Glaring maintenance issues will devalue your home

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

In a buyer’s market like today's, sellers need to pull out all the stops in order to achieve a quick sale at a good price. An unloved, badly maintained home is harder to sell.

First impressions are everything when it comes to property and that broken kitchen cupboard door could end up having a severe impact on the sales price, or, even worse, cost the seller the sale. The unfortunate news is that it’s basically impossible to put a monetary value on the effect broken items will have on a sale, but one thing's for sure, there will be a consequence and unfortunately those consequences tend to hit sellers where it hurts the most… their pockets.

So what repairs should be done as a matter of course before a home goes on the market?

The short answer is anything that is immediately obvious. Leaking taps, broken tiles and cupboards, stained carpets and a home that needs painting will all put buyers into alert mode. Buyers generally whip through a home on the first visit and any glaringly obvious problems are going to be noted and could well determine if the property warrants a second look. Homes that need attention often portray an unloved feel (even if the maintenance issues are small) and unloved houses are harder to sell.

Get to know the market in your area

Housing markets are tricky beasts and although homes in a particular area may well be selling like hot cakes and buyers will overlook small maintenance issues, buyers looking to buy in other areas may be spoilt for choice and therefore more fickle. Ask your agent how the market is performing in your region; are sellers getting their prices or are they being forced to accept lower offers. Are homes languishing on the market for months? If it's a buyer’s market, you may well have to repair all and any cosmetic faults. If, however, the market is strong and sellers are managing to sell quickly for the right price, you may be able to take a breather and leave some of the less obvious maintenance issues until a later date.

Another factor that needs to be taken into account is how quickly the house needs to be sold and how important it will be to get the asking price. Sellers who have bought another property generally need to sell quickly and the last thing they need is a buyer who finds something better for the same price or starts quibbling about the price because of small maintenance issues. Generally speaking, a suitably priced well-maintained home, will sell a lot quicker and for a higher price than one that needs attention. Buyers who focus on buying a fix-me-upper look for discounts when they buy a home, which makes sense as not only do they have to pay for the actual repairs they are also lumped with the inconvenience of getting the items fixed.

So what should you do to alleviate these types of problems?

Put yourselves in the buyer's shoes and take a critical look at your home. As we’ve discussed, first impressions are everything. The rule of thumb should be if a buyer will notice the problem either before or shortly after he enters the home – fix it.

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