First-Time Home Seller Guide: Fix What’s Broken

If you fix what’s broken in your home before you list, it can help prevent issues on offer night and later at closing. However, looking objectively at one’s home can be overwhelming for a first-time home seller. It is much less so when one has an actionable list of things to fix before the sale. In this guide, we share exactly what you need to fix!

It’s Always Best to Fix What’s Broken BEFORE You List a Home

We’ve seen first-hand how certain house repairs and issues can impact a home sale, even in a hot market! That’s why the first step is always to Fix What’s Broken.

This past winter, we were able to help some home sellers who went through some serious angst with their first agent. Their first agent was so convinced the house was going to sell in the first week that he did not push them to do everything possible to prepare the home for sale.

Even though there were known issues in the home, the agent told them to just let the buyers negotiate during the inspection. So instead of fixing them upfront, our clients took this agent’s advice.

Guess what happened? The buyer walked after the inspection. They didn’t even try to negotiate. All of this could have been avoided at the beginning if the sellers had fixed what was broken BEFORE listing the home.

What to Fix: The Big Issues

Have a plan for the big issues. Big issues will make a buyer walk before you even have a chance to get their offer. Here is a general list to look at before putting your house on the market:

  • Roof (e.g. repair missing or damaged shingles)
  • Brick mortar repair or siding damage
  • Exterior paint (ensure there are no bubbles or cracks)
  • Windows (no broken windows or failed seals)
  • Knob and tube certification for old wiring
  • Electrical issues, like aluminum wiring, knob and tube, ungrounded outlets, etc.
  • Handrails: Inspectors will call missing or broken handrails
  • Pest issues (termites, mice, etc.)
  • Non-working ceiling fans or light fixtures
  • Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans
  • Sewer Gutters and downspouts

What to Fix: The Minor (But Visually Important) Issues

Other minor issues that might not seem like a big deal become the visual list of dollar signs in the eyes of the buyers. The fewer dollar signs they see in the repair sections = more money they will be willing to pay for your house. Do you need to:

  • Replace weather stripping?
  • Update the appliance?
  • Fix loose wires or bad wiring anywhere?
  • Service the furnace/boiler and make sure it’s in good working condition?
  • Fix leaky faucets?
  • Redo caulking in kitchen and bathroom?
  • Install CO2 detectors and smoke detectors on every level? (These are required in appraisal.)
  • Power wash the deck or patio?
  • Repair cracked walkways?
  • Resolve low water pressure in pipes?
  • Install GFCI Protected outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, and exterior?
  • Repair or replace rotted fences or deck boards?
  • Check the insulation in the attic?
  • Do you have permits for work done to the house? Get them!

Do you know about any other issues? If so, fix them. If not… Whew! All done!

Now to move on to make the home pretty…
Check out the guide on how to make your showroom ready. Click here.

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