What to Fix Before Selling a House: List of Major & Minor Repairs
Homes are put under a microscope when they go to be sold. Professional real estate agents, opinionated buyers, and inspectors will be going over the home with a fine-toothed comb. Any issues with the house will be brought to light, and that can greatly affect the potential sale of the home. Before putting your house on the market, you need to be aware of what realtors are looking for and what will be inspected by the potential buyers.
Here are the fixes you need to make before potentially selling your home, including major repairs, minor repairs, and things that absolutely need to work 100% before letting people into your home.
One of the most important components of a house is the roof. Nothing will scare away potential buyers faster than a roof in disrepair. A roof needs to be in tip-top shape before attempting to sell a house. Many sellers opt to put a new roof on their home before selling it because research shows that a new roof recoups 95% of the value at the time of sale. Not repairing a roof can tank a potential home sale and can lead to issues with obtaining homeowner’s insurance for the new buyer.
Plumbing is another major home system that needs to be addressed before selling a house. Damaged plumbing can cause water damage which is a serious problem that will absolutely show up on a home inspector report. Old pipes, leaky fixtures, and water damage need to be addressed before attempting to sell a house.
Foundation or Basement
Like a roof, foundation issues can quickly scare away potential home buyers. Foundation issues can cause a slew of problems with a home, including stuck windows, cracks in plaster or drywall, and doors that won’t close properly. The foundation also receives a lot of attention during the inspection process. If you do not address these issues up front, they will crop up in the inspection report that will be seen by any potential buyers.
Heating and cooling are important factors that many people consider before buying a house. Central HVAC systems are preferred over decentralized AC systems. If you have a central HVAC system, you need to be sure that the system works and works well. During open houses, people will often check the thermostat, and some intrepid people might even turn the temperature down a few degrees to see how quickly the AC kicks on. You want your HVAC system to be in working order, and if the system is old, you might want to consider replacing it before putting the home on the market.
The last major thing that gets inspected during a home sale process is the electrical panel. Electrical panels need to pass inspection in order for the house to sell. If you have an old electrical panel or intermittent power problems, you might need to replace the electrical panel before putting your house on the market. Shorts, flickering lights, and outlets that do not work will quickly attract the attention of real estate agents. A new electrical panel can run anywhere from $2,000 and $7,500, but it is a repair that needs to be addressed in order to pass inspection.
Holes, damage, and nail holes in drywall are minor things that are easy to fix. People will immediately notice a hole in the drywall. It might not be a big deal to you, but it will definitely raise some eyebrows and some questions for potential home buyers. It is prudent to go through the house and fill in any minor defects in the drywall before putting your home on the market.
Flooring problems are another issue that can generally be fixed quickly. Address any scratches, dings, or marks on the floor. If you have issues with the carpet, consider getting a new carpet put in or putting some rugs over problem areas. Floors should be even, free from visible blemishes, and free from any damage or holes. Sometimes having the floors professionally cleaned is enough to get them looking their best.
Like drywall, a home’s trim can accrue damage over time. Many times, this damage is minor such as cracks or chew marks from dogs. Giving trim a fresh coat of paint or touching it up with some caulk or putty can easily make it look new. Fresh trim is not something that is going to sell a house, but damaged trim can turn off potential buyers.
Many homeowners are very picky about cabinets. Cabinets are the focal point of a kitchen and having outdated or damaged cabinets will cause people to become apprehensive. Sometimes, cabinets can be refreshed by simply making sure the doors are straight or by installing new pulls. However, sometimes cabinets will need to be refinished in order to get them into shape to sell.
The last thing that should be addressed is the home’s curb appeal. Curb appeal is the first impression that a house makes on a potential buyer. Make sure that you have your landscaping in order and that there are no obvious defects on the front of the house. You will want to avoid having peeling paint, damaged siding, dead plants, or holes in your yard. Having green grass is a big plus. Curb appeal has been proven to have a strong return on investment, so it is likely worth the effort to touch up the front of the house before putting it on the market.
Things That Absolutely Need to Work
Outlets are important, and they need to be functional before putting your home on the market. Outlets get tested and checked by inspectors and buyers on a regular basis.
Like outlets, light switches also need to work. Flipping a light switch and having nothing happen is a big turn off for realtors and buyers alike.
Make sure your lighting fixtures are working. Your house should be bright and have plenty of lights on when people come through. Be sure all of the light bulbs are new and give off good light. If you have light fixtures with multiple bulbs, make sure that all of the bulbs are working.
Plumbing fixtures need to work, and they need to work without dripping. If someone turns on the water to check the water pressure, the water better come on, even if the pressure isn’t great. Same with the toilets. The toilets need to flush and refill themselves in a timely manner.
Appliances need to work if you include them in the sale of the house. If you let buyers know up front that appliances are not included, then you don’t have to worry about it as much. But if you include a washer and dryer, stove, range, dishwasher, etc., in the sale of the house, then they need to work.
Repairs vs. Upgrades
There is a difference between a repair and an upgrade. Repairs need to be done if there are issues preventing the house from selling. For example, if the roof is damaged and needs to be replaced, that is a repair rather than an upgrade. If the kitchen is in good working order and is just outdated, redoing the kitchen would be an upgrade because there was nothing wrong with the functionality of the kitchen.
The choice between a repair and an upgrade will ultimately be up to you and your budget. Repairs are generally necessary before selling a house. Upgrades are not necessary, but they might help sell the house faster and for more money.
How to Fund Your Repairs
If all of this sounds expensive, that is because it can be. Having to replace a roof or a suite of appliances can quickly become a financial burden. The good news is that you can easily obtain a home loan to help finance these types of repairs. If you tell the bank that you are selling the house and the loan will be repaid upon the sale of the house, they will likely give you a loan to cover the costs. This is a decision you should make with your realtor and financial advisor.
For example, if you need $30,000 to make the necessary repairs for your home to sell, you need to make sure that the final sale price will be enough to cover the costs. Otherwise, it might not be worth it to sell at that exact moment. If you take out a home equity loan to do some upgrades to the house, you need to check the math to ensure a good return on investment.
Most houses will need some sort of repairs before they are put on the market. Lucky homeowners might only need to repaint some walls and touch up some baseboards, but some sellers might need to redo their HVAC system or roof before putting their homes on the market. These things need to be addressed before putting your home on the market. Neglecting some of these repairs can tank a home sale and cause your house to sit on the market for long periods of time.
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