Agent

9 vital home repairs to complete before negotiating a sale

Even a burned-out light bulb can get a surprising write-up by inspector

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There’s something that I see generated in almost every transaction — a list of repair items found during due diligence inspections that buyers would like completed before closing. This can cause heartaches for sellers, who have negotiated their best deal and then feel “put upon” because they’re being asked to make repairs to close the sale.

The problems that arise, however, could be remedied upfront if a home inspection were done when the house was listed. Let’s face it: We live in our homes and don’t address or even see some of the issues that arise because they don’t affect our daily lives. We look at homes online with a more critical eye than we do our own homes. I have seen too many sellers caught by surprise regarding the same issues that seem to pop up frequently.

Have these items addressed prior to listing the house, not before your seller has negotiated the best possible sales price, and everyone will be happier on the day of closing!

Fogged windows

A seal has broken, and although the window is functional, it really is “windy.” If your new listing has one or 12 of these drafty portals around the house, encourage the seller to replace them prior to listing.

Jet tubs that leak

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Some of my recent experiences indicate that this applies to all jet tubs. In the past month, whether I was acting as a buyer’s agent or listing agent, every single jet tub has leaked in the homes that I’ve seen. Many of us don’t use bathtubs as often as we used to, and I am convinced that most jet tubs go unused for, potentially, years. Checking your tub for leaks prior to listing will ensure that no leaks appear during a home inspection. No buyer likes leaks, after all.

Water damage to exterior trim

On any home that’s more than 8-10 years old, I frequently see rotten wood on exterior trim. If you can see splitting or rotten boards as you walk along the front or rear of your property, have them replaced, then caulk and paint. Nothing says “well maintained” like a coat of fresh paint on fascia and trim! Pay special attention to chimney areas on homes built before the late ’90s (and the advent of HardiePlank or cement board).

Roofing items

Are there split or missing roof shingles on your new listing? If so, the best thing a seller can do is pay a roofer to give the roof a once-over, replacing any missing or damaged shingles.

Loose handrails or deck rails

Last year, a buyer told me that he checked the stair handrails and deck rails in homes. If they were wobbly, he took that as a sign that the house wasn’t cared for overall. Whether that’s fair or not, this is a safety issue that seems to sneak its way onto inspection reports more times than I can remember.

Gutters

Gutters that are not functional or do not properly channel water away from the foundation of the home are problems. Have them freed of debris and functional prior to listing.

Leaky showers

And, in fact, leaky faucets throughout the house. If it leaks, it shouldn’t. Have it fixed by a licensed plumber.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)

These issues can be a big concern due to the cost to replace HVAC units. If your unit has rust on it and appears to be inoperable, clean it and service the unit prior to closing. Change the air filter and make sure it is in good working order!

Light bulbs

Please change them! I cannot tell you how many times I have seen light bulbs missing or not working, and on every single occasion, the home inspector writes up “lights not working, have evaluated by a licensed electrician.” I asked one inspector if they tested whether the bulb was just burned out. He said, “No; if we did that, it would take us longer to complete the inspection.” Yikes! Licensed electricians cost money, and that inspector could give your seller the impression that there’s a major electrical issue with the home.

It is true that during the home inspection, the buyer will usually find something else beyond these fundamental fixes, but addressing these issues will decrease the risk of any deal-killers and hopefully avoid some major expenses for sellers.

Hank Bailey is an associate broker with Re/Max Legends and a Realtor for more than a decade who provides buyer’s agent representation and seller listing services related to residential real estate.

Email Hank Bailey.