Homes are getting snapped up in Idaho and buyers are paying top dollar for homes so why bother taking the time to repair broken or damaged, outdated items in your home before going to market? The answer is simple, money and stress. Homes that have been properly prepared and repaired before going on the market tend to sell quicker, have fewer issues, and potentially save the seller thousands of dollars.
Here’s the reason why: In Idaho, when a seller accepts an offer from a buyer the buyer has the right to an inspection. During this inspection period, the buyer typically hires a professional inspector to find any problem areas with the home. Inspectors have a 2200 item checklist and they ALWAYS find items needing repair, replacement, or updating. At this point, the buyer has several options 1. Take the home as it is. 2. Ask for a credit from the sellers for repairs. 3. Ask for the seller to make repairs or 4. Walk away from the contract. Sellers not wanting to risk losing the buyer typically try to take care of reasonable repairs on the home or offer the credit and this is where it can get expensive and stressful.
With construction booming in the Boise area finding a licensed professional to repair the items in the allotted time before closing (typically 10-14 days) can be very challenging. Most licensed contractors/professionals are booked out 30 days and this means having to hire whoever you can get and pay more for a repair than if you had shopped around. The other option is to offer a credit to the buyer to take care of the repairs later, but the challenge is again finding licensed professionals with enough time to get quotes. In many cases, sellers often credit more than the actual cost of a repair due to time restraints or lack of knowledge of what repairs cost.
So now that you’re convinced preparing your home to sell and taking care of those home repairs are not only a time-saver but cost-effective, which repairs should you take care of and how should go about it? Here’s a checklist of items that often come up on inspection reports and some tips/suggestions of how to take care of them before selling your home:
- HVAC System. If your system is old, or not heating/cooling as it should you can count on a buyer asking for it to be either repaired or replaced. You can save yourself and the buyer the trouble by having your HVAC unit serviced by a professional heating and cooling company. Make sure they mark the date on the unit of the servicing as the inspector will look for this. A buyer will feel more confident in your system if they know it’s been recently serviced and functioning properly. Change out the filter with a new one while you’re at it.
- Plumbing. Water leaks are one of the biggest items that come up during an inspection. Buyers, especially first-time homeowners get very nervous when they see there’s a leak in the sink, toilet, etc. This can often lead to cold feet and walking away from the contract or asking for major repairs that may not be necessary just for their ease of mind. Instead, take the time to check under the kitchen and bathroom sinks for any leaks, look in the crawl space under the kitchen, toilet, bathtub, etc to see if there are any water spots or leaks in the area. If you see them get them fixed. You can use a licensed plumber or take care of them if they are minor.
- The “M” word (MOLD). Nobody likes it and nobody likes to talk about it, but it exists and can cause a lot of stress in the middle of a home sale. Mold or microbial growth is common in older homes where there may have been a past leak. If you discover a water leak or prior leak it’s a good idea to bring out a mold professional to assess if there is any growth in the area. Most mold professionals will not charge to assess the area and this also gives you a chance to shop around for the best price. Once a buyer discovers the “M” word, they can get very nervous and either walk away or ask for higher-priced mold remediation, more than may be necessary.
- Electrical Issues. It’s a good idea to bring out your favorite electrician to check the polarity and function of all your home’s outlets. Having an electrician you trust to take care of this before selling is a great idea. It will give the buyer peace of mind that everything is up to code and working as it should. It’s also a good idea to change out any broken, chipped, or missing outlet covers for aesthetics and it’s very affordable to do this yourself.
- Windows and Screens. This is one that comes up often on inspections and is typically an item buyers will ask to be repaired or credited. It’s worth the time to take care of any broken or chipped windows, make sure they are opening and locking correctly and get all those screens back on the windows. I’ll give an example. I was representing buyers on a home and during the inspection, we discovered all the seals on the windows were broken beyond repair. The closing was scheduled in three weeks and so the buyers preferred to ask for a credit to get the windows repaired once they moved in. We called every window manufacturer in the Treasure Valley and could only get one company to take the time to come out and provide a quote. This company was the most expensive window manufacturer /installer in town. The sellers only had this quote as a reference and gave credit for the windows close to the quoted price. If the sellers had shopped around beforehand they could have replaced the windows themselves at nearly half the price they credited to the buyers.
- Crawl Space and Vapor Barrier. This is something that often comes up during the inspection, a messy crawl space full of debris and a missing or damaged vapor barrier. Take a weekend and clear out all the old debris and put down a vapor barrier yourself and save yourself hundreds of dollars compared to paying a professional cleaning company. The same goes for an attic.
- Roofs and Siding. These can be big-ticket items and if the inspection shows damage you can usually expect the buyers to ask for a credit or repair. Make sure the shingles are in good shape and dig up your receipt for the warranty you have on the roof to show to the buyers if needed. Make sure your gutters are cleaned out and in good condition. Replace or repair any damaged siding around the home. If your roof or siding requires total replacement and you don’t want to take care of it yourself get quotes from a few different companies so you know what the potential cost is and then you won’t be blindsided when the buyer asks you to credit the cost of a new roof or siding or price the home with this repair in mind.
Many other items can come up during an inspection and if you’d like to know all of them it can in some cases be a good idea to hire an inspector to inspect your home pre-market. This gives you the good, bad, and ugly and an idea of what may come upon the buyer’s inspection report. Also, if you make any repairs per the inspection you had done you can show this to a buyer upfront and give them peace of mind before they even submit an offer on the home. Inspections typically cost $200-$400 depending on the square footage of your home. You should keep in mind however that once you have an inspection done, you must disclose anything that was discovered that could be a safety issue or serious problem such as a leaky roof, microbial growth, leaky toilet, faulty electrical, etc. to the potential buyer on the Seller’s Property Disclosure so the buyer knows what to expect.
If you’d like to know more small items you can repair, fix around the home to add value contact Jennifer Louis, Real Estate specialist for Boise and the Treasure Valley at (208) 509-9122 or firstname.lastname@example.org