What Not To Fix When Selling A House
Selling a house can be a time-consuming, and oftentimes overwhelming task. It can also be extremely expensive if you’re planning to fix or replace multiple things before listing your home on the real estate market. After all, your goal is to make your house ready to sell and attract a home buyer as quickly as possible. But, is updating your home worth the effort and cost? To help you decide which home improvement projects are worth taking on and which are not, here’s a list of what not to fix when selling a house.
Believe it or not, investing a lot in improving your home’s condition before selling it is not always a smart idea. You may end up spending much more than you gain in added value. Keep in mind that factors that make a home unsellable are often the ones that cannot be changed. These could be the house’s location, limited square footage, very low ceilings, lack of parking space, absence of a backyard, a faulty floor plan, or poor architecture. These are also often the most common reasons for a property not to be sold. You cannot upgrade such flaws away no matter how hard you try. And, cosmetic changes do not always make too much of a difference anyway.
So how do you decide what not to fix when selling a house? Well, we have a list of projects that can be avoided at the time of a traditional sale. But, before you go ahead, we recommend always consulting with an experienced real estate agent. They will prevent you from overspending on upgrading things that don’t make a difference to your home’s value.
Keep in mind that every home, neighborhood, and real estate market is entirely different. What works in one neighborhood could be a waste of time and money in another.
Another question to ask yourself before making any changes is, will you recoup your remodeling cost? Well, it depends on your location. For example, if you plan a major project such as a kitchen remodel in a neighborhood, you may only get back half of what you spend. But in some other areas, upgrading the kitchen may be an absolute must if you’re unwilling to accept a lowball offer.
It’s best to consult your local realtor to evaluate your home’s value, compare the properties in the area, and calculate the return on investment (ROI) to see if the renovation makes financial sense. Remember that if your property has a major, unfixable flaw, there might not be a point in spending unnecessarily on an expensive renovation in the hope of regaining its lost value.
With that being said, there are absolutely some things you should avoid spending your money on. Here are some fixes and upgrades that, according to most realtors, are best skipped at the time of selling your house.
1. Cosmetic problems
In every house, normal wear and tear such as minor cracks, scratches in tile flooring, marks on the walls, or an outdated bathroom vanity are to be expected. Unless there’s a serious issue or a cause for concern, there’s no need to do anything about it.
When deciding which cosmetic issues to address, you should consider the amount of time and money they’ll take to fix. Instead of investing a huge amount in such upgrades, you may be better off lowering your sale price accordingly.
2. Making partial room upgrades
If your bathroom sink faucet is dripping or the kitchen countertop looks dated, it’s better to simply let it be, unless you’re willing to remodel the whole kitchen and bathroom, which most would consider an even worse idea.
Keep in mind that a partial remodel never looks good. Plus, you end up not adding any significant value. What’s more, it may look as if you’re trying to hide a flaw rather than just updating it. And, that brand-new granite countertop will only highlight the older kitchen cabinets.
3. Repairing driveway or walkway cracks
While most real estate agents recommend improving your curb appeal to increase the home’s resale value, keep in mind that improving curb appeal doesn’t mean fixing superficial cracks and holes.
Trust us, a driveway hairline crack isn’t going to scare off a potential home buyer.
4. Fixing minor electrical issues
Minor electrical issues can also be overlooked when deciding what to fix before selling your house. Unless you have exposed wires, sparking outlets, or dangling light fixtures which need your urgent attention, you can skip minor electrical issues such as a loose electrical socket or a non-functioning light switch. Most home inspections don’t even mention such minor problems.
5. Don’t Overhaul Your Landscaping
Real estate agents often emphasize the importance of curb appeal when selling a home, so you may be tempted to give your yard a major makeover. However, a complete tear out and remodel can cost between $10 – $40 per square foot.
That’s a lot of money to spend on a good first impression, especially when there are many easy ways to boost your home’s curb appeal. Trimming trees and bushes, cleaning up dead leaves, and mowing the grass are all good places to start. After that, head to your local garden store for colorful plants to add some pop to the walkway.
6. Repainting in trendy colors
Do not paint your walls in bright colors that can be jarring. These color trends disappear as quickly as they appear. Plus, they might not appeal to potential buyers anyway.
If you are insistent on painting to refresh the look of your rooms, it’s best to use neutral colors. Keep in mind that the buyer will want to paint the house in hues they like.
7. Dealing with building code issues
While building code issues in older homes can cause problems, there’s no point in spending thousands of dollars in getting your home up to code standards. The home inspectors will address all the building code items or any water damage issues in the inspection reports. The buyer can upgrade the house to current standards, later.
8. Replacing removable items
There’s no requirement to replace something that can be easily removed. So if your window treatments and window valances are old, it’s better to take them down than replace them altogether.
Keep in mind that the average cost of window treatments is around $715. Why bear the extra cost, when the new occupant may want to customize their home décor according to their liking?
9. Getting rid of old appliances
Similar to furniture and decor, there’s no need to replace older appliances unless they are broken or truly are an eyesore. If you do decide you need to replace the appliances before you move, you can save some cash and buy newer and better looking, but used, appliances. You don’t need to splurge on state-of-the-art and brand new appliances when you can find gently used ones on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for a fraction of the price. The buyers aren’t expecting brand spanking new appliances anyways.
10. Don’t Replace Your Roof
The roof is one of the most important aspects of any home, so you want to replace yours when it shows signs of age. However, you aren’t required to replace your roof when you put your house up for sale.
You are, however, required to disclose leaks and prior damage in most states, so it’s best to be upfront about any issues. This may mean you have to make minor repairs or even discount the cost of a new roof to close the deal, but that’s definitely better than being sued down the road. But in a seller’s market, buyers may be more willing to deal with a less-than-perfect roof in order to buy in the area they want.
11. Renovating beyond your neighborhood’s norm
A house that fits in perfectly in its area fetches a better price. For example, if all the houses in your neighborhood are beautifully furnished and landscaped, then a similar home improvement project can be worth the extra cash. But if your house looks a little too much for the neighborhood, with a beautiful lawn and expensive bushes, you may not get the ROI you’re hoping for.
If you think you’ll get multiple offers because your home looks straight out of a magazine cover, think again. It might not always be true. A potential home buyer will be more concerned about the convenience the place offers rather than its aesthetics.
You, as a home seller, may be familiar with your house’s flaws but the homeowner might not be bothered by them. So, instead of getting overwhelmed when preparing your home for sale, it’s best to skip unnecessary upgrades and home repairs. Your goal should be to showcase your home’s true potential, not make it look too perfect.
Knowing what not to fix when selling a house isn’t always clear cut. Market conditions can have a major influence on how homebuyers react to what you’re offering, which is why it’s important to work with a licensed professional. A local agent deals with the real estate market every day and can help you decide what repairs are truly necessary.
Adam Smith has spent the last 5 years in the Private Money Lending world helping real estate investors secure financing for their non-owner occupied real estate investments. When he’s not thinking about real estate, Adam is an avid Jazz music fan and fisherman.