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What Not To Fix When Selling A House

Holly Shuffett6-Minute read
February 10, 2022

From Julia Roberts’ satisfying Rodeo Drive shopping spree to HGTV house flips, it’s clear that the media is no stranger to the makeover. This wish-fulfillment ridden concept is typically symbolic of positive transformation, and the popularization of makeovers dominates areas in fashion, lifestyle, and of course: home renovations. 

But in this article, we’ll be discussing cases when you may want to forgo giving your home the coveted makeover. While it might seem counterintuitive to hold back on the upgrades when trying to sell your home, some fixes may be more trouble than they’re worth or simply a poor return on investment. Here’s what not to fix when selling a house.

Why Shouldn’t I Fix Everything Before Selling?

While it might seem most sensible that a product’s value is directly linked with how new and shiny it is, this idea doesn’t apply to houses across the board. In some cases, investing in your home can certainly add to its value, but other fixes may be better left alone.  

Some sellers may even opt to sell their home as-is, which is when the seller puts their house up for sale without making any repairs to the property. Buyers recognize that an as-is house may come with flaws that the home seller is not responsible for. You may have heard the more common term “fixer upper,” which buyers in the real estate game may use when referring to an as-is property. 

But there is a fine line between forgoing repairs altogether and overwhelming yourself with updates and upgrades. To get the most bang for your buck, invest your time and money in fine tuning these major home selling points: 

  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Electrical 
  • Gas lines
  • Foundation 
  • Roofing
  • Safety features (smoke detectors, carbon monoxide and radon detection) 

Selling your home?

Work with a real estate agent who knows your local market.

7 Things You Should Not Fix When Selling A House

When prepping your home for selling it’s only natural to take stock of what your home has to offer and what can be improved. But it’s not always easy deciding where to invest your money so that you can increase your home’s value in the smartest way. Here are a few times when pocketing your cash may be better for your wallet in the long run than a quick fix before selling:

1. Normal Wear And Tear

It may be extremely tempting, but in general it may be a good idea to avoid spending too much time or money fixing cosmetic flaws prior to selling your home. Although you may view things like scuffed baseboards, chipped paints, settlement cracks, or scratched floors as glaring issues, the reality is that these are all minor superficial issues which can be fixed without much hassle. 

Rather than taking the time, energy, and money to do it yourself, financially you’ll probably be better off adjusting your price accordingly and allowing the new homeowner to take charge. Not only will they be able to switch up the home to better fit their own personal tastes, but chances of you recouping the costs for these minor repairs are pretty low anyway. 

So long as these minor flaws don’t point to bigger issues - like water damage that is indicative of leaky pipes or cracks that may be a symptom of a foundational issue – leave them be and focus your attention on larger repairs that can contribute more to the value of your home. 

2. Exterior Property Cracks 

As a home seller, chances are that you’ve heard all about the importance of curb appeal and making a good first impression with your home. While it can be easy to sweat the hairline cracks or imperfect walkways in your driveway or footpaths. However, it’s extremely common for small cracks to appear in these areas – and especially if you live in an area with diverse climates. 

At the end of the day, buyers aren’t likely to decide whether to buy your home based on some small cracks in your front yard. If you want to up your curb appeal, instead try focusing your efforts on taming some unruly hedges, managing any weeds, or planting some colorful flowers to make a lasting impression. 

3. Certain Electrical Issues 

Electrical issues in a home can certainly require attention. Things like a frayed wiring, a faulty circuit breaker or poorly wired rooms can lead to headaches or even present safety hazards in the form of an electrical fire or electric shocks. To properly ensure that your home’s electrical system doesn’t pose a serious threat, you should have a home inspection conducted or consult with an electrician or other professional to get the green light. 

But this isn’t to say that any electrical issue is a major threat or deal breaker for potential buyers. Uncovered or wonky outlets and light switches that may not be hooked up to anything are both examples of minor electrical issues that could be left without repair. Double check your lightbulbs to ensure it’s not an easy fix, but should you have one faulty light switch or some slightly askew outlets, it’s not the end of the world. 

4. Outdated Parts Of A Room 

With home makeovers saturating our TV and phone screens it can be easy to get lost daydreaming about totally redoing your rooms from top to bottom. But the best use of your money could be to update your rooms, partially. 

A partial room update is when you only update a part of your room, which can certainly still yield refreshing and lively results. This might look like a bathroom with a new sink or vanity, but the old toilet and tub, or new kitchen cabinets but the same flooring you’ve always had. The best way to approach a partial room update is by keeping cohesiveness and modernity in mind. What are some simple updates you can make that can still revitalize your home?

 

Here are just a few tweaks to consider for your own partial update:

  • Swapping out hardware, faucets or showerheads
  • Upgrading your kitchen or bathroom countertops
  • A new mirror or vanity for bathrooms
  • Upgraded doors or windows
  • New tile, grout or carpeting

5. Temporary Items 

There’s a reason that home staging is such a lucrative business: you want prospective buyers to envision their life inside of your home. To best meet this need, it’s common to stage your home in a generic way which allows buyers to view the space without your personal touch influencing their experience. 

With this in mind, it may be wiser to simply remove temporary fixtures rather than fix them before showing your home to buyers. This can include things like outdated or wobbly window valances, blinds, or curtain rods. Not only is removing something much simpler than fixing it, but the absence of temporary items is also likely to help potential buyers better envision the home as their own. 

6. Old Appliances 

Household appliances can greatly influence the look of a room – they do take up a lot of space in our kitchens and laundry rooms, after all. But that isn’t to say that outdated appliances must be replaced with a newer, shinier model when it’s time to sell. In fact, most home buyers will likely want to purchase or bring their own appliances along anyhow. 

So unless your current models really present an undeniable eyesore, your appliances are probably OK to just stay put. And even if you think you really need a replacement, you don’t have to splurge. Online marketplaces that sell used appliances are a great way to replace your own without overspending on an item that’s likely to get replaced down the road.  

7. Paint In Some Of The Rooms

Paint is also another characteristic that can vastly change how potential buyers will see your home. To refresh your house in the cheapest and easiest way, consider speaking with your REALTOR® to figure out when you should update the paint in a room

In contrast, here are a few instances when it may be a good idea to make paint-related repairs:

  • Remove dated wallpaper 
  • Patch up small holes or dents 
  • Paint over age or water damage

The Bottom Line: Weigh Your Options Before Spending Money On Home Fixes And Repairs

When it comes to selling your home, having the newest features won’t always make for the best investment. To optimize your property’s value it’s all about having a functional home with a good foundation. Focus your efforts and money on the bigger mechanics and systems rather than sweating small cosmetic flaws, and bear in mind that home buyers won’t view your home the same way that you do – so providing a neutral canvas is usually the way to go. 

For more guidance on your home selling journey, check out our step-by-step guide to selling a home

Selling your home?

Work with a real estate agent who knows your local market.

Holly Shuffett

Holly Shuffett is a staff writer who writes with a focus on homeownership and personal finance. She has a B.A. in public relations from Oakland University and enjoys creative writing and reading in her free time.