What Not to Fix When Selling Your House

What Not to Fix When Selling Your House

The internet teems with advice about what to do to prepare your house for sale.  Every search result gives you another item to check off on the ever-expanding list of things to do.

Maybe it’s time for you to see a list of things not to do to prepare your home?  This article will share a few things to avoid and reinforce best practices for staging and prepping your house for sale.

For a list of things to do, check out Things to Repair Before Selling Your Home.

Why Fix Things Before Selling Your House?

While there are things you should be fixing before you list your house for sale, there's something to be said about keeping your eyes on the prize. 

In the case of selling your home, the prize is a listing that appeals to the broadest audience possible, stays on the market for the shortest duration possible, and maximizes your return on investment. 

Everything you do to prepare your home should be aimed towards at least one of those goals.  If you're thinking about fixing or replacing something in your home, and it doesn't help you, is it necessary? 

Instead, if you can stage your home in a way that balances expense and perceived value, you may stand a greater chance of selling quickly and getting the best possible return.

General Guidelines

The best way to find out what you should (and shouldn’t) do to prep your house is to consult with a real estate agent who is familiar with your neighborhood.  A comparative market analysis (CMA) is helpful to compare prices, but it can also help you gauge the condition of your house relative to others in the neighborhood. There may be no need to make improvements or upgrades at the last minute if nobody in the area has them. Do your research to find an agent who is known to prioritize their clients’ interests.

Getting ROI on Home Renovations

On the topic of ROI home improvements, avoiding large-scale renovations that are not absolutely necessary may be a good idea.

For smaller projects, avoid things that have more to do with your own psychology than improving the perceived value and potential of your home.  You do not need to show perfection; rather, help prospective buyers see the potential of your home by getting as far out of their way as possible.

Don’t feel like you have to update something just because you always wanted to and never got around to it.  Don’t rip up and replace outdated carpets just because you’re embarrassed about the 70s shag craze. 

What Not to Fix When Selling Your House

1. Cosmetics

Every house shows wear and tear; that's normal.  One of the problems with cosmetic upgrades is that they often highlight other inadequacies instead of turning the upgrade into a centerpiece.  Once you replace the vanity in the bathroom, people will realize that your tiles may be dated.

If you just need to make a cosmetic upgrade, it may be a good idea to focus on DIY projects that you can do quickly depending on where you're at.  Your skillset comes into play here, so your mileage may vary, but keeping the yard well-trimmed and adding a few extra potted plants is an easy way to boost curb appeal.

2. Old Appliances

Anyone looking to buy a home understands that appliances age, so unless you have something that is moments away from falling apart, it may be best to leave it.  If doing a kitchen upgrade in a pinch, you may be able to find a less expensive alternative that still works well off Craigslist or Facebook from someone who is doing a remodel.  If you have an older washer or dryer in the laundry room, you may be justified in getting rid of them before you list.  Otherwise, keep anything that is acceptable and in working order.

3. Things You Can Remove

You might think that changing out the curtains will brighten the place up a bit, but those costs can add up quickly and the house may be just as bright with no curtains.

If you do the best you can to show as much of the baseboard as possible by decluttering and removing things, your single story house may look bigger and your prospective buyers’ imaginations will have more room to play.  If something is in the way, try to get rid of it.  If you need to replace something,  make sure it’s not something that might turn off some people.  To maximize your audience, neutral can be better. 

4. Minor Electrical Issues

Sometimes houses have outlets that were not installed straight or light switches that don’t turn anything on.  There may be no need to fix those issues.  However, if there are any safety issues, including but not limited to exposed wires, detached light fixtures, or sparking, you should have them fixed immediately and consider hiring a professional to do so.

5. Cracked Pavement

Repaving, resealing, and expanding your driveway may enhance the overall curb appeal of your home, but they can be expensive and may not improve your final sale price significantly.

Unless you have safety concerns, avoiding re-paving may be something you consider.  If you are looking to add some less expensive curb appeal, try a fresh coat of paint on the door, installing window boxes or adding some greenery on the stoop.

6. Building Code

Home inspectors are required to list things that are not up to code, but you may not need to address them preemptively depending on what they are. Remember though, that you must disclose certain issues when selling a house. Your real estate agent can help you with this.

7. Partial Upgrades

If you aren't going to take on significant renovations, you may also consider avoiding half-measures.  If you modernize or upgrade part of a room, it may look out of place and not jive with the rest of the home. Your best bet may be to clean thoroughly and declutter as much as you can.   

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*Disclaimer: This material is provided for information purposes only and is not to be construed as concrete or investment advice. Readers are strongly advised to consult with their professional advisors regarding the information herein.

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