What to Repair Before Putting Your Home Up for Sale

If you are preparing to put a home on the market, it’s expected that a few minor repairs and improvements will need to be done first. But what repairs will translate into the biggest return? Every home is different, but the answer largely depends on a variety of factors, including location, the time of year, how hot (or not) the market is and the competitive inventory.  A quick consultation with your Realtor will give you a more property specific list, but here are some basics.

The goal of most buyers is to move in with minimum costs and headaches. Thus, a home with completed repairs is a big draw. But here’s where local market conditions impact the decision to do minor improvements. What needs to get done to be competitive? In a hot seller’s market you might not need to lift a finger, while in a buyer’s market that list of repairs may grow quite long.

Practical projects that require little of your time, effort or money – like applying a fresh coat of paint – can instantly make the home more appealing, helping it sell faster and for more money. So, without question, I often suggest that sellers complete smaller repair projects like patching cement cracks in sidewalks, caulking windows and doors, replacing old doorknobs and locks, mending or painting fences, cleaning stains on concrete or stucco, and resurfacing asphalt driveways.

But what about the larger issues? Before you decide whether to fix or merely disclose items to buyers, keep in mind that just the fact that doing repairs will invariably result in a higher sales price. You can increase your prospective buyer’s confidence and enthusiasm just by using the terms “new”, “recently remodeled” or “just replaced” as they view your home.

Key changes:

Along with removing old wallpaper, there’s no more cost-effective improvement than the application of fresh paint: inexpensive, and relatively quick, painting should be your first suggestion when considering repairs.  It gives the home a clean, new feeling and just the smell tells the buyer that the home is cared for.

Buyers typically desire hardwood floors, so it would pay to have your old carpeting removed and have the floors refinished. Replace chipped or cracked tiles, and clean or replace the grout, but don’t install expensive ceramic unless it’s in a small space, like an entranceway.

In the kitchen, appliances and cabinets are the big-ticket items to replace. If you don’t have to upgrade, you’ll save a lot of money. However, if the cabinets are worn and weathered-looking, the house might not sell as quickly (or at all). Paint might help here too.

Kitchen remodeling is typically a wise return on investment, but high-end kitchen makeovers don’t tend to return as much as mid-range or minor kitchen remodeling in an average priced home. Often sellers go “over the top” in the kitchen, thinking it will wow the buyer.  But a well done, mid priced kitchen accomplishes the same thing, without taxing your, or your buyer’s, pocketbook.

Bathroom repairs and renovations are always a solid recouped cost. It’s easier for prospective buyers to imagine themselves stepping out of the shower onto pristine new floors, surrounded by new fixtures and lights.

Typically, buyers will want to move into a house that has new appliances, updated plumbing, electrical and HVAC – a home that’s ready to be lived in. Accomplish this, and your property will impress when it’s time to show.

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