Home repairs for the purpose of selling a house can be everything from simple to expensive. The question that everyone has on his or her mind is – what works while being cost effective? In today’s market that is a hard question to answer, but a little due diligence will go a long way in answering that.
First ask yourself, is it a quick sale you are trying to accomplish, or can you sit on your house for awhile?
If it is a quick sale, you have little time and you probably don’t want to put a lot of money into it. Look to repairing the obvious things to make sure the house will pass an inspection and give you little to no worry for your closing date and there are four of them:
1) Heating/cooling system: Your heating system is one of the major concerns for a homebuyer – how long before it has to be replaced? If it is older, have it cleaned and make sure all maintenance is done and have a copy of the maintenance report available to assure the potential home buyer its maintained.
2) Plumbing. Another major concern is whether any of the plumbing will have to be replaced relatively soon. Doing simple inspection on pipes yourself will tell you whether you have leaks, weak spots or joints that need resealing. If you are capable of repairs that’s great, if not, enlist the aid of a plumber to fix what you find before your house is ready for inspection.
3) Newer homes should have the roof, walls, attic, if applicable, and siding all in a good maintenance shape. The roof should be solid. No leaks or even hints of leaks. Everything should have adequate insulation. And the siding, well it is common today that siding be replaced if it is so many years old. But if it doesn’t look too out of place for your neighborhood, your realtor that you trust, if it is necessary to replace your siding.
4) If your house has a basement, you want to make sure there are no cracks in the walls or other concerns. If there are cracks or other hints of wear and tear, have a professional fix these before the house is inspected.
All home inspections rank these major pieces in this fashion – not functioning properly, significantly deficient, unsafe, or are near the end of their service lives. If you take care of these items before your home is inspected, then the inspector will most likely clear your house for sale.
Beyond setting yourself up for a successful house inspection here are a few more quick repairs and improvements that will go a long way with a potential buyer.
Paint is easy. Consider each room as if you were looking at it for the first time, or have a friend or your realtor review your rooms for you to give an objective look. Just remember to keep it simple and elegant. Eggshell has always been a mainstay and it lightens a room. If you are locked into a dark color, make sure your choice of accents and curtains help to lighten the room.
Repair holes in walls, broken tiles on floors and splashboards. A new piece of linoleum for the bathroom floor, bathroom plumbing fixtures, and light fixture or at the least, new bulbs will help an outdated bathroom look refreshing.
Cupboards in a kitchen that are slightly out of date can either be replaced, which is a high cost item, or you can strip the wood and refinish with a lighter varnish to up date the look for varnished wood, or replace the cupboard doors at a minimum. Even adding new decorative handles can make a huge difference and is a small investment.
Counter tops can be replaced, another high cost item, or touched up with an overlay, not quite so expensive. Flooring in the kitchen can easily be updated with new linoleum if it has seen its wear and tear. Make sure the dishwasher, garbage disposal, stove and refrigerator all are clean and in good working order as they generally stay with the house when sold. Replace the refrigerator and oven light bulbs.
Bedrooms should have new light switch plates and electrical outlets that work. Make sure the paint is refreshed or touched up. Closet doors must work, if they are bi-folds that have seen their day, replace those with an updated version or consider putting in a real door and door frame. Replace the light in the closet with a higher wattage to help make the closet look bright and bigger.
Family rooms should have plenty of outlets these days. If there are not at least four in the room, consider having an electrician update the family room with a couple more. Make sure all light switch plates are clean or replaced. Consider a fresh coat of paint, it does wonders.
Dining rooms should have a fresh coat of paint, look at current decorating magazines to see what the trends are, but remember to sell a house, it is usually lighter paint colors with tasteful accents. Potential buyers want to envision themselves eating in the dining room. Make sure there are at least four working outlets and the light switch plate has been replaced. Consider the main source of light, which is usually a hanging chandelier of some type. If it is over five years old, consider replacing it with a newer chandelier that fights the motif of the dining room.
For entryways and hallways, make sure scuffmarks on the walls are touched up and moldings are replaced if broken or use wood putty to fill scrapes and holes. Working lights are a must and new, higher wattage light bulbs will help improve the over all look. For the flooring, if needed, add in new linoleum.
Carpeting is a medium expense in a house for sale. At the least, hire a professional company to clean the carpet. Often we think we can handle it ourselves, but for any type sale of a house, it is recommended a professional company perform the carpet cleaning. They have the ability to de-odorize, remove stains and freshen up a carpet to almost the look of new carpet. If the carpet is beyond its use, consider replacing it.
Some high end items for repair or replacement and if you have the time to wait for a potential buyer: Siding on your house, how old does your house look to those in your neighborhood? Do you need to update? Replacing siding on your house for re-sale is a major expense, but it is worth considering if you are looking for top dollar.
Replacing an outdated furnace with a new efficiency furnace/ air conditioner can set you back $3-5,000 or a more depending on where you live. But the investment could make a potential buyer your actual buyer. It often adds value to your house in the end. There are federal rebates available for high efficiency furnaces and worth the trouble of checking into. It will offset some of the cost of replacing your retiring furnace.
Insulation in the attic adds a layer of comfort in colder climates with buyers.
And not forgetting aesthetics as well as cost savings, windows might be worth replacing. It is a high priced ticket but there are federal rebates, which might make the ticket price worth it. In the end it will save you money on heating and cooling costs and make your house more attractive to a potential buyer as you wait for.
You can check with your local power company, window supplier or on the EnergySavers.gov website for rebates available to you in your state.
If you are serious about selling your house, many of these suggestions allow a highly marketable house.