We tend to buy the most house we can afford and often push our financial comfort zone a bit. Then we move in and kind of forget it. We get used to the cabinet door that doesn’t quite fit right. We don’t notice that the paint is starting to peel around the outside of the windows. We may not be as attentive to the landscape as the previous owner. This is normal and happens everywhere. The trouble is, all those little maintenance projects we put off can slowly erode the resale value of your home.

It is likely that at some point you will sell your house. It may be in the next couple of years, or way off in the future. In any case, when the day comes to sell, you will want to get the highest price the market will allow. That requires a home that is sale ready. This is where all that deferred maintenance comes back to bite.

The best way to protect the resale value of your home is to do something every year. To fix the little things right away and to update the house a little bit at a time. This way you get to enjoy the improvements, and the house is kept up, and up to date. Both of which are important to the price you can get and how fast your house will eventually sell. This is the case in any kind of market.

With the new year upon us, it is a great time to pretend that you are going to sell your house. Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. Walk around with a notepad and write down all the things you would notice if you were looking to buy your house.

You’ll want to pay special attention to the condition and style of the kitchen and bathrooms, as they are what sell houses. Are they way out of style? Do the appliances match, and function? What is the condition of the flooring? Any leaks under the sinks or in the shower? Add these items to your list.

Now separate the list into things you can handle with just a few dollars and your time and those that require professional help and a larger investment. Pick items from the first list and schedule time to get them done. Items on the second list will require a bit more planning and saving. You may want to break down the larger more expensive projects into stages as well. Also, look for alternatives to refresh the rooms rather than completely remodeling them.

When you are ready to sell, walk through your home with a Realtor and make a list of any remaining items that need to be addressed prior to listing your home for sale. A good Realtor will concentrate on the things that will have the greatest impact for the least amount of money.

Ann Snortland, Realtor, GRI, Clearwater Montana Properties in Helena, specializing in recreational and residential real estate.

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