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My house needs work, will it sell?

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

If the thought of fixing up a house that has been neglected for years sounds overwhelming, take heart, you can probably sell it just the way it is today.

Why you may choose not to fix your house up before selling

There are many legitimate reasons for not wanting to fix your house up before you sell. These are generally have to do with time, money and interest. Here are a few reasons:

  • money is tight or tied up in other places

  • mentally you have moved on from your current house

  • your energy and interests are somewhere else

  • the house you own is inherited, not your residence and you have many of other time-consuming responsibilities

  • health concerns or lack of a network of support from friends or family

  • the current market is hot (meaning houses are selling quickly and for more than the asking price), it may well be worth getting the house on the market immediately to take advantage of the favorable conditions for sellers

But won't I lose money?

Houses that need work sell for less than move-in ready houses. You are faced with a trade-off situation. With renovations and improvements, you could sell your house for more. But you will have to invest time and money into the house in order to attain that larger sales price. For any of the reasons listed above, that may not be possible or desirable for you. However, you can still make the most money possible if you market it correctly.

Focus on appealing to your target buyer

The buyer of a house that needs work is not someone who needs a move-in ready house that looks like it could be on an HGTV show. The buyer of house that needs work is someone who has the time, money and interest to fix it up. This is the person you need to visualize and speak to.

This kind of buyer loves information, think about having photos, measured floor plans and detailed remarks. Keep in mind that they are probably the type who know the market well and what a house sells for that needs work versus one that is a finished product.

Deal breakers

There are a couple of problems that may present too much of an obstacle for anyone but the most experience buyer of fixer-upper houses. In my experience, wet basements and structural problems will reduce your pool of buyers to investors who are looking for the absolute lowest price possible. If you have the funds to repair these problems before you go to market, I highly recommend that you do so.

Success story

When the owner of this all brick, three bedroom Colonial-style house first contacted us she was uncertain about whether or not she needed to fix it up. The main floor of the house was in pretty good shape, the kitchen had been updated in the last decade, big windows allowed in cheerful sunlight and the floors were a high-quality oak. However, the basement was wet, the floors of the bedrooms were in rough shape, there was peeling insulation in the attic and the whole house could have used a fresh coat of paint. After thinking through her options, she ultimately decided to repair the wet basement but to keep the rest of the work simple. She focused her energy on clearing out her belongings and paying for a detailed house cleaning. When she was ready, we had professional photos taken and floor plans drawn up, just as we would with any listing.

Here are the remarks that we included in the listing to appeal to the target buyer.

Think diamond in the rough! This price gets you into the community while allowing room for enhancements. The basics are there--the kitchen is updated, there's a den addition off the rear, and the basement is freshly waterproofed. The big attic is much too nice to use for storage. It's perfect to turn into a large bedroom with the smaller room below used as a home office, maybe dressing room? (See the floor plan.) Similarly, the basement is a blank slate for however you might want to finish it. The community is wonderful--small town living with Whole Foods, Riverdale Park Station, and the University of Maryland just up the street. There's a great Town Park with walking paths, new playground, big trees, Town-sponsored (free) shuttle to Metro AM PM, active Town government and Civic Association. The house conveys in AS IS condition.

After only 7 days on the market it was under contract for $18,500 more than list price. It had started at $405,000 but, because there was competition, the price was driven up. Our client was thrilled with the result. From our first meeting to settlement date roughly 3 months had passed. She was so excited to start her new life without the burden of her old house.

Ready to sell?

If you are uncertain about whether to fix-up your house or not before putting it on the market, contact me today for a free consultation. I can talk to you about the current market trends and give you an estimate for the value of your home. Then we can discuss your specific needs and time-frame which will help us come up with the best strategy for making you the most money with the lest effort.

Contact me today at or 240-413-4141 to talk about your plans for today and your plans for the future. We can discuss your current home value and the value of homes in your immediate vicinity. That kind of information can really increase your confidence as you make your decisions.

Who am I and how can I help you?

I'm Tamara Beauchard - realtor, architect and right-fit specialist

  • As a top-performing realtor with Re/Max Professionals, I handled nearly $12 million in real estate transactions this past year. I stay on top of the market to ensure that you are confident about the price and the process from our first meeting to the settlement table.

  • You have an architect on your side! My experience in the design and construction industry means that we can talk about renovations and improvements that will both beautify your home and improve it's resale value.

I'm a right-fit specialist who provides consulting services for people who are not ready to buy or sell right now, but need advice on where to start with renovating or downsizing. More about that service here.

Subscribe to my newsletter for more helpful and actionable information about buying, selling, renovating and downsizing.

Ready to sell, buy, renovate or downsize?

Contact me today at or 240-413-4141.

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