For those of you who are familiar with selling homes, you are aware that home buyers will order a home inspection. Many buyer requested repairs will be based upon the inspection; because of this, it is important to sit down and develop a repair strategy and figure out which repairs should be done, which ones are not detrimental, and son on. Following are 12 steps to remember when developing the repair strategy:
- Using the results of the home inspection, divide repairs into “core” versus “cosmetic” categories. Core repairs are those made to major structural systems of the house, such as roofs, walls, foundation, plumbing, etc.
- Divide core repairs into those needed to prevent liability or the rapid deterioration of a property (such as roof leaks or broken steps that might cause a fall), and those that would improve the salability of the home, such as adding a new furnace or upgrading electrical wiring.
- Review the list of suggested cosmetic repairs and evaluate each in terms of its impact on the home’s appearance.
- Analyze comparable homes in the area and note any major differences in physical appearance. Add any differences of a cosmetic nature to your list.
- Evaluate which repairs will have a good return on investment. The cost of some cosmetic repairs might not be recovered through increases in the sale price.
- Assign an estimated cost and time for completion to every repair option. A spreadsheet is often the best tool for this work.
- Assess each repair in terms of time versus cost as well as your estimate of potential return based on market comparables.
- Give extra weight to the improvements you think are most critical to area buyers. Use market comparables, conversations with local buyers’ agents, and surveys of prospective buyers to determine how to weigh this list.
- Review any repair guidelines from the HOA or the city and incorporate these in your lists.
- Rank all core and all cosmetic repairs based on your analysis and include your findings in the marketing plan you prepare.
- Develop a checklist, budget, and timeline for repairs. Contact contractors to approve timelines and reconfirm budget.
- Once a repair strategy has been selected and approved, create a checklist to assist you in evaluating completed work, and develop procedures for addressing incomplete or substandard work.
It is important that both you and your agent create this repair strategy and try your hardest to stick to it. Both of you need to sit down together and work on the strategy from start to finish. Your agent should have a list of certain contractors, or mention some of your own if you have certain ones you like to work with.
First — you have to find a good agent. One who cares about getting you the most money for your home before they get a commission. If you discuss these questions first, before you sign a listing agreement — you will get a feeling for the quality of an agent. Bring them up and discuss the answers.
- Does the house or any part of the house need painting?
- Should I re-seed the lawn and get my landscaping in top shape?
- What about the screens? What about the windows?
- Does the carpet need cleaning? How about replacing?
- Should the pets be under control at all times?
- Are the appliances something that we should include?
- Should I stay out of a prospective buyer’s way?
- What is the buyer’s first impression of the exterior of our house? What can I do to improve it?
- What is the buyer’s first impression as they step inside my house? What can I do to improve it?
- Since the buyer will be looking in the closets, should I take some of the clothes out to make them look roomier?
- Can I take items from the kitchen cabinets to make them more spacious?
- Is there any furniture that I could store or dispose of to make the rooms appear larger?
- Do any cabinets need to be touched up or refinished?
- Should I give you a list of things that my family likes about the house and the neighborhood?
- What about the door mats? Should I replace them with new ones that are neutral and omit our family’s name?
- Should I remove an ornate item that a buyer may want as part of the house? For example, a special chandelier? Or a wall system?
- Should I ask you for a list of recommendations prepared specifically for helping market my home?
- Is the price and terms offered going to appeal to most of the buying public in my price range?
- Do I need to be aware of other houses similar to mine also being offered for sale?
- Are the garage and storage areas as clean and neat as the should be?
- Before spending needless time and money, could I have a list of items to fix in priority of importance?
Now you either have a good idea how to prepare you home for top dollar or you have an agent who has a funny look on their face.
There’s nothing wrong with saving a few cents here or there, but when it comes to seeking medical help, building decent stock portfolio, or dealing with something as ugly as an IRS audit, it’s better to seek out a professional’s advice.
Buying or selling real estate also fits in that category. Remember, you’re dealing with one of the largest assets you’ll ever own! Don’t waste time doing it the “self-service way.” This is an important and life-affecting decision! To insure a fast sale for top dollar or to find a home that matches your criteria for a reasonable price, work with as seasoned professional.