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Sellers Must Fix Problems that Turn Buyers Off

Friday, July 21, 2006 posted by Tommi Crow

Listing a home with obvious, even if small, problems are one of the biggest mistakes sellers make. Buyers prefer problem-free houses and as a seller, your top priority must be to overcome any obstacles between you and the sale.

Fixing stuff that’s broken and selling a home that appears to have been well maintained will often overcome any real or imagined problems a buyer will have. Conversely, not fixing problems sends a loud message that you don’t care enough about your home. And, don’t forget, the home inspector will not miss problems, even if the buyer didn’t see them.

Fix anything that a home buyer will think should be working on the day of the sale, including:

1. Odors and Smells: Obviously, a big turn off and often poses health concerns. Stinky houses don’t sell. Find the source of the stink and remove it.

2. Appliances: Everything should be clean and in working order.

3. Plumbing: If it leaks, drips or runs, fix it or replace it.

4. Windows/Doors: Repair or replace cracked panes or fogging windows. If windows are painted shut, fix them. Put WD 40 on any squeaks and creaks. Replace torn or missing screens.

5. Cabinets: Doors should open smoothly and quietly. Knobs or pulls should be tightened. Buyers will be opening every drawer, make sure they glide smoothly. Wipe everything done and replace old, dirty shelf paper and liners.

6. Paint: Is the biggest improvement you can make for the money. If paint is chipped or cracked, repaint. If rooms look dark or uninviting, repaint in white or off white.

7. Wallpaper: If it’s peeling, use wallpaper glue and press it to the wall. Be sure to remove all bubbles. If it’s old, dated or unappealing, remove it and paint the walls white or off white.

8. Carpet: If the carpet is in good condition, clean it. If it is pulled up in places, tack it back down. If it is old, dated, or worse, it stinks, replace it with a nice neutral color. If replacing the carpet, also replace the padding. Use a thick padding to make the carpet feel more luxurious. If pet smells or odors are on the tack strips, replace those at the same time.

9. Lighting: Replace all burned-out light bulbs with the brightest wattage the fixture allows. If your fixtures are dated or don’t work properly, replace them.

10. Exterior: Clean and touch up the front entry and sidewalk. Add a splash of color with some inexpensive plants. Remove or trim over grown tree’s and shrubs, especially those that block the front of the house or sidewalk. Weed landscape beds, mow and edge the lawn. Repair missing or damaged fencing. Replace missing shingles. Clean out gutters and downspouts. If puddles or a wet basement is a problem, correct the drainage.

As you walk around your home, remember that buyers check every nook and cranny. How well things work and look says a lot about how you’ve taken care of the property. Make a good impression and it will go a long way toward getting your home sold quickly —and for more money.