It generally isn’t financially wise to undertake major renovations just to sell your house, but repairs are another story. Most buyers don’t want a “fixer-upper,” and you’ll sell faster if you’ve already undertaken the fixes. Yet your budget for preparing your house for sale probably isn’t unlimited. So what are the most important items to tend to? Here’s a checklist of what to repair before you sell your house.
Where to begin
Let’s face facts: If your house is in disrepair, it will make a bad first impression, and you will not get top dollar for the home. Even if you’re listing in a seller’s market, or your buyer doesn’t initially notice a problem, the home inspector and/or appraiser likely will. Their findings could keep your deal from closing. So the issues to address first are the ones that could stop your sale. A pre-sale inspection can help you identify those problem areas, which may include:
- The roof. If you’ve got leaks, missing shingles, and the like, repair them before you sell your house. Replace the roof if needed, as a would-be buyer won’t want to do it.
- The heating and air conditioning system. Replace the system or needed components if they’re on their last legs. Otherwise, make sure your HVAC is clean, leak-free, and working well.
- The electrical system. All aspects need to be brought up to code before you go on the market.
- Plumbing. Fix leaking pipes and faucets and take care of clogged drains.
- The foundation. Undertake whatever repairs are necessary to make sure yours is structurally sound. If there are cracks in your walls or seriously sloping floors, it’s advisable to consult with a foundation specialist to determine the nature of the problem and repair it.
- Damaged areas. Whether it’s rotten wood on your fascia and soffit, broken tiles in the bathroom, or a door the dog has chewed, fix what’s been damaged. Your buyer won’t want to.
- Things that are broken. Kitchen appliances, light switches, windowpanes, electric sockets, and the like must be in good working order.
Trust your agent
Your real estate agent can tell you what else to repair before you sell your house. She will be familiar with the state of repair of homes in your area and what buyers are willing to overlook and what they won’t. Here’s a list of additional areas that will likely need repairs.
- Walls. Patch gouges, cracks and nail holes. Repaint walls that need it. Even if dark or brightly painted walls are in good shape, it’s best to repaint them a light, neutral color that will appeal to many buyers. Papered walls don’t appeal to many buyers, so remove wallpaper and paint those walls.
- Floors. Buyers love hardwood floors, but not if they are scratched or damaged. Have them redone if they’re not in good condition. Replace torn or worn carpet.
- Kitchens. You likely don’t need to remodel your kitchen completely, but your existing one should look its best. Touch up flaking paint on cabinets, and make sure doors and drawers open and close smoothly. Deep clean tile grout. Replace dated hardware as well as hinges and handles that are broken.
- Bathrooms. Make sure bathroom plumbing fixtures work properly. Replace or resurface the tub if it’s peeling.
- Water heater. Repair any leaks. Replace it if it’s near the end of its lifespan.
- Doors and windows. Replace broken hardware or damaged weather stripping. Mend torn screens and broken windows.