Do I Have to Fix My House Before Selling? (It Certainly Helps!)

Total read time: 4 minutes

The short answer--no. You do not NEED to fix your house before selling. But does it help? Absolutely. Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of each, and what would be best for your situation. As always, it is best to talk options over with an agent, as the state of your home can affect more than just potential buyers, but the value and therefore the price as well.

Firstly, what's your timeline?

How quickly are you wanting to sell? This can greatly determine how you proceed. If you are needing to sell quickly, then the simple answer is that you likely won't have time to do any updates on the home, even if you have the resources. Planning ahead as much as six months in advance to when you are planning to sell gives peace of mind to insure that the things that need to get done are not rushed. Every home is different, and it's smart to get a pre-inspection and treat it as your "to do" list. Depending on what the areas of concern are, this can help provide a guideline to how much time is needed to do any updates.

What needs to be done?

Take a walk around your house and bring a notepad with you. As you walk around, is there anything that is damaged? Chipped paint, holes, a half-done DIY? Take note of everything you see that stands out to you. If you notice it, a potential buyer will too when they tour your home. If you got a pre-inspection done, what were the major areas of concern on the report? How big of a project would it be to fix, and how expensive? If it is too much to tackle, then that can be taken into consideration when it comes time to choose a selling price.

Sometimes, if it is a smaller item and resources are an issue for the seller, your agent or brokerage is willing to fund the cost upfront, to be paid back at closing. Having a handyman come out (or if you are able to fix smaller items yourself) can only increase the value of your home. Anything that is "crossed off the list" so to speak, is one less thing that a potential buyer can use against you to negotiate a lower price on your home.

What's the payoff?

If you have the money to spare, sprucing up your house before selling can help drive your asking price just a little higher, as well as attract more buyers. Unless a buyer is looking for a fixer upper, "turn-key" homes are in higher demand, which is a home that is ready to move in without any work needing to be done. Things like updating a roof that you know is only good for another year or so, or perhaps updating those 90s single pane windows can go a long way. While expensive, updates like those often are quickly earned back via a higher sell price for your home. Even smaller cosmetic items like a fresh coat of paint, touching up baseboards, and some landscaping can make a big difference.

Aside from areas of concern, often times sellers also consider updating areas of the home that are outdated. But just because something is old, doesn't always mean that it needs to be replaced as long as it is in good condition. An outdated kitchen might not look as nice as a brand new one, but it is important to consider the risk vs reward of doing so. If you don't have the budget to do a complete renovation, doing only partial updates on the home may not be worth it. For example, if you put time and money into a new kitchen, but don't update the bathrooms, it's probably best not to do any updates.

If you are on the fence about updating an outdated area of your home, and you're only doing it because you think buyers will like it, this is something that I like to think about: what is more important to you? The stress of renovating, or not? Something to consider is the knowledge that a person is almost always going to put their special touch on a home, regardless if it is new or not. It would be a shame for you to feel the need to update a bathroom or kitchen and put thousands of dollars into it, only for the owner to rip it all out within a month of moving in because they saw something on Pinterest. It would be better to put that money towards something like a new roof or windows, or perhaps flooring, which is something a new home owner is less likely to change compared to a kitchen or bathroom. That way, you can have a better peace of mind that the risk to reward ratio favors you getting a return on your money at selling.

Final thoughts.

In the end, just remember that no matter where on the scale you are--whether you're a fixer upper or you only need to make a few cosmetic updates--there is always a buyer for you. Take some time to consider what your goals are for selling the house, and talk them over with your real estate agent so they can help guide you on what the best strategy is and how to proceed.

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