In this article:
When you get ready to sell a house, your to-do list expands, and quickly. Which is why, whenever possible, you should take unnecessary tasks off your plate. While 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 you the most bang for your buck or justify the work they require.
Let’s take a look at what should you not fix when selling a house, so you can direct your time, money, and energy to other parts of the home selling process.
What not to fix when selling a house
Before you head to Home Depot or hire a contractor, let’s look at some common home repairs that you can skip.
1. Partial fixes
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 If you have outdated rooms in your home, doing partial updates like adding new countertops but keeping old cabinets doesn’t look good — and often does more harm than good during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.
Unless you’re going to present a buyer with a fully updated room, let them do a round of full updates where they can pick the styles they like and don’t add the cost of a partial renovation to your sale price. Some buyers look forward to doing renovations and would prefer to buy a true fixer upper instead. Not to mention, when you skip renovations, you don’t have to worry about permits.
2. Cosmetic damage
No buyer expects to walk in and find a pristine home from top to bottom. What they do expect is to be able to buy a home without major structural issues or stressful problems like out-of-date plumbing or electrical systems. Focus your efforts on improving those areas, as buyers easily overlook small cosmetic damages like scuffed floors and chipped paint, but will walk away from a home with major and necessary repair needs.
3. Minor electrical issues
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. Again, focus your repair efforts on major electrical issues that are dangerous or inconvenient for the buyers to fix. A lot of the time, minor electrical issues aren’t even mentioned in the inspection report and the buyer is unlikely to notice them on their own.
4. Driveway and walkway cracks
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.
5. Repainting in trendy colors
If you pop on to any home listing website right now, you’ll notice every home has a shiny new coat of gray paint in an attempt to make the home look more modern and trendy. You can’t fool buyers with trendy paint colors, especially if the rest of the home needs a makeover. Your potential buyers may not even like whatever color is in vogue right now, and a fresh coat of paint in the color of their choice is an easy fix most buyers are happy to take on. If your home truly does need a fresh coat of paint, keep the paint colors neutral and avoid any trends that don’t appeal to the masses. Painting your home a trendy color isn’t a change you need to make for no reason.
6. Renovating more than your neighbors do
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. 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 renovations that aren’t the norm in your neighborhood like extensive landscaping or luxe interior features like a home theater, you aren’t likely to generate enough of a return to make them financially worthwhile.
7. Removable items
Buyers can look past outdated window fixings, furniture, and art (although there is a chance they’ll want to buy some of that furniture from you). The costs to replace removable items with more modern options add up quickly. Because those features are removable, new versions won’t make much of an impact towards how much buyers think your home is worth.
Instead of replacing removable items, you should just get rid of them all together. 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.
8. Old appliances
Similar to furniture and decor, there’s no need to replace older appliances unless they are broken or truly are an eyesore. If you do decide you need to replace the appliances before you move, you can save some cash and buy newer and better looking, but used, appliances. You don’t need to splurge on state-of-the-art and brand new appliances when you can find gently used ones on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for a fraction of the price. The buyers aren’t expecting brand spanking new appliances anyways.
Where to get a second opinion on what to fix
Not sure what to fix and what to leave alone? Your real estate agent will help you determine what your list of home repair priorities should be. Every real estate agent will encourage you to clean and declutter your home both inside and out, but a really good real estate agent 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.
Your real estate agent can conduct a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which gives 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.
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.