Fix it or leave it?

Fix it or leave it?

When preparing your property for sale, you want to make it as attractive as possible to buyers. After all, the more buyers like what they see, the higher the probability you’ll get good offers.

That’s why it’s advisable to clean, declutter, decorate, fix, and improve as much as possible.

But how far should you go with fixing and improving? For example, should you tear down the old deck and build a new one? Or should you just leave it as is?

Should you paint the main floor? Or is it okay to leave the faded finish and few wall dents just as they are?

Those can be difficult questions to answer because many factors come into play.

  • What is the traditional return on investment for that home improvement? In other words, how much will you get back when you sell?
  • To what degree will the fix or improvement help sell your home faster and/or for a higher price?
  • If you don’t make the fix or improvement, will those deficiencies be likely to dissuade buyers who would otherwise be interested in buying your property?
  • What are the current market conditions? Are there other listings in the area competing with yours?
  • How much will the fix or improvement cost? Is it affordable, given the benefits of having a listing that’s more attractive and move-in ready?

Once you have answers to those questions, you’ll have a clearer idea of whether to fix it or leave it as is.

So, with all of this said, what should you fix and what should you not? Here’s a shortlist that may be of help:

You should definitely fix:

  • Kitchen appliances. Make sure the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and microwave are in good working order.
  • Kitchen & bathroom cabinets. Everything should be in good condition, free of water damage. Doors and drawers should open and close smoothly, fix loose hinges, replace stuck drawer tracks and broken knobs or handles.
  • Sinks and faucets. Water features should run leak-free, and all drains should operate free and clear.
  • Bathtubs and showers. Fixtures, such as the shower head, should be fully operational, and drains should be free of clogs.
  • Walls and ceilings. Repair holes and minor dents in the drywall. If you see discoloration, repaint the walls. Painting is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to refresh a room.
  • Flooring. From laminate to carpet, everything should be in good condition.
  • HVAC. Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) should be in good working order, clean and free of leaks.
  • Water heater. Your water heater should be in good working order and not leak.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Your detectors should be in good working order, and less than ten years old.
  • Electrical panel and circuit breakers. Everything should meet current codes.
  • Garage door. It needs to work smoothly, as do any remotes. The door should also meet all local codes and safety criteria.
  • Exterior doors. Major dings or dents should be fixed, hardware like door handles should be in good condition, and weatherstripping should be intact.
  • Roof. The roof shouldn’t have any broken or missing tiles, shingles, or ridge caps, as these components protect your home from water damage. Replace any problem spots immediately. Cracks, bubbles, and blisters in the sealant are also common. Fix any damage to the underlayment.
  • Eaves. The eaves are edges of the roof that overhang the exterior wall. They consist of the fascia, the board to which the gutters are installed, and soffits, which connect to the fascia. Everything should be free of water damage and rot.
  • Drainage. Yard drainage should slope away from the foundation. If water collects by the foundation when it rains, you may need to have contractor re-grade the yard or bust out concrete to fix the issue.
  • Foundation. Your foundation, stem wall and retaining wall should be structurally sound.
  • Decks. The deck or patio should be structurally sound, with code-compliant guardrails.
  • Landscaping. The trees, shrubs, plants and other vegetation around the property shouldn’t interfere with the home itself, or access to it.
  • Fencing. Wooden fences shouldn’t have any rotting or water-damaged boards. The gate on all fences, wooden or metal, should open and close smoothly.

And these you shouldn’t worry about too much:

  • Normal wear and tear. The average buyer spends around 15-30 minutes in a house during a showing, and they spend most of their time scanning rooms and trying to soak everything in. Buyers are unlikely to catch any small cosmetic flaws around your house.
  • Windows and window accessories. For example, if your home has ugly or broken blinds, you may feel the need to replace them. Instead of spending money on new blinds, just take them down.
  • Minor HVAC, electrical, or plumbing issues. There is a common misconception that you need to bring electrical and mechanical components ‘up to code’ when you sell a home. This isn’t necessarily true; no home is up to code unless it is brand new construction and subject to your cities most current code requirements, so if your electrical panel, water heater, or A/C system have some age on them, but are working and functioning as they should, leave them alone. Don’t spend money upgrading.
  • Partial upgrades to bathrooms or kitchens. It can be incredibly expensive to update a bathroom or kitchen. You are better off thoroughly cleaning and de-cluttering as much as possible, giving the buyer a blank slate to work with.
  • Carpet or flooring. Like the kitchen or bathroom, flooring is a personal taste that can change from one buyer to the next, so if you have older carpet, you’re better off giving it a good clean rather than replacing it.

For more help and advice on selling your home. Call Jeremy Osborne today!


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