We humans buy real estate and build a house. We move in, and create a home. When we are ready to move, it again becomes real estate… anon.
The chances are, someday you’re going to put your house up for sale on the local real estate market, and either start working with a professional real estate agent (a.k.a. realtor?) to find a new house, or go out and look for one on your own. Perhaps you will be the first family to live in the new house, perhaps not. Either way, you will want to keep your home, old or new, well maintained. Remember, someday your home will become real estate, and the real estate agent you hire to sell it will give you a list of things you’ll need to ensure are in good shape to expedite the sale and get the highest possible asking price.
It helps if you think of your house or home as real estate, at least in terms of its maintenance. Sometimes we are willing to let certain things lapse in our homes, but in matters of real estate that we have placed on the open market with a professional realtor, we take a different view. This article proceeds from the position that it is easier, more efficient, more pleasant, safer, and even more frugal to maintain your real estate on a consistent basis, rather than waiting until you place it up for sale with a real estate agent. (If you’d like to read a comprehensive article on fixing up your real estate for sale, I suggest visiting httpwww.dotcomtucson.comtucson_arizona_real_estateselling_your_desert_home.html.)
Maintaining the basics of single family real estate is relatively simple, and can be handled extremely efficiently in an hour or so on a couple of weekends each month. There are things to be done monthly, and things to be done semi-annually, and items to attend to annually. Using a computer is an exceptionally effective way to track your maintenance. It can be done in many kinds of software, including basic word processors.
Monthly real estate maintenance tasks
• Check the water softener salt level. (Check and add as necessary.)
• Spray for bugs. (Use appropriate pesticides and spray unit type.)
• Landscaping maintenance. (Check water lines for leaks, remove debris, check outdoor light bulbswires, and adornments attached to structures.)
• Check HVAC air filter. (Replace or clean as necessary – this will keep the house cleaner and allow the unit to be more efficient. A clogged air cleaner can really raise your air conditioning AND heating costs!)
• Service outdoor materials. (This includes vinyl and cloth chairs, outdoor tables, swings, etc. Use a product such as Armor-All on vinyl surfaces top protect it from rotting in the UV. Put some kind of coating on metal that has become exposed – such as a rust-preventing paint clear paint will do if necessary.)
• Inspect window locks. (Service as necessary. Sparingly use petroleum jelly to lubricate aluminum. This is a good time to ensure that windows which should be locked, are locked!)
• Inspect the garage floor for petroleum products spills. (This includes oils and greases – anything slippery or caustic. Clean as necessary.)
• Inspect the ice maker. (Dump ice that forms into clumps in the bottom of the tray, if the ice accumulates much at your house. Check for ice around the rotating dump mechanism, and remove if it is building up. Hint a little baking soda in the bottom of the ice tray keeps the freezer fresh.)
Semi-annual real estate maintenance tasks
• Service locksets and passage sets. (Tightenadjust hardware, lubricate with 31 oil or WD-40.)
• Service door locks. (Tightenadjust hardware, lubricate with 31 oil or WD-40. Lubricate the keyhole with powdered graphite – use this very sparingly.)
• Service hinges. (Wipe down and lubricate with 31 oil or WD-40.)
• Service sliding doors. (Clean the tracks with a small brush and then vacuum. Use petroleum jelly as a lubricant – NOT WD-40. Locking mechanisms can be lightly lubricated with WD-40.)
• Service dryer. (Open the access panel and vacuum the accumulated lint out of all the areas you can. This will make the dryer work better, and help to prevent fires.)
• Service garbage disposer. (Check for trapped debris, deodorize with ?-cup of baking soda dump baking soda powder directly into disposer at night and allow it to stand. Simply wait until the system is used again and all the baking soda will disappear. NB These units are usually mistakenly referred to as ‘garbage disposals.’ The correct term, and it is most often printed on them, is ‘garbage disposer.’)
• Service the refrigerator. (Clean mold, fungus, and mildew out of the water catch tray. Carefully clean the coils – they make long, soft brushes just for this. Vacuum or blow away dust on motor, etc.)
• Inspect screens. (Repair or replace as necessary.)
• Inspect electrical covers. (This includes plugs and light switches. Make sure the covers are secure and not cracked.)
Annual real estate maintenance tasks
• Inspect all exterior wood. (Look for cracks, rot, etc. Treat as required. Catch these things early! Painting or other outdoor wood coatings are the best way to avoid very costly problems in this arena.)
• Inspect caulking seals in bathrooms. (Service or replace as necessary. Prevent costly water damage in walls before it starts.)
• Landscaping maintenance. (Fertilize, weed, trim trees and bushes. Apply pesticides as needed.)
• Roof inspection. (Check this visually. Look for torn or missing shingles, or areas around vents or chimneys where the flashing or caulking has been damaged or is missing. Service as needed to prevent costly water damage.)
• Check garage door wheels. (White lithium grease is an excellent lubricant. Make sure no wheels have come out of their tracks, or are binding. Check the seal to the floor.)
• Inspect carpeted stairways. (Make sure that the carpet is being firmly held – to avoid accidents. Service as necessary.)
• Replace ALL smoke alarm backup batteries. (Just do them all once a year and get it out of the way! It’s better than going out for that ladder once a month for a year.)
Items are optional based on your specific situation and real estate.
Look at the end of this article for some great tips on how to attend to the above maintenance tasks, and more. There are some really helpful hints there that can save time and money – and help you protect the investment you’ve made in your home – which is, of course, also the real estate you invested your hard earned dollars in.
Taking good care of the real estate during your stewardship will yield many rewards including saving you some money in the end, keeping the house safer, and catching problems while they are still manageable and inexpensive to repair. And when you decide to find a new home, your real estate agent or realtor will appreciate all your ongoing maintenance – which will also help you bring in top dollar for your real estate investment! Don’t you hope your next home is currently owned by someone who believes in maintaining their real estate
Real Estate Maintenance Tips
• If you cut the top out of a bush or tree, it will grow outward – become ‘bushier.’ If you leave the top, it will continue to grow higher. This phenomenon occurs because of what is called apical dominance.
• For deeper grass roots – and better drought tolerance – water at night, and very slowly so the water goes deep. It also saves water to water at night – when the heat and sun don’t evaporate as much before it soaks in.
• Baking soda comes in large containers and is cheap. You can use it to deodorize areas, trash cans, and shoes. Sprinkle just a little on a carpet and let it stand for 24-hours, and the carpet is deodorized. You can also add some to water and slowly pour it over car battery terminals that have corrosion – it harmlessly cleans right down to the metal – immediately!
• 3 In 1 Oil is a very light, multi-purpose lubricant. It is better than the popular WD-40 for several things as it clings betterlonger. Use it for hinges, for example – and use it sparingly. Powdered graphite is the best lock lubricant made. It’s cheap and easy to use – but use it very sparingly! It’s great for car door locks and keyed-padlocks, also.
• To quickly make the whole house smell better, buy a pack of automobile air fresheners – those paper ones shaped liked different things. Place one or two of them at the front of the air intake for the HVAC and turn the fan to ‘on.’ It takes about 15-minutes. I like vanilla scent best.
• A screen repair and installation kit is a wise investment. It’s cheap, and provides you with things that make screen repairs and replacements fast and easy – and much, much cheaper than taking the door or window in for service.
• Vinegar and water cleans extremely well. Just buy a gallon of white vinegar, and mix with water at about 1-cup vinegar to 1-gallon water. It is the best glass cleaner there is. It’s also a great cleaner for wood floors. It works well on anything oily or greasy. It’s cheap!!
• Bees wax – get a small block of it at the hardware store. It ‘lubricates’ wood – such as drawers. It is also great for wood screws. Put a dab on the tip of the screw and then install. It will go in smoother and easier, and it will not work its way loose over time as easily.
• If you can’t get a screw to hold in wood, because the hole has become too large, use toothpicks or matchsticks (with the heads removed for safety) to make a quick, permanent repair. Gently tap the toothpicks or match sticks into the hole with a small hammer. (Put one drop of white glue or wood glue on the tips before you drive them in for an even stronger fix.) Now, use a cutter to snip the ends of the picks or sticks off. File or sand to flat. Now it can be painted, drilled or screwed into. NB If you use glue, allow it to dry before snipping and finishing.
• Fixing holes in walls made of drywall Buy a tiny container of water-based, pre-mixed Joint Compound. For small holes, use your finger to fill and then, using another finger that is wet, smooth it. Now, gently wipe the area with a clean cloth or paper towel. When the compound dries, a fine white dust will form anywhere that the compound touched. Lightly brush it away. For larger holes, such as those left by molly bolts, you can use chalk sticks to aid in the filling. Use your finger and put some compound into the hole – making sure to get it on all the edges. Break off a short length of chalk and ‘twist’ it slowly into the hole. Put it in until it is even with the wall, or very slightly lower. Allow this to completely dry. Now, go back and apply compound over the hole. Press the compound firmly into the hole, and then make a slightly raised lump of it. When this dries, sand it with 300 or better sand paper until it is perfectly flush with the wall’s surface.
• You can polish raw wood with grade 0000 steel wool or even a finer (more zeros) grade of steel wool. Try it on a spare 2”x4” – it quickly looks like it’s been varnished!