For most people, their house is the largest and most complicated thing that they own. Things can and do go wrong from time to time, especially on older properties, necessitating repairs. Fixing stuff up is important at the best of times, but it becomes even more critical when you’re thinking about selling. Buyers want to be able to step into a property and feel like they can make it their own from the outset. It has to feel like a blank canvas that they can paint over (metaphorically) with their personality.
The question for sellers, though is “which repairs are worth making before selling?” It’s a tough one. You want to make your house as attractive as possible, but at the same time, you want to avoid spending money that you won’t end up making back in the sale price of the home. Essentially, you want to minimize the cost of repairs while doing things that exert a large boost on the price. It’s trickier than it sounds, and not all repairs will be worth making. Selling a house “as is” is just as important a strategy, according to this interactive guide, as selling one that’s in pristine condition.
So with that said, what repairs should you consider before selling?
Freshen Up The Paint
Paint can be a miracle worker. You can take a tired-looking room and utterly transform it at low cost with some simple, relatively inexpensive paint from your local hardware store. The great thing about paint is its ability to hide imperfections, not just in the underlying paint job, but materials too. Sure, you can repaint your walls, but the real value added may be in re-painting tired looking kitchen and bathroom cabinets, skirting boards, and covings.
Wallpaper used to be a sign of sophistication in the past, but it’s fallen out of fashion in modern homes. Even people who like wallpaper in their own homes usually don’t appreciate it in the homes of others. Selling a home often requires stripping out old wallpaper and replacing it with some neutral paint. Neutral colors, like white, cream, grey and slate encourage buyers to imagine what the property would look like once they’ve moved it. It removes your personality from the equation, helping the sale.
Refresh Your Hardwood Floors
If you’re lucky enough to have original hardwood flooring in your home, then it can be a great selling point. However, if you want to use it to its full potential, it has to look its best. Tired-looking hardwood floors can serve to put buyers off, provoking a decline in the sale price of your home.
In general, buyers prefer hardwood flooring (or high-quality tiles), especially on the ground floor. Carpets are still popular, but because of their upkeep requirements, only a small segment of buyers will want to take them on. Refreshing a hardwood floor is relatively straightforward. All it requires is buying an off-the-shelf hardwood floor refinishing kit, cleaning the floor, sanding it down with liquid and abrasive pads, mopping up, and then applying the new finish. It’s a job that you can do yourself if you want to avoid labor costs, or you can get a professional to do it for you, usually in less than a day.
Check That Everything Works
There are all kinds of things that can stop working in a household. It’s your job to make sure that everything works as it should so that potential buyers don’t have to go to any extra hassle making repairs once they move in. It’s a nice touch having stuff that works, and buyers will appreciate it.
- The Power Shower. Power showers are notoriously temperamental, especially if you live in a hard water area. Minerals from the water supply build up on the heating elements, causing them to fail eventually. What’s more, many power showers use low-quality switch mechanisms, meaning that it’s easy for them to get jammed in either the “on” or “off” position. Power showers need replacing every seven to ten years. You can have them repaired, but it’s not always economical to do so.
- Bathroom Door Locks. Buyers want privacy when they use the bathroom, but if your bathroom door locks don’t work, then you could put them off. Replacing a lock on a bathroom door can be a long and complicated process. Not only do you have to fashion a new hole for the bolt, but you also have to fill in the gaps left by the old lock position. In the worst-case scenario, it involves replacing the entire door, something you want to avoid if you’re trying to fix up your home on a budget.
- The Blinds. Nobody wants to buy a home, knowing that the blinds don’t work. The problem with blinds (as you’ll know if you’ve ever owned them) is that they have a habit of getting tangled up in a web of their own destruction. Once they’re tangled, or the mechanism breaks, they need to be replaced.
- The Lights. Lights that don’t work is annoying for buyers. They want to see what your home looks like in good lighting before deciding between whether to buy or not. Swapping out a lightbulb for a new one is super simple and inexpensive.
- The Toilets. Toilet flushing mechanisms have a habit of breaking, just when you don’t want them to. Although visitors probably won’t go around flushing your toilets during their visit to your property, they will no doubt want them to work when they move in.
- Faucets. Faucets can leak for all sorts of reasons. The main issue is usually a problem with the rubber seal. Sometimes they can harden over time, so when you close the faucet, water still seeps through. Replacing a rubber seal is a relatively straightforward task for an experienced handyman or plumber. It’s also something you could potentially do yourself if you know what you’re doing.
Clean Up Unsightly Stains And Dog Damage
Unsightly stains can be a real dealbreaker for some buyers. Nobody wants to arrive at a home, see a big splodge of a mess on the carpet and wonder what it is. Of course, it’s probably something innocuous, like coffee, but there’s nothing stopping buyers’ imaginations from running wild. It could be anything, even something revolting.
Stains also make your house look shabby and rundown, even if it isn’t. Dog damage has the same effect. Dogs that scratch up against doors can peel off the surface paint and laminate, making the entrance look battered, bruised and damaged. It creates an immediate lousy impression for people who aren’t used to the home-destroying habits of our canine friends.
Look for damage to your property in the following areas.
- Doors. Doors are prone to damage, especially if you have dogs. Check entries for scratch marks. Sand down and repaint where necessary. Even if you don’t have pets, check for cleanliness around the handle and use a gentle cleaning agent to remove. Yellowing of white doors is a visible sign that there is grime on the door.
- The Threshold. If you live in a busy home, people go in and out of the front door all day long. Front door thresholds get a lot of traffic, so it’s worth inspecting them for damage. Check the lip between the outside and inside, if you have one, and look for scuff marks and damage to the material. Wooden thresholds can weather, crack and break when exposed to UV light and ice, so replace where necessary.
- Limescale. Buyers want the bathroom to be spotless when they move in, so big ugly limescale marks in your sinks, bathtubs and shower cubicles can be a real turn off. Although limescale doesn’t present any hygiene issues, it’s ugly. Removing it is easy: get bleach with added limescale remover.
- Black Mold. Even if the mold in your home is superficial, it pays to get rid of it, again, to stop buyers’ imaginations from running wild. A buyer who sees mold might be inclined to imagine that the entire house is infested with spores that will damage their health, the health of their children, and necessitate thousands of dollars to repair the seals under the foundations.
- Missing Fence Boards. It’s not uncommon for yards to look a little worse-for-wear as the years go by. Fences take a particular beating from mother nature. Look for missing fence boards and replace them. If you have a painted fence, repaint it in an attractive, neutral color.
- Missing Paving Stones. Missing paving stones can easily be replaced with new and gaps between them filled with compacted sand.
A Messy Lawn
A messy lawn with weeds growing everywhere is an eyesore for the majority of buyers, especially if it is interspersed with the rusting remains of old vehicles, boats and any other unwanted paraphernalia. Mowing back the lawn is a cheap and effective way of upping the appeal of your home. You don’t have to do any expensive landscaping or put in water features: just make it look more inviting and looked-after.