What repairs should you make to sell your home?

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By: Amy Snook
Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

When deciding to sell your home, what repairs or enhancements are most important for the sale? The answer varies and depends on many factors such as market conditions, age of home, competition, equity in the property, timeframe for sale and cost of repairs. There are two different aspects to analyze: Repairs and aesthetics.

Aesthetics is the simpler of the two—de-clutter, curb appeal, and painting are items that can easily be fixed. We all know that a potential buyer forms an opinion as soon as they pull up to your home, so pressure cleaning, gardening and lawn are important components of curb appeal if you want top dollar for your home!

If you are selling in a Seller’s market, you may choose to do fewer repairs/enhancements than a Seller who is selling in a Buyer’s market. In addition to the overall market conditions, an analysis of the conditions in your neighborhood such as how many homes are on the market, how long have they been on the market and what are the price points, are some of the factors you should consider. If there are many homes for sale in your neighborhood, you can expect a buyer to drive buy the various homes and compare which they may want to see.

Now for the more difficult decisions—repairs! When a potential buyer walks through a home, one of the areas they typically analyze is how well the home has been treated. If they see a leaky faucet, a rotted door jam, whether it is accurate on not, they assume there has been some neglect and start to really look for other areas to validate this assumption. Our recommendation is to fix the “easy,” low cost items that ensure a proper presentation to a buyer. Ensure each and every light bulb works and that they match, repair grout issues in the bathroom, replace dead or dying plants in the yard – these simple items make a big difference in a buyer’s mindset.

If your home is 35 years or older, the buyer will most likely need to do a “4 point” inspection in addition to the traditional inspection to even get insurance. A “Four Point Inspection” focuses only on four main areas of interest in a home: HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), Electrical wiring and panels, plumbing connections and fixtures and the roof.   For a home of this age, it may make sense to have your own presale inspection.

If you have old Federal Pacific Panels, please replace them before you list. It is difficult if not impossible for buyer’s to get insurance with these panels. Electrical issues scare a buyer so remove this obstacle before it even becomes one!

Roof—broken or missing roof tiles. This is another one of those areas that cause a buyer to pause and show concern. It is a lower cost and simple fix—so address this one up front. This contrasts to a roof that has exceeded its life expectancy or even a failing roof. This is a bigger issue and can impact “who” can even buy your home.

As for HVAC and plumbing—it depends. These are items to review on a case-by-case basis and together determine your strategy to address any issues. There are times that repair is the answer and other items that you can adjust as you negotiate a contract.

About Amy Stark Snook

Amy Stark Snook, a 1990 graduate of the University of Maryland, is a partner in the All About Florida Homes team of Lang Realty, along with co-partner Noreen Payne of Delray Beach. She has been practicing real estate and title insurance for 17 years and is currently the Florida State secretary for Women’s Council of Realtors. Amy is also a director of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale, and a director of Florida Realtors. She resides in Atlantis, Florida.