While it’s important to use a professional to handle the big repairs when you’re selling your home, there are a few things you can do yourself that can make a big difference. A little attention to detail, when you’re showing your home, during the due diligence process, and even at the final walk-through, has the potential to save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Electrical issues and appliances are one area where a few easy fixes can head off major issues down the line.
Make sure all your light bulbs are working, and if you have an unusual light fixture with special bulbs, order a bunch of replacements and offer to give them away with your sale. If you need to keep that special hanging lamp or chandelier, let your buyer know that you plan to replace it with something nice.
Make sure that all electrical outlets work, with proper polarity, and that GFCIs are operating properly. You need a simple circuit tester to do this, sold in any hardware store. Fixing a problem usually involves 15 minutes, and watching a couple of YouTube videos.
Make sure there aren’t any “double taps” in your circuit breaker panel. Remove the cover (usually four screws at the corners) and look to see how many wires connect to the terminals of each breaker switch. You should see one wire for each post. Check out YouTube for full instructions—and don’t touch any of the wires, which could lead to electrocution or fire. If you don’t have a cover for your electrical panel, get one on eBay or Amazon. If you do have double-tapped circuits, call a trustworthy electrician (or two) for an estimate. Sometimes the solution is as easy as a couple of new circuit breakers.
If you have round glass fuses rather than a circuit breaker, consider an upgrade. This will involve some cost, but it looks really bad to inspectors if they see round fuses, which are extremely outdated and a fire hazard. If you can’t fix your fuses yourself, get estimates for the job so your buyer knows how much it will cost.
Make sure your stove, microwave, and refrigerator function properly. If you have a washer/dryer, make sure it works. If you have a gas dryer, make sure it has a proper vent outside—if it doesn’t have a proper vent, your dryer is illegal and will likely be a problem for your buyer. Also, if you have a washer/dryer in a building that does not allow them, fess up and make sure the building is okay with it. Sometimes old washer/dryers are grandfathered in, but in other cases buildings may force new owners to remove an old unit when the property transfers.
Make sure your dishwasher functions properly, and that it’s properly connected to your sink and your electrical system. It should also be properly secured.
It’s amazing how tackling this short to-do list can smooth out the selling process. You should also consider preparing for the questions a buyer’s attorney may ask
and talking to your bank about pre-approval
. Or, for inside tips on the whole process, download our free comprehensive guide to selling your home