It may sound unnecessarily pessimistic, but in times of economic upheaval, one of the best precautions home owners can take against financial disaster is to keep their property in sale-ready condition.
That’s the word from Gerhard Kotzé, MD of the RealNet estate agency group, who notes: “Ratings downgrades, slow economic growth and rising prices are bad enough when you are employed, but they can also result in people losing their jobs or getting into so much debt that they can no longer afford their bond repayments and have to try to sell their homes before they get repossessed”.
“Of course the banks all have “assisted sale” programmes for people who find themselves in this situation, and these can easily be accessed through our realRESCUE service on but by that stage it is too late for most owners to start thinking about repairs or improvements that could increase the sale value of their property.”
And if that is the case, he says, it is likely that they will get less than they had hoped for, while the few who did take the longer view and kept their homes in good condition before they fell behind will find that they sell relatively easily and at a better price.
“What is more, home owners who make a monthly or annual investment in maintenance and upkeep will save money in the long run, even if they have no need or plan to sell. Repairing the damage done to paintwork, ceilings and carpets after a geyser burst, for example, is likely to cost much more than the timely replacement of an ageing geyser, before it bursts.”
Similarly, says Kotzé,progressive painting of say, the exterior of the house one year, the interior the next, the garage and outbuildings and the surrounding wall in following years will avoid the major cost of a big paint job all at once. Carried out in stages, it can probably also be paid for from current income rather than savings.
“All plumbing and electrical systems should also be regularly checked. Home owners should scan all visible water pipes for cracks, leaks or severe rusting and repair dripping taps and leaking cisterns. A dose of drain cleaner will usually clear sluggish drains and a visual inspection of the geyser will ensure it is intact and undamaged.”
He says that on the electrical side, owners should check the distribution box and fuses for any signs of scorching and check all visible cabling for worn insulation and signs of shorting or exposed wires. “Check the wall plugs and switches, and remove all “temporary” installations with trailing wires and extension cords that could become a fire hazard. Don’t overload plugs and tidy up tangled connections behind TVs, music centres and computers”.
“Then on the exterior of the house, clearing the gutters should be a regular task. Overflows can damage paint, plaster and brickwork and a blockage can cause the gutter system to collapse. Owners should also check for wind and storm damage to the roof, loose tiles, gaps in the flashing and damage around chimneys”.
“Tree branches and shrubbery should be kept well clear of telephone and electricity cables, window putty should be checked for damage and window frames and doors should be regularly sanded and painted or varnished.”
Kotzé says that if owners can keep to a regular maintenance “schedule”, they will usually find that any repairs needed are small tasks that they can handle themselves and thus make further savings. “However, if outside contractors do need to be called in, it always pays to get competitive quotes, and to check references from previous customers before you give the go-ahead for the work to be done.”