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10 Repair Items That Yield The Best Return On Investment
Over the years, your home, like every home, has likely accumulated some wear and tear. If you've had thoughts of selling, or if you've already decided that it's the right time to sell your home, taking the time to make necessary repairs before your home hits the market could have a potentially huge impact on the final sales price.
According to a Maritz Research poll, 63% of home buyers surveyed responded that they would pay more for a move-in ready home.
Now, move-in ready doesn't necessarily mean fully updated. Not every buyer needs to have a fully modern and updated home, nor should you feel the need to fully renovate your house and bring it up to date just because you need to sell it.
This article is only intended to guide you through what repairs would be most cost-effective, not necessarily what renovations would be most worth the investment.
But where do you start? And then, what things are even worth fixing for a maximum return on investment?
Here are the 10 most important items or areas to get you started when making pre-market repairs.
A roof that's in questionable condition is a huge drawback for any buyer. Evidence of leaking, missing shingles, roof moss, and holes from old weather veins or antennas should be taken care of right away. A minor problem should turn into a huge (and very expensive) problem if the right storm came along.
A new roof altogether is actually a good investment in itself. According to HomeAdvisors.com, "the average cost of a new roof comes in at $7,500, and the boost to value resulting from the new roof comes in even higher: at $8,150, or 109% of the original investment."
When it comes to drainage, a home inspector is going to look for how well your home drains water away from its foundation. If you're unsure of how well your gutter system would function in this regard, carefully inspect the flow of water the next time it rains. Or, if you don't want to wait for the next downpour, you can use your garden hose to observe just how much water your drainage system can handle.
New gutters with LeafGuard technology also carry one of the highest returns on investment, up to 83% according to Citizen Bank and Trust Co.
Be sure to replace any missing or rusted gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks. Also note the presence of any pooling water in your yard or side of the property and how that might be remedied.
3. Windows and Screens
Upgrading to newer, energy-efficient windows yields among the highest returns of all home improvements; up to 75% according to Remodeling Magazine. If replacing windows isn't in your budget, you should at least make sure they are sealed properly to prevent leaking and that they open and close properly in their frame.
Replacing or removing damaged screens is also something that a home inspector will point out.
If an inspector doesn't catch it on their report, chances are, one of the agents in your transaction will spot any damage or discoloration to your walls. This means holes of any size should be filled (if you love spackling, this part will be fun), and any texturing or painting should be taken care of as well.
Make sure all cabinets open and close smoothly and correctly. Installing slam-proof hinges on the cabinets and slides in the drawers is a nice feature to consider. For older looking cabinets and drawers, a quick coat of white or even a dark-colored paint can do wonders along with new hardware.
Consider replacing cracked or missing tiles from the countertops and flooring. Cleaning the grout or regrouting can make a big difference too. Be sure to check for any broken sealant along the toilet and shower/bathtub. And of course, all the plumbing should be in working order.
The most common repair item with a deck or porch is missing or damaged boards. Dryrot is potentially a concern, depending on how well the structure has been maintained. Safety is the highest concern for an inspector when examining a deck or porch, so make sure that any stairs and safety rails are still secure and intact.
Also, painting or staining will go a long way in giving any deck a much-needed facelift and is well worth the investment in improving its apperance. Depending on what style you're going for, you may favor one option over the other.
Important note: any replacement boards must be suited for outdoor use. We've seen deck additions or replacement flooring done with interior-grade material, which was easily damaged once exposed to the elements.
Arguably, paint is the easiest item on this list to take care of. Any chipped or scratched paint to the interior or exterior can be fixed relatively quickly and easily. Prior to 1978, lead-based paint was the standard, so you'll need to disclose if you are aware of any on the property.
If you're considering repainting, stick to colors that will appeal to the widest range of people, like mild earth tones and sophisticated, light grays. A fresh coat of paint will also reduce any odors from smoke or pets, and can revitalize any room for a relatively small amount.
Exposed wood, chipping, and bubbling paint are among the most commonly noted items on any inspection report, so be sure to keep an eye out. Also, an inspector will also want to make sure that any foliage is six inches away from the bottom of the siding with no earth-to-wood contact.
Should you decide to replace your siding entirely, fiber-cement siding yields a return up to 84.3%, while vinyl siding yields up to an 80.7% return according to Fortune Builders.
If you have natural hardwood floors, an inspector will keep a sharp eye out for any signs of moisture damage or warping. Minor wear and tear such as small scratches, scuffs, and scrapes can usually be removed with a hardwood repair kit.
Again, the main concern of the inspector is safety. Any missing boards, cracked or missing tile, and non-sealed flooring near plumbing should be remedied.
If you're considering replacing your flooring, hardwood floors are a safe bet in any region of the country. According to Realtor.com, hardwood flooring yields a return between 70-80% and always makes a lasting impression on home buyers.
If natural hardwood is out of the budget, engineered, composite wood flooring is a great option as well that looks just like real wood, but actually wears better and is easier to clean.
It should probably go without saying that the inspector will pay close attention to the property's foundation. Any large cracks, sloping floors, and evidence of water in any crawlspaces will certainly draw his or her attention.
If you believe you have any foundation issues, it's best to consult with a licensed contractor. Besides, if you're like most homeowners, that kind of work is well above your pay-grade anyways. Any questions relating to your property's foundation are a sure way to kill any deal, and you don't want a bombshell like that dropping right in the middle of escrow.
Other Repairs To Consider
The most important repairs to make are ones relating to safety. Functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in all the appropriate areas, exposed wires must be capped, all fixtures must be testable, and the circuit box must be covered with all switches in place.
As handy as you may be, any major repairs or installations should be completed by a licensed contractor. If any issues arise down the road regarding those items that were repaired, you will definitely want the liability to be on the company or contractor that performed the work and not yourself personally.
While this list is not exhaustive, it should give you a good start on where to focus your time and money. You won't be able to spot everything that needs repair, but you should be able to complete some of the obvious repairs before your home hits the market. By completing repairs ahead of time, you'll ultimately save yourself a lot of time, and potentially a lot of money as well during the escrow process. Not only will you not feel rushed to complete any repairs, but you'll also be presenting your home as a complete product to the new buyer, which will ultimately increase the value in their eyes.
Andrew Ramirez was born and raised in Orange County, living in Irvine and Tustin as a child before moving to Costa Mesa in 2001. He lived there for twelve years before marrying his high school sweethe....