Table of contents
- Critical systems
- Landscaping and irrigation
- Deck and fencing
- Pool and spa
- Windows and frames
- Kitchen and appliances
- Sinks and faucets
- Bathtubs and showers
- Walls, ceilings, and baseboards
- Smoke detectors and circuit breakers
- Electrical panels and overcurrent
- Water heater
When you own a home, it’s best to do routine cleaning and maintenance so when you’re ready to sell, there’s less work to be done. This home maintenance checklist will walk you through common repair items that can impact your home’s value and specifically what to look for as you inspect each area.
Maintenance and repair issues are one of the primary reasons why pending home sales fall through.
If you’re selling to Opendoor, we simplify the repair process so you have the certainty of a competitive offer and more flexibility in how you can handle needed repairs. If you’re selling the traditional way, ensuring your home is in good condition can help you avoid making major concessions to the buyer when an offer is on the table. Get started with the checklist below.
The latest home life expectancy study from National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in 2007 found that air conditioners last an average of 10 to 15 years, heat pumps 16 years, and furnaces between 15 to 20 years. Uneven temperatures, loud noises, humidity problems, excessive dust, and high energy bills are signs your HVAC system may not be functioning properly.
- Broken or damaged thermostat controls
- No breaks or exterior cracks in system
- Ducting is sealed
According to Angies List, roofing lasts about 20 years depending on the material. Many factors can accelerate the aging of your roof like improper ventilation, pooling water, algae, and moss. When cleaning your roof, it’s important to use a garden hose at a lower pressure so you don’t knock the protective granules off your shingles.
- Shingles curling, buckling, or missing
- No broken tiles or caps
- Damage to underlayment and leaks
- Cracks, bubbles, and blisters in sealant
- Areas where water is pooling
- Punctures and gaps in roof
According to hdfoundationrepair.com, it’s normal for a foundation to sink and develop tiny cracks in the first 2-3 years following construction (1/16” hairline fissures are very common).
When you own a home, it’s best to do routine cleaning and maintenance so when you’re ready to sell, there’s less work to be done.
However, horizontal cracks in brick exteriors or the concrete block walls may indicate a more serious problem. Fractures positioned at a 45-degree angle can indicate severe foundation movement. Poured as well as concrete block footings and foundations can last a lifetime, assuming they were properly built (NAHB).
- Floor cracks
- Wall fissures in interior and basement walls
- Cracks in exterior like brick chimneys, stairs, and walls
Doors should open and close easily without force and shouldn’t have any obstructions. Door hardware should be functional without signs of rust or damage. Add a fresh coat of paint to give rooms an updated feel and cover any minor cosmetic damage to the door or door frame.
- Damaged weather stripping
- Ensure slide for glass doors isn’t rusted or damaged
- No holes or cracks in door or frame
- Locks and hinges function properly
Wear and tear is expected in a garage, especially if vehicles are moving in and out. What you want to look for are major issues affecting the concrete slab, walls, and garage doors.
- Garage door sensors and controls function properly
- No issues with electrical wiring, including lights and sockets
- The garage door itself is void of cracks, holes, or major dents; door should move smoothly along tracks
- Cracks or holes in the foundation, walls, and concrete. Anything larger than a hairline fracture is something to be concerned about
- No wet spots or water damage
Landscaping and irrigation
Vegetation like trees, shrubbery, and plants shouldn’t interfere with the property and should be well maintained. A good way to think about landscaping is to aim to match the aesthetic and condition of surrounding homes and any HOA requirements.
- Vegetation causing structural defects like raised tree roots, cracked patios, and obstructed walkways
- Trees or shrubbery touching the home or roof
- If irrigation system exists, it should function without leaks and be free from drainage defects. Ensure the drainage path doesn’t go straight to the home’s foundation.
Deck and fencing
Decks and fencing should be structurally sound and in good condition. Additionally, they should comply with all local building codes and HOA policies. Routinely cleaning, sanding, and staining your deck can prevent long term damage. It’s also good to frequently inspect fencing, especially in between seasons with heavy snow or harsh weather. On average, wood planks for decks and fencing last 20 years, while polyvinyl fencing is designed to last a lifetime (NAHB).
- Wood rot, water, and termite damage
- Cracks, cupping, or warping of deck panels
- Rail posts are attached to the deck frame and support infill sections
- Fence posts are in upright position, not slanted or loose
- No major cracks, holes, or other damage to fence
- Check for missing planks and peeling paint
Pool and Spa
Pools and spas should be clean, safe, and functional. Pool equipment and cleaning systems should work as intended. According to Trip Saavvy, pool filters should be cleaned every 4-6 months for maximum flow rates and clarity. It’s also best to check pool chemistry 1-2 times per week during seasons when the pool is in heavy use.
- Leaking filters or pumps
- Broken lights and drains
- Chlorination system and pool pump are working properly—abnormal odors may signal something is wrong
- Cracks and damage to the plaster and exterior
- Areas where dirt and debris have built up
- Safety compliance
Windows and frames
Windows do more than add natural light; they also keep your home insulated. It’s important to repair any cracked or broken panes, as well as to maintain the frames that hold them in place. Wooden windows last longer than aluminum–on average, 30 years compared to 15-20 years, respectively (NAHB).
- Open cracks, crevices, holes or seams around caulking and seals
- Fractured, cracked, or missing glass
- Obstructions or damage to window track
- Broken or malfunctioning window lock
- If your windows have a film layer on the glass, look for bubbling, discoloring, scratches, and peeling
Kitchen and Appliances
All appliances should be clean and work safely. There shouldn’t be any major cosmetic damage that would distract from the aesthetic of the kitchen. Most appliances are replaced before the end of their lifespan, but among major appliances, gas ranges last about 15 years; dryers and refrigerators 13 years; dishwashers and microwave ovens roughly 9 years (NAHB).
- Malfunctioning appliances (oven, microwave, dishwasher, stove top, fans, garbage disposal, and lighting)
- Kitchen sink isn’t cracked or leaking
- There aren’t any wall stains or built up residue in backsplash tiling
- Counter tops aren’t cracked or damaged
- Cabinets are functional and in good cosmetic condition
- Stove top burners and fans are working properly
- No sign of pests
Sinks and faucets
Sinks and faucets should be in good cosmetic condition and have a normal flow rate. There shouldn’t be any leaks, rust, or pooling of water.
- Dirt and residue around faucets and sink basin
- Unsecured sinks that move or wobble when in use
- Leaky or broken faucets
- Reversed hot and cold water
- Cracks in overflow or breaks in caulking
Bathtubs and showers
Bathtubs and showers should be structurally sound without any cracks, leaks, or damage. They should also be clean and in good cosmetic condition.
- Leaky or broken fixtures (drain shuts and opens properly)
- Reversed hot and cold water
- Non-functioning shower doors (including tracks and hardware)
- Missing or excessively dirty grout
- Build up of dirt, residue, or rust
Walls, ceilings, and baseboards
These should be structurally sound and free from holes, cracks, and water damage. Minor damage and repairs can often be fixed with some drywall and a layer of paint, but major cracks and water damage will likely require professional attention.
- Cracks/holes in walls, water damage, and peeling paint—bubbling, sinking, and discolored areas can signify the presence of water
- Consider removing any paint with bold colors, patterns, and murals that could make a potential buyer feel uncomfortable
- Identify major cracks, chips, and scratches on baseboards
Most buyers are understanding of wear from general use, but your flooring should be free from obvious defects and damage. Real Simple recommends adding a layer of finish every 3-5 years. Angies List suggests having carpets cleaned every 12-18 months. If you have pets or kids, more frequent cleaning might be needed. The NAHB study found that natural wood flooring lasts about 100 years, whereas vinyl floors usually wear out in 50 years, linoleum about 25 years, and carpet between 8 and 10 years.
- Tears in carpeting and areas that are excessively worn or discolored
- Heavily damaged or stained flooring
- Cracks or major dents in wood panels and tiles
- Areas where flooring is uneven or sinking
Closet doors and hardware should be functional and in good condition. Shelving units should be properly secured, and closet spaces should be clean without significant cosmetic damage.
- Damaged or missing closet doors
- Malfunctioning track for sliding door
- Loose, non-level shelving units
- No sign of pests
Trusses should be structurally sound, and insulation should be level with floorboards and joists. The attic should be clean without any major holes, cracks, or gaps that expose the space to outside weather.
- Insulation is sufficient to meet local code requirements
- Trusses are in good shape and not cracked or damaged
- Excessive trash left in the attic
- Pooling water or leaks
- Signs of pests
According to NAHB, copper plated, copper clad aluminum, and bare copper wiring are expected to last a lifetime, whereas electrical accessories and lighting controls are expected to last about 10 years.
Smoke detectors and circuit breakers
Circuit breakers should be easily accessible and work safely. They should be in rooms as required by applicable codes. According to NAHB, smoke detectors last on average seven years. Goodhousekeeping.com found that carbon monoxide detectors can last up to ten years.
- Missing or broken smoke detectors
- Broken carbon monoxide detector (for homes with gas)
- Outlets in kitchens, baths, and exteriors that don’t have breakers
- Wiring should be correctly installed—if detectors and breakers aren’t working properly, faulty wiring could be the culprit—consult a professional electrician.
Electrical panels and overcurrent
Panels should not be brands known to have defects or recommended by the government to be replaced. Additionally, your overcurrent protection should work safely.
- Any defective brand panels
- Damaged double taps or breakers
Your water heater should be in good working condition and free from leaks. Any exposed pipes should be insulated. Tankless water heaters can last 20+ years, electric radiant heaters can last 40 years, and hot water or steam radiant heaters can last 15+ years (NAHB).
- Leaks or corrosion at supply valve, TPR valve, and/or lines
- Replace leaking water heater tanks
General wear and tear is expected in any home, but even repair and maintenance issues that seem minor can impact your home’s value and consequently your ability to sell. Use this guide as a starting point to inspect and clean each area prior to selling so there aren’t any surprises following the home inspection. You’ll also note that while appliances tend to have a shorter lifespan, other home components like flooring, roofing, and utilities can span multiple generations of owners so it’s important to be aware of their age and condition.
This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Opendoor always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.
Related guides and blog articles
→ How to sell your house
→ Essential steps to determine a home’s value
→ When is the best time to sell a house
→ How to increase your home value
→ How to sell and buy a house at the same time
→ Moving guide and checklist to organize your move
→ How Opendoor’s costs compare to a traditional sale
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