Making repairs and upgrades after you empty out your home

When you first arrive at a newly purchased home, you'll get a rare chance to complete certain tasks without moving furniture or other items. This opportunity may only come around again when you move out of a property, at which point you'll likely to leave this work to the home's next owner.

However, completing a few repairs or upgrades can often be a worthwhile project when you leave a home. Removing items can unveil long-concealed scuffs, scratches, or other problems; if the issue is serious enough, it can even delay or cancel a sale when spotted by a buyer on a final walkthrough of the home. If you move out before you've found a buyer, doing some small upgrades can help improve the home's appeal.

Once everything's been packed away on the moving truck, look through your rooms to make sure nothing was left behind. Don't forget any exterior areas or outbuildings, along with spaces such as the attic, basement, and crawlspace. Diane Schmidt, writing for the home design site The Spruce, says you'll also want to look through your drawers and cabinets.

Make sure you've gotten rid of any garbage as well. Food waste and certain other items can create a foul smell if left behind.

This inspection can also check for any obvious problems. Moving bulky items out of the home can sometimes result in damage such as scrapes on the floor or walls. Kacie Goff, writing for the home design site Freshome, says you can check for leaks by observing the water meter after two hours where no one uses a water source in the home; if it moves during that time, there is a leak somewhere in the home that should be addressed.

In addition, check for any outdated or cracked electrical outlet plates. Daniel Bortz, writing for, says these can present a fire hazard and should be replaced.

It's courteous to do some cleaning before leaving the home, such as vacuuming and wiping down surfaces. If you haven't found a buyer yet, however, you should do some more intense tidying. Courtney Craig, writing for the home improvement site HouseLogic, recommends renting a steam cleaner for your carpets or hiring a professional carpet cleaning service.

For hardwood floors, consider repairing any serious scratches and refinishing the floors. Bortz says you can also use a cleaner that contains isopropyl alcohol to get any grease or other messes off the floor. Simply rubbing the floor with a tennis ball can help remove scuffs left by shoes.

If you used nails to hang up artwork, use a spackling compound to fill the holes left in the walls. You can also consider repainting the home's interior, particularly if you have any unusual colors you might want to replace with neutral tones.

Some small upgrades can help improve the appearance of your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers. These might include updating the knobs and handles in your kitchen and bathrooms. You might also consider larger upgrades, such as replacing an inefficient toilet with a low-flow model.

If you'll be leaving the home vacant while listing it, take steps to make sure it will be safe in your absence. Schmidt says all doors and windows should be locked. During colder months, keep the thermostat set at a temperature where the pipes won't freeze.


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