Should I Fix Up My House Before Selling It?

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Couple working on home repair
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Welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers. You can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

Today’s question is one I’ve gotten many times over the years, and one I’ve had to deal with personally: Is it worth dumping more money into a house when it comes time to sell?

Here’s what I think.

For more information on this topic, check out “11 Tips for Pricing Your Home So It Sells for Top Dollar” and “12 Ways to Blow Your Home Sale.” You can also go to the search at the top of this page, put in the words “home selling” and find plenty of information on just about everything relating to this topic.

Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.


Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hello, everyone, and welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager.” I’m your host, Stacy Johnson, and this answer is brought to you by Money Talks News, serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Today’s question is from Joyce. It’s important to read the whole thing and to pay attention to the improvements Joyce needs to make in her home:

“We want to sell our home, but it needs a lot of work. The work varies, (including) the wood trim needing painting — half of some windows are stripped of paint and stain and other windows are finished. Plaster in the bedroom closet near the fireplace needs repair. (There is a) small basement leak with heavy rain. Do we take out a loan for repairs and expect to get our investment back? I don’t know what to do.”

Let’s go over those repairs again. Joyce has got:

  • Wood trim that needs painting
  • Some windows stripped of paint and stain
  • Plaster in the bedroom closet near the fireplace that needs repair
  • A small basement leak when there’s heavy rain

I’m wondering why you’d need to borrow money to fix this stuff. It doesn’t seem all that expensive to me, especially if you can do most of the work yourself.

But to answer your question, Joyce, you always want to have your house in the best possible condition when you sell. The reason is simple: There are a lot more people hoping to find homes that don’t need work than looking for homes that do.

You always want to do the simple things. Major improvements are different, because it may be hard to recoup your investment. But you certainly want to do the easy stuff. One of the cheapest and easiest things you can do is paint.

I hope you don’t need to take out a loan to do a little painting. So, try to do whatever you can with whatever money you have to make your home look as good — and to be as serviceable — as possible. The better it looks, the faster it’s going to sell, and the more money you’re going to get.

If you’re using a real estate agent, ask him or her for advice. Your agent may also be able to refer you to an inexpensive handyman. But, by and large, do everything you can to get your house in as good a shape as it can be before you put it up for sale.

There is also lots of information online about how to stage your house. For example, you’ll learn about simple things like decluttering, removing personal pictures and giving it a good cleaning. There’s plenty you can do to make your house presentable; even painting the front door can really help give it curb appeal. Take a look at some articles — such as “21 Home Upgrades That You Can DIY for Under $50” — then do what you can to fix up your house and borrow as little as possible.

Have a super-profitable day and be sure to meet me right here next time!

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

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