SONY DSCFew things are more discouraging than facing a major maintenance or repair project and realizing that you won’t get much of your money back if you sell soon after it’s done.

After all, buyers reasonably expect a roof that doesn’t leak, toilets that flush, an electrical system that turns lights on, and a foundation that isn’t sinking.

When you’re facing an apparent no-win situation, you might consider selling the house ‘as-is:’ in other words, selling it with the problems unresolved and leaving it up to the next owner to fix things.

Selling ‘as-is’ is a lose-lose: it will take longer to sell the house and you’ll get less money than if you’d just gone ahead with the repairs. Here’s why we recommend getting your house in shipshape to sell.

  1. Nobody wants to inherit your problems. Nobody knows the house like you. You know that a leak in one corner of the roof is probably a small deal because the roof has been solid for five years. But a buyer doesn’t know that. He or she will assume the worst, and most expensive, case. You can provide the background information that a contractor needs to quickly assess the problem and come up with a cost-effective solution.
  2. Control the cost and timing of the repairs. If the repair can be handled in the off season –say, replacing the air conditioning unit in fall or early spring, you can negotiate a good price and a relatively convenient time to schedule the work. But a buyer is going to see all repairs as a barrier to moving in. He or she will put a price on both the work –at top dollar – and on his or her inconvenience. That’s the advice given by CEO Colby Sambrotto in this recent article.
  3. Convert a major repair or replacement to a selling point. If you’ve taken care of a big hassle, the buyer won’t have to. That gives buyers peace of mind, as they won’t have to worry about that particular repair for a long time. That becomes a strong selling point and potentially a negotiation point.

If you must tackle a major replacement or repair right before selling, do a quick scan of the market to see if a slight upgrade might make the improvement an even stronger selling point. For instance, if you have to replace the refrigerator, see if houses similar to yours offer basic or name-brand appliances. If you go with better quality and a more prestigious brand, you’ve added one more selling point.