Developing a Repair Strategy

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Review the list of suggested cosmetic repairs and evaluate each in terms of its impact on the home’s appearance.
  4. Analyze comparable homes in the area and note any major differences in physical appearance. Add any differences of a cosmetic nature to your list.
  5. 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.
  6. Assign an estimated cost and time for completion to every repair option. A spreadsheet is often the best tool for this work.
  7. Assess each repair in terms of time versus cost as well as your estimate of potential return based on market comparables.
  8. 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.
  9. Review any repair guidelines from the HOA or the city and incorporate these in your lists.
  10. Rank all core and all cosmetic repairs based on your analysis and include your findings in the marketing plan you prepare.
  11. Develop a checklist, budget, and timeline for repairs. Contact contractors to approve timelines and reconfirm budget.
  12. 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.


Creating a Budget

With being a proud homeowner, you should invest some time in planning for the future. The best way to do this is to create a budget and stick to it. A budget will help you meet your monthly bills and it can help increase your savings. Your personal savings should be sufficient to last several months should you lose your job or source of income.

How to make a budget:

  1. Track your spending. Keep a spending diary for a month or two to see how much money you spend on a daily and monthly basis. Record every dime you spend and how you spend it, whether by cash, check, debit card, ATM card, or credit card. Keep all receipts and slips. Gather your records. Organize the cash receipts as well as your credit card monthly statements and your checkbook register.
  2. Itemize your income and expenses. Using receipts and bills, prepare an accurate account of where you’re spending your money. List your monthly income. This includes salary from jobs and any other income. List and total your monthly expenses. Based upon your spending diary, list expenses in the following categories: Housing – your mortgage; utilities – phone, cable TV, laundry, internet access; food – groceries, dinners out, snacks; auto – monthly car loan payments, maintenance, parking, gas, etc.; insurance – premiums for health, disability, dental, auto, and apartment. If you pay quarterly premiums, divide each by three to get a monthly figure; education – tuition, books, supplies, and the student loan payments (if any); entertainment – movies, parties, nightclubs, travel costs; clothing – include dry cleaning and repairs; personal care – toiletries, haircuts, gym membership; health – out of pocket expenses (not covered by insurance) for office visits, treatments, prescriptions; credit card debt – if you carry a balance on your credit card, list the amount you pay off each month; miscellaneous – gifts, unanticipated small expenses.
  3. Total and compare the income and expenses columns to create your budget. Do you have any money left over? If so, you’re in good shape – you’re spending less then you’re earning. Why not budget the extra money to pay your credit card or other debts? If your expenses exceed your income, start reducing your expenses that aren’t fixed every month.


A good rule of thumb is to have three to six months of living expenses in emergency savings. Once you’ve figured out your monthly budget – and seen that you stick with it – try to save three to six times that much in a savings account or investment you can easily access. It’s okay if it takes a while, as long as you’re putting something aside each month.