The Home Fixes You Must Complete Before Selling

Many homeowners who are not in a rush to sell their properties or forced to do so through financial pressure, take time to get their homes ready to achieve the best price.

And this often means making repairs or renovations before putting them on the market.

Sometimes though, owners make too many renovations and lose money in the sale, and other times they spend money on repairing the wrong features and ignoring those that buyers place more importance on.

What to fix

Choosing what to fix and what to leave is dependent on the actual potential value the property can obtain, the cost to repair, and the expectation of the seller, says Sheriese Potgieter, sales property practitioner at Just Property Queensburgh. Her Heidelberg colleague Carin Howell adds: “You don’t have to fix everything but it’s worth getting input from your property professional on which defects, when fixed, will help you achieve a higher selling price.”

Many buyers place importance on kitchens and bathrooms, and so experts often advise that these areas should be the focus for any repairs or renovations. After all, whether for their own enjoyment or for resale value, it is always worth considering which improvements will add value to the home, says Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“This way, homeowners can ensure that whatever improvements are undertaken are most likely to generate a good return on investment when it comes time to sell the home.”

He notes that upgrading a kitchen or bathroom could add great value to your home, but acknowledges that this can easily become very expensive. Sellers should therefore focus on small projects that will add more than it costs to install.

“For example, you could upgrade the cabinets by painting or staining them to give them a modern look. You could also upgrade the cabinet handles, light fixtures and faucets. As cliché as it is to say, it is truly amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for your home. Just keep in mind that when selling a house, it would be better to keep the colours neutral to appeal to as many buyers as possible.”

Rhoda Dangazele of Just Property Berea agrees that the kitchen is the main area that will allow for a higher return on your home, “so make sure that it is in great condition”. Nico Howell of Just Property Heidelberg warns, however, that while you might prefer to leave all defects as they are and rather drop your asking price, you don’t want defects to put potential purchasers off. He has seen keen buyers back away from a leaking roof, damp, mould and mildew in the bathroom, unmatched or cracked tiles, and flaking shower ceilings.

“Sort out problems like these, or at least get quotes from local specialists, handymen, or builders.

Be smart about what you choose to repair

When it comes to performing major remodelling or home improvement projects, Grahame Diedericks, manager principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says statistics show that you’re unlikely to recoup the costs, so careful consideration is needed.

“If you’ve owned your home for five years or longer, or if you’ve been putting off maintenance tasks that you know needed doing, you may have a fair amount of work to do, but not all repairs are equal in this instance.


“And, with the costs of materials at an all-time high, you can’t afford to make mistakes at this juncture if you hope to realise the biggest possible return on the sale of what is probably your largest asset.”

If you plan on selling, make a list of all the significant repairs you think are required and if you aren’t sure which are critical, it would be wise to hire a home inspector who can prepare a report listing necessary repairs, especially those that you would be required to disclose them to potential buyers.

Once you have your list, Diedericks suggests you divide the repairs into three categories:

  • Minor and relatively inexpensive repairs that can easily be done before buyers come to view, such as landscaping, cleaning/repair of gutters or a fresh coat of paint.
  • Major issues that you’ll either have to fix or otherwise disclose to buyers, such as water and electrical systems, structural problems, wood-destroying insects or hazardous materials such as asbestos.
  • Issues from either of these lists that have the greatest potential to become deal breakers that deter potential buyers. This could include a cracked foundation, extensive termite damage or an ageing roof that needs replacing – and this is the list you ultimately want to focus on.

“What you add to the final list largely depends on your goals and the prevailing local market. Does a quick sale take precedence over maximum profit, or is your main goal a high selling price?

“Ask your agent if they have noticed any issues that potential buyers are consistently walking away from and ask them to help you determine which repairs will strike the balance in between.”

Affordable overhauls

There are a number of low-cost improvements that will also help sell your home, says Margaret Msimango of Just Property Pretoria North.

“Curb appeal is extremely important – those first impressions last. It’s important to present a neat road frontage and entrance.”

Most purchasers are looking for a well-maintained property,” agrees Dumisani Sibisi of Just Property Queensburgh.

“Yard cleaning and general tidying inside can assist in getting the results sooner, as can sensible paint touch-ups.”

Dangazele echoes this: “A fresh coat of paint for dirty and untidy walls will do wonders to assist with selling a home or apartment. Declutter living areas, bedrooms and kitchens and stage the home so it has a neat but ‘lived-in’ feel. Outside, make sure garden areas and driveways look appealing.”

Apart from these tried-and-true tricks, Goslett says there are other ways to increase the resale value of a home.

“For example, you would be surprised how simply installing a new outlet can declutter and modernise your home, especially if you install wall outlets equipped with built-in ports that are ready to plug your USB cables into…

“LED lighting can also have an impact on a home’s value because of its durability and low energy consumption – not to mention that it can be used as trendy décor to light up cabinets and recessed corners in the home.”

He also suggests that homeowners think about the heating and cooling solutions in their home.

“Everyone knows that South African summers can be sweltering, but installing air conditioning can be expensive. Those without the budget could add ceiling fans, which are an appealing addition to any home. Not only will they help keep a room cool, but they also add a nice decorative touch to the space which can make the home more appealing to future buyers. Similarly, installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace to warm the home in our icy winters can also increase the resale value of the home.”

You could also add insulation.

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