Fix It or Not? What to Ask When Prepping Your Home for Sale

When you make the decision to sell your home, it can be tricky to know which changes would make your home sell more quickly or boost the sale price — and which would be a waste of your time and resources. Each home (and each homeowner) is different.

These first three questions will help you take the temperature of the real estate market in your area and assess the competition.

How hot or cold is the market in your area?

If it’s a seller’s market, you may be able to get away with doing fewer repairs and modifications before selling, and still have good results — in a buyer’s market, expect to do more work to make a positive impression on buyers.

How fast are you looking to sell?

If you need to sell your home immediately — say, because you have already committed to buying another home or need to move because of work — it is in your best interest to do everything in your power to ensure a quick sale at the highest price possible.

What is the condition of comparable homes on the market?

It can be quite helpful to know a little about the homes that buyers in your area are looking at. Examine photos of homes for sale in your area or even attend a few open houses, and make a mental note of how the other homes compare to yours.

Does the faulty item give the impression the property has not been well cared for?

Leaky faucets, cracked tiles, an overgrown lawn, broken appliances or anything else that doesn’t work as it should can immediately turn off buyers.

Is it one of the first things potential buyers will see?

First impressions are key, and that is never truer than in the real estate business! If you have a repair you are unsure about tackling, use this as a litmus test: Is it something the buyer will see as he or she approaches your house and walks through the front door? If so, fix it.

Could it be a deal breaker?

Some home repairs, like a new roof, are just so major that they will scare off all but the most determined buyers. If the market in your area is hot and you have ample time, there’s no harm in trying to sell without making the big repair, as long as you are willing to price it accordingly. If it’s a buyer’s market but you don’t have time to make the repair before listing, you could offer to pay for it as part of the sales agreement — otherwise it’s probably best to make the change first and then put your home on the market.