If you’re putting your house on the market this year, congratulations! Now is a great time to sell. Also, kudos on your decision to be proactive in fixing any issues now and/or improving the things that could add more value to your home. If you want to know what to fix or improve before selling, take the following steps:
Ask Your Realtor To Do a Walk-Through
Your Realtor is your first and best resource regarding the proper pricing of your home. He or she can assess your home’s value based on the physical condition, market climate, and nearby comparable sales. Your Realtor’s opinion regarding improvements is a great starting point. While no one can predict buyer preferences with 100% certainty, an experienced real estate agent who knows your market will have anecdotal as well as statistical research available. Ask your agent to take a look at your property before you make any changes to help you determine whether the repairs you plan to make will result in a higher selling price and/or a faster sale of your home. Real estate professionals are also a great source for professional referrals, such as plumbers and contractors.
Maybe: Contract a Pre-Inspection
A pre-inspection is similar to the home inspections buyer's order but is instead contracted by the seller. During the pre-inspection, a licensed home inspector will perform a thorough review of your home and discuss any potential issues and repairs with you. A pre-inspection is not an appraisal: the inspector will not assign a value to your home. Instead, he or she will provide you with a detailed report listing any code violations, potential hazards, broken items, structural deficiencies, and evidence of previous damage.
Some of the items reviewed in the pre-inspection are the HVAC system, foundation, appliances, plumbing, electrical system, and roof. Once you know your home’s potential issues, you can fix them before listing your property, thereby staying ahead of buyer concerns that could come up before closing. Some sellers also choose to attach a copy of the pre-inspection to their sales disclosure as a courtesy to potential buyers.
Following are some of the most common issues or needed repairs that licensed home inspectors find. (This list is not exhaustive.)
Evidence of wood-destroying insects –Active infestations from things like termites or carpenter ants could be a deal-killer. Eradicate the insects and correct any damage they caused before putting your home on the market. Previous evidence of wood-destroying insects is not as concerning, especially if you have documentation to show that the infestation has been exterminated and any deficiencies corrected.
Evidence of Mold – The term “mold” brings up negative emotion in home buyers, even when it’s the non-toxic type. If your home is harboring mold or mildew, clean and sanitize the affected area. Find out why mold developed in the first place and correct the issue as soon as possible. Usually, this means that moisture is leaking from a plumbing supply or sneaking in from the outdoors. The source of moisture will need to be located and addressed.
No Evidence of Service History - This applies to things like the HVAC system (furnace and air conditioner), the hot water heater, or any other piece of equipment for which routine maintenance is recommended.
Missing Shingles – Missing shingles are an easy fix if caught early. If left unremedied, this issue could cause a leaky roof and damage to underlying structures.
Moisture Buildup Outdoors - Gutters and downspouts should be clean and properly extended to route water away from the foundation.
Lack of Weatherproofing – Home inspectors will call out leaky doors and windows. This can usually be fixed with simple weatherstripping.
Chimney Maintenance – If you’ve never used your wood-burning fireplace, you may have no awareness of your chimney’s condition. A licensed home inspector will check the chimney, inside and out, for cracks, buildup, damaged plumbing boots, or other deficiencies that could make for unsafe conditions.
Outdated Outlets – Electrical code may have changed since your home was built. The inspector will verify that the number, placement, and type of outlets meet the requirement for your home’s size and layout. Things like double-tap breakers and loose outlets may need to be remedied.
Missing or Inoperable Smoke Detectors – Make sure that every level of your home has a working smoke detector.
Everyone’s taste in décor is different. Investing heavily in current trends is generally not recommended. However, if your home has dated décor (i.e. floral wallpaper straight out of 1985) then some cosmetic fixing may be advisable. If your goal is to sell your home, neutral colors are recommended. The occasional design trend can be sprinkled throughout your interior palette and outdoor landscape, but take care that your choices are marketable to a wide audience. Some sellers contract with a home staging company to help with furniture placement, flow, and design choices before listing their home. If you do decide to hire a decorator or home stager, do so before the photographer comes. Most buyers will search photos of your home on the internet before deciding whether to view the property in person.
Consider a Home Warranty
Home warranties have fallen out of favor over the past 12 months as the sellers-market mentality has taken over. Sellers are understandably reluctant to pay for concessions when scarcity and demand for housing already drive prices up. However, a home warranty is a relatively inexpensive concession considering the benefit it provides to a potential buyer. Home warranties are service contracts that cover unexpected repairs or replacements for things like the washer, dryer, or oven.
Are you planning to sell your house in a year or even later? Why wait on making repairs, fixing leaks, or doing the cosmetic updates that could benefit your home? Investing in these things long before you plan to sell will increase your investment and enjoyment value. Plus, inflation is likely to drive material and labor costs up. Prices trend up, not down. Delaying projects will most likely result in less spending power down the road. So make those updates now if you can, regardless of when you plan to sell.