Imagine this scenario: A potential buyer is eager to purchase your home but their pre-inspection report reveals that your roof is worn out, the sewer line is clogged with tree roots, and the cost of repairs is $12,000.
So what can you do before listing your home to avoid being forced to make hasty decisions about repairs that cut into your profit? Some sellers have their homes pre-inspected.
A pre-inspection could expose electrical, plumbing or roof problems and allow more control over repair costs, said Joe Janus, a realtor with HomeSmart in Phoenix.
However, a pre-inspection could also be a liability issue. For example, in Arizona, you’re legally obligated to disclose any material facts about the home and problems that are discovered in a pre-inspection that you chose not to remedy.
“If you don’t disclose, let’s just say you may end up needing an attorney,” said Janus.
Whatever you decide, it’s worth taking a look at these 6 repair issues that come up frequently when selling a home:
1. Electrical issues.
Faulty wiring is one of the top ten issues found by home inspectors, said a spokesman for the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Also, an outdated electrical system can be a “real sticking point” for a buyer, said Judy Mitchell, a real estate agent at William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Stamford, CT.
Nowadays, people need a 200 amp electrical system for electronics running constantly throughout the house, she said. In New England, older homes are often only upgraded to 100 amps, said Mitchell. That differential can be a negotiation point when it comes up during inspection.
Should you fix it? “It’s something the seller might want to be prepared for. They can wait until it comes up in the inspection process or go ahead and change it themselves,” said Mitchell.
2. Water damage.
Poor grading and drainage, faulty gutters and basement dampness all made it to the ASHI’s top ten list. “Water is the number one thing that will damage your property,” said Reba Haas, a real estate broker and realtor for RE/MAX Metro Realty in Seattle. Recently, bugs had eaten through bottom of a deck in her client’s $850,000 home.
“I told them, ‘Stop worrying about that hairline crack in the bathroom. This is what you need to worry about,” said Haas.
Look for signs of water drainage issues such as spongy soil around your home’s foundation, clogged or bent gutters, including gutters that don’t channel water away from the home, and dampness, water stains or mold and mildew in the basement. If you’ve got a crawl space, check it for water damage, insects and rodents.
Should you fix it? “If you have water seeping in, that will freak out most people, and it’s better to fix it,” said Haas.
One of the first things Haas asks home-selling clients is, “How old is the roof?” Look for brittle or curled asphalt shingles and broken or missing flashings, the metal pieces between roofing material and chimneys and edges. On wooden roofs, check for warping, rotting or buildup of moss.
If your roof is nearing the end of its life, the bank can decline a loan if it won’t pass a two-year or five-year roof certification, an opinion by a licensed roofing contractor about the roof’s life expectancy.
Should you fix it? “It’s a good idea to get the roof replaced if you don’t want to be rushed into hiring a contractor to meet the closing crunch timeline,” said Haas.
4. Sewer line.
If tree branches invade and clog your sewer lines, repair costs can be as little as $1,500 or as high at $25,000. A sewer line problem isn’t something you can let slide, since it’s a habitability issue. Many people commission a sewer scope, a video inspection of the underground sewer drain line, before buying a home.
Should you fix it? It’s best to a have a sewer scope done before you try to sell your house to find out if there is a problem, says Haas. Typical cost: $100 to $300.
Foundation flaws are one of ASHI’s top 10 problems detected by home inspectors. If you suspect foundation problems, compare several free estimates and opinions from foundation companies. One of Haas’ clients had a massive crack in his foundation and asked a foundation expert to come out and verify that nothing else had shifted. Look for sloping floors, cracks in the foundation and doors and windows that stick.
Should you fix it? “Be prepared ahead of time so that at least you can control the cost,” said Haas.
6. HVAC system.
An older furnace or air conditioner will lower your home’s value but that doesn’t mean you need to replace those items before you list the house, said Mitchell. Showing a record of consistent maintenance goes a long way toward reassuring a buyer that the appliance has been properly maintained.
Should you fix it? “You shouldn’t have to pay for someone’s new furnace,” said Mitchell. Price your house accordingly and note old furnaces and air conditioners in the seller’s disclosure.