The race to beat El Niño for home sellers

Rain_cloud_El_NiñoIf you are gearing up to sell your Los Gatos area home before the end of the year, or in the first three or four months of next year, it is not too soon to begin the outside jobs.  Right now it’s dry, which makes much of the exterior work easier.  Waiting until the rains arrive will only make these jobs more miserable to do.

If you are targeting an autumn home sale with a very impending rainy season, here are some suggestions for preparing your home to sell ahead of El Niño’s arrival:

  1. Create a punch list of work to do outside (and inside, too).  Do a “walk around” the outside of your home, and bring someone along who does not live there to help you to identify things which need repairing, replacing, or cleaning up.  (When you see something all the time, it may seem normal to you and you  won’t realize it needs addressing.) Your Realtor is often an ideal person to help you with this list.
  2. Get any leaves or pine needles off your roof or have someone else do this for you.
  3. Have your roof inspected and have the “tune up work” and gutters cleaned now (get a quality roofer or roofing inspection company from your Realtor) .  Roofing companies are backlogged as it is, so if you put this off it could be too late.
  4. Power washing is not allowed with our current drought caused water restrictions, but the exterior of homes should be swept clean of spider webs and dust easily enough, so take care of that soon.  Pay special attention to the area near the front door.
  5. Plan to do exterior painting and other work now.  Wood trim tends to need painting every 5 years or so.  If yours looks tired or neglected, it sends a signal to home buyers that other things may be neglected, too.
  6. Check the sidewalk condition for safety.  Is it lifted and a tripping hazard?  If so, contact the town of Los Gatos (if a resident) and get it on the schedule to be repaired.  (San Jose residents must pay for this themselves but that city requires a permit, which can take weeks to obtain.) For more on this, read a related article: Who maintains the sidewalks in Los Gatos – the home owner, or the town?
  7. Change exterior light bulbs if needed.
  8. Paint, polish, or replace your mailbox. Clean the hardware on your front door.

There will be many more things to do indoors, of course, but if you can address these outdoor items before the rain comes, they will be far easier to tackle.

Related reading:

Tips for selling your home in an El Niño year

Heavy rains, sump pump failures, flooding and insurance

Beware!Our much needed heavy rains have come at last.  A bucket in my backyard has collected more than 6 inches of water in just a few days.

Rain is collecting in other places, too.  Sump pumps are common in Los Gatos – particularly if your home is on or near a hill.  Most are run on electricity only.  Some have battery backups so that they keep working when the power fails.

But what if the sump pump malfunctions and stops working?  It may result in water accumulating in a crawl space.  Or if the sump pump aims to keep a basement dry, it could end up flooded.

What I’m learning this week is that sump pump failures are not covered by home owner’s insurance unless there’s a special rider or endorsement attached.  (And a home warranty won’t cover the sump pump failure if they determine that it was installed incorrectly.)

If you have a sump pump, it’s important to keep it clear of debris and perform maintenance so that it doesn’t give up the ghost when you need it most.  If that sump pump is protecting living space especially, please talk to your insurance agent about adding a rider and whether that makes sense for you and your specific property.    Lastly, please consider upgrading the sump pump to one with a battery backup, too.

Here are a couple of related articles fyi:

Beware of These Common Holes in Homeowners Insurance Coverage (US News article)

Will Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Sump Pump Failure? (Article on Zack’s)

Selling Your Home in a Rainy El Ni

January 19, 2010

Lightning is flashing, thunder is rumbling, the rain is coming down and instead of hibernating, you are trying to sell your home.  With a front yard saturated and soupy, what can you do to make your home inviting and pleasing to the serious home buyers who brave this kind of soggy winter weather?

Winter home selling poses some challenges, and all of them are exaggerated in a year like this El Ni