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Selling Your Home? Does Deferred Maintenance Matter?


Deferred Maintenance When Selling

Tupper Briggs

Tupper began his real estate career in 1973 and has earned every accolade from the National Association of Realtors available over the years...

Tupper began his real estate career in 1973 and has earned every accolade from the National Association of Realtors available over the years...

Jan 16 3 minutes read

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners can make is to take their homes to the market with deferred maintenance. Buyers look askance at homes that have not been maintained for three reasons:

  1. After paying for the house, they must anticipate the expense and effort involved to make the house a comfortable home
  2. They are suspicious that if the seller hadn’t already corrected the deferred repairs, the cost or extent of work necessary to fix them may be more than is readily apparent
  3. They are also suspicious about the seller not disclosing what additional/hidden repairs might be needed beyond what they can see

Homeowners often seem confused over what constitutes deferred maintenance. Here’s a short list of the most common items that turn off buyers:

  1. Exterior paint. A major flaw and easy for buyers to see. Chipped & peeling paint, especially if eaves are rotting or there are gaps in the siding, is expensive to correct. If the cost to repair & repaint is, say $10,000, expect the buyer to negotiate $15,000 when making an offer.
  2. Interior paint. Where walls show excessive wear or baseboards & trim are scratched or worn, buyers wonder whether what is behind the walls is in need of repair as well.
  3. Roofing. If the condition of the roof will come up in an inspection, it may be a good idea to see if your insurance company might help pay to replace it if it was damaged in the past by hail. If the roof condition is bad enough, the lender might not even make the loan.
  4. Carpeting. Worn, torn, stained or soiled carpeting is considered a sign of neglect by most home buyers. Especially if the carpet smells, it is vitally important to replace it before going to the market.
  5. Kitchen & baths. If tile surfaces are beyond help to clean, if caulk around tubs or showers is missing or if flooring is warped from constant exposure to water, even DIY buyers will be concerned about mold and the cost to correct.
  6. Windows & screens. Broken windows, cloudy glass from broken seals and torn screens discourage buyers as they inevitably look at your setting & views while touring the home.
  7. Landscaping. Overgrown shrubbery & bushes and downed tree limbs are the easiest for buyers to fix. But first impressions are paramount and set the tone for the rest of the showing.

Bottom line, deferred maintenance can be a huge deterrent to selling your house. A good real estate broker can point out and help you find contractors to fix items of deferred maintenance, along with sharing ideas about staging to enable you to sell for top dollar.

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