What you think is a homey living room filled with family treasures may be someone else’s idea of clutter.

Share story

Q: We’re looking to sell and want to make our home as appealing as possible. What can we do?

A: Making the decision to sell your home can be very emotional, and it can be difficult to view it objectively. You may think your home is worth a king’s ransom, but your listing broker may do the comps and tell you otherwise. So you decide that the best way to get the full value out of your home is to make sure it looks great inside and out.

There are a lot of things you can and should do yourself, though homeowners are often unable to view their homes through the eyes of a potential buyer. What you think is a great, homey living room filled with family treasures may be someone else’s idea of clutter. Prepping your home prior to putting it on the market will help you set the stage for success.

We asked Julz Carey, a licensed home inspector with Datum Inspection Services in Seattle, about the top things she looks for in an inspection.

Maintenance: Homes need ongoing maintenance to function as designed. Appliances need to be serviced regularly. Look to see if maintenance stickers are on furnaces and water heaters.

Upgrades: Whether your home is newer or older, upgrades can make a difference. Are the window seals shot? The hardwood floors scratched? Carpet stained? Replacing these things will keep them off of the buyer’s fix list.

Safety: This can be anything from unmaintained heating systems, poorly supported (or rotting) deck, missing screens in bedrooms, loose stair handrails or an obsolete electrical panel.

Moisture: The Northwest climate creates some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. However, when that lush green growth is coming up inside the siding or you have small trees growing in your gutters, inspectors start looking for signs of moisture damage. Trim vegetation away from your foundation (to avoid moisture and dangerous wood-destroying organisms), clean your gutters, fix plumbing leaks (check under your sinks and in the crawl space of your home) and move debris like woodpiles away from your house.

“If you really want an analysis on how your home will fare during an inspection, you should schedule a pre-inspection with a license inspector,” Carey says. “That will give you a list of things you can do to make sure your home passes inspection.”

If you plan to do some of the home repairs yourself, proceed with caution. Here are some of the top DIY mistakes homeowners make during repairs.

Unrealistic goals: Make sure your repairs don’t create more issues.

Poor safety: Falling off a ladder, inhaling fumes, and slicing open fingers are just a few of the common DIY injuries.

Not asking permission: Fines for unapproved improvements such as additions or electrical work can be hefty.

Kellee Bradley is the public relations manager at John L. Scott Real Estate and a member of theMaster Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. HomeWork is the MBA’s weekly column about home care, repair and improvement. Send your questions about home improvement to homework@mbaks.com.