Step 2: Inspections and Repairs
Prior to showing a home to prospective buyers, “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) sellers should ensure that the home is in a condition that will facilitate the ease of the sale and maximize profit. Serious FSBO sellers seeking to avoid potential costly and last-minute repairs later in the sales process thus should consider having their homes inspected prior to advertising the home for sale in order to determine the true extent of repairs needed on the home.
Conducting a home inspection prior to advertising its sale has the benefit of affording FSBO sellers more flexibility in prioritizing repairs. The opportunity to make repairs prior to showing the home has the potential to save FSBO sellers thousands of dollars. That is, an early inspection gives homeowners more time to research and find trustworthy contractors and to shop around for estimates on the cost of repairs. Alternatively, discovering a problem later in the FSBO sales process may require sellers to make hasty decisions that have potentially costly consequences. Conducting an inspection at the outset of the FSBO sales process also helps to assure prospective buyers that all potential problems with the home, if any, have been disclosed or repaired.
Moreover, many buyers will insist on a home inspection and associated repairs as a contingency of the sales contract (see Step 7: Offers and Negotiations). Given that the condition of a home has the ability to undermine the entire home sale, FSBO sellers at a minimum should ensure that all structural conditions, operational systems, and household appliances are in good condition at the outset of the sales process.
Nestseller recommends that FSBO sellers hire a qualified home inspector to conduct a general inspection prior to listing the home for sale. A general home inspection should take no less than two hours, during which time the inspector evaluates all aspects of the home, including the foundation, structural conditions, roofing, electrical systems, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, appliances, garage, and exterior.
Following the home inspection, FSBO sellers should make sure that they receive a written assessment of the inspection. FSBO sellers should review the inspector’s recommendations and determine which, if any, repairs are necessary before listing the home for sale. The inspector also may recommend that the homeowner consider one or more specialized inspections to address other potential problems associated with the home or surrounding property. FSBO sellers should prioritize the necessity of making repairs and evaluating the need for specialized inspections, taking action only where the value added to the home and associated peace of mind during the FSBO sales process likely will exceed the costs involved.
As buyers typically are not interested in making improvements immediately upon moving in, the extent to which FSBO sellers can make home repairs can make the difference between an easy and profitable sale and a lengthy process. Sellers should consider the value added by improving the appearance and functionality of the home. Although there are no clear-cut rules about which repairs FSBO sellers should prioritize, Nestseller recommends the following improvements that often are of greatest value to prospective buyers:
- Repair or replace the roof.
- Repair and repaint the exterior of the home.
- Remove wallpaper, wood paneling, and popcorn ceilings and repaint all walls and ceilings in neutral colors.
- Replace carpets with hardwood floors; alternatively, replace with neutral-colored carpeting.
- Update kitchen counters, sinks, faucets, and cabinets.
- Update bathrooms with new floors, lights, tiling, grout, and fixtures.
Often times, FSBO sellers are capable of making minor repairs to the home themselves, such as replacing broken light bulbs and switches, fixing leaky faucets, patching any small holes in the walls, patching up damaged window screens, replacing old tiling, fixing door locks, tightening railings and banisters, replacing worn carpeting, re-caulking sinks and showers, refinishing outdated floors and furniture, and fixing creaky or broken doors and drawers. For all other repairs, particularly those that require special expertise or permits, Nestseller recommends that FSBO sellers hire a qualified contractor, making sure that they receive written assessments of the repaired items. Having the ability to provide documentation of recent inspections and repairs will be helpful during showings and negotiations with prospective buyers and will go a long way towards ensuring an easy and profitable FSBO sales process.
Step 2 Premium Content
• How to Find a Qualified Home Inspector
• How to Ensure a Successful Inspection
• Specialized Home Inspections
• Repair Checklist
• How to Find a Reliable Contractor
• How to Comply with Lead-Based Paint Laws