sales in 20 cities. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac showed an 8.8 percent gain in prices over the same time period.

So despite the reported drag of rising mortgage rates and other economic headwinds, the housing market continues to gain strength and is being heralded as one of the main drivers of the economic recovery. Yet, try as we may, there really is no way to prepare for whatever will come next.

However, there is one thing that we can all do as homeowners to shore up our investments right now. Over the next several weeks while the weather remains pleasant, we can take some time to get out and inspect the exteriors of our homes. Then, as inclement weather forces us indoors, do the same.

Living in the Midwest, the change in seasons gives us a unique opportunity to keep up with routine maintenance.

A great place to start would be to make a list of all the little things you’ve been putting off - windows that don't open properly, doors and drawers that don't work smoothly, cracked tiles, missing roof shingles, torn window screens, dripping faucets, sticky latches, broken porch stairs or deck railings, etc.

That way, when it does come time to sell, any repairs having to do with safety will be up-to-date.

From there, focus on the front entry and landscape. Not only will mowing, edging, weeding and replacing dead or dying plants improve the appearance of your property for any guests, it can raise the bar for your neighbors as well, improving the overall feel when you come and go. It’s also a good idea to clean and check the function of gutters often, trim any trees and bushes that have grown to the point where snowfall would cause them to rub against the house or roof, and disconnect hoses from outside faucets.

You can also take some time to consider where a fresh coat of paint could spruce things up. Indoors and out, the results can be nothing short of magnificent when you compare the small investment of time and money it takes to transform a door, some trim, an entire room or set cabinets with new a color. It’s also important to note that peeling paint can trap water on wood surfaces so scraping and priming outdoors is better than not painting at all this time of year.

It’s also time to schedule an annual furnace check up - before you switch it on for the season if possible. While filters need to be changed monthly, fuel connections, burner combustion and the heat exchanger should be looked at every year. Plus, keeping a record of these service visits will show future buyers you do your due diligence as a homeowner.

Review plumbing and electrical systems for any deficiencies that need to be addressed as well (drips and overloads are signs of future problems).

Completing seasonal check lists in and around your home not only help keep it looking and performing well, it can also alert you to developing problems.

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