There are many variables when getting a house ready to sell #691

#691 in a series of true experiences in real estate

A question was posed to us recently: “I am not planning on selling for a few years but I’d like to get my house fixed up. What inspector would you recommend to me?”

The answer is, perhaps surprisingly, complicated. We assume you want to know what you might do to raise the value of your house. The trouble is figuring that out. How much your house might be worth at any time, now or future, depends on several things. Certainly, yes, the condition, both cosmetic and physical but the ultimate factor is location. Style and size are factors. What is going on in the immediate market at the time of sale matters greatly, too.

You could hire a general physical inspector to look at every aspect of your house – foundation, plumbing, electrical, etc. and he would tell you which systems are currently performing well and which are not. He would also likely refer you to specialists to evaluate certain parts of your home; for example, a fireplace man, furnace expert, etc.

It will be fairly expensive, the general inspection will take about 4 hours for a small to medium size house, a written report is included, but the inspector does not bid on any work. He remains neutral. At the end of it, you will know about current and potential deficiencies but evaluating costs and figuring if you should fix or replace or upgrade items mentioned will be up to you.

Which recommendations will increase livability for you and your family while you live there? Do you wish to make changes regardless of whether they will increase your sale price? Are there safety issues? Does the inspector feel that these should be addressed as soon as possible?

Most elusive of all, what might you add or replace that will most likely cause a buyer in the future to pay more for the house? In other words, what will be your smartest and best investments?

Our friend Gretchen once had an inspection of a house she owned. She said she wanted to know everything that needed anything in that old house. Well, it almost laid her out. The inspector found all sorts of things, many of which did not need to be addressed then, or maybe ever. As I recall, there were no safety issues mentioned, such as bad wiring. The things that were cited didn’t negatively affect her life. One item was rot in parts of the roof eaves. Any fixing would have been done when she got a new roof, not needed at the time, and even when she sold, unlikely to raise the value of her house.

You could also get a “termite” inspection, the cost of which depends on the size of your house and the company doing the inspection. Sometimes termites are found but more often rot and fungus caused by water are noted. Wood exposed to the elements deteriorates; it’s that simple. For current and future utility and value, sealing all elements with paint, window putty and such and guarding against roof leaks is vital.

So, you might be best off by having a roofer look at your roof to tell you what maintenance (sealing and flashing seams and around chimneys) could be done now to extend the life of the roof. Or, possibly you need a roof replacement and that would be a good thing to attend to.

A real estate agent is in a better position than most to look at your location and house and to give you an opinion of what might be done to the house now to raise the value in the future. While an agent won’t know for sure what all the inspections I mentioned would reveal, he or she should be able to see how well the house has been cared for, what seems to be lacking, and of course, what the location of the property is. An agent will know which things are most commonly desirable to buyers.

There are just so many variables, lots to talk about for a specific house. All houses have “deficits” that come up on inspections. The question is whether it would make sense to “cure” them. Answer: It depends on what they are, how much it might cost, whether buyers will care.

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