If you have lived in your home for any length of time, there are probably some little flaws you have learned to live with. The squeaky third riser on the stair. The rip in the screen you keep meaning to fix. A sticky door lock that requires some extra jiggling every time. They seem like no big deal, you are used to them. In fact you probably barely notice them anymore. Well, these small flaws can be huge deal breakers when you decide to sell your home.
There are some small fixes that reap big rewards if you get them done before prospective buyers are walking through your house.
• Replace any torn screens or loose doorknobs.
• Replace any burned out lightbulbs.
• Check your air conditioning filters and use liquid drain cleaner on any slow drains.
• Make sure your laundry room is brightly lit and offers an appealing workspace.
• Replace outdated fixtures or leaky faucets. This is an inexpensive switch that can up the wow factor of your rooms.
• Make certain your electrical panel is in good working order, you might go so far as to get it looked at by an electrician to be sure there aren’t any potential problems.
• Deep clean your home before showing. Not just tidying up, but really getting into every nook and cranny, clearing away any cobwebs, removing dust from under furniture, polishing scuffs off the baseboards. Cleanliness always makes a good impression, and gives the buyer less reason to peer into corners looking for cosmetic flaws.
• Also, clean up your home’s online profile. Make sure tax records, price history and listed square footage on public documents buyers might find are accurate and match up with the actual facts. Correct any information that isn’t accurate.
• Be sure to note in your listing any improvements you have made to the home, and any problems you have addressed and repaired. It’s better to tell a buyer up front about the flooding problem you experienced in the backyard and you were able to solve it by installing a drainage pipe, rather than letting them learn about neighborhood water issues from another source.
• Remember that repair requests after an inspection are an unnecessary hassle, and will ultimately cut into your profit margin. Cosmetic issues and normal wear and tear generally don’t have to be fixed, but if you are in a buyer’s market, you may need to address non-essential repairs in order to stay competitive. Work with your real estate agent to understand what items you should agree to be responsible for and which ones you might be able to push back on.
• You do want to be reasonable, after all you’ve put a lot of time into the selling process, and it’s in your best interest to accommodate some repairs, rather than allowing the buyer to walk away. Also, depending on the magnitude of the requested repair, it’s not likely to go away. Now that it’s been pointed out, you will need to disclose the issue to the next buyer.
There are two effective ways to counter home repair negotiations,one is to offer a home warranty.
1. Offering a $500, one year warranty can soothe the buyer’s concerns, particularly if there is an element that doesn’t currently need repairs but is worrisome to the buyers, such as an aging HVAC unit.
2. The other method is to barter for something of value to the buyer. Sometimes sellers will use the real estate agent as an intermediary to ask the buyer’s agent if the buyers want something extra in the home, such as appliances or furniture. Sellers who wait to make that offer until after they get the repair request list may be able to beg off certain repairs in exchange for items such as the washer and dryer.
• Communicate clearly with your realtor about what your expectations are ahead of time and how flexible you are willing to be to get your house sold.
• Be humble and remember some give and take is required for a smooth transaction. You may think your home is in perfect condition, but perfection is rarely achieved!
• Leaving your house can be hard to do, but by taking these simple steps, you can make the process less painful than it has to be.
• Lastly, test out your doorbell before your listing becomes active, and be certain you have a working key to the front door.