Mistake 2: Laziness About Repairs
Not everyone is handy at home repair. Experience reveals that even people who are handy are not interested in doing handy work at home. It is also true that most people, when they see that something needs to be done, see it as a much bigger deal than you do. The hassle of fixing something will come off the price that a buyer offers. If a buyer observes something that obviously needs to be fixed, he can assume that there are less than obvious things that need to be fixed as well. The cost of needed repairs comes off the sale price, and the impression of poor maintenance can reduce the offer.
Of course, some things are difficult to fix when you are occupying the house, and sometimes cash flow does not allow for certain repairs. In these cases, make things as easy as possible on the buyer so they will not see repairs as a deterrent.
The most common repair is replacing old carpet. While this is technically maintenance rather than repair, replacing carpet is a difficult task that is rarely undertaken until it's absolutely necessary. Everything from each room has to be packed and moved into another room, as old carpet is removed and new carpet is laid throughout the house. Naturally, the process takes longer when a house is occupied than it does when it's vacant.
If you have a pet, you may not even want to replace the carpet. If the new owner is allergic to pet hair and has to replace the carpet anyway, it will be a waste. You also don't want to leave any opportunity for your pet to have an accident on the new carpet before the new owner moves in. In the instance of cats that spray, the floor boards may need to be sealed or replaced. In lieu of replacing the carpet yourself, you can offer to give the buyer a credit on the purchase price toward the cost of replacement.
There are times when replacing the carpet is important. Whether you offer a carpet credit or not, threadbare or very badly stained carpet will put people off. If this is the case, you should consider replacing it, even if you have pets and are worried it will get ruined again.
Many carpet stores stock reasonably priced yardage that they sell for use in rentals, where carpet might be replaced after each tenant. These are often of only fair quality in a neutral/dark beige color. The carpet may not last a decade, but it will be clean, new, and last long enough to get your house sold.
If the carpet is damaged only in certain areas, some well-placed area rugs may be the best solution while the home is on the market. You can even take them with you when you move! Room-sized area rugs are available for reasonable prices at home improvement warehouses and discount department stores.
There are also times when the carpet in one room is really bad but the rest of the house is okay. If you can't afford to replace all of it, at least replace the really bad room. When doing just one area, be sure the new carpet matches the original as closely as possible. If the carpet will be replaced in a room that adjoins hard surface flooring, the match will be less critical.
The roof is one of your home's biggest features and one of the first things a buyer will notice as they approach your house. Even if it is not leaking, an older roof can cause a buyer concern. It is an expensive fix-up, but replacing a roof can often mean the difference between having a sale and not having a sale. This is especially true of older roofs. Buyers will be worried about potential leaks, which may mean mold. They need to be reassured that this is not an issue.
If your roof is in poor condition, you need to address it. The best solution is to replace it. If that is not possible, replacing damaged tiles or shingles is the next best solution. The very least you should do is get a quote for repair or replacement and have it available for potential buyers. If a buyer knows how much the roof will cost, some of their fear will be dissipated.
Many insurance companies will not insure a shake roof because of fire danger. If you have a wood shake roof, you may have to replace it before you close escrow to satisfy the insurance company. Scheduling the work during escrow and having it paid for at closing will solve this situation.
Sometimes your roof is not leaking, but it has leaked in the past. There may be evidence of those past leaks in the ceiling of the upper floors. Even if you have a new roof, the evidence of past leakage will be of concern to the buyer. They will wonder if a leak wasn't fixed when the roof was being replaced. They will wonder if this is evidence of another problem, aside from the roof.
Repairing areas of the ceiling that show evidence of past leaks is an important part of getting the house ready. Retexture the plaster or sheetrock and repaint. Be sure to use a primer that will prevent the stain from reappearing. Not all primers are designed to hold back such stains, and many show through after awhile, if not treated properly. The process of removing stains from a wood ceiling is more involved. If you have a wood ceiling, check your local hardware store or home improvement center for information and products to help you with this.
A fresh coat of paint can make your house look well cared for in the eyes of buyers. Most people fret about the idea of painting, but it does not have to be that difficult. For maximum ease, hiring a professional is ideal. If that's not in the budget, you can do the work yourself without too much trouble.
To begin, break up the big job into reasonably sized jobs and start with something small. Since the front door is a first impression item, start there. Be sure to mask off the doorknob, hinges and trim, and put some drop cloths on the floor. Select a quick drying paint, with help from your local hardware or paint store, and pick a sunny day so you can leave the door open until it dries. Once you see the results, you'll be eager to continue.
Expensive repairs are often put off because of cash flow. If cash flow is an issue, you may want to consider a line of credit on your home. This is a loan that can be borrowed in increments as needed. You only pay interest on the money you actually borrow.
For your next painting project, select just one room. Move everything away from the walls and take everything off the walls. Remove the covers from all the electrical outlets and mask everything you don't want painted. Move furniture to the middle of the room and cover the furniture and floors with plastic drop cloths. Start with the ceiling, then paint the walls, and end with the trim.
There are a lot of things you can do with inexpensive materials and a little time. Go room by room and make a list of every little detail that needs fixing. Replace broken light fixtures and be sure there are working bulbs in every light, both inside and out. All doors should close and latch well; windows should open and close easily and have functional locks. Be sure there are screens on the windows as well.
Are the door stoppers intact? This is a $1 item and can easily be replaced. Are there chips in the sink? If you can't replace the sink, check your Yellow Pages for enamel repair companies that will patch and resurface your sink or bathtub. Are there knobs missing from the stove? Find out if you can get replacement knobs. Caulk any chipped or damaged grout. The more little things you can repair, the better. Check them off your list as you progress. Enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that each effort reduces the risk that the bigger things (like carpet and roof) will scare a buyer.
Sometimes, a fresh new look can be achieved with very minor changes. New cabinet knobs or even bright new bathroom towels can revitalize a tired room. New bedspreads, a new tablecloth, and a good deep cleaning also make a world of difference.