5 Things Not to Fix When Selling a House

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5 Things Not to Fix When Selling a House

Although it’s commonly known that well-maintained homes fetch a higher price, it is possible to overspend on home improvements and consequently lose money. Home sellers can make the expensive mistake of renovating too much and spending money on upgrades that don’t add value to their homes.

There are some things it’s better not to fix when selling a house. All you need to do is ensure it looks its best, and prospective buyers will come flocking. You don’t have to go overboard with repairs either; a few minor fixes are usually all it takes for success.

A home sale can be tricky, especially when deciding which issues with your home require repair and replacement. To make the decision-making process easier for you, we have crafted a list of areas that should not need attention and added advice about which fixes are worth your time, money, and effort during the home selling process.

A young homeowner doing minor repainting work in his house for sale.

What to Fix When Selling a House

Before we dive into what you can skip repairing, let’s go over what to fix when selling a house.

Improve curb appeal with landscaping

Upgrade the look of your home’s exterior by adding shrubs and vibrant plants from a garden center. Choose native vegetation for where you live or drought-tolerant varieties that only need minimal water and care – this will save energy, time, and money in the long run.

If you’re looking for a practical yet budget-friendly way to enhance your home’s street appeal, consider hiring a lawn service company. For one easy payment of around $200 or less, they can trim away overgrown grass and bushes that may make your house look unkempt. Transform it from messy to maintained with minimal effort.

Paint your home

Repainting is one of the most straightforward and economical ways to enhance your home. A newly painted room looks neat and conveys value. When selecting paint colors for your walls, remember that neutral colors are preferred among buyers so they can easily envision themselves living in the space.

Get the stink out

To determine if your carpets need replacing, hire a professional to assess indoor air quality. If they suggest that new flooring is necessary, you could choose eco-friendly alternatives such as tile or laminate floors. Hard-surface floors are easier to cleanse and don’t absorb odors – plus, they give your home an updated look which buyers tend to prefer.

Complete high ROI renovations

If you’re seeking to maximize returns while renovating your home, the kitchen and bathroom are the two rooms that bring considerable value from even minor modifications. For example, replacing an old vanity or plumbing and lighting fixtures can drastically upgrade a room’s aesthetic for a reasonable price. Installing new tiles on the floor is enough to make any bath look modernized.

To improve your home’s value, kitchen upgrades are essential – replace one item at a time, such as an old microwave or stained sink, for brand-new stainless steel models. Even minor adjustments in the kitchen will significantly add worth to your dwelling.

Close-up of both a toy house with a hammer next to it resting in a wooden floor

Average Cost of Repairing a House for Sale

While predicting the average cost of repairing a house for sale may be difficult, even for the experts, there are several guidelines that you can follow to help prepare:

  • 1% per year: Each year, put away at least 1% of your home’s worth for maintenance, repairs, and other unexpected scenarios.
  • $1 per sq. foot: It’s only reasonable that the upkeep cost would be higher for a bigger house. To ensure your wallet isn’t affected by it, save one dollar per square foot of livable space annually.
  • 10% per month: To ensure you are prepared for an unexpected expense, allocate 10% extra from your monthly home payments such as a mortgage, property taxes, and homeowners insurance.

Suppose your home is 2,500 sq. feet worth $400,000, and you pay $2,000 monthly for your mortgage, taxes, and insurance. The average cost of home repairs would be:

  • 1% per year: $4,000
  • $1 per sq. foot: $2,500
  • 10% per month: $200 (x 12 months = $2,400 annually)
Photo of the exterior of a beautiful house for sale with very few things to fix before selling.

Things Not to Fix When Selling a House

We’ve covered items you should fix; now we’ll discuss 5 things not to fix when selling a house because they don’t have much impact on the asking price. Some of these include cosmetic flaws and others are minor hassles.

#1 Cosmetic defects

Cosmetic problems may be complex, such as replacing aging countertops in the kitchen or bath. Other issues could fall between extremes, like chipped tiles, outmoded finishes, and tiny scuffs on hardwood floors.

If you’re not quite as experienced or confident with home improvement work, beware that attempting such tasks could lead to further damage – and potentially increased costs – which would outweigh any potential benefits.

#2 Inessential curb appeal

Creating a welcoming and inviting entrance starts with basic landscaping essentials, such as neatly cut grass, vibrant flowerbeds lined with mulch, and well-groomed shrubbery. A fresh coat of paint on the exterior adds an extra pop of color.

Most buyers are not so fastidious that a few cracks in the driveway or sidewalk would dissuade them from making a purchase, especially since crack repairs can cost thousands of dollars.

#3 Non-hazardous, minor electrical issues

Old wiring, exposed cables, an obsolete service panel, or loose light fixtures are hazards and require repair as soon as possible. On the other hand, fixing electricity-related issues like wobbly plugs, unresponsive outlets, or light switches that don’t do anything may be optional.

#4 Exempt code violations

Building regulations are constantly changing, so a home constructed in 1990 will likely fall short of the current building codes. You do not need to upgrade all aspects of your home to bring it up to code. Generally, as long as the house was built adhering to regulatory building codes in place at that time, it is exempt or “grandfathered-in” and doesn’t have to comply with the most current regulations.

#5 Old appliances

This could be an issue for home buyers if you have appliances over a decade old, mismatched, inefficient, heavily worn down, or even broken and missing parts. While replacing them with modern equivalents would add value to your home, it is not the only possible solution.

You can save a fortune by replacing your appliances with used items instead of buying brand-new ones, which could cost thousands of dollars. If you purchase new appliances, you don’t have to splurge on expensive replacements; standard appliances will work.

Types of House Repairs

Maintaining your home in top-notch condition will pay you back greatly when it’s time to put it on the market.

Buyers desire homes that require little to no repairs, and a home in disrepair can be a deal breaker. You don’t want to lose out because of an unappealing home inspector’s report. Preventative maintenance can save you the grief of watching a realtor move along with your potential buyers.

Here are a few key types of house repairs to prioritize:

Bathrooms and kitchens

The bathrooms and kitchen are home to the most intricate systems, such as electrical wiring and plumbing. This complexity, unfortunately, also increases the possibility of damage or repairs needed. Make sure to check the following:

  • Bathtubs and showers
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Sinks and faucets

Exterior of your home

Repairing the exterior of your home has everything to do with improving your home’s curb appeal and a buyer’s first impression. Consider these options if you’re looking for a project with a high return on investment:

  • Doors
  • Drainage
  • Foundation
  • Garage door
  • Roof
  • Yard

Interior of your home

The inside of your home must provide a blank canvas so buyers can imagine themselves living in it. In addition to the clean slate your home should provide, the internal systems must function properly and safely:

  • Ceilings
  • Circuit breakers and electrical panel
  • Detectors: smoke and carbon monoxide
  • Floor
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)
  • Walls
  • Water heater

Do House Repairs Improve its Value?

Numerous elements will determine the price of your home, such as its condition and the current status of the real estate market.

Overinvesting in repairs and renovations before a property hits the market is an all-too-common mistake among sellers. Too often, they fix things buyers may not even notice or care about, squandering their money on unnecessary improvements.

In a seller’s market, you may get away with fewer repairs before selling; however, any home requiring repair will still sell for lower than those in perfect condition. On the other hand, buyers overlook homes that need work during slow markets.

Certain repairs and home improvements carry more return on investment than others. For instance, a garage door replacement improves the resale value of your home by $3,769, and a minor kitchen remodel may increase the sale price by $20,125.


Savvy sellers should consider the costs of potential improvements they plan on making concerning the home’s market value after repairs or renovations are completed. It is recommended that you are sure an upgrade will provide a solid return on investment (ROI) before investing in it; otherwise, such an improvement may not be worth pursuing.

Sometimes it can be smarter to put your house on the market without making any changes or repairs. When sellers opt to vend their home “as is,” they are typically unwilling to make any repairs before the sale or give credits for improvements afterward. Also, you can avoid expensive real estate agent commissions if you sell your home “as-is” to a cash buyer.

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