Would you make ALL repairs before selling?

July 16, 2011

My house is very close to being put up for sale. I have a few minor, very trivial items that still need repair. I was wondering if these items SHOULD be repaired, or if they should just be left alone.

I was thinking if I leave them alone, it will give the buyer or home inspector something to comment on, I fix it, then they are happy because I am cooperating with them. Know what I mean? Or they may just leave it alone and I don't have to waste my time on it at all. I doubt these repairs are big enough to actually scare a buyer away.

1. I have two window blinds that no longer work properly. I have them pulled all the way up behind the curtains, so more light will come in. The pull chords are all messed up, and you really have to work with them to get them to come back down.

2. Garbage disposal is not working. This house has a septic tank, so a disposal should never have been installed in the first place. We never used it, but the renters did, and now it doesn't work anymore. Water still drains through it just fine and it doesn't really hurt anything just leaving it alone. This is a $300 repair, so if they expect a new disposal, so I will probably just credit them $300 instead of actually fixing it.

3. At gargage door, where concrete pad meets driveway pavement, a crack about 1 inch wide was appeared. I can easily seal this up with caulking so water doesn't get in there in the winter, freeze, and break up the concrete or paving. Maybe $10 in material and 1 hour of my time - big whoop.

4. One of the bathroom sink stoppers does not work as it should. We rarely NEED to keep water from draining out, so its never been a big deal to us.

5. Our windows tilt in so the exterior glass can be cleaned from the inside. Four of the widows have latches that are broken (thank you renters). You would not even notice this until you tried to tilt them in, and the windows still operate just fine.

6. This one could possibly be the "bigger" problem but still should not be a deal-breaker. One of the fiberglas shower/bathtub combos had a crack in the bottom which allowed water to escape. It was because it was not properly supported. I corrected the support problem and fixed the crack. I used a fiberglas repair kit on the crack. There is an obvious repair smack dab in the middle of the tub. It is purely cosmetic.

A. Do I leave it alone and let them see this patch?

B. Do I use some non-slip stickers to hide the patch?

C. Do I call bath-fitter?

D. Should I just replace the whole shower/tub?

The rest of the house is perfect, and anyone viewing it should be happy with what they see. I'm getting a little anxious to get this house listed, and I was just wondering how neccessary these repairs really were. I hope you understand what I mean, when I said it might be good to allow them to have something to comment on.

Any thoughts?

Comments (16)

  • Carol_from_ny

    If it were me I'd get rid of the garbage disposal completely. People who are experienced with septic tanks and see it will think twice about purchasing a home where a disposal was installed even if it's not in use or broken.

    I'd also replace the tub. That little crack may seem little to you but to a buyer they will see a major bathroom redo and dollars.

    I'd also fix the driveway.

    The rest I'd leave AND I would have everything done before I put the house up for sale. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

  • badgergrrl

    Yes, do the little repairs, remove the garbage disposal. Little repairs tell me that owner doesn't care enough to do maintenance. Make me wonder what else is wrong. (I'm sure that's not the case with you, but, still that's what folks will think.)

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  • sweet_tea

    I agree with carol.

  • ncrealestateguy

    Agree with above posters. The windows are not performing the function for which intended, and the cracked tub is just a reason for buyers to have you prove that no water damage lies under the tub.

  • Happyladi

    You could just remove the blinds completely on those two windows. I agree, remove the disposal, fix the driveway and shop around for the tub repair.

  • calliope

    If I saw a repair in the tub of a shower, the repair wouldn't bother me, but I'd wonder how much water ended up where it shouldn't and if I'd have a problem with molds. That is a BIGGIE. It's not what you see, but what you don't see. Just shelve the blinds. Repair the driveway crack. And yes........if you can afford it, get rid of the garbage disposal. I see more than $300 in repairs, actually but I see waaaay more in devaluation from what you might get on the house if they aren't fixed. You do not want to advertise the fact it was a rental and you need to get out of the rental mind-set when you prepare a house to sell or be prepared for folks to assume they're getting an as-is special.

  • cas66ragtop

    Thanks everyone for the very helpful suggestions. You are right - you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

    You are also right in saying if they see "little repairs" that were ignored, they would wonder what other repairs might be needed. I didn't think of that. And yes, the garbage disposal is a bigger liability than I thought, so I should just take it out entirely. I also did not think about people seeing the crack repair in the tub and then fearing water damage or mold - so you're right about that too - the tub has to go. That's going to be kind of expensive.

    I got all the materials I need for the garbage disposal removal, and I got the stuff I needed to fix the driveway crack today. I forgot and left my tools for these projects at the other house - so those will be tomorrows projects. I worked all day today cleaning windows, vaccuuming and doing landscaping. The window latches I need to order online.

    I will definitely be shopping for a professional to do the tub replacement. I think I could do it myself if I really put my mind to it, but I don't want to chance it. I dont want the potential buyers seeing an obvious harry homeowner special and get turned off.

    A big part of this thing for me is this: I am already going to be losing money on this place, so I definitely am concerned about spending more than I have to. I know most of these repairs do not ammount to much money - but its just the principle of the thing. I also realize when people look at houses, they expect perfection. Its sort of a balancing act - you need to be careful not to overdo it, but you also don't want to do too little so that you turn people off. If I were looking at a house and it had these problems, I would probably overlook them because the rest of the house is so good - but thats me. I guess other people may be a lot more demanding.

    I just hope this all pans out. I would hate to be putting so much effort into getting the house ready to sell again, only to end up renting again. It sure would be nice to get rid of this place once and for all.

    Thanks again for all the help guys, I really appreciate it.

  • calliope

    Well, good luck on your sale. No, I am pretty realistic when I buy properties. My biggie is plumbing issues because that's what I don't do best and 'hidden' issues like what is under the tub? I've ripped out enough bathrooms to have seen horrors in rotten wood and wondered how the owners didn't end up in the basement.

    "A big part of this thing for me is this: I am already going to be losing money on this place, so I definitely am concerned about spending more than I have to. I know most of these repairs do not ammount to much money - but its just the principle of the thing."

    Not loosing any more money than you have to on a sale is no different then making as much profit as possible on a sale. It has the exact same impact on your bank account. It's called cutting your losses. You certainly don't want to go into diminishing returns on your time or investment in selling, but if it's a relatively cheap fix you should probably go for it. Just be thankful it's a bunch of easy stuff. My son's renters did 35K in damage.

  • ncrealestateguy

    Think of reparing the tub at $x amount.
    Buyers will reduce asking price by $x - $2000.
    You just made money.
    Buyers will always subtract the actual amount of a repair and then subtract much more when they make an offer.

  • cas66ragtop

    You're right, the better the place looks, the higher the offer (let's hope this really happens). I got really lucky with the tub - it was located over the "maintenance room" of the basement. It is a 12'x16' room where all the house mechanical equipment is located. It is the only unfinished area of the basement - no drywall on walls or ceiling, no carpeting. Boy did I get lucky. It was also good my renters noticed it immediately and called me.

    Wow - $35K in damage? I would be absolutely furious. I hope your son could take them to court and hold them accountable. I know how some of those court cases can turn out. A lot of times the bad guys still get away with it. I'm really sorry to hear that. That's terrible.

    I know I got lucky there, too. They did do a little damage, but it could have been a lot worse. I also got lucky in another way - I sold them a pool table for $1500, they offered to sell it back to me, I declined, and they left the table behind anyway. I could have actually charged them a little for some of the damage, but since they were nice enough to leave the table, I was nice and just let it go. So I guess the $1500 I got from the table will more than pay for the tub and other damage, plus if I can sell the table again, I will be even better off. Yes I got really lucky. I still never want to rent again. I might not get so lucky next time.

    And you are also right ncrealestateguy - when a buyer sees damage, they place a lower offer on the house (IF they haven't already crossed the house off their list), PLUS they still want the actual dollar ammount for the repair. May as well repair it to begin with.

    I looked briefly online and found a company that sells 16"x36" fiberglass panels molded in various colors. They sell for $135 plus shipping. That sure beats approx. $850 for the new unit plus installation, plus any damage to the walls, plus taking a day off from work, etc. They say it's a very easy fix, strengthens the tub, only takes about an hour, and is "practically invisible". Have you ever seen one of these things? I can't decide if that would be a good thing, or if it would just end up looking cheap. I guess it still shows evidence there was a problem, and they would still question whether the job was done correctly and whether there could be a mold problem. Maybe I just answered my own question. I Guess I need to stop being a cheapskate and just do it.

    Thanks again guys

  • writersblock (9b/10a)

    >I can't decide if that would be a good thing, or if it would just end up looking cheap

    These make every alarm bell I have go off at their loudest level when I see them in a house I'm looking at. Cheap isn't the word, and you know the only reason is that there's something under there they don't want you to see. Unless you only expect very naive (or so wealthy they've never seen such a thing) prospective buyers, I wouldn't do that.

  • dreamgarden

    I agree with badgergrrl.

  • calliope

    All other things being equal.......when I look at property I'm not so concerned about repairs on any other room than the kitchen and bath. You can repair wood trim, plaster or plaster board and paint rather cheaply if they need it and a coat of paint or two and you're good to go. That is certainly not the case with any room with 'fixtures' or appliances. These two rooms are traditionally the most expensive ones to renovate and both are totally necessary to daily use. It's just like the wallpaper issue we have had so many debates on over the years. Most folks who are selling are so reluctant to remove wallpaper. It's the PITA factor. Not expensive, just a pain and time consuming. Well, if someone who stands to gain profit off a house is that reluctant to invest in the removal, just imagine how a potential buyer who is about to part with money must feel about the task. I can guarantee you they'll be less enthused at the idea than the seller. It could even be a deal breaker if other properties are in the picture.

    You can only function with what you feel is best for your situation and make the decisions. It's not our call to make. I do know the last house I sold I was meticulous about repairs and you could eat off the floors. I didn't live in it, but bought it for a family member to live in temporarily and the house was not in the best area of town, and there were five other houses on the street for sale at the time. And this was in the early days of the real estate bust and people were scared to jump in for fear of further devaluations.

    What I am getting at, is that the condition of the house to be absolutely turn key, repaired and immaculate is the only reason I was able to move that house at all. The other houses.......ALL OF THEM......are still sitting there four years later empty or with realtor signs on them. It would have been tempting to not have done a thing with it, essentially it was in pretty darned good shape......but going the extra mile is sometimes more important in houses one is least likely motivated to do it to, if only to make them so much of a value that somebody just looks at it and says to themselves, all I have to do is bring my clothes and I'm set to go. I even left spare light bulbs, and the phones, all the unused paint for repairs, extra floor tiles and all curtains, and I replaced the blinds even though those amenities are often not part of the regular deal in our area. BTW I got more than the asking price when all was said and done.

  • Billl

    Just another note : Most buyers will insist on a professional fix to any problems found. Your $10 patch of concrete could easily save thousands of dollars if you get an overactive inspector trying to determine "why" a crack has formed.

    As a general rule, you are much better off fixing anything you can before trying to sell. Note, that is "fixing" not "updating." Actual repairs almost always pay off, but people often lose money when they start "updating."

  • gmp3

    I would forget about the window blinds, but replace the tub, fix the driveway and windows. Pople will move on to the next house if they see this stuff.

  • lyvia

    It depends some on the local market. Is your house a starter home or more upscale? Would a target buyer have other choices? How sure are you that it is well priced (Is there a lot of data on similar homes, or nothing quite like it?)

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