Making repairs to your home before listing it on the market will increase your chances of attracting the right buyer — and selling for top dollar.
The repairs you make will depend on several factors, including the size of your budget and the scope of your timeline. Consider completing some of the following repairs for the best chance at getting the maximum sale price for your house.
A roof at the end of its life can decrease your home's value and potentially lead to other problems, such as leaks, interior damage, or poor ventilation. That's why it's imperative to replace missing shingles or tiles and repair any cracks or blistering in the sealant.
Although paying for a new roof is a major expense — around $8,000 for the average homeowner — sellers typically recoup most of that cost because buyers love knowing they won’t have to replace the roof for 20 or more years.
Signs of an unstable foundation — such as horizontal or vertical cracks in the walls, sagging floors, or visible deterioration to the retaining or stem wall — can make it difficult to sell your home. Consider hiring a structural engineer to assess its soundness and recommend the right fixes.
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3. Electrical System
All electrical systems in your home should meet current safety standards. This may involve small repairs, such as replacing outdated or frayed wiring, or fixing light switches.
It could also mean more substantial overhauls. You may have to replace an outdated fuse box or circuit breaker panel, or rewire your entire home to mitigate potential safety hazards. Work with a qualified electrician to ensure any work on your home is documented for future buyers.
An outdated plumbing system that’s likely to need a lot of repairs is a deal-breaker for many home buyers. Be sure to fix relevant problems — such as leaky pipes, slow or clogged drains, low water pressure, as well as water damage on walls, ceilings, or around the foundation — before listing.
5. HVAC System
Most buyers don't expect a home’s HVAC to be new, but they do expect it to function as intended. The good news is that your home’s heating and cooling system may only require minor repairs from a qualified technician to ensure it’s clean, leak-free, and running efficiently.
Buyers may want reassurance in the form of a home warranty, which sellers often volunteer to pay for as part of their closing costs. If you’re unsure if your HVAC is nearing the end of its lifespan, ask your technician for an assessment. An HVAC system on its last legs can bring down your home’s value.
6. Water Heater
Have your water heater inspected to determine its age. Make sure there are no leaks, all valves and gauges are working, and that the pipes are insulated.
Ask any realtor and almost all will agree: A fresh coat of paint is not only one of the most inexpensive ways to revive any room in your home, it also has one of the highest rates of return.
Sellers who make sure their walls are newly neutral before they list could see a 3% increase on the sale price of their home — that's $15,000 on a $500,000 home!)
While you’re at it, make sure you repair nail holes, touch up spots that aren’t getting a full paint job, and smooth out dents or dings in the drywall.
Home buyers don’t want torn or stained carpeting, worn hardwoods, or scratched laminates. Regardless of what type of flooring you have, replace what’s worn out with something neutral, or consider refinishing hardwoods to restore them to their original shine.
9. Kitchen Cabinets
A full kitchen renovation right before you sell is unlikely to generate the kind of return you’re hoping for. Instead, focus on making sure the kitchen you have is in good condition with some minor upgrades. Repair loose hinges, broken drawer tracks, and replace faulty or missing hardware, such as knobs and pulls.
Cabinet doors and drawers should open and close easily and correctly. For cabinets in rough shape, consider refinishing them with a fresh coat of paint for a new look that costs next to nothing.
10. Household Appliances
Check that the stove, oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, washer, dryer, and any other appliances in home are working properly. Fix any leaks, broken hoses, or gauges. If needed, make sure the coolant or Freon is replaced in your fridge, freezer, and air conditioning.
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Fixtures, such as showerheads and faucets, should be free of leaks and mineral deposits, and drains should run freely. Consider reglazing or resurfacing a tub if the sealant is peeling.
Replacing cracked or aging grout can also make a bathroom look brand new. Repair broken tiles in the shower or on the floor, and make sure the exhaust vent is clean and working.
12. Torn Window Screens
When home buyers see small but annoying and unsightly problems, they wonder what other simple repairs have gone unnoticed. Easy problems such as torn window screens are inexpensive to fix and contribute to the overall impression that the home has been well cared for. Staying on top of highly visual aspects of your house like this could also help the home sell faster.
13. Outdoor Decks and Patios
Space for outdoor living is a must for many home buyers in warm-weather states such as Texas, Florida, or California. Decks should be code compliant and structurally sound with no signs of termite damage or wood rot. Consider repainting a deck if it’s in need of a fresh coat or applying a layer of polyurethane stain for added protection.
Similarly, wood fencing should be free of wood rot, up to code, and without missing slats or sagging portions. Gates should open and close completely, and metal latches, locks, and handles should be in working order. Remove rust or chipping paint from metal or iron fences and touch up paint.
The first thing buyers notice when viewing a home is its curb appeal. It’s worth taking time to make sure your home makes a good first impression.
First, remove dead shrubs and flowers, prune overgrown trees and bushes, mow the lawn, and weed. Next, take your landscaping up a notch and add fresh plantings to flower beds for a pop of color. Spread a new layer of mulch, and use potted plants to fill any holes.
16. Garage Doors
First, garage doors and their remotes must meet local safety codes and be in good working order. Garage doors should be replaced if they’re extremely warped or in such poor condition that they don’t open and close properly. Faulty coils and a dented or damaged track should also be replaced because they could present a safety hazard.
17. Gutters and Eaves
Gutters attach to eaves, the edges of the roof that hang over the exterior walls of your house. Together, they protect your home from water damage.
Gutters should be clear of leaves, dirt, and other debris. Sagging areas should be fixed or replaced. Eaves should be in good condition, free of rot or peeling paint.
18. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be less than 10 years old with fresh batteries installed and working as intended. If you have a system which connects each detector throughout the house, ensure the entire system is running correctly.
The right lighting can work wonders on any room, making a small space seem open and bright. Walk through your home, including in closets and the basement, to ensure that all bulbs are working. Make sure there are no “mystery switches” that don’t seem to connect to a specific light.
Replace outdated light fixtures in key areas, such as the foyer, kitchen, bathrooms, or exterior entrance. If appropriate, let in as much natural light as possible by removing heavy drapes.
20. Musty Basements
Buyers may associate a musty basement with water damage or flooding issues. If you have a musty-smelling basement, get to the bottom of what's causing the smell. Does your basement need a dehumidifier? Or is there a larger problem, such as cracks in the sealant, water damage, or leaks? Hire a professional to help you identify why your basement has a funk and how to fix the problem.