Complete these home repairs before you list your home
Planning on listing your home for sale? Have you done your due diligence to ensure your property is ready for sale? If not, you and your buyer could be in for a surprise when their home inspection report comes back. Critical issues with your home’s roof, HVAC systems, pipes, sewer line, or electrical wiring could be a dealbreaker for your sale, putting you back at square one.
In this article, we’ll review which of these “deal breakers” you need to watch out for, as well as what you can and should do to prep your home for listing. Let’s dive in!
What makes a home harder to sell?
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes: what would constitute a dealbreaker for you? For most homeowners, that includes critical defects that could signal years of cascading problems. After all, a failing roof isn’t just a roofing issue: it also means there could be water damage, structural damage, or mold growth inside of the home. Other dealbreakers include expensive projects: no one wants to pay to replace the air conditioner right after closing.
In many respects, buying and selling property is about leverage. Knowledge is power. A home inspection report that reveals significant defects or problems shifts the leverage over to the buyer. The proverbial ball in their court: they can decide to request that repairs be made prior to closing, ask that they be compensated for the cost of the repairs, or walk away altogether.
As a seller, you won’t just go through this nightmarish scenario once. You’ll likely go through it 3-4 times before you either capitulate and make the changes needed or—more unlikely—you find a buyer willing to purchase the home as-is at your asking price. It’s so much easier to just identify what problems your home has upfront and then fix them ahead of listing.
What should I fix before selling my home?
If you have the time, you should put as much effort into making your home “move-in ready” as you possibly can. Fixing critical issues should be your top priority. It’s often helpful to schedule your own home inspection prior to listing so you can get a “to-do list” of crucial repairs. These include:
— Repairing or replacing the roof.
— Addressing water leaks, repiping the home, or fixing a leaking sewer line.
— Repairing or replacing your cooling and heating systems.
— Fixing any issues with the structure or foundation of the home.
— Solving any electrical or safety problems.
If you take care of these potential “deal breakers” first, you’ll at least ensure that your home sale moves forward without significant problems. For all of the projects listed above, hire a professional: never try to DIY critical or potentially dangerous repairs.
However, there’s obviously a ton of other projects you can complete to get your home ready to list. These include:
— Painting the inside and outside of your home.
— Repairing broken fencing and gates.
— Replacing outdated lighting and fixtures.
We’ll list a few other value-adding upgrades in the section below.
Can I sell my home as-is?
Sure—if you’re willing to sell it for less than you would otherwise. Today’s real estate market is flooded with home-flippers: companies and individuals who buy homes with significant defects, make the repairs themselves, and then try to turn around and sell the home at a profit.
For many homeowners, selling their home as-is means not realizing its full equity potential. As evidenced by home flippers being able to stay in business, you’re probably better off making the needed repairs and listing at a higher price. However, there are a few select scenarios in which selling your home as-is might make sense:
— The property’s needed repairs will take too long to complete, and you need to list and move by a certain date that is fast-approaching.
— You don’t have the cash on-hand to make the necessary repairs. Financing or a home equity loan might be a better option here.
— You own the home as an investment property and need to quickly reduce your inventory.
In almost every other case, it makes more financial sense to just complete the repairs before you list. You’ll come out of closing with more money.
What does “as-is” really mean?
In the video below, a realtor breaks down what “as is” means in real estate:
What adds the most value to a home?
Once you’ve completed any critical repairs for your home, turn your attention to renovations and upgrades that add both short- and long-term value. The keyword here is return on investment, or ROI. You want to make most, if not all, of your money back when you sell your home.
Here are three projects that can significantly boost the value of your home.
Replace your older air conditioner or furnace
No one wants to buy a home with an aging air conditioner or furnace that they’ll have to replace in the next 2-3 years. If you upgrade your property’s HVAC systems now, you can turn a potential weakness into a strength. In your listing, be sure to advertise that the home has new HVAC systems—homebuyers love move-in ready properties!
Improve your home’s energy-efficiency
If your home has insufficient insulation, single-pane windows, and drafts coming in from under the front door, your property is going to have high summer and winter energy costs no matter how old your air conditioner or furnace are. Invest in energy-efficiency upgrades ahead of listing: new homeowners will be delighted to learn just how much their new home can save them every month.
Kitchen & bathroom remodels
This is, by far, two of the most popular home remodeling projects, and it’s not hard to see why. Both kitchen and bathroom renovations add significant value to your home while giving its curb appeal a major boost. While both projects have a high upfront cost, they’ll allow you to list your home at a higher price. Talk to your realtor to get their opinion on whether or not you should remodel your home prior to listing.
What should I not do before listing my home?
Don’t panic! It’s easy to find a major defect ahead of listing and feel as though you’ll never successfully sell your home. You still have options. First and foremost, you’ll want to price out the needed repairs and get an idea of what you’re dealing with. After that, it’s just a matter of calling a trustworthy, local professional who can do the repairs right. And, as always, talk to your realtor to get their opinion on what you need to do prior to listing. Every market is different.
This probably goes without saying, but honesty and transparency is always the best policy. Many states require sellers to disclose major property defects or issues in writing prior to closing. Even if yours doesn’t, those problems are likely to come up during the buyer’s home inspection. Don’t try to pull a fast one or run away from your home’s issues: if you do, your deception will eventually catch up to you.
Make these repairs before selling your home
In the infographic below, we outline some of the critical projects you need to complete prior to selling your home.