Spring Home Maintenance

Every spring, daylight savings time gives us an extra hour of light in the evening. Here are some home maintenance tips that you can use while enjoying that extra spring sunshine.

Repair the Ravages of Winter

Prune your trees and shrubs.

Head to the shed and do a “tool inventory” to make sure you have all the items you’ll need in the months ahead. Inspect the tools you already have. For example, test your hoses for leaks.

Spring is a good time to paint fences and the exterior of your home, especially wood surfaces. This way, they will be protected from summer heat and sun. Wood decks should also be sealed once a year.

Since roofing shingles are brittle in winter, they may break if you handle or walk on them. This makes spring a good time to do an inspection. Look for loose or curling shingles.

Now that the heating season is over, have a chimney sweep clean any fireplaces and flues.

Inspect door and window screens for tears. You can often repair small tears using a kit from your local hardware store. This will prevent insects from getting into your home, and keep you comfortable on the screened porch.

Clean your gutters.

Beautify the Outside of Your Home

Before you buy seedlings, make notes about where you would like to plant flowers and how much shade and sun these areas receive. This will help you determine which flowers are appropriate for which areas.

After any planting, be sure to water and mulch properly.

Consider planting flowers in hanging baskets if your garden space is limited.

If you have bare patches in your lawn, prepare these areas for seed or sod. To care for your new and existing grass, be sure to water properly.


Before cleaning gutters or climbing onto your roof, make sure your ladder is in good shape.

Reacquaint yourself with lawnmower safety tips and inspect all electrical lawn and garden tools.

If you haven’t used your circular power saw since last summer, review the operations manual and safety tips before you begin cutting.

Source: Federal Citizen Information Center of the U.S. General Services Administration.

Seller’s Checklist

Here’s a quick list of some easy ways to make your home more attractive to buyers. Milton Ryan can provide you with a full evaluation to help you get maximum value for your greatest asset.

Curb Appeal Brings Them In. Your lawn should be trimmed and edged. Shrubs should be shaped.

The Front Door Greets the Prospect. It should be clean and have a welcoming decoration.

Let the Sun Shine In. Open draperies and curtains to make your home cheerful.

Fix that Faucet. Dripping water discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing.

Repairs Can Make a Big Difference. Loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, or other minor flaws detract from the value of your home. Have them fixed prior to placing your home on the market.

Market Your Home from Top to Bottom. Display the value of your attic and basement.

Eliminate Clutter. Remove all unnecessary articles.

Safety First! Keep stairways clear. Avoid possible injuries and litigation.

Make Closets Look Bigger! Neat, well ordered closets show that space is ample.

Turn on all lights.

Preparing to Sell Your Home

There are many things to consider when preparing to sell your home, and the more prepared you are for the journey, the easier it will be. Here are some basics to consider:

Presentation is everything.

You’d be amazed at the difference “cosmetic” improvements can make in how buyers react to your home. So you may want to spend some time sprucing up your home with paint and landscaping as well as taking care of necessary repairs you may have been avoiding. This not only will help you get the very best price, but may help you get an offer sooner.

Make arrangements for pet care.

If your house is also home to a cat or dog, that can be noted in your listing so that real estate agents act with due caution. You may want to close your pets off in a separate room or fenced area outside, or request advance notice when your house is to be shown.

There is great value in placing a lock box on your home.

A lock box is a key storage system placed on an entrance to your home that is accessible only by active, licensed real estate agents. With today’s technology, most lock boxes allow us to know which sales agent showed your house and when. A lock box allows sales agents to show your home when you’re not there, without having to go to the listing sales agent’s office to obtain (and later return) the key. By making it more convenient for real estate agents to show your home, it will be viewed by a greater number of buyers.

What follows are a few other questions that I frequently answer for my clients as they consider whether or not to sell their home.

Q:  Why shouldn’t I price my house a little high, since I can always drop the price later?

A: That’s a strategy that sounds good – but, in fact, is more likely to result in a lower price. Here’s why. The first few weeks a house is on the market is when it will have the most activity. If a house is overpriced, it has to compete with houses at that higher price level, which are houses at that higher price level, which are almost certainly larger or have newer/more luxurious features.

So the overpriced home is unlikely to attract an offer. Worse yet, those first weeks are when real estate agents preview the house. If it’s overpriced, they may not even bother to show it to their buyers. Eventually, the seller will have to drop the price – and may end up with an even lower price because buyers will wonder why the house has been on the market so long and may factor that into their offer.

Q: What is meant by the term “contingency” in a sales contract?

A: Sales contracts typically contain several “contingency” clauses, or stipulations that the sale is subject to. For example, with a mortgage contingency, if the buyer is unable to obtain financing within the specified timeframe, neither the buyer nor the seller is required to complete the purchase. Among other common provisions in the “subject to” section are termite and other inspection issues and the purchaser’s need to sell a current home first.

Q: What is an escape clause?

A: An escape clause, also known as a kickout or knockout clause, is a provision that allows the party to void the contract. For example, the seller may retain the right to look for a more favorable offer, with the original purchaser retaining the right, if challenged, either to firm up the first sales contract (such as by waiving a contingency) or to void the contract. As another example, sellers might insist upon an escape clause in a contract that hinges on the buyers’ selling their home.

To make an appointment to discuss your realty needs, Call Milton Ryan today at 202.550.7316 in DC or 571.243.2697 in Northern Virginia.