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Mrs M, Devon

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How to sell a house that needs work done

For those who need to sell their house fast but don’t have the time to renovate, finding a buyer willing to pay a decent sum is hard work – so how do you maximise your profit?

Many individuals purchase a home with the hopes that, over time, they can renovate it. However, by the time they need to sell, they find that they have either never had the time to commit to making the necessary repairs, or simply lacked the motivation to do so.

The house, if sold, may provide a better return than the price it was purchased for, but the likelihood is that it will fall well-short of the asking price the vendors were hoping for.

Luckily, if you are selling a house that needs repairs, there are steps that you can take to ensure you attract the right kind of buyer who sees the potential in your home, despite the obvious drawbacks.

So, what are the important repairs to make when selling a house?


Deciding which features are worth spending money on is always a bit of a gamble, but the best way to get the most out of your sale is by putting yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer, and identify issues from the outside-in.

If you were to look upon your home for the first time, what would be immediately obvious? For many houses, the front elevation can be easily improved by re-varnishing wooden window and door frames – as well as ensuring that the windows themselves are kept clean. It’s also worth looking at the possibility of purchasing a new front door if your present one is beginning to look a bit shabby.

For many city houses, a build-up of carbon from road traffic can also make a home look tired and undesirable. So why not hire a pressure washer to dispel the decades of unsightly pollution and make your external walls look brand new?

Other peripheral features that are easy to tidy up include gardens and yards. By using weed-killer on paths and flower beds as well as re-gravelling your driveway and re-seeding your lawn, you can easily show that the house itself is well cared for, providing a great reason for buyers to enquire further.

Inside the home, there may of course, be a number of obvious issues that need attention such as damage to walls and doors – much of which can be taken care of with a liberal application of filler – but what about the less obvious details?

Many sellers choose to replace flooring in preparation for a sale, but it is worth noting that the majority of buyers will be replacing the floor themselves at some point, no matter how pleased you are with the present style. So why not save yourself money and time and hire a carpet cleaning machine which can easily remove years of dirt and discolouration.

So, what else should you consider when selling a house that needs repair? Regardless of your preference for colour and style, remember that you need a buyer to see the potential in your home, so make sure that all walls are painted in neutral colours such as cream, white, or lavender. While a paint job may take up a few weekends, the increased saleability of the property will make it all worthwhile by the time you finalise a deal.

What about a house that needs major repairs?

The roof may be starting to sag – but is it leaking? The foundations are not in the best condition – but do they pose a threat to the house in terms of stability? For serious issues, there is little point trying to pretend they don’t exist.

Any self-respecting buyer or developer will undoubtedly employ a structural surveyor prior to purchase, and if these structural problems end up being exposed in a Homebuyer’s Report after you have tried to conceal them, any trust a buyer has invested in you will disappear.

If a potential buyer is aware of an issue before a sale, however, it is a lot easier for you to negotiate the cost of repair into the asking price itself. In situations such as these, honesty is king.

Of course, you can fix serious defects yourself prior to selling, but it is worth remembering that the amount you spend on the repairs may end up costing you more than the return you gain after a sale – so temper your hopes and expectations.

Selling a house that needs repairs done

Selling a house that needs repairs is all about knowing your target buyers, the majority will fall into the following categories:

  • Flippers – who aim to buy low, renovate and sell high.
  • Developers – who make their living by flipping, but on a larger scale.
  • Landlords – who aim to restore the property for rental purposes.
  • Bargain hunters – who hope to find themselves in a great district for schools, or simply wish to move into a well-respected neighbourhood but have so far been unable to afford a house in A1 condition.

All of these potential purchasers will be aware that the home will need some renovation, but their urge to buy – especially in the case of bargain hunters – will allow them to see past many of the flaws your house exhibits.

It is worth, however, being a little savvy if dealing with flippers, developers and landlords as these individuals are professionals, and will go out of their way to secure a price that maximises their profit, not yours. This can be remedied by having a valuation carried by an impartial third-party surveyor complete with an estimate of value once all repairs have been carried out. This ensures that you know where you stand with regard to the value of your home, and gives you further ammunition when dealing with particularly ‘hostile’ buyers.

Need to sell but no time to renovate? Why not ask National Homebuyers for advice, as we buy any house. Call 08000 443 911 or request a call back to find out how much you could get for your property.

© Annie Mole (CC-BY 2.0)
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