What not to fix when selling a house in the UK

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While you may think that the more fixing you do the better, there are situations where fixing a house is not the best thing to do in the process of selling as it can delay the sale or potentially even make a house sell for less than you expected.

What should you not fix when selling a house in the United Kingdom?

Below, read on for some unnecessary fixes to your property so you can know what to avoid before selling to make the sale go smoothly and ensure you don’t waste unnecessary time and money.

Replacing appliances that are outdated

Outdated appliances are not the first thing that you should fix if you are looking to sell your house because they will not add the same kind of value you are expecting. 

Especially because appliances like expensive dishwashers like these ones for instance may not be used in the same way by the majority of buyers, it is a bit of a risk installing a fancy dishwasher or kettle.

Unnecessary decorations

Decorations aren’t the worst thing you can fix in a property, especially if you are looking to take photos for marketing your home or you are having visitors in your house who are interested in buying. Small changes such as installing new light fittings can make a huge difference.

Nonetheless, it is not worth adding in decorations if they are going to be unnecessarily expensive without there being a clear need for them. For instance, installing something like premium wallpaper or adding in the most expensive carpet is not something that will bring your home’s value up by much.

Simply focus on the aesthetic appeal for photos and visits as this is what buyers will be basing their decisions on.

Small electrical fixes

If it has become apparent that there are problems with the electricity in your property, you should consider whether they are even worth fixing or leaving for the next buyer to sort out.

While this may seem immoral, small electrical problems such as a plug that doesn’t work or some wiring that is a bit temperamental is not something you should fix as a buyer most likely will not ever touch the electrical part of a property in this level of detail until they have bought.

Having said this, you should make sure that a home has an up to date electrical safety certificate as a precaution before selling although this is not a legal requirement.

This ensures nothing major is wrong and provides the buyer with the peace of mind there are no major faults in the property and they can move in without having to immediately conduct repairs.

Renovating only part of a room

If you renovate only part of a room, this could mean there is an area of a property that looks significantly better than the rest. And this comparison that a buyer will go through could be the reason for them devaluating the home they are interested in buying.

So, you as a seller are better off renovating everything so all of the home appears as if it has the same level of modernity and comfort or none at all.

Even if you find that there is a room in the house you are selling that is below the rest in terms of value, it is better to only renovate so that this room becomes able to fit in with all of the other rooms rather than renovating it so it is head and shoulder above the rest.

Unfortunately, in cases like this where a renovation goes overboard, while people may have good intentions when selling their home, this room will only highlight how dire the rest of the house is.

How to tell if you should leave things as they are

Sometimes, as you are aware, fixing a property is not worth it and there are clearly things you should leave and not repair even if it is obvious that the home could do with some touching up.

However, what are the reasons for doing so?

By assessing the cost of the sale of the property

If there are already a lot of costs that will crop up as you sell a home such as conveyancing fees, then you may want to refrain from doing and fixing in the house you’re selling to maintain profit or lock in a price that is already predicted.

For instance, if you are selling a house with a mortgage and you know that there is going to be a lot of costs involved from selling early, this may reduce the profit you can make on the property and provide a disincentive to racking up costs further by fixing anything.

Especially if you have worked out you will have to pay a lot of tax when you sell a home, this could throw a spanner in the works and stop you from having the predicted amount of money left over after sale.

By looking at the price of the property market

Naturally, the property market that you are selling your house in will vary and go up and down. This means you should be fairly concerned about the sale prices of similar houses on the market so you can assess whether you actually need to fix anything.

For instance, if there is a house across the street from the house you are selling that sold for the same price you want to sell yours for but you notice that the only difference between the two houses is that theirs had a renovated bathroom, this may indicate you should do this as well.

This is if you want to achieve the same sale price of course. In general, you should bear in mind that looking at similar sales in similar areas to you is the most reliable factor to go by rather than going by an estate agent’s valuation or something similar.

At the end of the day, the true value of a house is determined by the market and the sale price, the rest of the numbers given by surveyors and insurance providers are more speculative and can also rise or fall over time with these economic cycles.

By determining if you will recoup your cost

Adding value to a home is always a good way to try and increase the income you are able to make from a house and if you are selling, increase the amount that you seek for. As a result, you have to make sure that the “fixing” you do to a home is able to appreciate the sale price.

Typically, there are things that are able to improve a home that are purely there for the increased comfort or for the personal preference of the users of the building without there being a real financial reason.

So, in order to stay on top of your numbers, look up what kind of increase in value you are expecting to have by analysing the property market and then only proceed with renovations and fixes that make sense.

You don’t want to be left disappointed after selling your house in the UK knowing that the money and time you spent on the house was in fact wanted as the sale of the property doesn’t reflect the effort put in.

By seeing if it can delay the sale

Sometimes, there are good financial reasons for fixing a home but the fixing involved is so extensive of a procedure that it will require specialist builders that make the home likely to be ready for sale a lot later than expected.

If you are on a tight schedule and have a goal in mind for when you want to complete o a property and perhaps move in to a new one or put your money elsewhere, then fixing your home, regardless of any return on investment it may bring, may not be for you.

What should you fix when selling a house in the UK?

So, if you have determined you should fix your house and it does make sense for your goals and the financial data you have collected to increase your confidence in the sale of a house, below is a list of things you may want to consider.

Conduct a deep clean

Deep cleaning a property, while not a fix, is a great place to start when making sure that a property is ready for sale and is definitely not on the list of things you should avoid doing.

Not only is it extremely cost effective, but there is a good chance that you will end up increasing the perception of the property if anyone comes to visit who is interested in the sale.

Sometimes, people may sell a house because there are pests in a property and attempt to get rid of the property or perhaps get rid of a property with pests in order to raise money to pay for care for instance. So this is not always the case.

Nonetheless, it is vital that curtains and carpets are cleaned before viewings and pests are dealt with the best that they can or this will seriously turn a buyer off and give them a good reason to reduce their offer on your home or not buy it at all.

Equipment maintenance

As with most buildings in the UK, there is equipment in a home that requires maintenance and this is something that is very much recommended to stay on top of as there are also regulations in the UK that state maintenance has to be carried out to rent a property legally.

While you will not be trying to increase the rental yield of a property, you will be selling, it is still important because the new buyer of a property may want to buy the property to rent.

If this is the case and you have stayed on top of equipment maintenance, this will not be a cost that the new buyer will have to incur so it is in your best interest to do the right gas safety checks, install an energy performance certificate and have an electrical safety certificate before selling.

For reference, an EPC has to be done every ten years, an electrical safety certificate every five years and a gas safety certificate must be issued every year in order to rent out a property legally.

If you are unsure about any of these checks, consider if you will need a solicitor to sell your property.

Repair defects

Defects in a property, even if they aren’t serious structurally, can indicate to a buyer that there are problems to come in a property and costs that need to be paid after they buy the house and move in.

As a result, it is always important to take care of the defects in a property that ruin the aesthetics of a home. Paint over cracks in walls and sand down scratched on the inside and out of a house.

In addition, any minor leaks from plumbing such as leaky taps are also quick fixes that you can use to reduce the scepticism a potential buyer has as this is something that also doesn’t require that much time either.

A final thing to so would be to replace the cracked glass in a home too before selling and using all of the above tips, you should be well on your way to selling a house without an estate agent if you aren’t sure how to repair defects.

To conclude

To wrap things up, if you need some additional tips on selling a shared ownership property or working out how long it takes to sell a house, read our articles on the topic for more information on selling. 

Nonetheless, this article should give you a good overview of what not to fix in your property in the UK when selling.

In general, cleaning, maintenance and defect repairs are good things to fix and you should avoid any extensive renovation or small repairs that could delay the sale of a home or bring forward new problems.

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Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.


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