A fireplace ranks high on the list of amenities that most buyers want, so if you have one, make the most of it.
Be sure the fireplace is in sound condition before you list, especially if you have an older home. If your fireplace has a chimney, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that it be cleaned and inspected annually, and requires an inspection before real property is transferred. In North Carolina, regulations are less strict than the NFPA guidelines, but the inspection is still a good idea. Indications that your fireplace needs attention include dirty glass doors, sooty fireplace logs, difficulty starting a fire, and/or flames that drop out.
Typically, home inspectors aren’t trained as chimney inspectors, so have your chimney cleaned and then inspected by a certified chimney specialist to be certain it’s operating correctly and is properly ventilated. Cleaning fees vary, depending on the condition of the fireplace. The cost of an inspection with a video camera is about $150, depending on what is needed. Flues from a gas or oil furnace or a gas water heater also vent potentially lethal gases, so have those flues inspected too. Being pro-active can help keep repair costs down. The inspector will be able to provide the details about the fireplace that you need for the MLS listing.
If you have a hearth product fueled by gas, call PSNC and have a licensed technician verify that the gas line and connections have been properly installed and are operating correctly. Because of the potential exposure to lethal gases, place a carbon monoxide detector on every level of the house and outside every sleeping area. Although this is a crucial precaution in houses with an unvented fireplace, most houses need at least one carbon monoxide detector.
A fireplace is a natural focal point and plays a key role in marketing pictures. Simple, properly scaled decorative accessories photograph best. They should suit the architecture and décor and be appropriate all year. The MLS sheet should specify if the fireplace is vented or unvented, and whether it burns wood, natural gas or propane. Include the inspection report and the invoices for cleaning and repairs in the marketing binder, as well as the operating manual(s) for all fireplace equipment.
Smart Selling Tip: Have your fireplace cleaned, inspected and repaired, if needed, before you list. Prepare the fireplace to star in pictures.
©2010 Sandy LeRoy and Mary Stephens