Home Maintenance Guide: Your House’s Exterior

The care you show your home goes a long way when it’s time to sell. When potential buyers can see the effort you’ve put into maintaining your home, they’ll feel more confident that it’s a good buy. This assessment begins the moment they arrive to the front of your property.

The first impression the exterior of your house gives off sets the tone for how potential buyers feel about it. If the outside looks good and well-cared for, they’ll assume the inside of the house is the same way. Damages have the reverse effect, and can lead to potential buyers walking away without even going inside. This second article in our series on home maintenance focuses on how to keep the exterior of your home in top condition.

See also: Home Maintenance Guide: Kitchens & Bathrooms

Regularly inspect and shore up the foundation

Protecting the foundation of your home means doing your best to avoid having to make foundation repairs. While minor cracks can cost as little at $500 to repair, common foundation repairs run much higher, typically between $1,895 and $6,687. Not only are they costly, but foundation issues can lead to bigger problems in your home, which means more costs and more repairs.

The first sign of a possible problem in your foundation is a crack. Even the smallest ones should get checked out and sealed. To stay on top of cracks, it’s best to do a walk around your foundation every few months, getting one walkthrough done in the summer. If you discover a crack, make sure nothing else is going on with it, such as insects or water using it as a way into the foundation. Those are immediate signs there’s more damage. Fill in the cracks you find, and call a professional if you’re concerned there’s anything else associated with the problem.

Read more: How to Sell a House That Needs Work

You should also make sure you have a good drainage system around your foundation and that there’s a consistent moisture level in the surrounding dirt without too much puddling. As you water your grass, you’re also watering your foundation, which is a good thing. Keeping the dirt around your home moist can help prevent cracks.

Avoid keeping any large trees close to your foundation as well. Not only will the roots take necessary moisture away from your foundation, but root systems that get too big can also cause cracks.

Respect the roof and gutters

Replacing a roof is among the costliest upgrades a homeowner ever has to make. Average replacement costs start as low as $5,000 for a basic asphalt shingle roof, but bounce up closer to $25,000 for higher-end roof types. You want to try and avoid this type of work on your home for as long as possible.

Unfortunately, the average lifespan of a roof is only about 10 years. But this time can be extended if you practice good roof maintenance. This means keeping an eye on the state of your roof, taking note when certain issues arise, and addressing them quickly before secondary problems begin. Here are five quick tips for roof maintenance:

  1. Clean shingles periodically to keep them free from dirt, algae, moss, or fungal growth.
  2. Replace damaged, worn, or missing shingles as soon as you spot them.
  3. Address areas where sealant has cracked by applying a fresh coat after removing the old stuff.
  4. Keep overhanging branches off your roof and keep gutters clear. You don’t want any organic material laying on your roof for a long period of time.
  5. Get a professional roof inspection. If you suspect you might have a roof issue, have a pro come look at it. A roof inspection will cost a couple hundred bucks.

Pay close attention to the garage door

If your garage door starts making strange sounds, doesn’t seal at the bottom, or has jerky movements as it opens, it’s time to get it looked at by a professional. Ignoring issues like these can decrease the lifespan of your garage door. While having to replace your garage door isn’t the worst repair, dealing with the installation of a new one can be inconvenient.

In addition to keeping watch, you should also lubricate the moving parts on your garage door once a year. This quick activity keeps things running like the door is brand new. Garaga suggests using white lithium grease on the opener’s chain or screw and a spray lubricant, like WD-40, for the springs at the top of the door.

Finally, don’t let your garage door’s appearance go downhill. The garage is one of the first things a potential buyer notices on a home’s exterior. You might want to give it a fresh paint job to improve curb appeal. But remember, most garages come with a treated finish. So if you decide to paint your garage door, you should expect the new paint to need a new coat every five years or so.

Protect and care for your doors

Your home’s exterior doors endure a lot. They have one side that’s exposed to the elements, while the other gets kicked, slammed, and bumped repeatedly. They’re quick to look worn out, as paint fades and scratches appear, even when there is nothing wrong. No matter the abuse you put your doors through, one of the best maintenance tips as you ready your home for sale is to add a new layer of finish, paint, or stain. This gives it a new and appealing shine, erasing signs of rough use.

While living in your home, general door maintenance includes:

  • Keeping an eye on each door’s hardware. Make sure the locking mechanism continues to work well and the door doesn’t have trouble opening and closing. If you notice anything coming loose, tighten immediately, and don’t be shy about replacing hardware.
  • Checking for cracks in the weather stripping. You’ll notice this when you can feel outside air coming in through your door even when it’s closed. This also means inside air is escaping, which can raise your utility bills. Check the foam or rubber on the bottom and sides of your door and replace any that looks worn or has broken away.

Clean, fix, and replace your windows

Dirty and damaged windows can seriously impact the look of your home. Dirt and grime build-up can also negatively affect window panes, so the first bit of regular maintenance for windows is to keep them clean. This goes for the glass itself as well as the frame. As you’re cleaning, don’t forget to inspect the screens in your windows. Address any damage and make sure they stay debris-free.

Any cracks to the glass need immediate repair since they compromise a window’s strength. Another blow to an already cracked window can cause the whole thing to shatter. You should also make sure the weather stripping around your window remains intact since air gets in/escapes out through windows as well, which can affect your utility bill.

If you have old windows, there is no getting around an uncomfortable truth. They may need to be replaced if you want to interest from modern buyers. Consider replacing older windows with double pane windows. Before making that decision, do your research to understand the pros (they save money and look great) and cons (they’re expensive!).

Show off your home from the outside in

Keeping your house’s exterior looking good is about being observant. Should you notice any cracks, dirt, or damage, it’s best to address it as quickly as possible. That way, when you’re ready to sell your home, everything has been properly maintained.

However, if you discover a large issue at sale time that you simply cannot afford to fix, consider working with an off-market buyer to get a fair price for your home. At Sundae, we have a marketplace of property investors who can offer cash for your home without you having to clean or make repairs. Working with us, you can sell your home as-is. Additionally, you may be eligible for a cash advance of up to $10,000 to help with expenses.

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Kyle Spearin

Kyle is Sundae's Real Estate Editor. As both an investor and content marketing professional, Kyle combines his passion for real estate investing and educational background with his love of helping others. His experience with real estate tech companies, including contributing to BiggerPockets Pro, gives him insight into markets across the United States.