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11 Things To Do When Selling A Fixer-Upper
Dated: May 8 2019
In most markets, it’s customary for sellers to work on their home until it’s in top condition before listing it for sale. But sometimes sellers need to offload their home without making those cosmetic touch-ups — or major repairs — for one reason or another. There’s no shame in selling a house as-is, but when you have a fixer-upper on your hands that you need to sell, you should be aware of how to do it in a way that nets you the best dollar amount possible while avoiding lingering on the market (unless that’s your plan, of course).
Thoroughly assess the situation
Before you make a plan for how to sell your house, you’ll need to do a full investigation and take inventory of where you are and what needs to be done before the house is considered to be in sales-worthy condition. That does not mean you’re going to have to do that work yourself, but you’ll need to be able to answer buyers’ questions and decide what you could conceivably tackle to get the best possible price for your place.
It’s also a good idea to spend some time pricing the repairs that you’d need to make in order to get the house in tip-top shape. Again, this doesn’t mean you’ll do those repairs (or pay for them) yourself, but you might have some alternatives before you list the house entirely as-is, and knowing the price range for repairs that you’re facing is going to help you make some decisions about how to proceed.
Do your research before deciding to sell as-is
For example, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers a refinance program called the 203(k) that includes money for certain repairs or renovations to the house. If you’re only selling because you can’t keep up with the repairs and would otherwise want to keep the home for yourself, but you have substantial equity in the property or have paid off the mortgage entirely, then this could be a good option for you. There are benefits and drawbacks to working with the FHA or other lenders — with the FHA, one benefit is the ability to provide a very low down payment, but you’d have to pay mortgage insurance, which would be a drawback.
Another possibility for homeowners with significant home equity would be a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. You can use these loans to pay off bills or for renovations or repairs that would otherwise be too expensive to tackle. Spend some time researching your options and reading through the fine print. Even if you don’t want to stay in the house yourself and you know it’s time to sell, taking out a loan or refinancing in order to tackle the most critical repairs might be all it takes to get your house in pristine condition and net you top dollar on the open market. If you can pay everything off and still make a profit, then it might be well worth your time to consider financing the repairs yourself before you sell.
Work with an experienced agent
Talk to friends and neighbors who have sold fixer-uppers about recommended real estate agents; general contractors also probably have some sense of which agents have successfully sold as-is properties and how effective those agents can be. If you don’t have any personal recommendations, make sure you ask agents you’re interviewing whether they’ve sold a fixer-upper before, what condition the homes were in, and how they were able to help the seller get the best possible results.
Consider the pool of possible buyers
Once you’ve found an experienced agent, spend some time brainstorming your list of possible buyers for your home, and think about the pros and cons of working with each. Investors might be able to pay all cash for your house, and there might be several of them looking at homes in your area; conversely, traditional buyers with dreams of fixing up a house to their exact specifications aren’t exactly thick on the ground in most markets, so if you’re hoping to sell to someone like that, be aware that it might take longer to find those buyers and your home will be sitting on the market in the meantime.
Highlight the location’s benefits …
Buyers might be specifically looking at homes in your neighborhood because they know about those perks and amenities, but don’t assume that every buyer is going to be completely familiar with all of the benefits that come with living in a house located where your house is. Spell out all of the features that the neighborhood and location have to offer to buyers and make sure they’re prominent, so buyers can fully understand why buying a fixer-upper in this area, in particular, could be a fantastic decision.
… And promote the home’s standout features
Talk to your agent about the things that entice buyers to make offers in your area and figure out which of those features your home has, especially unusual or unique ones that will excite potential buyers. Then make sure those features are highlighted in any listing photos and written descriptions of your house to get full mileage out of them.
Spit and polish goes a long way
Clean the windows and walls inside, get rid of any corner cobwebs, scrub the floors, and polish up the kitchen appliances until they shine. If the biggest problem with your bathroom is the fact that the sinks don’t drain well, see what you can do to remove those clogs and freshen up the pipes so that stagnant-water smell is eliminated. A clean home that needs a little bit of work will be more appealing to many buyers than a newer, updated home that’s cluttered and dusty, so do your best to get the place as clean as you can.
Make as many small fixes as possible
Refer to your list of necessary repairs that you made when you assessed the issues with the house, then determine what it’s reasonable and realistic for you to handle yourself or what you can afford to pay someone else to do. The more presentable you can make the house for buyers, the more offers you’ll get for more money, so it’s absolutely worth your time to tackle even the little things (especially the little things) before you list it for sale.
Enhance curb appeal
Even if you can’t invest in landscaping for your yard or home, if the shrubs and trees are trimmed, the grass is green and mowed, and there are pots of flowers here and there, it all goes a long way toward making your fixer-upper appear less shabby and more like a lived-in, well-loved home.
Investors will want to make sure they can net a profit when they flip or rent the house after they’ve factored in the sales price and the cost of any updates or upgrades. And even traditional buyers seeking a fixer-upper on purpose are not going to want to pay full price for an as-is home; they’ll need to save some of their money for materials to make repairs, or to pay a contractor themselves. Talk to your agent about what you can realistically expect to get for your house, and if you really need it to sell quickly and you aren’t willing to wait for a buyer who’s excited to repair your house and thinks it’s perfect, then make sure you’re also discussing timing — you might need to shave a few more dollars off that sales price to get the house under contract sooner rather than later.
Be upfront about necessary work
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