Are you planning on selling your home any time soon? Are you scrambling to try and get your house ready to sell?
It’s tough making sure your home is in good condition before listing it, but how are you supposed to know what steps you should take? If you research how best to prepare your house before selling it, you’ll probably see run-of-the-mill suggestions such as decluttering your living spaces and having it staged for showings. Those things are definitely essential but should not be your main focus. Instead, you need to focus on the big-picture issues that could cost you a buyer. Being prepared is the best thing you can do for your own sanity and to ensure you get the most money for your home. An experienced real estate agent should be able to walk through your home and give you a quick list of issues that you should address prior to listing. Below are my top 5 suggestions of what you should pay attention to in your home that I have come across the most throughout my 25 years as a realtor:
Leaks and Water Stains
Water stains, dripping faucets, toilets and pipes are huge alarms for a buyer, even the slightest amount of water infiltration scares the buyer and makes them question if there are larger issues at hand. Thankfully, you can usually hire a handyman to take care of minor issues such as tightening a connection, replacing a faucet or painting over a water stain. However, if you had a previous roof leak that has been fixed, be sure that you replace any rotted or damaged wood and sheetrock and add a fresh coat of paint over the entire area that was affected. Do NOT just try to paint over one small area, it is very difficult to match up the paint exactly, even when using the same color. Lastly, if you have water seepage on the basement floor or walls, check to make sure your gutters are clean and the leader is draining the water at least 4 feet from the foundation. By taking these steps in advance you will avoid being forced to use a “licensed” contractor, which will cost you much more in the long run.
Yes, that four letter word no one wants to hear come up in a home inspection. This is especially a potential issue with homes that have basements and crawl spaces. If you are unsure if you have a mold problem or not, you can buy a mold test at Home Depot or Lowes for about $65, but a visual inspection may be all you need to do. If you see any sign of mold use bleach and water and clean the area thoroughly and paint with a water proof paint if needed. Keep the areas well ventilated and install a dehumidifier. Again, these steps will help to avoid problems later on that will result in a more costly course of action.
Open Permits and Permits Never Applied For
Unfortunately, most municipalities do not care if you purchased your home and permits were not obtained for renovations and upgrades. As the seller you are usually responsible for the CCO (Certificate of Continued Occupancy). After going into contract and clearing the inspection and mortgage contingencies you will need to apply for the CCO. The town will automatically check to see if you have any open permits and then the town’s building inspector comes to do a physical inspection of your home. They will note things such as a new hot water heater, new fence, pool, deck, bathroom and so on. A check will be done to see if the proper permits have been applied for and closed out. If not, you will not be able to obtain the necessary CO Certificate to close on your home. This can cause huge delays, and delays can end up being costly. Remember, even if you purchased your home with a deck, if there were no permits pulled, you will now have to not only pay for the permits but may also need to have modifications made to bring the deck or other item up to code. If you are uncertain about the status of permits on your home, you can file an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request with your local municipality to check.
Let’s say you have had previous termite damage in the past and had your home treated for it. As far as you are concerned...you have taken care of the problem! Well, if you didn’t replace or repair areas that had termite damage, the physical signs left behind will automatically trigger the inspector to advise having the house treated. There is a good chance you do not have an active termite problem, however, you will still be required to pay for a treatment. The best thing to do is have the beams and any other affected areas replaced and repaired. This is not suggesting that you hide a problem, however, this will avoid unnecessary treatments and expenses. If there are in fact active termites, you will need to repair/replace damaged areas and have a treatment done.
Underground Oil Tanks
If you live in an area where fuel oil was/is currently used you will want to make sure that the tank is in good shape and not leaking. Most fuel oil companies who supply the heating oil can also provide an inspection of the tank. Once the inspection is done and determined that the tank is in good condition and no leaks were detected, it is a good idea to obtain tank insurance that can be transferred to a buyer. This will give prospective buyers more confidence purchasing a home with an underground oil tank. If natural gas is available, and you are financially able, pulling the tank and converting to gas may be the best option. Underground oil tanks, even when determined to be in good condition, often scare away good buyers. The fear comes from the horror stories that have circulated throughout the years about soil contamination and the crazy costs involved in cleaning up the problems. By converting to gas you eliminate the worries and attract a larger pool of buyers, which will drive up the value of your home.
The 5 topics listed above are the main concerns that I suggest you address prior to listing your home. Having an experienced Real Estate Agent or Contractor do a preliminary walk through of your home a few weeks in advance of listing could end up saving you time, stress and tens of thousands of dollars.
I hope the above suggestions will help you feel better prepared when the time comes to sell your home. If you have any other questions you may want to speak with me about regarding real estate, renovations and home repair, or even just a good suggestion on local eateries in your town you can reach out to me through my website, DM me on Instagram or give me a call at (732) 895-5923. Be sure to also comment below any topics you would like me to write about that would be interesting to you!