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Little defects Can Become a Big Turnoff For Buyers


One of the biggest mistakes home sellers make is listing a home with small but obvious problems. Any house, even a brand new one, needs some small fixes from time to time, but buyers don't want to have to fix them after they've bought the house. They'd prefer to believe that their new dream home is going to be perfect.

As a seller, you will need to to overcome any obstacles, real or imagined, that your buyers may have. Making a home look as though it's been impeccably maintained over the years, and fixing the little things that go wrong is the best way to do that.

Start by going through your home, pen and pencil (or tablet) in hand, and make a list of the things that need to be fixed or updated. Maybe the walls need a new coat of paint, or there's a crack in the ceiling. Even a clock on the wall that tells the correct time will make a difference!

Go over the bathrooms. Cleaning the grout, or even re-grouting the tile, and replacing outdated fixtures will help the bathrooms shine. Cracked window panes and broken blinds need to go. Dirty or dusty drapes and wall-to-wall carpeting should be professionally cleaned, floors, especially wood floors, should be cleaned and polished. Kitchen cabinets should be cleaned or, if necessary, get a new coat of paint.

Not taking care of these things, especially those easily fixed, sends a message to the buyer that you don't care enough about your home to keep it in tip-top shape. And you know that, even if they buy the house, those things will be on the Home Inspector's list of "things that need to be fixed before we buy your home".

So what should you fix? Anything a buyer thinks should be in good working order by the Settlement date, including:

  • Any appliances not working perfectly, such as the furnace, hot water heater, dishwasher, fridge, and stove. Clean the lint out of the clothes dryer. Make sure the ice maker is actually producing ice. Put new filters in where necessary.
  • Make sure none of the faucets leak. If they are old or outdated, get new ones. They're not that expensive and they can make a world of difference in the look of your Kitchen and Bathrooms.
  • All of your windows should be crack free, should open and close easily. Screens should have no holes or rips. If you have a screen or storm door, be sure it is rip free and closes tightly.
  • Doors should not creak, open only part-way, or not close tightly. Kitchen cabinets should also open and close easily. If there are any doors or windows that are painted shut, make sure they open easily.
  • If there are any outside problems such as missing roof shingles, broken gutters or puddles by the outside walls, fix them. Re-grade so that water runs away from the house, not toward it. Clean the gutters and downspouts. Power wash or paint the exterior so it looks fresh and clean.
  • Got wallpaper? Make sure it isn't peeling or has holes in it. If it does, either repair it or take it down and replace.
  • Make sure all the light bulbs in the house are working. As trivial as it sounds, it does make a difference.
  • When you have a showing, turn on every light in the house. Make sure the house smells good. An old trick is to bake cookies before the showing - another one is to boil some apple cider and cinnamon on the stove (but take it off before the showing!).

As you inspect your home, keep in mind that a prospective buyer will open every drawer and door. If they are in good working order it communicates that you care about how well your home functions. Making a good impression goes a long way toward getting the home sold quickly and for more money.

If you can't take care of all these details yourself, find a local handyman who can do them for you. They'll usually charge a flat fee to take care of the problems.

You may have to spend a few hundred dollars to get your home looking as it should, but it will benefit you in the long run. 


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