Where's the Line When Making Home Repairs for Selling?

When selling a home in San Diego, one questions homeowners should ask is, should I make repairs before selling my home? Houses age just like everything else; things get old, break and need repair or replacement. Sometimes updating is necessary so the property doesn’t look dated compared to other options on the real estate market. However, where's the line for making home repairs for selling. How far does a homeowner have to go--and how far should they go--to ensure that their home repair costs are worth it?

The Differences Between Repair, Replacement and Improvement

A repair is for something that is either broken entirely or not fully functioning. Examples include a refrigerator ice maker that doesn’t work, a garage door opener that doesn’t open, or a cracked tile on the kitchen floor.

San Diego home sellersA replacement constitutes something that’s beyond its efficient working life. It may not work at all, or it may just be chugging along on fumes. Examples include a loud, knocking furnace that’s over 25 years old, a roof that is rotting and has multiple leaks, or cloudy, double pane windows with broken seals.

An improvement is for something that isn’t needed, but will enhance the look, feel or value of the home. Examples include things like outdoor window shutters, new kitchen cabinetry, or the addition of a sunroom. Generally, improvements help make the home more appealing to buyers or increase the value of the home, enabling the owner to ask more for it.

There are also cosmetic improvements to consider, which typically cost little more than elbow grease to take care off. For the most part, cosmetic improvements are always worth it. Not doing so will unnecessarily attract negative attention from buyers. Examples of cosmetic improvements include things like a small stain in the corner of the carpet, paint overspray on the window glass, and splattered grease under the microwave. As the homeowner who’s lived with these things for years, you may not even notice them anymore, but they will really stand out to a buyer.

What Are the Essential Repairs?

Determining the essential repairs to make on your San Diego property for sale depends a little bit on:

1. How many repairs there are to make in total

2. How much the repairs will cost

3. How much equity the homeowner has in the home

4. How much money the homeowner has to pay for repairs

If the property hasn’t been maintained properly through the years, there’s likely to be a long list of needed repairs, from replacing light bulbs to fixing leaky faucets. Once the list has been made with the help of the San Diego real estate agent and the home inspection report, some things can be crossed of the list of essential repairs. Depending on the situation, items that may be crossed off include a squeaky interior door, a kitchen drawer that doesn’t open smoothly, or a bent vinyl blinds slat.

Your real estate agent can help you to calculate the cost of repairs so you can be sure to stay within a reasonable budget in comparison to how much profit you can expect from selling your San Diego home.

Where to Draw the Line on Home Repairs for Selling

The great thing about San Diego, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Rancho Bernardo, Coronado, La Jolla and pretty much everywhere, is that owners take great pride in their homes. So when it comes time to sell, owners are more likely to make more repairs and improvement than necessary, as opposed to making as few repairs as possible. That’s a good thing for buyers, but not necessarily the smartest strategy for sellers. At some point, the owner has to consider why they would sell a home that they’ve now turned back into pristine condition, and why they didn’t bother to do so while they lived in it? More importantly, the cost of the repairs has to be weighed in comparison to how much value they provide.

Larger, important issues that could be used as bargaining chips to lower the price of the home should be completed first. These include foundation, HVAC system, septic, roof and appliances. Next, take care of smaller repairs that look bad and could put off potential buyers or show up on inspection reports. These include non-GFI or cracked electrical outlets, crooked-hanging doors, peeling paint or wallpaper, cracked window panes, and pool surround cracks. Finally, get to the smaller repairs and improvements that cost very little to complete, like stained carpets, missing cabinet handles and sticky locks.

If you wish to make improvements to the home before selling, consult with your real estate agent to ensure that you’ll be able to recoup the cost when you sell. Possibilities include an outdoor living area, refinished hardwoods and fresh landscaping.

A great real estate agent will help you decide which repairs, replacements or updates are absolutely essential before putting the house on the market. Beyond that, home improvements are at your discretion. Just remember to be judicious about which improvements you make. At some point, it’s time to call “pencils down” on the improvements and contact your San Diego real estate agent to let him know you’re finally ready to list.