Clean your windows
Clean every window, inside and out. If you have permanently fogged up windows and live in a coop, see if the building will fix them for you. Windows in a coop are typically owned by the building. It might take a long time for management to arrange for a replacement, but an acknowledgement from the super and managing agent that they will handle it, and an estimated timeline for completion, will be reassuring to a buyer. If you live in a condo or house, the windows are your responsibility. At the very least, get a few estimates so the buyer knows exactly what they are in for.
Repair water leaks
There is almost no way to convince a buyer that a leak is fixed if the paint is yellowed and crumbling. If the leak has been fixed, remove any traces. If it’s an active leak, don’t even think about hiding it. Have it fixed or get a few written estimates describing the problem and potential costs for a solution. If you live in a coop or condo, it’s common for the leak to be the fault of a neighbor. Ask the managing agent whether they can help you take care of it, and try to get everything in writing so nobody points any fingers at you.
Make sure your toilets won’t leak
Lift your toilet seat cover. While standing and facing the wall, straddle your toilet and hold it firmly with your knees. If it shakes, you will need to tighten the bolts holding it to the floor or replace the wax ring. Replacing the wax ring involves removing your toilet entirely, but it’s almost certainly worth the little time and effort it requires. A new wax ring only costs a few dollars, and doing it yourself can save hundreds. You can learn how to do this job by consulting one of the many YouTube videos of the process.
To paint—or not to paint
Deciding whether your home needs fresh paint is a tough choice. Painting is involved, messy, and expensive. Try first using a Magic Eraser on the dirty spots. Do it lightly so the paint doesn’t scrub off. If this doesn’t help, or if the paint is cracked and peeling, take a paint chip to the paint store and see if they can color match it. You will have to paint the whole wall, from corner to corner, in order for it to look right. If the ceilings are yellow or discolored, paint them with standard ceiling white—but know that once you start, you will have to paint the whole thing.
Deep-clean your bathroom (grout!)
Spray heavy duty bleach on your bathroom grout and anywhere you see mold—maybe even on your bathroom ceiling. If this doesn’t get your grout clean, consider applying another coat of grout or regrouting. If you decide on another coat, be sure to roughen up your existing grout and remove any loose grout with a grout scraper. When the new grout is dry, apply sealant to make the job last and remove any loose debris with a grout scraper.
Clean where your tub or shower meets the wall with bleach. After letting it dry thoroughly, put a bead of white, mold resistant silicone around your tub. If your tub is a complete mess, hire a tub refinisher. It’s not expensive and makes a huge difference. If your vanity or bathroom tile is really dated, loud, or just looks awful, it’s possible to reglaze. It won’t take the place of a gut renovation, but it will make the bathroom look clean and fresh.
Check on your boiler
Make sure your boiler inspection is up to date. In some coops, boilers are central and management will have up-to-date records and inspections. For a house, multifamily building, or a newer condo, where you have your own mechanicals, it’s your responsibility.
These pesky tasks can all put money in your pocket. For more things to do around the house, check out our electrical tips. Or to start strategizing about the sales process, learn how to plan open houses or download our free comprehensive guide to selling your home. Remember, the more you do ahead of time, the smoother and more lucrative your sale can be.