As we near the end of summer, it’s time to look ahead and plan out home maintenance projects that have to be done before the cold weather strikes. Real estate agents can help homebuyers understand which home fixes take priority if their new home isn’t quite new. Likewise, agents can help sellers prioritize their last warm weather fixes to increase a home’s curb appeal. While the weather is warm and before the peak months of September and October, encourage clients to walk around the exterior of their home and make a list of problematic areas. Some can be fixed by the current owners and others will require assistance from an expert. To help locate any issues and take care of them before winter arrives, REALTORS® can help their clients by hiring a reliable, thorough home inspector to check around the exterior of the home. An inspector will be able to get to areas where a buyer may not want to venture, including the roof and under the home.

End-of-summer projects agents can suggest to their home sellers include:

1. Outdoor painting. If the owners don’t have the time or the resources to do a full painting job, have them go around the outside of the house and touch up any areas that look rough. If they find peeling paint, the areas can be scraped and sanded, then primed and painted to maintain even texture.

2. Outdoor caulking and sealing. Windows should be checked inside and out for possible leaks or cracks. With cold weather just around the corner, leaks or cracks could mean higher heating bills. Have leaks and cracks sealed with caulk, then look at the trim around each window—if any pieces are pulling out, have the owners check for mold or rotting, then replace or reattach wood.

3. Concrete and asphalt patching. If the home features an asphalt driveway, it can be repaired with asphalt patching material. Asphalt should be sealed every other year. If the driveway or walkways are concrete, cracks or holes can be repaired with epoxy patching material.

4. Patio and deck maintenance. On wood decks, rotted boards should be replaced, painted or stained as needed, and critter nests and debris cleared. On brick patios, owners should replace missing bricks, level off areas where tree roots have pushed up the bricks and re-grout any areas where weeds or weather have degraded the hold between bricks.

5. Landscaping. Keep landscaping clean and attractive. Weeds should be pulled, dropped fruits and nuts removed from under trees to deter animals, and trees and bushes trimmed so they don’t scrape the side of the house. Many landscaping companies offer affordable fall clean-up packages for homeowners who don’t want to do the work themselves.

If the home is still on the market leading into the holidays, owners can spend the colder months doing interior cosmetic upgrades, such as replacing floor coverings, upgrading cabinet hardware and interior painting. With a prioritized list, homeowners will feel more confident in their ability to finish interior updates before the start of the 2013 real estate season.

By Dan Steward is the president of Pillar To Post Home Inspections. For more information, visit