3-Part Series on Maximizing Your Home Sale
Part One: Deferred Maintenance
When it comes time to sell your house, there are 3 things you must do in order to maximize the return on your investment.
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you what a good time it is to sell. The interest rate on a 30-year mortgage is well below the historical average. That means that the cost to borrow money is low, which means housing affordability is high. It’s also a fact that housing inventory is low, meaning that there aren’t a lot of homes for sale.
When borrowing costs are low and supply can’t meet demand, prices increase.
What a great time to sell! And I’m not here to argue that fact. I’m here to talk about maximizing your sales price, and that process is the same regardless of how “hot” the market is. In this article, we’ll talk about the first step in the process: deferred maintenance.
Defining Deferred Maintenance
What is deferred maintenance? You know that toilet that doesn’t flush correctly? Or that closet door that “closes” but doesn’t quite latch? That’s definitely deferred maintenance.
What about that leaky gutter and the wood rot it’s causing at the corner of the house? Yes, it will be a little more expensive to remedy, but that’s still deferred maintenance.
All those little nuisances that you’re aware of (and some you aren’t) should be addressed prior to putting the house up for sale. We’ve already talked about what a competitive market it is for the average home buyer, and when they feel that kind of pressure, it’s important to remove objections before they emerge.
When someone feels like they’re paying a premium, they’re going to have high expectations.
Becoming the Buyer’s First Choice
Another buyer perspective to consider is what we like to call the “HGTV Effect.” Between the home makeover shows and Pinterest, today’s buyer is constantly getting new ideas on special projects and the latest trends.
Here’s the thing most home sellers miss about special projects: the majority of them are largely cosmetic. You don’t want a buyer walking through your home and totaling up all the things they have to do. They already have a list of things they want to do.
So let’s repair that kitchen drawer that came off the track and let them worry about whether to shiplap the half bathroom.
When a buyer walks through a home that has been well-maintained, there’s a sense of appreciation. Sometimes they may be a little too young or otherwise inexperienced to notice, but nine times out of ten, there will be an agent present to remind them.
The agent will point out how “solid” the house is and how much you’ve cared for it.
This establishes confidence in a buyer that the property they’re purchasing has been loved as much as they intend to love it. It also establishes goodwill and helps the buyer see the value in your asking price.
Make It Easy on Yourself
Finally, most, if not all, of these deferred maintenance issues are going to come to light during a home inspection. A smart buyer, one being advised by a good real estate agent, is going to have to the home inspected by a home inspector who will report on the material defects of the property.
While the home inspector will report just the facts, a buyer will invariably assume the issue is larger and more expensive than the inspector’s report.
That closet door that doesn’t latch goes from being a simple adjustment of the strike plate to an issue with the home’s foundation in the buyer’s mind. You can’t blame the buyer - at this point in the transaction, they’re under as much stress as you are.
When you take care of these issues on the front end, you save yourself a ton of headache - not to mention the money you’ll save by addressing them prior to being on a closing timeline.
Taking care of deferred maintenance is the first step in maximizing the sale of your home. It can be difficult to know where to start, and that’s one place a good real estate agent can earn their keep.
Stretch Your Dollar, Not Your Focus
Across our three locations, we sell hundreds of homes every year. We know what buyers expect, and we know how you should spend your money to get the greatest return during the pre-listing phase.
Don’t make the mistake of taking on an unnecessary project when your money could be better spent elsewhere. Contact us today, and we’ll provide you with the resources and advice you need.