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  • Writer's pictureChris Muellenbach

To repair or not to repair: What your clients need to know

It happens all the time. One party in a divorce may not be ready to list the marital property

because they know there are repairs needed. This concern could delay the sale or cause major financial challenges. Before you have clients convinced they can’t move forward, keep in mind that not all repairs will bring a significant financial return. In fact, in many cases, they are unnecessary.


In a competitive market, many buyers are waiving repairs and buying the property as-is.

  • In the national market, for example, homes continue to sell at a record 17 days on average. Further, 88% of homes sell within one month.*

  • Months of supply of inventory is now at 2.4, demonstrating a deep seller’s market compared to historic norms. (Traditionally, 6 months of supply indicates a balanced market.)*

  • Buyers may want to gut the house, tear down and subdivide the lot, or have other plans that would make repairs moot.

* National Association of Realtors Research Group, September 2021

If repairs are needed, the sellers handle that directly with the buyers when the house is under contract.

  • The sellers disclose any known need for repairs before listing.

  • The sellers give credit to buyers for repairs — or —

  • Sellers offer other compensation as a bargaining tool (washer/dryer, pool table, etc.).

So, what repairs ARE worth doing to maximize the home’s value before putting it on the market? I recommend the following relatively easy and inexpensive cosmetic changes to my clients:

  • Make the entrance welcoming (new doormat, wreath, plants on porch).

  • Think about curb appeal (mow the lawn, remove weeds, etc.).

  • Deep-clean the whole house.

  • Clean carpets or shine floors.

  • Touch up paint.

  • Call a handyman for simple repairs (leaky faucets, squeaky hinges, cracks in walls, etc.).

  • Make sure the pool or spa is in working order and clean.

  • Hire a staging service.

You get the idea. There are so many moving parts in a real estate transaction that the timing — or even necessity — of major repairs should not impact putting the house on the market.

Hope this is helpful to you and your clients. Should you have any questions about the real property matters in your case, please keep my number handy and give me a call anytime.

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