Blog: Don’t Let Cracks Hold up Your Home’s Sale this Spring

0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail


Second in a series of four articles to prepare your home for the Spring Market.

As we hunker down during the winter months, our homes are also settling, especially those built in the 1920s, which is majority of homes in Maplewood and South Orange. When homes settle, sometimes what appears are those unsettling cracks, a common occurrence in older homes. For people who are considering selling their humble abodes, take heed on those nooks and crannies.

When a prospective buyer enters a home, their first impression is key. They may feel a connection with the space until they see that crack, and they believe that there is something wrong with the foundation. Immediately their impression is altered to a potential money pit, and they move on to another home. As a Realtor, I have seen buyers fixated on cracks that sellers could have easily fixed, and that was a deal breaker.



From superficial cracks to foundation issues, resolving the damage is recommended and necessary prior to listing a home. If you do not have any cracks, always paint your home before you list.

Cracks around Windows and Doors:

With windows and doors it is easy to see little cracks due to the continuous opening and closing. The problem could be the paint, faulty hardware, or cracked wood. What to do? Fix it. If you are a do-it-yourself (DIY) type of person, it is recommended to apply a self-adhesive fiberglass mesh tape over the cracks, then cover the tape with a joint compound, but make sure it looks seamless so spread the compound out at least 12 inches. Let it dry, then paint.   A common rule of thumb with cracks is: tape, spackle, and paint.


Seasonal changes and age effects the settling of the home. Yes, your home moves with the weather! Wood expands and contracts. When there is moisture and heat, the wood expands, and when it is cold and dry, it will contract. This movement is normal, but sometimes – crack! When a home ages, the wood dries. Walls get brittle, and with all that movement over the years, walls can get stressed out.

Keeping this in mind, you may find a crack in the wall. There is a difference between plaster walls and dry walls in homes. I have seen both types of walls, and depending on what type of wall you have will determine how you will handle the crack. Assess the damage, and if you are unsure, bring in a professional. For drywall, a common DIY is again, to tape, spackle, paint.

Buyers may misinterpret that there are serious foundation and settling issues with plaster walls, but it may be due to advanced age of plaster skin coat. If that is the case, it is recommended to cover the entire wall with a new layer of thin plasterboard or with large rolls of fiberglass mesh tape and joint compound, and then paint. If you are a DIY and have plaster walls, here is a tutorial from This Old House that walks you through the process:,,20206134,00.html


Soil, water, home settling movement could be the cause of a crack in the foundation. Again, always assess the situation. Check the perimeter of the home’s foundation outside and inside. Are your drains cleaned? If not, it could be causing moisture issues in your foundation. Check the basement, crawl spaces, beams. If there is a crack in the foundation, call in a professional, such as a structural engineer who will assess and fix the problem. Structural issues can be a breaking point in the sale of your home.

Always Paint:

A fresh coat of paint enhances the salability of your home. It makes the home clean, and it is cost effective. Deciding upon colors for the rooms? I recommend neutral colors. If you have an accent wall, it is fine to add a bold splash of color or even wallpaper. Remember to look up at those ceilings. Paint that, too. If your ceilings had old water leakage that has been patched up, make sure the entire ceiling surface is painted. I know wonderful professional home stagers who can make good recommendations on what colors to use and what wallpaper patterns are appealing.

If another blizzard hits Essex County and you are handy with home repairs, don’t settle down, get cracking…. and painting!

Robert Northfield is a top real estate expert in the Maplewood, Milburn, Short Hills, South Orange, West Orange, Montclair areas and surrounding towns at KW Mid-Town Direct.

Related Articles