What to Fix & What Not to Fix When Selling a House 2024 Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive what not to fix when selling a house 2024 guide!

Knowing how to sell a house that needs work can be tricky. Many homeowners think they have to do all of the necessary repairs before selling, but this isn’t always the case.

But we’re here to guide on exactly what to fix when selling a house and which repairs to avoid.

Making the right choices is vital as it can save you valuable time and resources.

What not to fix when selling a house

Before you sell your home, it’s crucial to strike a balance between making profitable improvements and wasting money on unnecessary repairs. Minor issues such as cosmetic flaws, bent rods, hairline cracks or outdated elements might seem like a deal-breaker, but they might not necessarily deter buyers.

On the contrary, they might be areas where the buyer sees potential customization opportunities. So, even if you fix these things, they may still push through with a new construction plan and renovate regardless. 

For example, a buyer may already have new appliances and have their own plans for a kitchen remodel. Here, some repairs may not even be necessary if all you want is to make your property ready to sell.

So, what should you not fix when selling a house? These four elements could save you some money and making the selling process more smooth and advantageous:

  • Ceiling damage
  • Outdated decor
  • Non-functional appliances
  • Curb appeal

Ceiling damage

Ceiling damage, although unsightly, is not typically a deal-breaker for most buyers, despite what you may think. Instead, prospective buyers often see potential for future customization to their personal liking if they see a ceiling that needs some TLC.

Not only that but repairing ceiling damage can be expensive, time-consuming, and often unnecessary. As a seller, you should consider leaving this for the buyer to handle, saving you both time and money.

Potential buyers tend to negotiate the price down due to visible damage, but bear in mind that the cost of fixing ceiling damage might actually be lower than the price reduction the buyers are asking for. Of course, this does not apply to severe structural damage, which you should address before putting your home on the market.

Outdated Decor elements

You might think that updating the kitchen or bathrooms is a must when selling a house, but that’s not always the case. Home buyers often look for elements they can customize according to their personal tastes and preferences.

This is especially true regarding:

  • Wallpaper
  • Carpets
  • Tiles
  • Paint colors.

Although the above may be aesthetically unappealing to some buyers, these details are often overlooked as they can easily be changed.

Unless these elements are causing actual damage to your home, these partial home repairs are typically not worth investing in. Instead, you should focus your time and energy on fixing underlying issues that may require more effort or money to repair.

Non-functional appliances

A common misconception is that all appliances must be in perfect working order when selling a house. However, not all appliance repairs are worthwhile investments.

If you have older appliances that no longer function perfectly, replacing them might not increase your home’s value as expected. Note that this also applies to other removable items such as cabinets, curtains and countertops.

Many buyers anticipate replacing appliances as part of moving into a new home. Hence, a non-functioning dishwasher or an old fridge may not deter your potential buyer. Instead of pouring money into replacing or fixing these, consider offering a credit to the new homeowners to buy appliances that fit their preference.

Remember, the goal is to present your home as a canvas for potential buyers to customize according to their tastes. By taking this approach, you maintain the chance to save substantial amounts of money and time during your home selling process.

Curb appeal

It’s true… first impressions truly matter.

However, investing heavily in the curb appeal of your home may not always pay off. While it’s important to present a clean, well-maintained front yard, you don’t need to go overboard with expensive landscaping or elaborate outdoor features.

Simple, cost-effective measures can go a long way in making a positive first impression, such as:

  • Keeping the lawn mowed
  • Trimming overgrown bushes, and
  • Ensuring the front of your home is clean and presentable.

You may want to add a fresh coat of paint to your front door or replace outdated house numbers, but avoid making significant investments in things like professional landscaping or new fencing.

Instead, let potential buyers visualize their dream yard and exterior.

What to fix when selling a house

Making the right repairs can significantly add value to the home, potentially leading to quicker sales and better offers. Remember, knowing how to sell a house that needs work is to focus on things that directly affect the home’s overall livability and the buyer’s first impression.

With this in mind, here’s what to fix up when selling a house:

  • Structural issues
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Electrics

Structural issues

Structural issues are the most important renovations before you sell, and commonly include:

  • Foundations
  • Roof
  • Walls
  • Hallway cracks, or
  • Flooring that compromises the home’s integrity.

Can you sell a house with foundation issues or other structural issues? Yes, but aside from affecting the value of your home, neglecting major structural issues can also make it difficult to find potential buyers. Buyers are often hesitant to purchase homes with obvious structural damage, as they may fear that additional underlying damage exists or that repairs could be too costly.

In particular, a leaking or worn-out roof can lead to significant interior damage, and most buyers are unwilling to take on this hefty project. Ensure your roof is in good condition before listing your home, as a new or recently repaired roof is a major selling point.

Similarly, problems with the walls or flooring can indicate deeper structural issues. Look out for signs of warping, as these may point to issues that need to be addressed before putting your home on the market. Failure to do so will most likely result in poor valuation and potential buyers walking away from the purchase.

Plumbing problems

Plumbing issues are one of the most important things to fix when selling a house since savvy buyers are always wary of water damage, making it vital to ensure that your home’s plumbing system is in top-notch condition.

Issues such as water damage in crawl space areas, leaky faucets, slow drains, or faulty water heaters can be red flags to potential buyers, signaling the possibility of more severe, hidden problems. A minor leak may seem inconsequential, but it can suggest neglect and raise questions about the property’s general state.

Moreover, plumbing defects can lead to hidden water damage, causing concerns about mold growth, which is a major health hazard and a, potentially, expensive problem to solve. Therefore, it’s essential to fix any visible plumbing issues and consider a thorough inspection to identify and rectify hidden problems before listing your house.

With this in mind, can you sell a house with mold? Well, yes, but buyers are usually hesitant to purchase properties that have had problems with mold in the past. Therefore, it’s essential to take proactive steps to identify and eliminate any existing mold before putting your home on the market.

In certain cases, you may need to replace old plumbing fixtures to increase your home’s appeal. For instance, a new faucet or showerhead can enhance the look of a bathroom and demonstrate to potential buyers that the house is well-maintained and home ready.

HVAC system

A well-functioning heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is something a serious buyer will mostly definitely look for. Buyers not only inspect these systems for functionality but also consider their efficiency, as these can significantly impact the home’s comfort and utility bills.

If your HVAC system is outdated or poorly maintained, it can be a major drawback for buyers. Frequent breakdowns, inefficient cooling or heating, and high energy consumption are common symptoms of an ill-maintained HVAC system. These can lead buyers to anticipate significant expenses in repairs or replacements, possibly discouraging them from making an offer.

To avoid this, ensure your HVAC system is in top shape before listing your home. Regular maintenance, including cleaning and servicing, can enhance its efficiency and lifespan. If your system is old and less energy-efficient, consider upgrading to a newer model. This investment could prove worthwhile, as buyers often appreciate modern, energy-saving appliances.

Electrical issues

Faulty wiring, outdated electrical systems, or even minor electrical issues like non-functioning outlets and switches can be major deterrents for potential buyers.

Not only do these issues pose a risk for future repair costs, but they can also be a potential fire hazard. Any local real estate agent would tell you that selling a house with fire damage is extremely difficult, so it’s essential to ensure that your home is properly wired and has no electricity-related issues.

1. Inspect the switches

Firstly, inspect all the switches and outlets in your home to ensure they are operational. If you come across any that are not working, engage a licensed electrician to make the necessary repairs.

In addition, if your home is older and still has a fuse box instead of a modern circuit breaker, it’s worth considering an upgrade. Modern buyers expect up-to-date electrical systems and may be put off by the prospect of having to perform this upgrade themselves.

2. Check fixtures

Ensure that all your electrical fixtures, such as lights, fans, and appliances are working correctly. If any are making abnormal noises or aren’t functioning as they should, consider repairing or replacing them. This will further present a sense of a well-maintained house to potential buyers.

Lastly, consider having a professional electrician do a general home inspection report. They can identify any potential issues such as improper wiring or overloaded circuits that you might have overlooked.

When Is a House Not Worth Fixing?

There are certain instances where it may be best not to invest money and time to fix the house before selling:

  1. Repair costs far outweigh an ROI: This is often the case with properties that have severe structural, electrical, or plumbing issues that require a significant amount of work and capital to rectify.
  2. Properties are selling quickly regardless of their condition: if the real estate market is particularly hot, buyers might be interested in buying a house in poor condition due to a lack of available alternatives or a desire to customize a home to their liking.
  3. Land value: If land value in the area is high, buyers might be interested in the property for the land itself, with plans to demolish and rebuild. In such cases, investing in repairs or upgrades may not be a wise decision as the buyers may have plans to tear down the existing structure. In this case, selling your house as is could be a viable option.

Still, before you put a house on the market, it’s essential to keep in mind that homes in poor condition will likely sell for less than comparable homes that have been well-maintained or updated.

Don’t Want to Make Repairs Before You Sell a Home?

If you’re finding the prospect of making repairs before selling a house costly and time-consuming, remember that you’re not alone. We understand that the task of getting your home into top-notch condition for sale can be cumbersome and stressful.

If you’re in our area and want to sell your home without renovation, we’re here to help!

Our professional team is experienced in assisting homeowners just like you in preparing their homes for sale effectively and efficiently. So why not let us take the burden off your shoulders?

Save yourself time, money, and worry by getting in touch with us today. Let us help you make your house selling journey as smooth and stress-free as possible!

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Doug & Andrea Van Soest | SoCal Home Buyers

Fix it or sell it? Our Final points on Things to Fix Before Selling Your House

Preparing your home for sale involves careful consideration of what to fix before selling a house.

Addressing key areas such as plumbing, HVAC systems, and electrical issues can significantly enhance your home’s appeal to potential buyers. In addition, upgrading old fixtures, maintaining the HVAC system, and ensuring all electrical outlets and switches function correctly can make your home appear well-maintained and ready to move in.

Remember, the objective of these repairs is not just to sell but to “fix to sell” for the best possible price.

In some cases, selling the house as-is might be the most viable option, especially if the cost of repairs outweighs potential return, or if the property’s land value outpaces the value of the house itself.

Regardless, seeking professional advice can provide valuable insight into the most effective strategies for preparing your home for sale.

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