When people are getting their house ready to put on the market, real estate agents say it’s better to get problems taken care of first rather than waiting for an inspector to uncover them with a contract on the line.
A seller who doesn’t fix problems ahead of time may make less money on a house, says Scott Stremel, “because everybody thinks what they have to fix costs more than what it actually costs.”
Some common maintenance issues that the Witchita, Kan.-based real-estate agent says he sees include windows or siding in need of repair; safety-related problems with the electricity; cracks in concrete sidewalks or the driveway; and plumbing issues.
Even a procession of little things uncovered in an inspection “adds up, mentally, to the buyer. It makes them wonder,” says Heather Stewart.
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Tammy Schmidt, a Prudential agent, recommends that sellers become familiar with requirements of certain types of financing that a buyer might choose, such as VA or FHA loans. Such requirements could include good drainage, handrails or a lack of peeling paint, she says.
While some home sellers can make cosmetic changes or small repairs themselves, others don’t have the time or talent, and have to hire someone to do the work. Most real-estate agents have their own maintenance people and specialists to recommend to their clients, Schmidt says.
“I’ve got a plumber, an electrician, a concrete guy, a handyman,” she adds. “There are ones that stay on my list and those who go off. A lot of that has to do with reliability and price.”
Sarah Ruth Gilbert, owner of Ruth’s HomeWorks — a local service resembling Angie’s List that recommends Wichita-area contractors — says these are some of the jobs people like to get taken care of before putting their house on the market:
• Cleaning windows, either inside and outside or just outside.
• Having rugs cleaned and stretched rather than replaced.
• Concrete work to take care of sidewalk or driveway cracks.
• Reinforcing an attic beam.
• Ceiling patching, especially for damage caused by hail, after the roof is replaced.
Some of the jobs can be handled by a maintenance person; others require more of a specialist, Gilbert says.
Once a person has moved into a new house, she says, a hired worker can do such tasks as change locks, add grab bars or replace a ceiling fan.