Organizing and Performing Your:


As a “For Sale by Owner” you will have to give your house a detailed home tune up.

Remember, the vast majority of home buyers aren’t looking for a “fixer upper”, let alone a reclamation project.

One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop. - G.M. Weilacher

The $300 light bulb:

You know - the one in that basement storage area that doesn’t work.

It’s just burnt out and YOU know it, but -

your potential buyer will think it’s an electrical problem.

Home buyers tend to think the worst and discount their offer accordingly.

A seventy-nine cent light bulb turns into $300 for an electrician.

What is a HOME TUNE UP?

A home tune up is much like a car tune up. With both you’re doing minor repairs to make it run smoother.

Performing a home tune-up is vital to your home preparation project, and there is only one way to do it - thoroughly and completely. Murphy’s Law tells us that anything you miss will be the first thing your prospective buyer will go to.

Grab a pencil and a legal pad.

At the top of each page write down the name of every room or area in your home. Kitchen, Living room, Den, Billie’s Bedroom, Master Bath, Laundry area, Basement, Garage, etc. Give every room it’s own page and don’t miss any.

Now we’re ready to begin your home tune up inspection, by going to go to each room and SYSTEMATICALLY looking for anything that is in need of repair or not in perfect working order. Systematically means starting at one point and working your way all the way around the room.

Just what are you looking for?
Let’s do a kitchen as an example.

Look at your cabinets - Are all the door pulls there? Are they tight? How about all the hinges - are any loose or squeaking?

Turn your attention to the drawers - Do they all open and close smoothly? Are the “stops” working? Any loose or missing handles?

Now the sink - Faucets working properly? No drips? Does the sink drain properly? How about the disposal? Sprayer? Water filter?

Inspect the on-off switches and plug-in receptacles - Do they work? Even inspect the plastic plate covers for chips or cracks. Make sure they are tight, too. And of course check all of the light bulbs.

Moving on to the windows - Do they open and close smoothly? Are there any cracked panes? What about the latches. Do they work okay? How about the screens - any holes?

Now your doors - Handles working? Do they lock properly? Do they open and close smoothly? No binding or squeaks? What about the weather-stripping - does it need replacing?

I could go on and on.

But I think that you’re probably getting the picture.Your home tune up inspection has to be done with the eye of a Marine drill sergeant. Don’t miss a thing! Move from left to right, wall to wall, ceiling to floor. Then go on to the next room.

Take your time. Do it right!

(As a side note: I would advise you to carry a couple of screwdrivers and a can of 3-in-1 oil with you while you're doing your home tune up inspection. It will take less time to tighten screws and oil squeaks as you go along than it will do write them down on your list, and come back to them later. You might want to have a variety of light bulbs handy also.)

Once your home tune up list is completed - for every room - it’s time to sit down with it and make some decisions.

Your first decision will be - What items, if any, on this home tune up list can I do myself?

If you are a single working mom, with soccer practice on Saturdays and Church on Sundays, the answer might be NONE.

However if you are a retired engineer with a tool shed that is the envy of the neighborhood, you might want to tackle the whole list.

For the rest of us the jobs that can be done yourself will fall somewhere in between. Go down your list. Those things that you choose to do yourself put a big “M” (for me) next to it.

Everything else - which may be a few items, or most of the home tune up list - will have to be:

- hired out to a handyman service

- or left undone, and sold “as is” (Yuk!)

Put a “H” (handyman) next to the items to be hired out. Hopefully this list will be small.

Cross through those things that you decide to sell “as is”. (This may not be as bad as it sounds. Sometimes there will be items in need of repair that adds or subtracts no value to your home.)

Concerning your “Me” items.

You are going to need to estimate just how much time it will take you to complete the items on your home tune up list that you plan on doing yourself. Now double it. (Murphy’s Law, again!)

Next you will have to decide where this time is going to come from. Do you take some vacation days or will you spread it over several week ends?

How will that fit into your time line for putting your home on the market?

If you are not going to be able to finish all of your home tune up tasks you will need to reassign some to the “H” list.

Concerning your “Handyman” items.

Finding a competent and reputable Handyman can sometimes be problematic. Check with friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors for recommendations. Check them out with the better business bureau. Or, use one of the emerging national handyman services. Some operate with solid business practices and provide a degree of guarantee you won‘t find with an individual.

Four things you need to establish before your handyman begins:

- Go over your list with them. Can they do the work? Some items may require specialized trades or licenses such as plumbing or electrical. If they can’t perform the work required, can they recommend a reputable contractor that can.

- It’s important that you know how you will be billed. Most will charge you on a per hour basis. This can range from $20 to $75, depending on your market and their competency. Be wary of the low end. The good ones are always busy and don’t need to discount. Ask them to estimate how long they think it will take to complete your list. Remember this is only an estimate, but a good handyman will keep you apprised of anything that drastically changes this estimate.

- How soon can they begin? Good handymen stay booked well in advanced. Sometimes you will get lucky, sometimes you will have to wait. The important point here is how will his schedule fit into your time line for putting your home on the market. You may just have to search for another repairman.

- It’s common practice for these services, especially individuals, to ask for a deposit before they begin. This is particularly so if there are materials and supplies that need to be purchased to complete your list. Don’t be alarmed if they ask for as much as 50% of their estimate. This is common. After all you did check them out with the better business bureau didn’t you? However, you should NEVER pay the full amount up front. You need to have some leverage to protect yourself should something become disputed.

At this point your home tune up list is complete and all of your important decisions are made.

You are now ready to make it happen!