Do Repairs Prior To Sale
There are a few repairs or improvements that should almost always
be made prior to putting a home on the market. Some of the most important
are on the outside. If potential buyers are turned off as soon as
they turn in, you've probably already lost them. The house must invite
prospects to come inside. If you want to make your home inviting you
must give particular attention to the following:
- The lawn must be immaculate. While you don't have to have the best
lawn in the neighborhood, it sure won't hurt if you do. Get rid of
weeds, fertilize, freshen mulch, plant annuals if the season allows,
prune shrubs, and clean the porch, walks, and drive.
- Does the exterior sparkle? Clean windows can make a dramatic improvement.
Remove window screens, on the front, at least. How is the paint? Does
it need touch-up? If so, do it; or repaint if necessary. Sometimes
just painting the trim makes a house look new. Old, stained, or flaking
paint can be a huge turn-off. Unless it's immaculate, repaint the
front door and surrounding trim.
- Clean the gutters and roof. Does the roof look old and does it
leak? Is it stained and the shingles curled or cracked? If so, a new
roof may be required. It's better to have a new roof you can market
to prospective buyers than to have them question whether or not it
needs replacing. Roof replacement is less expensive than most think.
If you are in doubt, ask the experts, and get several opinions. Prices
- Is the drive severely cracked-minor cracks are normal-and is the
surface rough, flaking, and uneven? If it looks bad, get an estimate
on repairs. Sometimes it's possible to restore a concrete drive without
replacing it. Check with several contractors.
- Once inside, the kitchen and baths are the first places most buyers
want to see. If cabinets , appliances, and fixtures are old, outdated,
or in need of replacement, you may want to consider upgrading prior
to sale. There is no hard and fast rule, but you should do everything
possible to eliminate a buyer's questions. Most buyers have little
ability to envision a new kitchen or bath, and they have no idea what
such changes would cost. Many will walk away without considering making
the upgrades themselves. It's better to have a home that a prospect
can visualize living in tomorrow than to lose a sale because you failed
to make it appealing. Sure it's no fun spending all that money and
effort on a home you plan to leave, but it is much worse being trapped
there for additional months, spending thousands on extra payments
because it wouldn't sell.
- Some interior painting is almost always necessary. Use neutral
colors that are light and fresh. Unusual colors may appeal to a few,
but the majority will be turned off. Remember purchasing a home is
an emotional process. Many buyers may not be able to verbalize why
they don't like a particular home, but if they don't feel good about
yours, you've lost them.
- Carpet is the same as paint. If it doesn't look immaculate, clean
or replace it.
- Do any of the doors, including cabinets, stick or not operate properly?
If so, fix them. Are there missing or burned out bulbs? Do extension
or telephone cords, cable or computer wires clutter outlets and look
hazardous? Buyers may question whether or not there is sufficient
electrical capacity. Try to eliminate as much electrical clutter as
- Clean out garages, basements, and closets. Have a yard sale or
donate unused items. Buyers want to see where they can store their
stuff. Neatness is king.
It's a good idea to get a third party opinion on much of the above.
Making major repairs sometimes doesn't pay, but each situation is
different. If you plan to use an agent, ask them about your colors,
exterior, repairs, etc. They know the condition of the competition
in your area, and they're aware of what buyers are expecting. Weigh
their opinion against the costs of repairs versus lowering your price
and perhaps having your home unsold for a longer period. Then, make
an informed decision.