7 Things to Fix Before Selling Your House

By Steph Matarazzo

|10 min read

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You’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve kept that home well maintained to protect your investment. You know that buyers usually seek out homes that require fewer repairs. Now you’re wondering if you’ve kept your home in good enough shape for potential buyers. Maybe you’ve lived with a broken handrail or chipped counter, will those things matter when selling? What are the things to fix before selling your house and what things usually aren’t necessary?

Most home sellers are hoping to get the most money for the sale. Sometimes that means putting a little money into the home before you try to sell in order to get higher offers. Usually, money put in turns into even more money in return.

Since you’ve likely lived in your home for so long, you may no longer see all the imperfections. That’s why it’s a good idea to sweep your property using a buyer’s eye. Even better, invite a friend over who doesn’t know your home well to act as a second set of eyes.

Should I Fix Up My House Before Selling?

It’s a good idea to get your home in tip-top shape before listing. Your goal is to get as many buyers as possible to see themselves living there. A buyer may see things you no longer notice, which could end up being deal-breakers. Or, a home inspection could uncover larger issues leaving your deal with the buyer in limbo.

One thing to note: in a seller’s market, buyers are usually quicker to look past small issues, especially cosmetic ones. Though you’re likely to sell with little trouble, making these fixes and improvements will probably get you an even better sales price in this type of market.

Why Should I Fix Up My House Before Selling?

Fixing up your home could mean less time on the market and selling for more money. Sometimes the things that need to be fixed don’t even take that much time or money. Considering all these factors, fixing up your home should be a no-brainer.

Now that you’re sold on fixing up your home, you probably have several questions. Maybe you’re wondering what repairs do I need to do before selling my house? Or perhaps you’re thinking, what should I fix before listing? To answer these and other questions, we’ve compiled this guide on what you should focus on fixing before selling your house.

things to fix before selling house

7 Home Fixes to Do Before Selling

While this list is by no means exhaustive, it’s a good idea to start with significant repairs. Enlist the help of your real estate agent to perform a walkthrough of the property. Their trained eye should catch things that may turn off potential buyers. Even better, arrange for a pre-listing home inspection. This way, you can make sure any major repairs are handled and not used for negotiating a lower buying price.

1. Structural, Electrical, and Plumbing

Before placing your home on the market, ensure that your foundation is structurally sound. Do the same for the retaining wall and the stem wall. Contact a structural engineer if you or a pre-listing home inspector notice any signs of an unstable foundation. They can assess the damage and advise you on the next steps.

You don’t want to mess around when it comes to electrical systems. The first step is making sure everything is up to code. Non-code electrical systems have the serious potential to cause fires. It can cost you dearly in negotiations or scare away potential buyers altogether. A pre-listing inspection will take a look at your electrical system. For an even deeper look, call in a professional electrician.

In most homes, your plumbing runs straight through the foundation. While it’s not part of what we call the foundation, they often affect one another. Bad plumbing can lead to major water damage with substantial repair bills. Call in the pros if your pre-listing home inspection reveals issues or you notice any signs of leakage or water damage.

Updating your plumbing and electrical makes your home more marketable and easier to sell for top dollar.

2. Heating and Cooling

An HVAC unit in excellent working condition is an effective way to attract potential buyers. If your current unit is on its last legs, replacing it will supercharge your marketing efforts. The average replacement cost of an HVAC system is $7,000. So before replacing the entire thing, call in a technician to assess the situation. A recently repaired HVAC system with years left to its lifespan is an attractive selling point for potential buyers. Keep all receipts and documentation of the repairs for your buyer upon request. 

3. Landscaping and Home Exterior

Your yard and home’s exterior are a potential buyer’s first impression of your property. The last thing you want is to scare them away before they even enter. Make sure your front yard is nicely manicured, free of weeds, overgrowths, and clutter. Look for any tree branches or other vegetation touching your home. If you see any, make sure to have those trimmed back.

If your yard has a fence, ensure there is no wood rot, chipped paint, rust, or other damage. Make sure the gate opens and closes easily and without squeaking.

While your buyer will certainly see your yard, you know they can’t wait to lay eyes on your home’s exterior. Touch up any fading, peeling, or cracking paint. If your home requires an entirely new coat, go for it. This new coat of paint will give your home a fresh and inviting feel. Look for any broken shutters, missing stucco, and the like. When you take care of your home’s exterior, you display your pride of ownership to potential buyers. That pride goes a long way.

Perform a complete walk around your property for any cracked windows or water damage. Look for any staining on concrete or elsewhere. If you uncover staining, look into renting a power washer or hiring a pro.

4. Roof 

Your roof is one of those things to fix before selling your house. This is especially true if there are leaks and obvious damage spots. Check what is offered in your area and covered by insurance. Some locations with high wind cover repairs to shingles that were blown off by strong weather conditions.

Call in the pros to ensure that all shingles, tiles, and other parts of your roof are intact. Fix any damages. If you need to replace the entire roof, do it. New roofs can lead to spending less time on the market, easier negotiations, and receiving your full asking price

5. Interior Paint

A fresh coat of paint is among the most cost-effective ways to upgrade your home. Use neutral colors as these appeal to more people and look clean. You want to snag as many potential buyers as possible, so cast a wide net. If your home still has wallpaper, consider getting rid of it. Few things make a home look old like wallpaper does. A fresh coat of paint will deliver an on-trend modern vibe instantly.

6. Kitchen and Bathrooms 

If your kitchen speaks to a bygone era, it’s time to upgrade. Don’t worry—a full remodel is most likely unnecessary. Paint where needed, and update your countertops and appliances. For your cupboards, a simple coat of white paint does wonders for kitchen appeal. We recommend calling the professionals if you’re painting your cabinets unless you really know what you’re doing.

The same idea here applies to your bathroom. First, make sure the room is clean, and everything is in working order. Next, look to the tiles, grout, and walls for any needed cleaning or repairs.

7. Flooring

If you really want to impress potential buyers, make sure your floors shine. In some situations, it may be better to upgrade your entire flooring. More often than not, though, refinishing a hardwood floor or making tiles sparkle will do the trick. Just make sure there is no major damage to your flooring before showing your home.

What Else Should You Fix Before Selling Your House?

If you’ve addressed all of the problem areas above and want to go even further, here are some more things to fix before selling your house!

1. Carpets

Many sellers wonder if they should replace carpets before selling. The answer is that it definitely doesn’t hurt if the carpets are old and stained. If they are new a deep cleaning can make a huge difference.

2. Lighting

The right lighting makes your home appear more modern and spacious. The wrong lighting has the opposite effect. First, replace all burnt-out bulbs. If this doesn’t do the trick, consider switching out your bulbs for those with a higher wattage. This is especially important in areas with little to no natural lighting.

3. Take Landscaping Further

You removed all unsightly weeds and other overgrowths and did away with any clutter. Now let’s take your home’s curb appeal further with some fresh landscaping. Giving your yard a makeover is cost-effective and easy to execute. Start by spreading a layer of fresh mulch throughout the area. Add colorful flowers to make your yard pop and stand out from others on the street.

4. Living Room

The living room may not be the first room a potential buyer sees, but that doesn’t make it less important. Considering the amount of time a family spends in the living room, you’ll want yours looking top-notch. Make sure the space is clean and free from clutter, and upgrade any outdated furniture or fixtures.

Conclusion

Few things chase potential buyers away faster than a home with issues. When buyers see an unmaintained property, they wonder what else you’re hiding. Even a yard filled with weeds can make a buyer worry about hidden structural or plumbing problems. 

Negotiations are a huge part of buying or selling real estate. That’s why it’s critical to head off any leverage a buyer can use by fixing up your house before selling. Talk to your real estate agent about what needs fixing. Opting to spend a little money upfront can go a long way in closing the deal. Head over to our comprehensive list for more home selling tips.

Steph Matarazzo

Steph is the Marketing Director at FastExpert and has been working in the real estate data and research world for two years. She is passionate about educating people on the real estate market and Excel spreadsheets. She lives on the East Coast with her family and recently purchased her own home.  

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