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Know what repairs are the right repairs before listing

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, you’ll probably have to do some repair work on it before putting it on the market. That will cost money of course, and you’ll want to save as much as possible, because who wants to go way into the red before even looking for buyers?

Knowing which repairs are really necessary and which are not is essential to saving money on this process. But many sellers make repairs they themselves would want if they were buyers, and those might not be what their actual buyers want.

Some factors that weigh in what repairs are necessary include:

  • Location
  • Season of the year
  • Market conditions
  • Condition of other houses on the market

Remember that while some people want “fixer-uppers,” they will expect you to discount not only the price of the repairs, but a little more for the inconvenience. But if you take the cost and inconvenience on yourself, you can often start with a higher asking price.

Before going on to other strategies, here are some repairs you should consider the bare minimum:

  • Fix leaky faucets
  • Fix or replace broken appliances and HVAC system
  • Patch holes or cracks in walls and ceiling
  • Replace broken windowpanes
  • Fix any major problems with roof
  • Fix any code violations that would make it fail an inspection

In general, upgrades have a better return on investment than maintenance. Merely replacing old appliances with new-but-still-conventional ones doesn’t change much, but installing energy-efficient appliances adds value. New additions, especially involving recent technology, lend that “wow” factor. Remember to tour other houses in your area, preferably with your agent.  They are your competition, so note their amenities and try to be at least in the same league as them.


Hardwood is the fashion today, so if you have a hardwood with carpet on top of it, it might be worthwhile to pull the carpet up and refinish the hardwood. If you have a plywood subfloor under your carpet, hardwood is still an option if you can handle the expense, but if you have to stick with carpet, make it a neutral color.

Walls and ceilings

In terms of cost vs. noticeable improvement, a fresh coat of paint is by far the most cost effective cosmetic step. The experts today recommend a neutral off-white color, but not white.

Better remove your wallpaper. All wallpaper is one person’s choice and other people probably won’t like it. Before showing your house, steam it off the walls with a wallpaper steamer and paint the walls a neutral color.

Wood paneling has mostly gone out of style, even the real stuff, so ask your realtor for a recommendation, or take note of what is in other houses on the local market. Most likely you will want to prime it and paint it – you guessed it – a neutral color.

Textured ceilings have also gone out of style and some contain asbestos. Have it scraped off and repaint if necessary (guess what kind of color?).

And as mentioned above, remember to patch cracks and holes.


Kitchen remodels might be pricey, but they typically have a great return on investment. The most expensive things in them are the appliances and cabinets. Cabinets can make or break a sale, so be sure they look great. For the appliances, don’t put in anything that people won’t pay extra for. In areas like Front Royal, people usually have simpler tastes than in, say, McLean, so shelling out for a master-chef quality stove or such might not be smart. Whatever you do, make sure the faucets look good and don’t leak.


Bathroom improvements general also get good ROI, especially for fairly simply things like new light fixtures. Replace anything that you can’t get grime or sedimentary buildup off of. Bathroom paint colors don’t have to match the house, so paint them a light color to make the interior look bigger.


A new roof is a hassle and a big expense, but if your house needs one, you’re better off getting it done yourself. Repair-minded buyers, as we said, want a hassle-discount as well as a cost-discount. And anyone who doesn’t like doing repairs will give your house a hard pass if the roof is bad.

Patch sidewalk or driveway cracks, fix fences, painting them if necessary, and maybe put in a flower garden. First impressions, remember.


Highly noticeable maintenance issues are a turn-off for most buyers, while updated HVAC< plumbing, and appliances are all plusses. It should be obvious what the big problems are, but consult your realtor to be sure you’re not sinking money into something a buyer won’t care about. If you think you might need to make some repairs and you want to hear what local experts think are the best ones to make, talk to Vesta Handyman 540-252-4696 or find us on our website.

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