Selling Your House? Fix These Things First

If you’ve lived in your house for years, you’ve likely grown accustomed to its quirks: That one light switch that doesn’t work, the banging and clanging your plumbing makes when you turn on a faucet, the room with the shag carpet and popcorn ceiling that you never got around to updating...

While you’ve learned to live with these shortcomings, prospective buyers won’t overlook them. Even small things, like that shag carpet, can be deal breakers.

Here’s what needs to be addressed before listing your home.


If prospects don’t like how your home looks on the outside, how do you expect your Realtor to get them inside to show off that groovy shag carpet? Plus, your Realtor is going to take lots of pictures. That means getting your home ready for its closeup. Start by giving your home an honest assessment. Does the siding need to be touched up? Could the fascia use a coat of paint? Do you have junk cluttering the driveway or front yard? Does the lawn and landscaping look lush and well maintained? Tackle anything even slightly unsightly to enhance curb appeal.


Put yourselves in the shoes of someone visiting your home for the first time. What’s the first thing they see upon entering? Is it a filthy sectional covered in cat hair? A cluttered entertainment center? Walls your kids scribbled on? Stains on the carpet? These are all the things you don’t see anymore because you’re so used to them. Now you’ll have to do the hard work of cleaning, sprucing and updating. A drastic makeover may not be in order, but you’ll at least have to paint the trim around the doors and the floorboards, and do a deep clean on your carpet or hardwood floor (if you have a hardwood floor, you might even consider refinishing it.) And how about the grout in the kitchen and bathroom? Does it need to be re-grouted?


Again, a remodel may not be necessary, but you can update your kitchen inexpensively by replacing drawer and cabinet pulls with something unique or modern. Replace the faucet with a pull-down spout. You can also paint the walls and cabinets a lighter color to make it look more spacious.Window treatments do wonders, too. And if you have granite countertops, by all means, show them off by hiding the toaster, coffee pot and blender. One more thing: It’s not necessary to replace your appliances with modern, high-efficiency models, but they should at least work and be clean.


You can easily and affordably update your bathroom by painting the vanity and installing modern faucets. Maybe spring for that extra large rain head for the shower. At the very least, everything should work. Leaky faucets and toilets must be repaired. Maybe you’ve learned to live with low water pressure, but trickling faucets will turn buyers away. Does your plumbing make a house-shaking cla-clunk sound? Plumbing problems, even minor ones, can make an otherwise functioning house a hard sell. Hire a qualified plumber to address these issues.


You might have one or two outlets in your home that are dead or shorted -- no big deal. You didn’t need them anyway. But now that you’re selling, it is a big deal. You’ll want all outlets functioning, as well as a thorough inspection of your home’s overall electrical system. This will likely happen before closing. (It’s common for buyers to request a professional home inspection.) So, get it done now. A licensed, qualified electrician will check for proper grounding, be sure wiring is up to code, ground fault circuit interrupters are installed, and make any needed repairs.


Of all the appliances in your house, this is the one buyers are most concerned about. A tired air conditioning system in need of constant repairs is going to be a red flag. If your system is older than 10 years, you might consider replacing it. Yes, it’s a big investment, but you can factor the cost of a new system into the price of your home. Now that would be a major selling point.