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Non-Cosmetic Repairs Sellers Should Always Make

by Marquette Turner Luxury Homes

in DIY, Features, Variety

It doesn’t seem like homebuyers care much about critical systems around a home. Home renovation shows and websites are so focused on kitchen countertops, crown moldings and other cosmetic features that many first-time buyers don’t ask many questions about the electrical wiring, the plumbing or the HVAC. 

However, when it comes time for the home inspection, all home buyers will find out the dirty secrets of a home, especially whether its systems are in appropriate shape. Because modern homeowners aren’t well-equipped to solve problems like these on their own, many will pass on properties with seemingly significant issues — which means home sellers need to put in the effort to make major repairs before they bother listing their homes.

Repairs and DIY

Here are a few of the non-cosmetic repairs prospective sellers should make:

Structural Issues 

A house needs to continue being a house — which means it needs a foundation, walls and a roof that won’t collapse any time soon. Sellers who are aware of major structural problems need to invest in solutions before they put their homes on the market. This is because home inspectors and appraisers are capable of identifying signs of structural failure, and when they do, no bank will release funds to finance that home purchase. Sellers will either have to find a cash buyer who bypasses the inspection stage, or they will need to repair any structural damage on their own dime.

However, there is a secret third option. If a seller needs to move quickly or else free up the money tied in their property, they can lower the price of their home, giving potential buyers a “repair credit” so they can make fix the foundation, roof or walls themselves. Structurally insecure home will be less enticing to buyers who want something move-in ready, which means there will be less competition for these properties, and ultimately sellers will earn back less cash. However, if a seller really can’t afford to fix structural issues — or, indeed, any issues on this list — they can turn to reducing the purchase price and likely find at least one interested buyer.

Safety Concerns 

A home is a sanctuary — unless it secretly harbors dangers to its inhabitants. Sellers should feel responsible for making their home as safe as possible before it goes on the market and endangers any new, potentially unaware owners. 

Generally, safety concerns don’t necessarily compromise the structural integrity of the home, but they might harm visitors or residents. In most regions, major safety hazards are avoided by adhering to a municipality’s residential construction code, but houses built before certain codes came into effect can be “grandfathered in,” meaning they don’t have to abide by the codes to sell the property legally. Still, it’s a good idea for sellers to be aware of the codes and make the most pressing changes. Some examples of smart, safe updates include:

  • GFCI outlets. GFCI outlets are most often installed in areas where outlets could get wet, such as bathrooms, kitchens and the outdoors. These outlets are designed to monitor the power flowing through the outlet; if the power is too much, its possible there is a dangerous arc, and the outlet trips the circuit for safety.
  • Water heater relief valve. Water heaters have valves to release pressure that builds up due to increasing temperature — but those valves can become clogged by sediment over time. IF this occurs, water will burst through the relief valve, so the entire appliance doesn’t explode. However, if the valve is high up, children and pets can be scalded by the boiling water. 
  • Poor building materials. In construction booms, home builders often use less-than-optimal materials for the sake of expediency and cost. Some, like lead paint, Chinese drywall and asbestos, are toxic; others, like aluminum wiring and cast-iron plumbing simply pose dangers to the home. It’s a good idea for sellers to replace these materials before going to market.

Non-functional Components 

There are a few critical systems that buyers need from a home: plumbing, electrical, HVAC and so on. If shoddy or broken components in any of these systems make the systems non-functional, sellers would be wise to make the repairs before attempting a sale. Generally, an unreliable HVAC will drastically lower the value of a home, especially in regions with extreme temperatures — even seemingly small non-functioning features of a home, like a broken garage door, can drop offer prices. By comparison, the cost of Los Angeles heating and cooling contractors is minimal; handymen and contractors in most areas will improve the value of a home beyond the cost of their services. 

Pest Problems

Finally, sellers aware of pest infestations, like bats in the attic or termites in the fence, should take steps to eliminate the pests and all signs and damage from them before trying to sell their home. Pests are a pain to live with, and if they are immediately visible to visitors, pests will ward off most buyers, which means lower competition and less profit for sellers. As with components on the fritz, pests are best dealt with by professionals, who have the knowledge and tools to eradicate infestations quickly and safely.

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