What to Fix and Not to Fix When Selling Your Home
Hey, Dave Edwards, Treasure Valley Dave here in Nampa, Idaho. Today, I want to go over some essential things when you’re considering selling your home: the things you don’t want to fix.
I’m going to cut straight to the things you should do. The first thing is to talk with your real estate agent because they will have so many great ideas and will point you in the right direction. So, that’s on the do-do list.
Don't Spend on Home Improvements
Save money on improvements because that will take longer to recoup. You may spend $10,000 updating cabinets, and it only increases the value of your house to the market by $5,000, so you’re going backward right there.
You’ve heard the phrase, “You want the worst house on the best street as opposed to the best house on the worst street.” Well, that’s what it is here. You don’t want to spend more money than you will ever get back out of it.
Don't Get Trendy
Also, avoid getting trendy when it comes to paint and decorations and things like that. You want to stay nice and neutral and not all crazy just because you saw something on HGTV or elsewhere.
Don't Start Something You Can't Finish
If you’re going to finish it, you probably would’ve had it finished by now, so let it go.
You may say, “I always meant to fix it.” If you always meant to and never got around to it, now is not the time to get around to it. Let somebody else deal with it.
Don't Try to Hide a Flaw
Let’s say you’ve got a basement wall, and this big old crack is in it. Don’t go in there and put some putty over it and say, “You know what? That foundation wall is going to be just fine.” That’s not good — don’t do that.
Don't Do Expensive Cosmetic Fixes
Don’t do expensive cosmetic fixes because, for one thing, it may be different from what the buyers want. It may not be necessary to them. There are some easy and inexpensive cosmetic fixes, and we can talk about those. But those expensive ones? Just let it go.
Don't Fix Sidewalk and Driveway Cracks
Most houses in Treasure Valley have withstood Snowmageddon. Expect small cracks on patios and sidewalks due to snow heaving. It’s nothing structural, just some cracks you’ll see on the sidewalks and driveways.
Don't Replace Old Appliances
What are you talking about? Don’t replace old appliances. For those appliances that are inoperable, you need to fix them. That would be something like your dishwasher or the built-in microwave over the stove. If it works, great. If it looks older, guess what? The house is older.
A buyer who wants a brand-new house will have to buy a new one. That’s the way it is. But if your appliance works, and is functional, then leave it. If that microwave starts to put off sparks, then let’s go ahead and get that replaced.
Don't Replace Normal Wear-and-Tear Items
Normal wear and tear items? Don’t worry about it. We recently sold our house. The house was ten years old, and the carpet was ten years old, so it wasn’t brand-new looking at all. But you know what we did? We cleaned it and had it stretched. We have a great guy who does that.
And does it look like a brand-new carpet now? No, but it’s got many years of life left in it. The new people there will get it dirty anyway, so don’t worry about the wear and tear.
What to Fix
Now, back to the do-do list…
Improve Curb Appeal
Do things that do improve curb appeal. When we left our house in California, we had our agent — Hey, Edwin! — and he gave us this piece of advice. He said, “Paint the front door red.” You know, not like a fire-engine red, but you know, a rich color of red.
Within a matter of a day or two, we had an offer. I don’t know why, but that’s why we had an agent back then. And that’s why we take classes, we talk with people, we’re always learning. We want to know those little tricks sometimes through experience.
This can be a big thing, but get this stuff out. Get yourself a storage unit. Put the stuff in the storage unit; get the house cleaned up.
Depersonalization is another phrase that we often use. When the buyer walks through your house, they can envision themselves in it. They’re mentally moving in already.
I know you’ve lived there a long time. You don’t even smell it anymore, right? But ask your agent: “Does it stink in here?” Don’t tell them you’re smoking in the house. We have people who try to get by with just smoking in the garage, not throughout the entire house.
Pet odors… Does your cat like to pee in the corner? That’s something that’s going to have to be addressed. Now, when I say “addressed,” and this is with everything, you can manage it with the price. You can drop the dollar amount until we finally start talking to a smaller pool of people. We’re referring to those who don’t care what it smells like because they’re getting a screaming deal.
Now, our next point is a good cleaning. It’s amazing! I have a friend — Hi, Nick! — and he’s a professional move-in, move-out detailer. He’s not a house cleaner — he’s a detailer. He can go through a house and get down in every little tiny nook and cranny. When you walk into the house after he’s done, it just feels fantastic. It’s like a makeover for your home.
If you need something like that for your house because you’ve let it go a little while too long, you know it’s “pay me now or pay me later.” You could’ve stayed on top of it these last however many years, but you didn’t. So now, we must reconcile that or drop the price incredibly.
This is something I learned when we sold our house recently. I changed all the light bulbs for brand-new bulbs that were all the same color. Bulbs come in different output colors if you will. Some are more yellowish; some are more bluish. So I got them all the same, and it doesn’t cost that much or take all that long to do.
Easy Cosmetic Fixes
We’re talking about the stuff that’s not very difficult. Maybe you can do it yourself, and it won’t cost much money. It’s okay.
Inoperative Built-in Appliances
Yeah, we need to get those fixed. If the built-in microwave over the stove is sparking, it’s time. But if it’s your washer and dryer, that does not have to go with the house. The same could go for your refrigerator.
Here in the Treasure Valley, a refrigerator that goes with the house is not uncommon, but it’s certainly not standard. It doesn’t have to go with the house. You’d perhaps want a refrigerator in the garage in your new home. Take that old one with you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Again, it’s like with those light bulbs, and I’m guilty of this. If there are three of them on that little light bulb fixture in the bathroom, I have to get down to one. If one burns out, that’s my warning. If two burn out, I must take action. Don’t get like that. Just go ahead and get all that deferred maintenance and take care of it.
How Can You Do All These?
And there might be quite a bit happening right now. I know you’re packing and looking at houses and things like that. We have several great handymen who can come out and complete some of these little projects for you.
As I said, we have Nick, who can do the deep cleaning of your house. We also have some tools that can help you. We work in one of the biggest brokerages in the entire valley. One of my fellow agents will have a client that just moved, and now they have tons of boxes. Often, I can get those for free, saving you a couple of bucks. That’s a good thing, right?
Considerations Before Selling Your Home
Anything that’s broken needs to be fixed. When you walk in, what’s the first thing you see? Maybe the buyer is standing on the front doorstep while the agent’s doing the blue lock box thing, and there’s a window there, and there’s a big crack in it. Or perhaps the doorbell button is hanging off, and a couple of wires are sticking out. People are going to see that. It’s not that big of a deal to get it fixed. It’s undeniable — let’s get it fixed.
Back to what we started with: consult your real estate agent before selling your home. They have experience, not just ideas from HGTV too. They’ve been through this, I’ve been through this, and I have some great suggestions for you. It doesn’t mean you have to do everything I say, but I want you to have some ideas.
Here are a few things that I want you to consider:
Showcase the Potential
When putting your house together to present to the market, we want to showcase the potential, not the perfection. When someone walks in, we want them to say, “Yeah, you know what, it’s got one of those old-fashioned lights, but it’s clean, dry, and serviceable.” Then, people can imagine their setup in there. So it’s the potential, not the perfection, that matters.
Prepare for Repair Requests
Be prepared for the requested repair items. We accept the offer once the buyer puts it in and an inspector emerges. The inspector will look for broken stuff that needs fixing or attention. Then, the buyers may return and ask you to fix some of those things. Depending on what your house is, what your motivation is, and what their motivation is, that will dictate how we respond to that list of requests.
Before we put your house on the market, we can have an inspector come out and do a pre-listing inspection. They can help you discover hidden things you didn’t even know about. Because a buyer can say, “You know what? You’re using a reputable company here. We appreciate the report.” That just saved them several hundred bucks. “Oh, and by the way, you already fixed these major things? We’re good to go.”
"Is It Important for the Buyer?"
I know you’ve got that thing you’ve always wanted to get around to. It’s a fun little project, but you didn’t. Okay, so you’ll take four months off and wait until the dead of winter to put your house on the market because you wanted to get this little thing done. But it won’t add more value to your home.
"Does It Make Sense?"
This is just philosophy for life. “Does it make sense?” Do you want to put all new kitchen cabinets in for 10,000 bucks because the ones that are in there right now don’t have knobs on them? Maybe we could just put knobs on them for a hundred dollars and hire a handyman to do it. Does it make sense?
From a marketing perspective, how does it show when a buyer first approaches the house? Do those things all make sense? If it doesn’t make sense, you shouldn’t do it. Run that past your agent.
Well, hey, thanks so much for stopping by. Contact us if you need help buying a home, selling a home, or relocating to the Treasure Valley. We’d be glad to help you out. As always, it’s Treasure Valley Dave helping you get home!