How To Fix 6 Issues That Make Your Home Sell for Less

Zachary Walston

In today's housing market, everything is selling at record prices and in record times. That doesn't mean home details don't matter.

Selling a home at list price or over a couple of weeks is actually a poor performance in today's market. When thinking of home features that influence property value, kitchens and bathrooms typically come to mind. There are many other ways to influence a home's value.

I recently spoke with Lindsay Walston, a real estate agent working out of Atlanta, GA. She has seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to home attractiveness.

Lindsay shared some issues that torpedo a home's value and the likelihood of selling. She also gave me some tips on how to address the issues.

#1 - DIY Projects Gone Wrong

Most homeowners take on projects not only to improve the space for themselves but also to add value to their home. However, many people don’t consider that projects done incorrectly or incompletely can actually harm your property value. While some smaller projects are usually safe to tackle on your own, unless you have experience in home renovation, the bigger projects are best left to the professionals, particularly when making structural changes or working with electricity or plumbing.

Cosmetic finishes matter too.

Buyers will see things like poorly laid tile, uneven flooring, bad paint jobs, and other incorrectly done DIY projects as items to fix on their to-do list and will likely want concessions for it.

# 2 - A Bad or Outdated Paint Job

Paint can be an easy project to DIY, as long as you have the right supplies and are willing to take the time needed to do a thorough job. If not, it is probably best to hire someone to do the job for you. A fresh neutral palette will help your home sell for thousands more than a home with bright or outdated paint colors or busy, outdated wallpaper.

#3 - Excessive Clutter

It’s normal to accumulate more belongings the longer you live in a home, but your potential buyers don't need to see it. Excessive clutter, like a bad paint job, can cause your home to sell for thousands less than a decluttered or neat home. Decluttering is an inexpensive way to add value to your home and make it feel more spacious. Donate items you no longer use or start packing if you are selling your home and planning on moving anyways.

#4 - Unpleasant Odors

It’s easy to become nose blind to scents you smell on a regular basis. So, any unpleasant odor in your home might not be completely obvious to you, however, it’s vital to know if they are present. A bad smell leaves a negative first impression and may hurt the value of your property. Whether it is pet, mold, trash, or food-related, it’s important to get to the root of the smell and eliminate it.

While it may be tempting to try to cover up the smell, it’s not going to solve your problem and can make a smell more offensive. Once you’ve addressed the smell, it’s important to keep it from coming back. Routine cleaning minimizes offensive odors and keeps your property attractive to potential buyers.

#5 - Deferred Maintenance

Damaged or rotten siding, clogged gutters, an unrepaired leak, or unserviced HVAC may seem like relatively minor details, however, lack of home upkeep is one of the biggest red flags to buyers that other items might be lagging too. Making sure you take care of these maintenance items before your home hits the market is critical to making it feel move-in ready and maximize your home’s attractiveness to buyers.

The good news is that unless these things have been left in disrepair for a long time, fixing them is generally low-cost or DIY-worthy. Keep in mind, leaving them for a buyer to deal with can actually cost you money in concessions or decreased interest.

#6 - Lack of Curb Appeal

The saying “never judge a book by its cover” doesn't apply to houses on the market. Curb appeal matters. If a home is unattractive or appears unkempt at first glance the odds of a buyer even stepping foot into your home declines significantly. You don’t have to do a massive overhaul to make your home more attractive to buyers. Smaller updates and changes like a good pressure washing, small repairs, fresh paint, and some lawn maintenance can go a long way in drawing buyers in.

These six issues should be addressed prior to putting your home on the market. They can make the process smoother and create a bidding war.

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I am a physical therapist, researcher, and educator whose mission is to challenge health misinformation. You will find articles about health, fitness, medical care, psychology, and professional development on my site. As the husband of a real estate agent, you will also find real estate and housing tips.

Atlanta, GA

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