What to Fix Before Selling a House

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If you’ve lived in your home for some time, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t quite look the way it did when you first moved in. The paint could be peeling off the wall, the shed door is hanging off, and the locks might not click closed the way they used to. 

If you’re planning on living in your home for a while yet, none of this really matters. However, if you want to flog it to someone else, it makes a difference. Most buyers don’t want fixer-upper properties. And if you try to sell them one, they’ll ask you for a lower price 

The trick here is to focus your efforts on fixing the things you need to fix. Your house doesn’t have to be perfect. However, it should be good enough for the average person looking to move in. 

Of course, if you have a limited budget, you need to focus on making over your home where it counts. Sure, you could install crown molding around the hearth to make it look a bit nicer, but you’re much better off focusing your efforts on the things that would-be buyers will check first. 

So what do you need to fix before you show anyone around your home? Here’s a rundown. 

Conduct Major Repairs First

If the paint is a little scratched or a light doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t look great, but buyers know they can fix the problem quickly. 

If, however, you need major repairs, you’ll have to sort them out unless you want to offer a big discount on your home.

Estate agents can usually carry out inspections of your home’s major systems for you, telling you whether you need to repair them. They can then give you a priority list, informing you of which repairs will impact your property’s value the most. 

Old Electrical Systems

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Many properties have old, dated electrical systems. Buyers are wary of these not just because they are unreliable, but also because they pose a significant fire risk. When electricals are out of date or damaged because of fraying wires, missing nuts, and broken light switches, it makes it outright dangerous to live in the home. New homeowners know that if they do move in, they will face a host of additional, unwanted expenses. 

Plumbing Issues

Plumbing issues are another major bugbear for potential buyers. Again, problems are not the sort of thing that they can fix quickly DIY-style in an afternoon. More likely, they will have to hire professionals to rip out all the old pipework and install something new. 

Of course, problems don’t necessarily have to be difficult to fix. You may find that once your plumber arrives, they find an easy solution, such as installing a new wash ring. However, it’s a good idea to give your plumbing system a clean bill of health before the official survey. Otherwise, you could run into trouble. 

HVAC Issues

HVAC systems are large and expensive. Therefore, buyers want to see that they are in good condition before they make any purchase. 

In the past, I got someone to fix my AC because of a sale. Even though it’s an upfront cost, it helps put buyers at ease. If they aren’t sure whether the property has functioning air conditioning, they are significantly less likely to move in. And if they do proceed with the sale, they’ll want a discount from the asking price to cover their risk. HVAC systems cost between $7,000 and $12,000 to replace. 

Flaws In The Foundations

Flaws in the foundations are probably the biggest turnoff for buyers. You can solve most other issues, but if there is an issue with the foundations, there’s often no turning back. Homes can sink into the ground, and even fall down, resulting in catastrophic loss. 

Foundation repairs are possible, but they are rarely wholly successful. Moreover, they’re expensive for new owners, often costing five-figure sums or more.

Getting foundation issues fixed should be the first thing you do if you are looking to sell your home. You’ll want a structural engineer to come and evaluate your property for signs of weakness before you put it on the market. If they discover any problems, they’ll tell you what they are and what they will cost to put right. 

Problems With The Roof

Problems with the roof are another major issue. Lack of proper maintenance can lead to poor ventilation, blistering, mold, and water leaks into your home, not to mention higher energy bills.

Replacing your roof is expensive. Again, you’re looking at a five-figure sum. However, you can recoup the majority of this cost when you come to sell.

Even if you plan on selling your house immediately, you should still carry out repairs, That’s because a damaged roof can lead to further property damage, causing buyers to bail on you, or ask for further discounts. 

Other Things You Need To Fix

Of course, stuff you need to fix around your home goes well beyond just major repairs. If you want to create a good impression and get the highest price possible for your property, you’ll need to focus on other things that add value for buyers. 


Unless you have large cracks running up your walls, it’s unlikely you have any structural problems with your home’s exterior. The walls do their job reliably, day in, day out. 

However, buyers care about more than just your home’s integrity. They also care about aesthetics. If your eaves are rotting or you have ugly pebbledash stucco, they are less likely to want to buy or live in your home. 

If you’re not sure which problem to tackle first, talk to your estate agent. They will tell you what is most likely to draw the buyer’s eyes.

Sometimes, just making sure that your exteriors are clean and presentable is enough. You might not need anything more than a large trash bag. 

In other cases, you may need to mow your lawn, prune the trees, and power-wash the driveway. All of these will make the home appear more welcoming, no matter what the neighborhood looks like. 

Bathrooms And Kitchen

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After essential repairs, buyers’ next most important concern is the state of the bathrooms and kitchen. These rooms are the most expensive and challenging to change once they move in. 

As for the kitchen, buyers want it to offer state-of-the-art amenities. It should look good and be highly functional, set up for modern family living. 

Buyers can become extremely fussy when it comes to the kitchen. They may even demand things that they don’t have in their existing homes, such as refrigerated drawers built into a central island and granite work surfaces. 

For this reason, you’ll want to put your best foot forward. Ask your estate agent what buyers expect for the price bracket you’re in. Find out what’s important to them and where you should invest your money. Remember, families want different types of kitchens from young professionals. 

The bathroom can also be another sticking point. If it’s run down or you have broken fixtures, buyers may turn their noses up, even if there are inexpensive fixes. 

Before you sell, give your bathroom a mini makeover. Here are some of the things you might want to do:

  • Remove any chipped tiles
  • Re-do the paintwork with a coat of neutral paint
  • Add neutral paint to the walls
  • Clean the bathroom mirror and remove any streaks
  • Re-grout around sinks and shower cubicles
  • Unclog and clogged drains
  • Clean the toilet
  • Fix problems, like dripping toilets
  • Swap out your old lighting fixtures for new ones

Other Upgrades

Once you’ve dealt with the major issues that buyers care about, it’s time to move onto more minor problems. The following are “nice to have,” but not always essential, unless you’re selling at the upper end of the market. 

Replace Kitchen Countertops

Replacing kitchen countertops isn’t cheap. However, it can be a good way to sell the luxury status of your home, if that’s what you are going for. Most countertops cost between $1,500 and $2,500 to install.

Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

You need to refinish hardwood floors every couple of years to keep them looking their best. If you don’t, they can look dull and eventually absorb odors from the environment.

The average price of getting your floors refinished is quite high, but also worth it. Usually, you’ll recoup the entire cost, and sometimes a little more. 

Add Modern Appliances To Your Kitchen

Your kitchen’s décor could be stunning, but if you have a dirty old oven next to it, it will quickly lower the appeal of the room. To really sell your home, you’ll want to add modern appliances. Stainless steel commercial-grade hobs are suitable in some situations, while retro refrigerators make sense in others. 

If you have modern appliances, you’re likely to get stronger offers for your home. Buyers will feel more confident that they can have the types of lifestyle they want. 

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