When it comes time to sell your home, it can be difficult to determine whether you should make all necessary repairs before placing it on the market. While a home with almost no issues would make most potential buyers very happy, it is not always a good financial choice to make a ton of costly fixes. There are a number of factors that determine when it's smart for a seller to make repairs before placing his or her home on the market and when he or she should leave the repairs for the buyer to take care of.
Why make repairs at all?
You're moving out, so why would it benefit you to fix up the home? Shouldn't that be the buyer's job? If a buyer is looking for a fixer-upper, then he or she will be happy to take on a home that requires a lot of work (for a discount, of course), but most buyers will feel immediately turned off by a home that appears neglected. To potential buyers, damage, no matter how large or small, means expensive, time-consuming work.
Beyond that, as Trulia highlighted, failing to address any issues in your home before placing it on the market just means you'll have to address them later, after your buyer has completed a home inspection. When any issues are found during a home inspection, the buyer and seller enter into negotiations to determine who will cover the costs of repairs and whether the seller will have the repairs completed or simply provide financial credits to the buyer. In general, when a seller gives credits to a buyer, the cost of the repair is overestimated. It would have been cheaper for a seller to have made the repair to begin with, but at this point the buyer has the leverage. If the seller is not interested in giving the buyer what he wants, the buyer can walk away from the deal.
Trulia explained that in general, the most common repairs a house needs are cheap and easy, and taking care of them will help your home sell faster. When you fix up the house, it will become more visually appealing, and the risk of needing to reduce your asking price to accommodate worried buyers decreases. Even more, buyers won't be distracted by issues and will be able to notice all of the wonderful things your home has to offer.
Which repairs should you make?
According to Houzz, there are a few things to consider when determining if an issue is worth a seller's time and money to fix:
- If the issue is out in the open and easy-to-spot, it would be in your best interest to get it taken care of. You don't want potential buyers to walk into your home and immediately notice a stained ceiling or cracked tiles.
- You should fix anything that would cause a buyer to think the home has not been well-maintained, such as a leaky faucet or poorly manicured lawn. Curb appeal is very important, as the outside of your home is the very first thing potential buyers will see. An overgrown lawn denotes neglect. Realtor.com also suggested fixing any broken gutters, peeling paint or issues with siding.
- Any major repairs will be a deal breaker for most buyers. Unless you don't mind significantly lowering your asking price and marketing your home as a fixer-upper, you will want to take care of any large issues before selling. One common deal breaker is a roof in need of repairs. Keep in mind that when selling a fixer-upper, buyers often expect a discount to account for not only the price of repairs but also the time it takes to fix them. You could end up losing money if you choose not to make the repair yourself.
According to Bankrate, potential buyers consider the kitchen and bathrooms the two most important rooms in the house, so when budgeting for repairs, they should be made a priority. You don't have to do a complete remodel to make these rooms appealing to buyers. There are a few cheap fixes that will instantly boost your home's appeal. For the kitchen, consider adding new handles to the cabinet doors and replacing outdated light fixtures.
Sprucing up the bathrooms doesn't have to empty out your bank account either.
"Even simple things like a new toilet seat and a pedestal sink are pretty easy for homeowners to install, and they make a big difference in the look of the bath," Gwen Moran, co-author of "Build Your Own Home on a Shoestring," told Bankrate.
Home improvement brand This Old House said that in general, it is not worth it to spend money on new appliances because buyers will have their own preferences anyway. If, however, your appliances look old and worn, you can inexpensively improve their look with appliance paint or stainless-steel stick-on panels.
Other factors to consider
It is not only the state of the house that should determine which repairs you make, but also the state of the housing market. Houzz explained that if it's a seller's market, meaning demand among buyers is high, you may not have to make as many repairs. Buyers will be more willing to overlook issues if there is heavy competition for the property. If, on the other hand, demand is low and buyers have many options, you will need to do more to make your property stand out. Houzz also suggested considering the condition of other similar homes on the market in your area. Attend some open houses, and make sure your home doesn't lack something that all the other properties have.
Realtor.com said before placing your home on the market, you could consider having a home inspection. There are many advantages to getting your own home inspection. Knowing about all of the issues present in your home will prevent any surprises when a buyer gets a home inspection before closing. If you do have one, you'll be able to sit down with a real estate agent and get help determining which repairs are worth fixing before listing your home.