True, homes in mint and good condition typically sell for more money. But investing in improving your home’s condition is not always the smart play. You may end up spending more than you’ll gain in added value.

The better your home shows, the more offers you’ll get or so may be lead to believe. So how do you decide which improvements to make and what not to fix when you’re selling a house?

Consulting an agent before spending any money on repairs or upgrades is vital because every home, neighborhood, and market is different. What’s an absolute must-do in one neighborhood could be a waste of money in another.

While you may think you know what buyers want, experienced agents are immersed in the real estate market daily.

They know what fixes buyers are insisting on, what upgrades they’ll pay more for, and which projects are sure to be a waste of time and money. But in some areas, upgrading the kitchen is an absolute must unless you’re willing to accept a lowball offer.

Sometimes a major renovation makes sense and sometimes not, it all depends on the market and your neighborhood. An experienced real estate agent can evaluate your home’s valuem.

“It’s on my to-do list”

Some homes simply have flaws that guarantee that it’ll sell for less than others in the neighborhood. Maybe it’s a powerline on your property, or a lack of parking, or no backyard, or you back onto a busy street.

Homeowners who know that their property has a major, unfixable flaw are prone to want to fix and upgrade every inch of their homes in the hope of regaining the value lost from that flaw. But you cannot upgrade that flaw away no matter how hard you try. Just like you cannot redecorate more square footage into your house, or curb appeal your way into a larger lot.

If you realize after careful evaluation that one or more of these are the real reason why you want to make unnecessary fixes, take a deep breath, let it go, and leave it alone.

Don’t Fix it List.

While it takes careful consideration and the advice of a great agent to determine exactly what you should do and what you should not fix when selling your house, you should generally avoid spending money on the following:

1. Cosmetic blemishes

Normal wear and tear is to be expected, so there’s no need to address most of them unless there’s a serious, underlying problem causing the issue.

Whether it’s a minor crack in tile flooring, a few scratches in the floors and baseboards, or outdated bathroom finishes, you should decide which cosmetic issues to address based on how much time and money they’ll take to repair. Most cosmetic issues that require a big home improvement project to fix, such as old countertops in the guest bath, can wait.

Instead of investing in that upgrade, you may be better off just lowering your price accordingly. Other items that will take minimal time and money to address — such as untamed landscaping — should be fixed simply to improve your home’s immediate appeal.

For those skilled at home improvement projects, who have exact match tiles on hand, and the cracked tile is easily accessible without damaging surrounding tiles, have at it. If replacing the tile will cause more damage and cost you more than a little money, then skip it.

2. Minor electrical issues

Electrical issues sound innately serious and like they’d need immediate attention. And it’s true that if you’ve got exposed wires, sparking outlets, or dangling light fixtures, then yes, you’ll need to pay to address those problems before listing.

But some minor electrical issues can be left alone.  Most of the time, the inspection report will just note whatever minor electrical issue that are present.

3. Cracks in the Driveway or Walkway

Curb appeal doesn’t mean curb perfection, especially when it comes to driveway and walkway cracks. Hairline cracks are very common in Ottawa because we have a lot of snow and ice. So a driveway or walkway crack isn’t going to scare a buyer off unless it’s huge enough to be a potential hazard.

4. Grandfathered-in building code issues

Building code items can cause worry when they show up in inspection reports, but there’s no need to spend thousands getting your home up to current code standards. Building codes change, so a house built in 1980 isn’t going to meet current codes — and that’s OK.

If the buyer wants to upgrade the house to current standards, that’s up to them to do.

5. Partial room upgrades

Your bathroom is in pretty good shape, except, your sink faucet is dripping and the vanity has seen better days.  As tempting as it might be to simply stick in a new vanity, sink and faucet, it’s wiser to simply leave it alone — unless you’re willing to spruce up the whole bathroom.

When you do a partial room upgrade, you’re not adding value and it may look as if you’re trying to hide something rather than just updating it. So you either need to do the whole room or just leave it as is.

6. Removable items

Why replace what you could simply remove, such as dated window valances? Changing out old window treatments for new ones sounds like an easy swap, but the cost adds up.  Plus, you probably won’t be able to take hose new curtains and rods to your new home.

So if you have old valances dating the house and making it really dark, take them down and do not replace them before listing,

7. Old appliances

While you can simply remove some outdated items, appliances will need to be replaced if you remove them. But that doesn’t mean you need to blow tons of cash on buying brand new models.

There are plenty of good, working older appliances available on online marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook that people have only pulled out because they’re remodeling their own homes.

Potential not Perfection

Homeowners are so familiar with their home’s flaws that it’s easy to get overwhelmed when prepping to sell it. Instead of giving into the temptation to fix absolutely everything, remember this: When you’re readying your house for sale, your goal is to show your home’s potential, not polish it to perfection.

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