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Repairs and Maintenance: Preparing Your Home to Sell Part 2 of 3

This is the second part of our series Preparing Your Home to Sell. 

The Lightbulb Moment

Here’s a bright idea! Make sure all of your lightbulbs are working, and make sure they cast an appropriate amount of light upon each room. You wouldn’t believe how many houses on the market have lights that are burnt out.

Dark rooms simply don’t show well. Even worse, non-functioning bulbs can cast a negative light on the owners (pun intended). In other words, buyers might think, “Well if the owners don’t take care of the basics like lightbulbs, what else are they neglecting?”

Sometimes it isn’t a matter of having bulbs out...it’s a matter of having the wrong bulbs. Bulbs are not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. Sometimes people will have bulbs that are way too bright or just cast the wrong feel in a room.

Some rooms deserve a crisp, clean, bright light. (Like in a kitchen.) Some are better off with softer, warmer lighting. (Like in a den.) So make sure to give some thought to how the lighting in the room makes you feel. Is it appropriate? If not, try to find the perfect bulbs for the room.

Also, make sure that when your house is on the market, the lights are easy to turn on for the agent showing the house. If a light switch that controls certain lighting isn’t easy to find, make sure that you leave it on before a showing or leave a note letting people know where the switch is.

In fact, if you know there’s going to be a showing, it’s not a bad idea for you to turn on the lights before the buyer comes. It’s simple enough to just ask that the agent turn off the lights once they finish showing the house. That way they can just walk in and get the full effect without having to look for the light switches.

Fix It Or Forget It?

It’s easy to learn how to live with certain little issues around the house. Many people don’t even view certain things as an issue until they’re selling their house.

Like that gurgling noise that comes from the sink, for example. It might have bothered you at first, but then it just faded into the background once it became familiar. Or the drippy faucet. It’s not like it doesn’t work, it just likes to not stop working entirely when you turn it off. No big deal. As a homeowner, things like that aren’t always bothersome enough to justify hiring someone or fixing it yourself.

It doesn’t just have to be plumbing, of course. It could be the chipping paint on the ceiling...which happens to be caused by a small leak in the roof when it rains hard. Or a loose cabinet door that doesn’t close quite right.

Whatever it is, there’s probably something around your house that could stand to be fixed.

But here’s the question: Should you fix these little issues before putting your house on the market?

The popular and most standard answer in the real estate industry is, “Yes.” And let’s just say that it can’t hurt to fix the little issues around the house. It’s like we talked about with the light bulbs that are burnt out — if buyers see smaller issues around the house, they might also wonder about what else you haven’t taken care of.

But, on the other hand, you may be able to ignore the minor fixes and just see if the buyer brings them up during home inspection requests. It may be less costly and easier to negotiate a credit or agree to repair something only when a buyer actually asks for it to be repaired.

The same goes for more serious issues like an HVAC system that’s not working properly. You should probably fix that sort of thing prior to putting your house on the market, but it could make sense to just wait and see how buyers react.

There’s no absolute answer to this. So the best thing to do is make a list of all of the issues around your house and ask your agent for their advice.

You may even want to hire a home inspector to perform a pre-listing home inspection so you won’t get caught off guard by what your buyer’s inspector will likely find. Doing this is never a bad idea.

Reservations About Major Renovations

As an agent, I get asked a lot about renovations and, more specifically, whether they’ll increase a home’s value (or if they’re even necessary to do before selling).

It’s a good thing to ask about because many people don’t ask and then end up regretting the work they did.

Quite often, a renovation project ends up costing the homeowner more than it actually increases the value of the house. Sure, it might increase the value, but there’s a good chance it won’t increase it enough to justify the time and cost of having done it.

That’s not to say that it never makes sense to do a renovation project before selling. Some certainly do improve the value beyond the cost of doing it. And sometimes doing a renovation can make the difference between getting a house sold more quickly versus sitting on the market forever or simply not selling.

Renovations like a new kitchen or bathroom are often cited as being a great return on investment. They can be. But they might not be for you and your particular house and situation. So make sure to think twice before doing any major renovation to your house prior to putting it on the market. Make sure to run any project you are considering by your real estate agent.

Also, gather up all receipts, guarantees, and warranties for any work that you have done.

Enthusiasm for Your Curb 

A buyer’s enthusiasm for your house starts at the curb.

First impressions count — not only on dates and job interviews but also when you’re selling a house. If you want to be appealing to buyers, you have to make sure your house has “curb appeal.”

Curb appeal isn’t just about the outside of your house looking attractive, it’s about everything that leads up to it — your landscaping, walkways, driveway, decks, patios, fencing...basically anything you can see from the curb.

And it matters way before the buyer even drives up to your house to see it. It’s usually the first image they see when they’re searching for houses online, which is where most buyers are looking. The last thing you want is a buyer scrolling past your house, let alone rolling past it in a car because it lacks curb appeal.

Here are some things you should consider:

  • Does the roof look good? Or does it need to be power-washed or even replaced?
  • Are the gutters clean?
  • Are the windows clean?
  • Does the exterior need power-washing, a paint job, or new siding?
  • Is the lawn well kept? Are there bare spots?
  • Are shrubs and trees trimmed?
  • Are flower beds weeded?
  • Are the walkways, driveway, and any patios or decks clean and in good shape?

As with interior repairs and renovations, you shouldn’t necessarily go overboard to enhance the curb appeal. There’s a fine line you don’t want to cross. So make sure to consult with a real estate agent for advice on what you should and shouldn’t do to spruce up the outside of your house prior to hitting the market.

Contine Reading

Preparing Your Home to Sell Part 1 of 3

Repairs and Maintenance: Preparing Your Home to Sell Part 2 of 3