In 2016, the National Association of Realtors reported that appraisal or repair issues were the deal-breaker in about a third of failed home sales. If you want to avoid a situation that could land your house back on the market, make sure you know what to do to sell a house that needs repairs.
Granted, some homes require major work in these categories, costing in the thousands of dollars. The expense may be what gets the house sold for a reasonable price. But many must-do improvements are not so major:
- Most homes don’t need expensive rewiring or a new circuit breaker, but you must fix any frayed wires, faulty outlets, etc.
- If your gutters resemble fountains when it rains, they need to be cleaned or repaired, as does all exterior drainage. Also, focus on ground drainage and how your property gradation affects it: If water is running toward the foundation, you may need to regrade.
- Must-do roof work doesn’t necessarily mean replacement, but just patches and repairs. Check for water damage, shingles the sun has curled, or ripped shingles from storms.
- Foundations do settle over time, and that can cause minor cracks that should be fixed. Visible cracks in the foundation won’t encourage buyers! More significant foundation problems will show up in your house as slanting floors, wall cracks, and windows/doors/cabinets that don’t close properly. A faulty foundation undermines the structure and safety of the whole house, never mind its value.
- Plumbing should not leak or make strange sounds. Ensure fixtures and pipes are in good repair. Leaks are bad in themselves, but can also lead to rot and mold.
- Have the HVAC system serviced. Also, clean the vents and built-in fans around the home.
- You don’t need to do major renovations to sell, but catch up on upkeep issues. Cosmetic neglect suggests a house in poor condition, even if it isn’t. Address cracked or loose paving stones, porch sag, peeling paint, worn-out carpeting, etc. Overgrown bushes are in this category, too, as is a mangy lawn.
- Although less urgent than bad wiring, there are easy, low-cost upgrades that add a lot of appeal to buyers. Update plumbing fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms, and lighting fixtures wherever needed. New door knobs, cabinet handles, and drawer pulls refresh rooms. A fresh coat of neutral paint is great for walls, ceilings, cabinets, and even closet interiors.
Top agents who know their local markets can help you prioritize the must-do improvements and can recommend contractors to hire. They are also the experts on one final must-do improvement: improving the audience for the sale listing. Your agent knows how to target the buyers who should see it, whether that’s flippers, folks looking for a deal to remodel, or buyers who love certain features, like period charm in an old house. The right buyers will appreciate your must-do work and see the house as a “must have”!