When you put your house on the market, you’re probably hoping to get a good price without investing too much in repairs and remodeling before you sell. In fact, maybe you’ve been afraid to sell because you think it might be too much work and money.
For example, your carpeting is slightly worn. Should you replace it? Not necessarily, according to Jeff Armbruster, with Realty Executives in the Tucson area. “You want to clean the carpeting, of course,” he says. “But don’t tear out all the carpeting and put in tile. It’s more likely that the new owners will want to make their own choice of new flooring anyway.”
And don’t do halfway remodeling jobs either, like putting granite countertops on top of your crummy old kitchen cabinets in an effort to spiff things up. “You’re better off not doing it than doing a halfway job,” says Joan Reich of Long Realty.
There are repairs and fixes that you can make that won’t require a heavy investment and can make your house sell more quickly at a higher price. Of course, these fixes will only work if your home is in reasonably good condition. No one wants to buy a house with holes in the walls, cracks in the windows, major pet damage or similar problems.
It’s always important, of course, to clean and declutter the house. Hide the knickknacks and family photographs. But almost everyone knows about that. Here are repairs that can be more crucial, some of which you can do yourself:
Spruce up Curb appeal, it’s an early selling point
The first thing the buyer notices when he or she arrives is the front of your house. You can invest in handsome containers and put out flowers or elegant desert plants. But the upkeep of the front of the house also sends a message.
“Does the fascia outside have peeling paint? Or is the front door or the handle broken?” says Jim Fairchild of Long Realty. “Those are things that will make the prospective buyer wonder what else is wrong inside the house.”
Replace broken screens and patch paint if necessary. Get the front yard pruned and cleaned up. Cut dead branches off the mesquite and take out the dead shrubs. Make sure that mourning doves are not nesting on the light fixtures in the entryway. Get rid of anything that says, “Bad maintenance here.”
Make sure Your HVAC system works
Imagine walking in a house for sale in mid-summer and not being able to turn on the air conditioning, even if you’re only in the house for 10 or 15 minutes. It raises many questions. Hopefully, you can have AC or furnace repairs done that won’t cost a bundle. But if your system is really old and creaky, you may have to cut the price of your home. Be sure that major appliances are working as well, including the refrigerator, dishwasher and washer and dryer.
Paint spotty ceilings
where the rain leaked through
Maybe the roof leaked last summer and you had it fixed. But you never repaired the dry wall in the dining room ceiling where the water dripped through. You never painted over the leaky rings. Perhaps everything is OK now on the roof, but seeing that messy ceiling is a warning sign for buyers.
Check for leaks under sinks, stop the toilet from running, and
polish the faucets
Realtors say some of their clients will run around houses and open every cabinet under every sink to see if there are leaks. They may even flush your toilets to see if they work properly. If you foresee problems, take care of them now. If faucets in bathrooms and kitchen have lots of crusty calcium deposits, polish them.
Clean up the garage
Everyone knows about decluttering the house, but how about the garage? If you can’t drive two cars into the garage any more, it’s time to act. After all, if you’re planning to move, you’ll have to clean up anyway. Try to remove everything so that you can rinse down the floor. At least get rid of some piles of cardboard boxes. And just as in the dining room, paint over any past damage — like when the old water heater broke down last year and sprayed the walls with water.
Look for termite tubes and take action
Having termites does not mean you won’t be able to sell your house. After all, the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension calls termites “Arizona’s No. 1 urban pest.” Almost every home will get them some time.
But before putting your house on the market is an important time to check for termites. What you’re mainly looking for are those little mud tubes that termites leave on the very bottom of your exterior walls as they work their way into the frame of your house. You might also see signs of termites on the wood frame around the garage door or even on the walls or ceiling of your house.
If you find them, don’t panic and don’t try to treat them yourself, according to the cooperative extension. Call a pest management professional. And don’t try to wash away the evidence because if your buyer has a home inspection done, termite issues will likely turn up when the inspector pays a visit.
A final suggestion: It might pay off to tour other homes in your neighborhood that are up for sale. Check out the competition and see what condition their homes are in. Maybe you’ll get a few more ideas, like changing the ugly chandelier in the dining area or having the area rugs cleaned professionally.