Preparing Your House for Sale
... And the maintenance costs involved
Improve the Selling Price of Your Home (And How Much Repairs Cost)
If you are thinking of selling your home, then chances are you’ve taken a look at the selling price of other homes in your area, and you’ve based your expectations on those. After all, these houses are often similar, if not exactly the same as yours. So, you should get a similar price, right?
Unfortunately, it is not always as straightforward as that.
Other local homes may be of similar style, but they could be significantly different when it comes to presentation, both inside and out. Bringing your own home up to the same sellable standard, to achieve the same price, can be very costly and inconvenient, and you may not always get back the money you invest in home improvements.
So what can you do to improve the selling price of your home, how much do home repairs cost and what will you get back in return?
Why do you need to do work?
While property size and location will be the main factors that determine the price, you also have to take into account the emotional element of home buying. A well presented home, which a buyer can move into without any problems, will always fetch a better price than one that needs work.
For all the formal surveys and inspections that follow, people will usually make their own judgement call about a house in the first few minutes, based on their initial impressions and the general feeling they get when viewing. Logical or not, these judgements can make a difference of thousands of pounds in their offer.
To sell your home fast, at the price you want, you may need to put in a considerable amount of work, and spend a significant sum, to prepare it for market.
Marketing a 'fixer-upper'
You might think that you can just work out the cost of repairs and take these off the asking price, selling your home as a fixer-upper, but it is not as easy as that. For a start, your buyers may not be able to get the extra cash required for the work from their mortgage lender if they buy at a reduced price.
What’s more, most buyers don’t want the hassle of getting work done, even if it has been paid for by someone else, and you will usually find that any offers include an extra discount to cover their inconvenience, as well as a price cut for the work itself.
Offering your home as a work in progress will also severely limit your market, which means your home could take much longer to sell. For a fast home sale, you may have no choice but to spend out on improvements and repairs, and every job you do will add to the cost.
Simple home improvements
Investing in small but obvious home improvements can considerably increase your chances of securing a sale. As discussed above, potential buyers will make snap judgements about your home, based on their first impressions, so you need to make sure that everything looks right inside and out.
Tidying up the front garden, pressure washing the drive, as well as painting windows and doors and re-pointing your brickwork will all increase your home’s kerb appeal. However, each job will add to the budget, even if you do it yourself, and will cost much more if you use professional builders and decorators.
Inside, adding new carpets and furniture, fixing up and cracks or creaking floorboards and redecorating the main rooms will all make a difference, but you need to spend carefully. For example, Zopa studies show that you may only get back half of what you pay on re-carpeting your home, and unlike new furniture, you can’t take it with you when you move.
Fixing minor problems might not seem that important to you while you are living in your house, but if you don’t spend that money when it comes time to sell, you risk putting off potential buyers. If they see problems, they will think that the property has been poorly maintained and assume other things must also be wrong.
Mid-range home improvements
When it comes to selling homes, kitchens and bathrooms are one of the biggest draws. on So if these rooms are looking dated, you will need to spend more money bringing them up to scratch if you are to have any hope of attracting a buyer.
Old, worn bathroom suites, especially coloured suites from the 70s and 80s, are a real turn off and will need to be replaced. A shower is also high on the wish list for most buyers, so if you don’t have one, you will need to add this to your shopping list.
Similarly, the kitchen is still seen as the heart of the home, and this needs to make the right impact on your potential buyers. Old units and worn worktops are a big negative and should be replaced, or at least refurbished, before you put your home on the market.
Fortunately, in both cases, you should easily make your money back. HSBC found that a new kitchen adds around £5,000 to the asking price, while a new bathroom can add as much as £3,500, so as long as you keep below these budgets, you won’t lose out.
While extending and expanding your home may not be necessary to facilitate a sale, a bigger floor space and increased flexibility will be a big plus that could give you that all important edge over other properties in the immediate area. Extending your home on one or two floors, converting the loft or adding a conservatory, will all make your home bigger and more attractive.
However, once again you need to spend carefully, as some major investments will give you a much better return than others, even though their outcomes may seem similar. For example, according to a Zopa survey of over 1000 homeowners, increasing your floor space with a conservatory will return up to 108% of your investment in the eventual selling price, while an extension of similar size will only return 71%.
A loft conversion may add around 10%-15% to the value of your home, but the high costs involved mean it could cost you twice that to have the conversion work done.
Things to avoid
Tempting though it may be, you should never try to save money by doing repairs and refurbishments yourself, unless you are highly skilled and know exactly what you are doing. Buyers can spot an amateur job a mile away, and your hard work can end up working against you, even if it improves your home. No one wants to risk buying someone else’s DIY disaster so in most cases you will need to pay for a professional to get the maximum benefit from the work.
Another thing to avoid is quirky originality. While you are trying to make your home stand out from the crowd, you should always resist doing anything that makes it stand out for the wrong reasons. You should aim to present a blank canvas for the new owners, using muted colours and plain fixtures and fittings, rather than expressing your own personality. Try to add in just enough detail and colour to show how they could make it their own, without making them feel like they’re buying someone else’s home.
Are home improvements worth the money?
Very few home improvements will directly increase the value of your home pound for pound. Redrow Homes estimates that bringing an untouched old home up to modern standards costs around £50,000, yet this is unlikely to add £50,000 to the final value.
What’s more, you need to be aware that there is only so much you can do to raise the price of your property, even with an unlimited budget. Your street and your area will have a maximum ceiling on price, and however much you spend on repairs and renovations, you are unlikely to push past this.
At the same time, many of the costs of preparing your home for sale are unavoidable, and you could take a significant hit on the sale price if you don’t spend that money. Even if you choose not to fix certain things before you put your home on the market, you could still be forced to do so when they are noted in the survey or buyers report.
Is there an alternative?
By the time you have finished preparing your home for sale, that great price that you saw your neighbours achieve might not feel so great after all. Even if you only do the very minimum, preparing a property for market can still cost thousands of pounds, and will inevitably involve weeks of hard work and disruption.
But there is an alternative. Yes! Homebuyers provide a prompt, professional homebuying service and will buy any house in any condition, so you don’t have to spend time and money on repairs and renovations just to secure a sale. The offer may be less than the open market valuation, but you won’t have to spend a penny to secure the sale and there are no estate agent or legal fees to pay either.
So put away your paint brush and forget spending every weekend at the DIY warehouse, or living under dustsheets for weeks on end. Choose a smooth, simple, sale from Yes!, at a guaranteed price, and get moving to your new home sooner without any of the hard work and high costs of an open market sale.