What not to fix when selling a house: 6 costs you can skip

Mon Mar 21 2022

A young couple looks confused as the stand among moving boxes in their living room

You can do a lot of things to make your home more desirable to buyers when you put it on the market, like decluttering and removing personal items. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to fix every little thing before you can sell your house. Some improvements simply aren’t worth the money or effort. Here’s our list of what not to fix when selling a house.

1. Don’t make major cosmetic renovations

Everyone oohs and aahs when they see a freshly renovated kitchen, but the return is seldom one to one. In fact, realtors estimate that homeowners recover about 60% of what you spend, and that doesn’t take into consideration the stress that comes with remodeling on a tight deadline. Plus, only 10% of realtors said kitchen renovations helped close a sale.

Certain renovations may be appropriate and necessary﹘for your home or in your market, but you can’t assume they are. In some cases, you may be better off listing your home just under the competition and saving yourself the work. A local agent can help you figure out if any improvements will have an impact on your sale.

2. Don’t overhaul your landscaping

Real estate agents often emphasize the importance of curb appeal when selling a home, so you may be tempted to give your yard a major makeover. However, a complete tear-out and remodel costs between $10 - $40 per square foot.

That’s a lot of money to spend on a good first impression, especially when there are many easy ways to boost your home’s curb appeal. Trimming trees and bushes, cleaning up dead leaves, and mowing the grass are all good places to start. After that, head to your local garden store for colorful plants to add some pop to the walkway.

3. Don’t embrace the latest trends

Trends come and go, so what’s cool now can seem dated in a heartbeat. More importantly, you want the people who come to your showings to be able to see themselves in your home. Super trendy decor can make that difficult for them. Give potential buyers a mostly blank slate and they’ll start imagining what they can do with your home.

4. Don’t add quirky features

When you own a home, you can design it however you see fit. Your options are really only limited by your imagination and budget. But when it comes time to sell, every off-the-wall decor feature can distract potential buyers from your home’s value. For example, you may think a urinal in the master bath is a great space saver or the pink tile on your kitchen cabinets is fun and easy to care for, buyers are calculating what it might cost to replace it.

5. Don’t replace working appliances

Brand-new appliances are a nice bonus when buying a home, but older models are seldom a deal breaker if they’re working. Moreover, new appliances won’t have much impact on your home appraisal. Instead, give the appliances you have a good cleaning.

Broken appliances, however, are a horse of a different color. Those may need to be replaced, particularly those in the kitchen. However, brand-new refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens can be pricey, so consider replacing them with used or floor models.

6. Don’t replace your roof

The roof is one of the most important aspects of any home, so you want to replace yours when it shows signs of age. However, you aren’t required to replace your roof when you put your house up for sale.

You are, however, required to disclose leaks and prior damage in most states, so it’s best to be upfront about any issues. This may mean you have to make minor repairs or even discount the cost of a new roof to close the deal, but that’s definitely better than being sued down the road. But in a seller’s market, buyers may be more willing to deal with a less-than-perfect roof in order to buy in the area they want.

Knowing what not to fix when selling a house isn’t always clear-cut. Market conditions can have a major influence on how homebuyers react to what you’re offering, which is why it’s important to work with a licensed professional. A local agent deals with the real estate market every day and can help you decide what repairs are truly necessary.


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