Which Repairs Are Worth Doing Before Selling A Home?
Selling a home to move to lower-cost housing, or as part of a move to assisted living, involves plenty of cleaning, repairs, and maybe some renovations. To get the most money, and to recover your repair and renovation investment, focus on improvements that are either necessary to sell your home, or those that will help get you a higher price. While every home is different, here are six home improvements that tend to get the best return:
- Fix the flooring. What’s underneath the worn-out carpeting? Homes that were built in the 60’s often had hardwood floors that were covered by carpeting. But today, hardwood floors are hot with homebuyers who may otherwise run the other way at the sight of dirty out-dated carpet. Get rid of the old carpeting and refinish the hardwood floors. You may need to replace carpeting if plywood subflooring was used instead of hardwood. Unless the flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms is in mint condition, replacing it also tends to pays off.
- Give it a fresh coat of paint. Paint not only looks good, it can help cover other problems (which need to be repaired) — like water damage, smoke stains, and scuffs that have accumulated over the years. It’s especially important to make repairs of holes in the wall, deal with mold in bathrooms, basements and closets, and to get rid of wallpaper. Use light-colored neutral tones that blend well with everything. It’s also important to paint or power wash the exterior of your home. If you worry about your painting skills, or the amount of time you have to do the job, hire a professional — a bad job can do more harm than good.
- Rehab the kitchen. Mid to lower range kitchen remodels can have the highest return when you sell your home, but avoid going overboard. Most buyers don’t like to pay extra for that professional 8-burner gas range or a fancy fridge. Replace missing drawers or those that no longer function. If your cabinets are outdated and beat up, a less expensive option to replacing them is resurfacing, which involves attaching a thin veneer to the surface, and replacing doors and hardware. Repair leaky facets, and replace stained or worn out sinks and fixtures. Consult with your real estate agent on counter tops — laminate instead of granite may be just fine.
- Pay special attention to the bathroom. Bathrooms are second to kitchen remodels for raising the selling price of your home. Modernizing the fixtures is a good idea, but don’t rush to throw out that antique claw foot tub, check with your agent first. There are companies that can refinish those old tubs. Repair or replace leaky toilets and faucets. Repair or replace chipped tiles, replace caulking and grouting where necessary.
- Outdoor improvements. First impressions are important to getting buyers through the door. The grounds and exterior of your home need to be in good condition including the siding, landscaping and any wooden deck or patio area. Resurface cracked driveways or sidewalks.
- Replace windows and roofs only when necessary. Windows and roofs are expensive and no fun for older homeowners to replace. While homebuyers expect roofs and windows to be in good condition, replacing them may not dramatically boost the resale value of your home. Get the opinion of your real estate agent.
Even if you aren’t ready to sell your home, but just doing some planning for the future, homes maintain their highest value with careful regular maintenance and de-cluttering. It’s not too early to start thinking ahead. To learn more, see: Selling Your House, Nolo’s Essential Guide, by Iiona Bray, J.D.