What To Fix Up When Selling A House

What To Fix Up When Selling A House

March 3, 2021

When the time comes around to sell a house, it might suddenly occur to you that the house may need some repair. Having a home ready to sell in a good state of repair can pay off when it comes to your asking price.

The majority of buyers out here will be on the lookout for a property that doesn’t need a ton of repair. It can be embarrassing to have a home inspector find issues that cause the deal to fall through. A little maintenance can go a long way toward securing the sale of the house with a solid buyer. 

If the home you are selling is one you have lived in, it will be essential to look at the property objectively. If you see the home every day, it can be easy not to notice all the wear and tear that comes with inhabitation. If you’re new to selling, looking at the home objectively it can be overwhelming to even know where to start.

Once buyers show up, you’ll be wishing you had taken some steps to make the property ready for sale. If you want to get the best price you can for the house, you’ll need to think about doing some repairs and maintenance before you list it for sale. This move ultimately will put more money in your pocket, even if it costs some money upfront.

At the same time, it can be tough to know what project to tackle first, and which ones you can leave out completely. That’s why we’ve put together this full guide to what you need to fix up when selling a house:

Table of Contents

Before You Start: Repairing Versus Replacing

Before we give you a list of the different projects you’ll most likely be taking on, we have to differentiate between the idea of repairing something versus replacing it.  

The easy way to understand repair is to think about it as a must-do. Something like replacing old worn carpeting is an example of a repair. These projects keep the current value of the home more consistent.

Replacements, or upgrades, are slightly different. These are more optional projects that you as the owner can decide to make to try and increase the value of the house. If we reuse the same flooring example, an upgrade would be if you were to remove a carpet in good condition to replace it with wooden flooring.

How many repairs versus replacements you do on the home will depend on a few things. If you’re working with a limited budget, you want to focus on repairs over replacements to maximize your budget. After all, you don’t want to spend too much on the property you are planning to sell. 

With that said, what are the projects that will add the most value to your property before you sell it? 

Project #1: Kitchens And Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms are some of the highest-value spaces for buyers, making them the most important projects to start with. The kitchen in particular is a high-traffic area that will likely have seen some wear and tear. 

Since both kitchens and bathrooms have plenty of mechanical systems (plumbing, electrical and more), they are likely to require some heavy-duty looking into. As part of your repairs and renovations, you’ll need to pay careful attention to:


All the built-in appliances need to be clean and in good working order. You’ll want to check for leaks and anything that needs to be replaced.

Cabinets And Countertops

Make sure that all cabinets and countertops are clean and in good condition. The great thing about this project is that you don’t need to spend tons of money to make them look new. You can paint cabinets a fresh color to hide chips and other damage and replace the handles to make them look more modern. 

Don’t forget to work on the inside of the cabinets either – buyers will definitely want to open them up. This means they should be cleaned and nicely lined inside.

Sinks And Other Fixtures

Take a walk through the property and make sure that all the taps in the house are not leaky, drains nice and clear and the hot and cold options clearly marked and in working order.

Baths And Showers

There are a few other projects to take on around the bathroom. Bathtubs may need to be resurfaced and showerheads thoroughly cleaned. If there is an exhaust vent in the bathroom, it needs to be tested to ensure it’s working properly. If you can swing it, broken tiles or other chips need to be replaced.

Project #2: The Rest Of The Interior

With the kitchen and bathroom projects out of the way, you can turn your attention to the rest of the home interior. 

Let’s start with the most visible things in this category: walls and floors. 

When it comes to walls, there is nothing as good for a property as a fresh coat of paint. To make the finish as flawless as possible, you’ll want to repair the worst of the nail holes and damage to the drywall if there is any. 

Floors have a similar requirement: everything needs to be in good condition. This means that if there are carpets, they need to be deep-cleaned. Wooden floors can be refinished, while tiles can be replaced. 

Another part of preparing the home interior is looking at other systems that form part of the interior of the home. The HVAC needs to be tested and checked, the water heater has to be free of leaks and the electricals be up to code.

If you live in an older home, the chances are good that some of the construction practices used to put it up may be out of date. In cases where you’ll be dealing with asbestos insulation and other dangerous materials, you’ll need to rely on a professional to safely remove and replace them with the modern equivalent. 

Project #3: The Property Exterior

With so much emphasis put on the interior of the house, many homeowners forget to work on the property exterior. This is a big mistake that can cost you a potential sale. 

The outside of the home can contribute to resale value in a significant way. By improving the curb appeal, or attractiveness, of the home on the outside, you entice more buyers to come to take a look. The best thing about exterior projects like the ones listed below is that they can be easily DIYed and save you some money on labor costs.

The best way to start is to do some landscaping around the house. Get the lawn freshly mowed, tidy up the shrubs, and don’t be scared to put in some flowers. Greenery can make a home seem more serene and appealing. 

Where you will want to get help from a professional is to look at drainage. You don’t want water to collect close to the foundation or risk having to deal with expensive repairs that will affect the sale. Foundation repair is notoriously difficult, but having structural issues in the home is certain to kill your best option for a sale. 

After yard work, you’ll want to bring your interior experience outside. In a similar approach, you’ll want to pick up some paint to touch up doors, door frames, and window frames.  Spend some time cleaning the windows and making sure the garage is spick and span for potential viewings. If there is a deck, you have a lot of potential to draw in buyers; outdoor entertainment areas are becoming increasingly popular. A nicely maintained deck with solid support columns will be a big plus in your listing.

Don’t forget to give the roof a little TLC either. Missing tiles will need to be replaced to ensure the house is safe from water damage, and gutters will need to be cleaned and checked. You’ll also want to look at the underlayment and make sure there is no rot or water damage indicating an old leak.

Fencing is the last thing you’ll need to tackle outside. You’ll want to make sure rotten boards on wooden fences are replaced and painted if necessary. As an extra touch, oil the hinges on the gate so it opens and closes smoothly.

The Pre-Sale Inspection

When you’ve finished taking on the above projects, you’ll want to plan a walkthrough with a professional to make sure you’ve covered everything necessary to put the house on the market. 

Commonly known as a pre-sale home inspection, a real estate professional like a contractor or appraiser will go through the home and identify any leftover issues that need to be addressed before the house is ready for sale. 

A home inspection of this kind may also be required in a few other situations. If a potential buyer is planning on using a loan to purchase the house, they may insist on having the home professionally inspected first. 

Once you’ve completed a home inspection with a professional and have the go-ahead, you can formally list the house for sale.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve kept on top of maintenance in your home as you’ve owned it, you’ve minimized how much you need to fix up when selling the house. Having a routine of maintenance will shorten the list of repairs needed when you decide to move.

In short, the things you need to focus on fixing up will be the spaces that are most important to buyers. You’ll also be balancing your desire to sell with the budget you have available to handle repairs and replacements. 

You don’t need to flip the house just to put it on the market, but taking on one or more of the projects in this article will be beneficial in a few ways. Firstly, it’ll allow you to set a higher asking price for the property and improve the ROI. Then there is the advantage of drawing in more buyers and increasing your chances of getting an offer once the property hits the market.

Selling a house that you fix up may require an initial investment of some cash, but under the right circumstances, you can more than cover your expenses. 

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