Do you know what fixes to make before selling your house? If not, you’ve come to the right place!

It is easy to miss a lot of the wear and tear that has happened to your house over the years. But when you start thinking about selling, the state of your home becomes much more apparent.

You know that things need to be fixed and cleaned up. However, you only have so much money and time to make repairs. So, what should you fix?

Remember that articles like this one are meant to provide general advice on what works for most people.

Staging a home for sale will make it presentable for a potential buyer. It increases the chances of a quicker and more profitable sale.

Ideally, you will have a real estate agent to talk to who will look at your home and give you targeted advice – which will get you the best results for your circumstances.

But even if you are working with a Realtor, this information can give you a starting point on what to discuss with your agent about possible home repairs.

Taking care of the most essential things to fix before selling a house will put more money in your pocket!

This is one of the primary reasons real estate agents recommend taking care of certain things before you list your home.

I have been giving my clients advice on how to improve their homes for nearly forty years. What you do an don’t do can have a significant influence on how quickly you sell.

Most buyers today want turnkey homes. Properties that are in unsightly condition or disrepair are punished in the real estate market. Improvements can be classified as major or minor. Both are crucial to a sellers success.

Let’s examine everything you should know.

Why You Should Fix Up Your Home Before Selling

There are many excellent reasons to make fixes to your property before selling. The following are the most vital:

  • Enhances Curb Appeal: First impressions matter; fixing up your home can significantly improve curb appeal, attracting more potential buyers.
  • Increases Home Value: Making necessary repairs or updates can increase your home’s value and lead to higher offers. You should ask your real estate agent to determine the home value before and after the upgrades. Doing so will help you see whether it makes sense.
  • Speeds Up Sale Process: A home in good condition is more likely to sell quickly, reducing the time it spends on the market​
  • Reduces Buyer Negotiation Leverage: Addressing issues beforehand limits what buyers can negotiate, potentially leading to a smoother sale process.
  • Avoids Post-Inspection Deal Breakers: Fixing problems before the listing can prevent surprises during the buyer’s inspection, which could derail the sale.
  • Appeals to a Wider Audience: A well-maintained home appeals to a broader range of buyers, including those looking for move-in-ready properties.
  • Showcases Home’s Potential: Making repairs and updates can help buyers visualize the home’s potential and envision themselves living there.
  • Minimizes Closing Delays: Addressing repair issues upfront can minimize delays in the closing process, leading to a smoother transaction.
  • Enhances Online Listing Photos: Good condition and appealing aesthetics improve your home’s online listing photos, attracting more interest from potential buyers​
  • Demonstrates Care and Maintenance: A well-maintained home suggests to buyers that the property has been cared for, increasing their confidence in the purchase. Real Estate agents refer to it as “pride of ownership.”

Major and Minor Repairs With The Most Bang For Your Investment

When making adjustments to a house, one of the significant factors is return on investment. It would be foolish to waste money on things that don’t make a difference.

Here are some major and minor fixes that can be worthwhile:

Major Repairs and Updates

Leaving a house in significant disrepair when you have the money to make the fixes is a mistake. All of these items are crucial as they deal with habitability and safety.

  1. Roof Repairs or Replacement: Addressing roof issues is crucial as it can deter buyers if they are not in good condition. The cost of repairs varies, but it can be a worthwhile investment.​ Giving the buyer a repair credit may be better if you need a complete replacement. It is unlikely you will be able to recoup the total replacement cost.
  2. Foundation Repairs: Fixing foundation issues like cracks and water damage can attract more buyers and potentially increase the home’s sale price​. Leaving structural cracking would be a significant mistake. It may even preclude a buyer from getting conventional financing. It certainly will stop in with an FHA loan.
  3. Electrical System Updates: Ensuring the electrical system is up to code and in working order is essential as many homebuyers look to avoid homes with electrical problems.
  4. Plumbing Repairs: Addressing plumbing issues is vital since problems can signal to buyers that most significant matters may exist.
  5. HVAC System: A functioning HVAC system is a crucial selling point, and repairs or replacement can be necessary. It will be flagged at a home inspection for sure.

Minor Repairs and Updates

  1. Interior Updates: Repairs inside the house, such as patching holes and repainting walls, can refresh the space and make it more inviting. Painting is one of the fixes with the highest ROI.
  2. Flooring: Ensuring floors are in good condition, whether by replacing carpet or refinishing hardwood floors, can significantly impact a buyer’s impression. From experience, refinishing old beat-up floors usually offers significant ROI.
  3. ​​Kitchen and Bathroom Fixes: Simple updates like replacing old faucets, fixing broken drawers, or a new coat of paint can make these key areas more appealing.
  4. ​​Exterior and Curb Appeal: Addressing exterior issues like broken eaves or improving landscaping can enhance crucial first impressions.

The Fixes Worth Making Before You Sell

Many potential home sellers will ask a real estate agent what to fix when selling a house. Many things can stop a house from selling, so it is best to shorten the list as much as possible.

You can make fixes to a home that will offer you significant benefits. Let’s review them.

1. Paint Areas of Your House That Need It

Part of getting your home ready for sale is doing what works best.

Paint is one of the cheapest, most straightforward ways to update the look of your home before you list it. It is one of the most straightforward fixes you can make before selling your home.

You don’t need to be a professional painter to make this work for you, either. Watch a few videos online, pick your colors, and go to town!

Lighter and neutral colors are preferred when selling because they appeal to most people. You never know who will walk through the door to view the house, so it makes sense to keep the styling primary.

You don’t have to paint every room, just those that need it. Rooms with dark paint and chipped or dirty paint are the ones that will benefit the most.

Removing Wallpaper Offers Significant Benefits

If you have wallpaper in your home, it is almost always a good idea to remove it to sell your home for the most money. Wallpaper dates a home.

Buyers have a hard time selling past wallpaper. Some sellers assume a buyer should be able to “look past it.” They will tell their agent we will allow the buyer to remove the wallpaper. This is a mistake as it defeats the purpose.

Getting rid of wallpaper is about first impressions and making a home more appealing to a buyer. Removing the wallpaper is what puts more money in a seller’s pocket.

The other day, I had this conversation with one of my clients in Holliston, Massachusetts. It was imperative to make them understand how important the initial visit is to a home and the impression it makes on a buyer.

Andrew Helling, owner of Helling Homebuyers and a former property manager, says, “I’ve found that times, it’s much easier to skim coat over wallpaper than remove it, and it’s more manageable than you think.

Just grab a bucket of joint compound, a trowel, and a pole sander from your local hardware store. Cover all the seams, spread a thin layer onto the wall, and let it dry for 24 hours. Then you’re ready for primer, a crucial step, as the joint compound will soak up paint on its own.

As long as the wallpaper was in good shape, you should only use one layer to have a smooth, paintable surface.”

2. Improve The Exterior of Your Home

There are few things more essential than having excellent curb appeal.

The exterior is the first thing buyers will see, so you want it to look good. Replace missing fence boards, add sod if the yard looks worse, and clean up any junk that may have accumulated in the yard or outside storage sheds.

Ensure the grass is mowed, and weeds are taken care of before someone comes to view the home. You can also plant some flowers in the beds to add color and make the place feel homier. Here are some low-cost exterior home improvements worth doing.

Moss growth on the roof, missing shingles, and problems with the siding are all things that buyers will notice. Try to get all these things patched up now so you don’t have to answer questions later.

3. The Kitchen is An Essential Space

It is a fact that kitchens are the most critical rooms in a house.

Everyone wants a large, spacious kitchen with all new appliances – where they can cook and entertain (even if they never do either).

Your kitchen may not satisfy these desires without significant upgrades, which may not make sense financially.

Please do not do a complete kitchen renovation unless your agent tells you they believe you can make your money back on the sale.

However, you can make minor repairs to make your kitchen appear more inviting, even if it isn’t a “dream kitchen.”

If the painting, lighting, and countertops all scream the 1970s, you can change all of these without too large of an investment.

You can paint as necessary, install new fixtures, and replace the countertops with something more appealing (granite and marble are not requirements for an updated look).

However, the price of solid surface materials has come down in recent years, so it might be worth getting an estimate for installing granite countertops, especially when the kitchen counter space is not huge.

As far as appliances go, buyers expect these to work. If the oven, dishwasher, or range is out of operation – or in awful shape – replacing them might be necessary to appeal to buyers.

4. Bathrooms Are Critical Spaces in a Home

A clean bathroom – where everything works as it should – is necessary. If you have a problem with a running toilet or a leaky faucet, make repairs as necessary. You can make the bathroom look much better just by replacing the seat.

Cleaning or replacing the grout is always a good idea, as it can become dirty over the years. Any missing tiles should also be replaced.

A new paint job is recommended if the bathroom has old wallpaper or dingy surfaces. The brighter and cleaner you can make the room, the better.

The bathrooms and kitchen are the most critical areas in a home. These are areas where buyers will put their focus. They are also the most expensive areas in a home to upgrade.

This makes it vital for you to repair any issues before putting your home up for sale. If you have an exceptional en suite bath, it will be something you’ll want to show off. Make the fixes to make buyers say, “WOW!”

5. Lighting Can Be a Fairly Cheap Fix

Lighting can make even the smallest home seem open and inviting. You want to maximize the perception of space, so you will want to take advantage of the many available lighting options.

You can learn more about lighting different spaces online and find affordable options far superior to your house’s current overhead or stand lights.

Take some time to analyze your current space and see if you can find ways to improve the lighting. If you have “dated” light fixtures, this is another area where a little bit of money invested can translate into a quicker sale.

Don’t forget natural lighting, either. Ditch the heavy drapes for light-colored curtains, letting the sun in.

6. Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Undoubtedly, hardwood floors are one of a home’s most popular flooring selections.

As Debbie Gartner, the owner of Floor Coverings International in Westchester, NY, explains, the look of wood floors can change the appearance of a home.

This is the type of flooring that most home buyers prefer. What does this mean when you are selling? It means that your hardwood floors look their best.

Refinishing your hardwoods when needed can change how a buyer views your property.

There is nothing like entering a home where the hardwood looks spectacular. The great thing about refinishing hardwood floors is the return on investment, which is very high.

I have recommended numerous clients to refinish their floors. Most buyers and real estate agents will mention how awesome the floors look. It resonates, especially with that new re-finished smell.

6. Functionality is Essential

Does everything work in your home?

Go to your home and ensure everything works as it should – from the small things like doorknobs and locks to bigger stuff like your garage door.

Everything doesn’t have to be new for a home to be desirable to buyers, but all the functional aspects of the house must be in good working order to fetch the best price.

A few broken components are all it takes to reduce the price, so fix them.

One of the most brilliant things a seller can do is be ready for the buyer’s home inspection. More home sales fall apart at the home inspection than at any other point during a transaction.

This leads to the importance of knowing the most common home inspection issues and dealing with them beforehand!

Some particular issues can kill home sales. If you are aware of any of these problems, it is crucial to address them before putting your home on the market.

While there are no mandatory fixes, many buyers will have minimal condition standards they’ll accept.

7. A Pre-Sale Inspection Could Help Your Sale

A pre-sale home inspection is crucial to avoid problems that can swiftly end a home sale. A pre-sale home inspection can help you identify and fix issues before you sell your home.

In the grand scheme, home inspection costs are well worth it.

Unless you are a professional contractor, a real estate agent, or a home inspector, you will probably miss a few things as you look for home problems.

And even if you are a professional, a home inspection will still be required before a lending company loans a buyer money to purchase your home.

If you don’t find the problems now, you will be forced to deal with them later before you can finalize the sale.

Have an inspector look over your home, fix whatever is broken, and then move forward with your sale – confident that you have covered all the bases.

Many of my clients have taken my advice with pre-listing inspections. You can eliminate problems away before they surface.

What Not to Fix When Selling a House?

When selling your home, there will be things that don’t make a significant difference. There also could be repairs or improvements that don’t offer a good return on investment.

Knowing what not to fix is as vital as what to fix.

Some of the items you should avoid fixing before selling a house include the following:

Replacing Old Windows

While replacing old windows will undoubtedly increase your home’s energy efficiency, you will not get anywhere near the return in your sales price.

It takes years to recoup the value of adding new windows. Much of the return will come from lowering your energy bills, not from an increase in the home’s sales price.

Replacing Your Roof

Unless the roof lets water into your property, you’re better off not doing a roof replacement. You will not see the total return on your investment.

Let the buyer’s home inspector flag the failing roof and then negotiate with the buyer.

You might be able to offer a seller’s concession for something closer to half the roof replacement cost.

Minor Problems With HVAC, Plumbing, or Electrical Systems

The widely-held belief is that you must sell your home with everything up to the current building code standards. That is not true.

Unless your home is new, it will not meet today’s code. Resale homes are not held to the current standards of home building.

When your heating, plumbing, and electrical systems are functioning, replacing them does not make sense when selling a home.

If these systems have minor issues, you can explain them to the buyer by putting them in the seller’s disclosure statement.

Like a roof, replacing significant systems in your house right before selling does not offer the best return.

How Much Do You Lose Selling a House As-Is?

It is possible to lose significant money when selling a home as-is. Exactly how much is hard to determine. It can change from house to house and location to location.

Without a doubt, selling as-is does not convey good feelings to a buyer. It screams there are problems. Buyers will be wondering if they are purchasing a lemon.

Of course, it would be the way to go if you need to sell fast and want to sell to a real estate investor. There are companies out there like We Buy Ugly Houses who will purchase your home from you for cash with no contingencies.

Of course, a company like this will not be paying you the market value for your home. This is for sellers desperate to sell and get some remaining equity fast.

Homes are usually in deplorable condition and beyond the advice presented here.

Selling a Home in Poor Condition

Selling a house in terrible condition is still possible. Accurate house pricing will be essential to ensure it’s sold promptly.

There will be fewer buyers in the market who will accept a fixer-upper property.

Don’t expect buyers to pay top dollar for a home with many warts. Even in strong seller’s markets, your home will likely be more challenging to sell.

Final Thoughts

Understanding what to fix before selling a house is crucial.

There are many essential things to repair before selling a house. As mentioned, a heating system that does not work, a roof that leaks, previous ice dam problems, structural issues, or something that would prevent a buyer from getting a mortgage are worthwhile investments.

It goes without saying that if the purchaser cannot procure a mortgage, it will be challenging to sell your home.

Cash buyers do not grow on trees. So, if you don’t have an unlimited budget to make repairs, tackle the issues that would stop a sale from happening first.

Once those concerns are addressed, you can focus on the other important things mentioned above.

Leaving repairs for a buyer is not an intelligent thing to do if you want the most money for your home.

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