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How to Approach Selling a House That Needs Repairs

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How to Approach Selling a House That Needs Repairs

Find out tips for marketing your fixer upper here.




When it comes time to sell a home in disrepair, it may feel as though you're facing an uphill battle. However, it may not be as difficult as you think. There's a large market out there for DIYers, house-flippers, and couples looking for fixer-upper homes to refurbish.

The key to selling a house that needs repairs is going into it with your eyes wide open. Look at your home from an objective point of view and be realistic about the shape it's in. This may take asking the opinion of a friend or family member who's advice and opinion your trust.

Then, it's time to start taking steps towards selling your home. 

Tips on Selling a House That Needs Repairs

Selling a house that needs repairs is quite similar to selling a house in good condition. However, there are variations in your methods, as you'll read down below. 

Keep reading for an in-depth guide on how to sell a home that's seen better days.

Decide If You Want to Sell Your Home "As-Is" 

First and foremost, you need to assess the severity of the disrepair your home is currently in. This will help you make a decision about the course of action you wish to pursue in terms of how to sell your home.

For example, if your home is in an extreme state, it may be better to sell your home "as-is". This will likely be the case if you're looking at significant structural damage, the widespread growth of mold, or a massive pest infestation. 

On the reverse side of things, you may assess your home to discover that things aren't as bad as you thought. Perhaps all your home needs is some love and a little elbow grease to get it back into shape. In this case, you will have to invest some time and money to get it prepared, but you can sell it traditionally.

Know Your Audience

Part of the decision making process from above reflects heavily on the next part of selling a house that needs repairs —knowing your buyer. Based on what you decided, you can concentrate your marketing efforts toward the right audience. 

For example, you can either market your home as a "lovely fixer-upper for a newlywed couple," a "fantastic investment opportunity for a house-flipper," or a "recently renovated gem."

Hire an Experienced Real Estate Agent

Next, it's incredibly important to have professional guidance while selling a home that needs repairs. Hiring an experienced real estate agent will go a long way towards selling your house and getting the most value out of it. 

Real estate agents know the current market, the trends, and have the right contacts to help you sell your home, even if you're selling it as-is. 

A real estate agent will also be able to help guide you through the murky waters of how to sell a home that is in a less-than-desirable condition. There are certain lenders who won't grant loans to potential buyers if the house in question is in poor condition. Things like chipping paint, out-dated electrics, and a damaged roof are a red-flag for many mortgage companies.

Don't Make Negative Assumptions

While we're on the topic of realtors, let's leave it to them to make any final assessments on the state and sellability of your home. Many realtors specialize in selling houses that need repairs and they have likely seen worse than what you're working with.

Before you decide that your house is beyond redemption, get a professional opinion. It may not be as bad as you think. 

For example, some major concerns to you might be the age of the home, dilapidated flooring, weathered interior, and exterior walls, and a lack of conveniences (central air and heat, a dishwasher, etc.). However, to a realtor who's been around the block a few times, these things are "small beans" as they say.

Don't Try to Hide Anything

One of the most important aspects of selling a house that needs repairs is being completely upfront and honest about the condition of the house. Under no circumstances should you hide certain aspects of the house, no matter how big or small.

Although you want to get the most money for your home, you also don't want to dump your problems onto someone else. They deserve to know exactly what they're getting into, regardless of how it might affect pricing or negotiations.

Think about how you'd feel if you bought a fixer-upper with "mild" problems only to learn that the house had major structural issues or expensive repairs you weren't notified about. Don't be a scam artist.

Declutter And/Or Move Out

When it comes time to start getting your house ready to sell, it would be ideal if you could move out. This will allow you to get all of your stuff out of the way for the cleaning and any repairs or updates you might want to do.

Additionally, trying to show a house that you're still living in can be a pain and will require constantly cleaning up after yourself so that your house is always ready to show when needed. 

If you absolutely can't move out, now would be a good time to take a minimalistic approach to life, even if it's just for the time being. Rent a storage unit or borrow some space from a friend or family member to store your belongings.

This will also make the home feel cleaner, bigger, and more open for potential buyers who come by. It will help make your home feel more appealing and show off it's potential.

Make Small Repairs and Minor Updates

Now that you've gotten all or most of your stuff out of the way, it's time to start making small repairs and/or updates around the home. 

This part depends entirely on you:

  • Are you selling your house "as-is" or trying to make improvements?
  • How much money do you want to invest in it?
  • How much time and work do you want to put in?
  • How quickly are you trying to get your house sold?

Obviously, if you're selling "as-is," there won't be much for you to do. However, if you're selling a house that needs repairs traditionally, this will be the time to try to spruce things up a bit.

If you're trying to save money, we recommend concentrating on aesthetics. Doing small repairs and updates such as fixing doors and windows, putting down a fresh coat of paint, patching drywall, fixing trim, updating fixtures, etc. 

If you have the money and inclination, you can also consider doing bigger needed repairs or updates such as repairing the roof, updating flooring, adding a deck, etc.

Clean Thoroughly

Once the construction process is complete, you'll be in prime position to start cleaning. This is an important step in the process. No matter how rough of shape your home is in, it can still be clean.

Pay special attention to sanitizing and making the bathrooms and kitchen spotless. These are places that people expect high levels of hygiene.

You can hire professional cleaners or do the work yourself. Just make sure you take your time and do an immaculate job.

Exploit Your Curb Appeal

When selling a house that needs repairs, your curb appeal is one area you really need to capitalize on. Even if your house is seemingly falling apart, the yard can still look nice and well-kept. 

Make sure the grass is short, the vegetation is trimmed, and the yard is free of garbage, debris, and clutter. Most buyers like to imagine themselves pulling up to the house as if they already own it, so don't disappoint them.

Make the Most of Your Home's Attractive Features and Unique Charm

Most old homes, even if they're falling apart or in decline, are uniquely charming. New construction homes are beautiful and can have a lot of character as well, but old homes showcase tradition and history.

As much as you can, exploit the attractive features of your home to grab the buyer's attention. Things like built-in china hutches, wall-to-ceiling bookcases, elegant archways, and random secret passageways hold a lot of appeal to some buyers.

Be Realistic About Your Asking Price

Next, when selling a house that needs repairs, accept that you'll probably take a hit on the sale price. Based on how much work needs to be done, the appraisal of the house, the inspection, and the advice of your realtor, you need to come up with a realistic asking price for the home.

This requires taking your emotions and memories out of the equation, as those will have no effect on a buyer looking for a good deal on a house that needs work.

Be Willing to Negotiate Within Reason

Finally, you need to be ready and willing to negotiate. However, you don't have to give the farm away to sell your home. If a buyer is trying to hustle you into accepting a ridiculously low offer, feel free to pass. 

The only exception would be if your house has been on the market for six months or more and you really need to get out of it. In that case, it may be worth it to accept a low-ball offer so you can finally move on with your life.

Need Help?

Remember, no one ever said selling a house that needs repairs had to be done on your own. Quite frankly, it really shouldn't be done on your own. The buyer of a house in poor condition should be protected, but so should the seller. 

If you need help selling your home, let us help you find a real estate agent. They'll get things lined up for you and help the whole process run smoothly!