When the time comes to sell your home, you might find yourself overwhelmed by your to-do list. When you do a walkthrough of your home and property with your trusted Realtor®, you’ll no doubt find several things that need to be addressed before your home is in “show ready” condition. For starters, you might need to freshen up your exterior paint (First impressions matter!), update the kitchen cabinets, and have all the hardwoods refinished and the carpets cleaned. The list could go on and on, and as the fixes start piling up, you might wonder, How am I going to finish all this?! The fact of the matter is that fixing up a house takes money, especially if you aren’t particularly handy and need to pay someone else to do it all.

But here’s the good news: you don’t really have to check off every little item on your honey-do list before you put your home on the market. Of course, you’re still on the hook for any defects or conditions that affect the function of any major aspects of your house. For instance, you will need to take care of any leaks, built-in appliances that may not be functioning correctly, insect infestations, safety hazards, et cetera. Beyond that, any repairs that serve to make your house more appealing to buyers are completely up to you. Let’s take a look at a few issues that you aren’t required to fix before you put your home on the market.

Cosmetic Damage

A house that’s been lived in for any amount of time is bound to have some form of cosmetic damage, whether it’s scuffed floors, peeling paint, chipped trim work, or stained carpets. None of these issues has anything to do with function, so it’s purely up to you if you want to fix them. While fixing them will make your home look more polished, most buyers are able to look past small cosmetic flaws. As long as a house has good bones, and all the major systems are up-to-date and in working order, most buyers will be fine addressing smaller imperfections on their own.

Kitchen or Bathroom Overhaul

Kitchens and baths are two of the main rooms that buyers take into consideration when deciding whether or not to buy a home. But unless your kitchen or bath is horribly outdated and a complete eyesore, don’t worry too much about upgrading it. Buyers have their own opinions and tastes. Even if you do a complete update on your kitchen in the popular yet neutral farmhouse theme, who’s to say the buyer won’t come in, knock out a wall, and completely change it? As long as the kitchen and bath are clean and functional, most buyers can look past any outdated fixtures and will actually be excited to update the rooms themselves.

Partial Repairs or Upgrades

If you just can’t let your house be put on the market without addressing those outdated rooms, you need to go all the way. Don’t just replace the cabinets and call it a day. Those sleek, brand new cabinets will only serve to highlight the old, stained laminate countertop and used-to-be-white appliances. Likewise, shiny new faucets and new tile in the bathroom will make it obvious that the sink and bathtub could use repairs or replacement.

Non-Neutral Paint Color

Unless you’re going to refresh your home with a coat of neutral-colored paint, don’t bother painting. Paint colors are highly personalized choices, and even if you use a super trendy, of-the-moment color, chances are the new homeowners will come in and repaint anyway. Always use neutral colors if you’re going to repaint. That said, we don’t recommend painting the walls white. Go with an off-white, a light gray or greige, or even a very light, neutral blue to offset trim work.

Any Project Without a Good ROI

Don’t forget that in the end, any cosmetic repairs or projects you complete should ultimately be to your benefit. If a project isn’t going to net a decent return on your investment, forget about it. It’s not worth spending $3,000 to update a bathroom if you can’t raise your asking price by $10,000. Before you decide to start a project, do the math and decide which will be more beneficial: spending the money on a specific cosmetic repair, or lowering your asking price a bit to reflect it? You might find that your home will sell faster if you lower the price by $10,000 instead of remodeling the bathroom.


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