Good maintenance protects home value

Kristi Bailey 2020 NETAR President

Good maintenance is a significant factor in a home’s value over the long run. While most people have some knowledge of things like cleaning gutters, changing heating and cooling system filters, and lawn upkeep, what’s needed for appliances and fixtures is not very high on the awareness list. And almost all of it is off the radar for today’s first-time buyers.

A survey of 1,000 homeowners nationwide illustrates the lack of awareness in the seldom-discussed household appliances and fixtures maintenance area. It found one-in-four owners admitted no knowledge of basic maintenance for standard home appliances. According to Sears Home Services’ research, the most common malfunctions – or replacements – due to maintenance neglect include washing machines, refrigerators, dryers, microwaves, dishwashers, ovens, garbage disposals, stovetops, sinks and drain and freezers.

Most people accept that homeownership is a wise investment. It represents one of the biggest expenditures a family makes. It’s also a cornerstone for owners to building wealth as the property’s value appreciates.  And home maintenance is a big factor in keeping that smart investment in good shape. In fact, preventative maintenance and upkeep are essential to preserving a home’s value. Ignoring it could cost up to 10 percent of its value, according to some experts.

“It’s the little things that tend to trip up people,” according to Frank Lesh, former president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Some cracked caulk around windows, or maybe a furnace filter that hasn’t been changed in a while. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half-hour of sweat equity, he added.

While upkeep costs are not part of the monthly mortgage payment obligation, it’s a priority on the savvy owner’s to-do list. In some years, that cost will be minor. At other times it won’t be so easy on the wallet. Census data says over time, it averages out to over $3,000 a year. The rule of thumb is owners should budget 1 to 3 percent of the home’s cost each year for maintenance.

Some owners buy maintenance plans for major items like HVAC or other mechanical systems. It’s a good idea for those systems that require a higher level of technical upkeep. But for those who don’t have the time or desire for the do-it-yourself items, there are firms that offer seasonal home maintenance packages. Yet most of today’s owners take the do-it-yourself route for much of the maintenance and upkeep. And they have a best friend and trusted resource in HouseLogic compliments of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

HouseLogic is a free source of information and tools from the NAR that homeowners can use to make smart and timely decisions about their homes. Its content covers home improvement, maintenance, taxes, finance, insurance, and ways for homeowners to get involved in and enrich their communities. A good introduction and starting point is the report on home maintenance myths at

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee – Southwest Virginia region representing over 1,400 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics can be found on the NETAR websites at

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at