What not to fix when selling a house

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What not to fix when selling a house

When it comes to selling your home, the common advice is to make renovations and repairs to increase its appeal and value. However, not every fix or upgrade is worth the investment – find out what is in this article

Why you shouldn’t fix everything when selling a house

The simple reason why you shouldn’t fix everything is because not every repair or upgrade is worth the investment.

Some issues may not yield a substantial return on investment (ROI) and not every buyer cares about the same thing.

By focusing on the right areas, you can maximise your property’s appeal to the majority of people, maximising the chances that your property will be sold for the right price.

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Not fixing outdated features when selling

One key factor to consider is the overall condition and value of your property. In some cases, outdated features may not significantly impact the property’s appeal or selling price.

For example, in a more affordable home, buyers may be willing to overlook certain cosmetic issues in favour of a lower purchase price. However, in higher-end properties, outdated features could detract from the perceived value and luxury appeal.

Of course, the exact return on investment depends on the state of the property to begin with and the exact property deal

Feature Cost to fix Percentage return on house sale
Popcorn ceiling £1,000 – £3,000 1% – 2%
Vintage wallpaper £500 – £1,500 0.5% – 1%
Retro bathroom tiles £2,000 – £5,000 1% – 5%
Formica countertops £1,500 – £4,000 0.5% – 1%

Popcorn ceilings

While popcorn ceilings were once popular, their rough texture and potential to harbor asbestos (in older homes) have made them less desirable.

popcorn ceiling that shouldn't be fixed

Removing a popcorn ceiling can be a messy and labor-intensive process, often costing between £1,000 and £3,000 depending on the number of rooms and the size of the house.

On top of this, the return on investment often isn’t that great so fixing this as an option is often less attractive option for sellers.

Vintage wallpaper

Vintage wallpaper can add character and charm to a home, but it may not appeal to all buyers.

Old vintage wallpaper in the UK

Removing outdated wallpaper can cost between £500 and £1,500 and depending on the size of the area and how bad the wallpaper looks, the return on investment on the sale price of a home is usually only between 1% – 2% – making it a less critical update for sellers.

Retro bathroom tiles

Retro bathroom tiles can be a polarising feature as many old bathrooms have them and the modern buyer is often after a more modern, sleek bathroom design.

With some buyers appreciating the vintage charm and others finding them outdated, it is often not worth replacing them as long as the practical features of a bathroom still work.

Most of the time, it is best to leave the replacement of tiles to the new buyer of a home.

retro bathroom tiles in the UK

Formica countertops

Formica countertops are phenolic resins, in plastic form, that are layered onto sheets of basic brown kraft paper.

This is followed by the addition of a printed decorative layer, which is then covered with a durable wear-resistant coating, and finally, a thin, transparent layer of melamine resin is applied for optimal protection.

A formica countertop that hasn't been replaced in the UK

In short, a formica countertop is made to appear more expensive than it is, only having an outer layer that appears luxury but with a kraft paper inside.

In general, unless a buyer is very aware of what a formica countertop is, there is no need to replace one as a kitchen will appear otherwise normal

How to work out if your kitchen countertop is Formica

To work out if your kitchen countertop is formica, look at the side of the countertop to check that it isn’t one solid material, any other layering or peeling of the layers on the corners of the countertop would also give this away.

How to make your formica countertop look better

If you don’t replace your formica countertop but think that it is obvious based on wear and tear that you have one, you may want to glue down the fraying ends of the countertop in order to present the kitchen in the best way.

The structural issues you shouldn’t fix when selling

While you may think that all issues to do with a property should be fixed before you sell it.

Sometimes, it may be beneficial to disclose the structural issues to the buyer up front to prevent any legal issues down the line but do not fix the issue yourself

Here is a monetary breakdown of what you can typically expect from fixing structural issues:

Feature Rough Cost of Fixing Return on Investment (%)
Cracked foundations £5,000 – £20,000 5% – 10%
Roof damage £60,000 – £80,000 1% – 8%
Sagging or uneven floors £3,000 – £12,000 2% – 20%
Large cracks in exterior brickwork £1,000 – £5,000 1% – 2%
Mould or damp £500 – £5,000 2% – 3%

As you can tell, there is usually a large range in the potential return on investment that you may want to leave for a new buyer to deal with.

Cracked foundations

Cracked foundations can be a significant structural issue that can compromise the integrity of a building. Repairing cracked foundations can be a costly endeavour too and may not be worth the money.

Roof damage

Roof damage, such as missing or damaged tiles, leaks, or structural issues, can lead to further deterioration and potentially compromise the interior of the property.

A house in the UK that has damaged roof tiles

Repairing roof damage can cost between £2,000 and £10,000, depending on the extent of the damage and the size of the roof. The return on investment for roof repairs is generally high, ranging from 60% to 80%, as a functional and weatherproof roof is essential for any property.

Sagging or uneven floors

Sagging or uneven floors can be indicative of structural issues, such as problems with the foundation or floor joists. Addressing these issues can cost between £3,000 and £12,000, depending on the severity of the problem and the required repairs.

The return on investment for fixing sagging or uneven floors is typically between 40% and 60%, as it impacts the overall structural integrity and livability of the property.

Large cracks in exterior brickwork

Large cracks in exterior brickwork can be unsightly and may also indicate underlying structural problems. Repairing large cracks in brickwork can cost between £1,000 and £5,000, depending on the extent of the damage and the required repairs.

A crack in a wall

The return on investment for this type of repair is generally between 30% and 50%, as it can improve the property’s curb appeal and address potential structural concerns.

Mould or damp

Cracked brickwork

Mould or damp issues can be a health hazard and can also lead to further deterioration of the property if left unaddressed. The cost of addressing mould or damp problems can range from £500 to £5,000, depending on the severity and the underlying cause.

The return on investment for addressing these issues is typically between 20% and 40%, as it can improve the overall living environment and prevent further damage to the property.

Over Improvements

While making improvements to a property can increase its appeal and value, it’s important to strike a balance and avoid over-investing in features that may not yield a substantial return on investment. Buyers have different preferences and budgets, and not all upgrades will resonate equally with every potential buyer.

Feature Rough Cost of Fixing Return on Investment (%)
High-end appliances that do not fit the home’s budget £5,000 – £15,000 30% – 50%
Renovated basements £10,000 – £30,000 40% – 60%
High-end landscaping £3,000 – £10,000 20% – 40%
Smart home features £1,000 – £5,000 25% – 45%

High end appliances that do not fit the home’s budget

Installing high-end appliances in a property that does not warrant such an investment can be a costly mistake. While these appliances can cost between £5,000 and £15,000, the return on investment is typically only 30% to 50%. Buyers may not be willing to pay a premium for appliances that do not align with the overall value and budget of the property.

Renovated basements

A luxury basement

Renovating a basement can be a significant investment, with costs ranging from £10,000 to £30,000 or more, depending on the extent of the work. While a finished basement can add living space and value, the return on investment is typically between 40% and 60%. It’s essential to consider the local market and the desirability of basement living spaces before undertaking such a project.

High-end landscaping

A well-trimmed garden in the uk

While a well-maintained and attractive landscape can enhance a property’s curb appeal, investing in high-end landscaping features may not yield a substantial return on investment. The cost of high-end landscaping can range from £3,000 to £10,000 or more, but the return on investment is typically only 20% to 40%. Buyers may not be willing to pay a premium for elaborate landscaping that requires significant maintenance and upkeep.

Smart home features

Smart home features, such as automated lighting, security systems, and voice-controlled devices, can be appealing to some buyers. However, the cost of installing these features can range from £1,000 to £5,000 or more, with a return on investment typically between 25% and 45%. While these features may add convenience, they may not be a priority for all buyers and may not significantly increase the property’s value.

Conduct improvements to the EPC rating instead
Insulation in a house in the uk

Instead of investing in over-improvements that may not yield a significant return, it may be more beneficial to focus on improving the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating.

Enhancing the energy efficiency of a home through measures such as insulation, double glazing, and upgrading heating systems can not only make the property more attractive to buyers but also potentially lead to long-term cost savings on energy bills. Improving the EPC rating can be a more cost-effective way to add value to a property and appeal to environmentally conscious buyers.

Minor Cosmetics

While cosmetic updates can enhance a property’s appearance, it’s essential to prioritise and focus on areas that will yield the most significant impact. Addressing minor cosmetic issues may not be worth the investment, as buyers often expect to make their own cosmetic changes after purchasing a property.

Feature Rough Cost of Fixing Return on Investment (%)
Chips in the paint £100 – £500 1% – 2%
Uneven wall rendering £500 – £2,000 largely depends
Unnecessary deep cleaning £200 – £1,000 5% – 15%

Chips in the paint

While a fresh coat of paint can enhance the appearance of a property, addressing minor chips or blemishes in the existing paint may not be worth the investment.

The cost of touching up or repainting minor chips can range from £100 to £500, but the return on investment is typically low, ranging from 1% to 2%. Buyers often expect to make minor cosmetic updates themselves after purchasing a property.

Uneven wall rendering

Uneven wall rendering, such as visible seams or inconsistent textures, can be unsightly but may not significantly impact the overall value of the property. Addressing this issue can cost between £500 and £2,000, depending on the extent of the work required.

A wall in the UK that is unevenly rendered

However, the return on investment is generally modest but it can be significant. It largely depends on how bad the uneven wall rendering actually is. Unless the unevenness is severe or indicative of structural issues, it may not be worth the investment.

Unnecessary deep cleaning

While a clean and well-maintained property is essential for making a good impression on potential buyers, investing in unnecessary deep cleaning services may not provide a substantial return on investment.

The cost of deep cleaning can range from £200 to £1,000 or more, depending on the size of the property and the extent of the cleaning required. However, the return on investment is typically low, ranging from 5% to 15%. Buyers often expect to conduct their own cleaning and maintenance after moving in.

A house in the UK with a man cleaning it

However, it is not recommended to not clean your property at all. Before you stage a home for a viewing you should at least do the basics of cleaning like hoovering and organising a space to present it in the best way.

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