In the past, I’ve discussed cosmetic strategies for preparing your home to sell for the most money. Articles such as 9 Tips to Increase Your Home’s Worth and Prioritizing Upgrades When Preparing to Sell Your Home provide an overview of strategies to increase your home’s curb appeal both outside and inside your home. Conversely, this article focuses on home maintenance and home repairs that you should address prior to listing your home for sale.
In an Austin home sale, the buyer has what is called an option period. The option period allows the buyer the right to access and do all necessary due-diligence on a home prior to being locked into the home sale. The buyer has the unrestricted right to terminate the contract during the option period, and the earnest money will be returned to the buyer. It’s strongly recommended that the buyer have a licensed home inspector inspect the property during the option period. Any aspects of the home identified by the inspector as areas of concern, are leverage for the buyer. The buyer can either request the homeowner fix the issue of request monetary concessions for the repairs. These requests are formally submitted to the seller in the form of an amendment to the contract.
Probably the most common item I see on such an amendment is the request for the air conditioner to be cleaned and serviced. If you’re preparing your Austin home for sale, you should consider having the AC cleaned and serviced prior to listing your home. Why give the buyer an opportunity to overcharge you for this service? If you tackle this before listing your home, you can take your time comparing quotes from different providers, rather than rushing to have the AC serviced when you’re in the middle of moving or risk conceding more than necessary to the buyer for the service. While you’re at it, you should also replace the air filters.
The other benefit to repairing or servicing your home prior to the repairs being mandated in an amendment is that you get to choose who does the work. Once a repair is required per an amendment, the repair must be made by a licensed contractor. If you are handy, you may be able to fix things yourself prior to listing your home or hire an unlicensed handyman who is still qualified for the job. An inspector will note every little thing that is wrong with a home. A door without a stopper will be noted, as will the lack of a smoke detector in a room. I’m not particularly handy, but I could easily install these items. Another item I regularly see on inspection reports is a lack of an anti-tip bracket on the oven. This five to ten-dollar part effectively anchors your stove to the wall so that a child cannot get in the oven and have it fall over leaving them trapped inside.
Another item you may consider DIYing is in regards to the exterior of the home. An inspector is going to note any plant growth that creeps up the home as an area of concern since it could lead to wood destroying insects entering the home. Pull off any vines or climbing plants that are making their way up your home. You should also clean out leaves and debris from gutters and make sure gutter spouts are properly diverting away from the home. If your home has flashing, check to see that its properly diverting water off the roof, and away from the home. Grading is also an area of interest for an inspector. Your yard should slope down from your home so that water moves away from the property.
If you have any known leaks in your home, it’s best to address these now. Even if you don’t, you may want to check under your sinks and around your toilets to make sure there is no water penetration. Leaks in faucets or sink pipes can usually be addressed quite easily. It may just be a matter of tightening a piece or replacing a washer. You should also address any running toilets. Sometimes it’s as easy as adjusting the flapper chain- an easy no tools required fix. If you have major plumbing issues, it’s best to consult a licensed professional.
Another common item on inspection reports is electrical issues. A lack of GFCI outlets is often noted as a potential safety risk. It’s my understanding that if the outlets are properly grounded this is not necessarily an area of concern. However, if you don’t want to be nickel and dimed during the option period, this is another item you may want to address. Any outlets or fans that are not functioning properly should be looked at by a professional, and while you are at it, make sure all your lights have functioning bulbs. An inspector may not be able to assess if a light doesn’t work or if it’s simply lacking a functioning bulb.
These are just a few of the most common repair requests I see. If you’re planning to sell your home, determining which projects are the most important is a complex evaluation. Your budget, and desired sale price will determine the most important projects. Not sure which projects you should tackle before selling your Austin home? Contact me today, and I’ll help you decide which projects will allow you to net the most money in your Austin home sale.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.