Focus on the Little Things

It’s easy to get carried away thinking about elaborate renovations to kitchens and bathrooms, but there are many small improvements and maintenance items that are equally important. They don’t cost much, but they can help make buyers feel comfortable with a home and reduce the chance of red flags during a home inspection.

Sellers “should sweat the small stuff,” said Kathleen Kuhn, the president and chief executive of HouseMaster, a home inspection company with franchises across the United States and Canada.

That includes burned-out light bulbs, which should be replaced. “Otherwise, it’s a question mark,” Ms. Kuhn said, because a fixture that won’t turn on may make a buyer wonder if there’s a problem with the wiring.

Eliminate unnecessary extension cords for similar reasons. While you may have added them for convenience, they can raise concerns about the electrical system.

You should also repair any windows and doors that don’t open and close easily, she said, and fix loose or leaky faucets.

If there’s a stain on the ceiling from a toilet overflow, repair the drywall and paint in that area so buyers won’t worry that there’s a leaky pipe. “That stain on the ceiling raises a lot of questions,” Ms. Kuhn said. “We can test and verify that it’s dry, but it will still loom in the buyer’s mind.”

At the end of the day, she noted, a long list of little issues can look like a big problem: “You want your home to come across as well maintained, both in the inspector’s eyes and the buyer’s eyes.”