When you get ready to sell your home and move on, your to-do list expands, and quickly. That’s why you should take any unnecessary tasks off your plate.
While you may not want to sell a house in poor condition and you should do what you can to make your home as appealing as possible to buyers, there are some efforts that just don’t get the most bang for their buck or justify the work they require.
Before you hire a contractor or head to Home Depot, here’s a guide to what not to fix, so you can focus your time, money, and energy on other parts of the home selling process.
Before you start making a to-do list of all the things you need to fix in your home before selling, it's essential to understand that not everything needs to be fixed. Here are some reasons why:
There is no need to replace things that are in good condition or upgrade your home beyond what the market will bear. Keep in mind that not all home improvements provide a return on investment. For example, you might not recoup the cost of a high-end kitchen remodel or an expensive swimming pool when you sell your home.
Remember that not all buyers will be looking for the same things in a home. Potential buyers might ask seller credits for repairs or negotiate the price and shoulder minor repairs on their own. It's important to be aware of what buyers in your area are looking for and what they are willing to overlook after the home inspection results come in.
Fixing everything in your home can take a lot of time, which may delay the selling process. It's important to balance the need to fix things with the time constraints of selling your home.
Go big or go home if you’re going to start a renovation, especially when it comes to your bathrooms and kitchens. If you have outdated rooms in your home, doing partial updates like adding new countertops but keeping old cabinets doesn’t look good — and often does more harm than good during the sales process.
If you don't plan to fully update or renovate a space, you should leave it to the prospective buyers. They can pick the styles they like without adding the cost of a partial renovation to your sale price.
→ Learn whether you need a permit for that renovation
Speaking of electrical issues, don’t sweat the minor ones. A light switch that turns nothing on or a wobbly electrical socket won’t scare off eager buyers. Focus your repair efforts on major electrical issues that are dangerous or inconvenient for the buyers to fix. A lot of the time, minor ones aren’t even mentioned in the home inspection report and the buyer is unlikely to notice them on their own.
Don’t crack under the pressure to fix every little, well, crack. It’s a good idea to invest in the curb appeal of your home, as that’s the first impression any potential buyer will get when they attend your open house, but buyers likely won’t bat an eye at hairline cracks that don’t present any safety risks.
There’s no need to replace older appliances unless they are truly broken or a major eyesore. Should you decide to replace the appliances before moving, you can save by opting for pre-owned appliances instead of splurging on state-of-the-art and brand new things.
Prospective buyers typically aren’t expecting brand spanking new appliances anyways, unless they’re buying a new construction. Scan Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for gently used items at a fraction of the price.
→ More about including home appliances in a home sale
While windows are an essential part of any home, fixing them before selling may not always be necessary. Minor issues such as a broken seal or a crack may not affect the functionality of the window and may not be a deal-breaker for potential buyers.
Fixing windows can also be costly and time-consuming, especially if the windows need to be replaced entirely. It's important to consider the cost and potential return on investment of fixing windows before putting your home on the market. “Replacing windows that are already in working condition, but maybe not as energy efficient as new ones, would add zero value to the home,” according to licensed real estate agent Rachel Bennett.
→ Find out how to actually increase home value
Buyers can look past outdated detachable fixtures, furniture, and art, so you don’t need to replace them. Since these features won’t typically be included in the sale, having newer versions won’t make much of an impact towards how much your home is worth from a buyer's perspective.
Instead of replacing removable you can get rid of them all together and/or hire a home stager. Give your home a good declutter and at the same time get a head start on your future move, by donating anything you don’t want anymore. Your open houses will be more effective and it will be easier to pack and move when the time comes.
When it comes time to prepare your home to sell, you should try to keep up with the Joneses to a certain extent, but there’s no need to outshine them. A real estate agent can conduct a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to give you an idea of what other homes in the area are selling for. When you see a home listed at a price close to what you want to sell your home for, you can see how your home stacks up and what changes you need to make to keep pace.
It’s a cliche for a reason, but you don’t want to own the best house on the block. Even if you choose to invest in pricey home renovations that aren’t the norm in your neighborhood — like extensive landscaping or a home theater — you aren’t likely to generate enough of a return to make them financially worthwhile.
While not everything needs to be fixed before selling your home, there are some things that you should address. Here are some examples:
Major issues like a leaky roof, foundation problems, plumbing issues, and outdated electrical systems should be fixed before putting your home on the market. (A roof that does have life still in it doesn’t need to be fixed though, says Bennett.) The home inspector will usually flag these issues, which can be deal-breakers for buyers and may prevent your home from selling.
Learn about the most expensive home repairs
Safety issues like mold, asbestos, or radon gas should be addressed before putting your home on the market. These issues can pose health risks to potential buyers and should be dealt with promptly.
No buyer expects to walk in and find a pristine home from top to bottom, but fixing certain cosmetic flaws, like adding a fresh coat of paint before selling, can make a home look more appealing to potential buyers. Addressing these minor cosmetic issues, like a fresh paint job, can go a long way in improving your home's overall look and feel because it boosts curb appeal.
Before you invest in a time consuming and stressful renovation or repair project, do your own research to determine how worthwhile the undertaking will be.
Homeowners who are unsure what to fix and what to leave alone should also lean on their listing agent. While every agent will encourage you to clean and declutter your home both inside and out, an experienced one will help you fine-tune your home in the most time- and cost-effective ways.
Hire a local real estate agent who really knows your community and what the surrounding real estate market is like. They’ll know what the condition of comparable homes in the area are like so you can aim to refresh your home to meet similar standards.
When you list your house with Orchard, our agents can recommend upgrades that’ll help sell your home for top-dollar. And, our Concierge service will handle them with no upfront cost. Get started with a free home valuation.
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