What Not to Fix When Selling A House

a for sale board outside a house

Before selling a house, it can be tempting to renovate everything before listing. It’s a common misconception that renovating a property can increase home value, which increases the sale amount and gives sellers a higher return. However, while some renovations can improve resale value, others will not.

Some fixes may be necessary to sell, but large cosmetic renovations (like a home addition or a kitchen remodel) are a big no. This is especially important to avoid if you’re hoping to see a return on investment (ROI) from such renovations. Instead, there are smaller things you can do to prepare your home for listing that won’t cost you a cent.

For example, improving the curb appeal of a property is always valuable. This means decluttering the front of the house, doing some lawn maintenance, tidying up weeds and shrubbery, and even painting the front door. Small changes like this can go a long way.

Keep reading to learn what NOT to fix when selling a house to maximize your profits.

Why Speak to an Experienced Realtor Before Deciding What to Fix?

a man and woman sitting on a couch discussing

Realtors live and breathe the real estate industry. They know the market in your area and can advise you on which repairs are worth the investment and which are not. When you invite a realtor around for a valuation, they can give you a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This is a document that compares the sale prices of other similar properties in the area to determine your property’s potential value.

The CMA will either determine that your home, in its current condition, is in line with your CMA, or, that other homes in your CMA are more updated than yours. You should consult with your realtor on this matter, as they can make recommendations on what repairs can bring your property in line with the market. This may help you to upgrade your home to meet your desired sale price, without spending an arm and a leg.

In addition, you can ensure that the features in your home line up with those of the homes in the area. Keep in mind though, there is no point in doing renovations that cost you $100,000 if it will only increase the sale price by $50,000. That would be considered a bad investment.

Additionally, remember that you can always sell a house as is. This is beneficial if you’re looking for a quick sale (because you’re a landlord, or investor, or are selling an inherited property) or if the property has major issues that will be too costly and time-consuming to fix.

What NOT to Fix When Selling a House

a family cheering in front of a for sale board outside a house

It’s tempting to remodel the whole kitchen and retile the bathrooms when preparing a house for a sale. It’s especially tempting to extend the home in hopes that you will get your money back (plus more) through the sale. But this investment may not yield the return that you are hoping for.

There are a few things you should absolutely not repair or renovate before selling your home. Avoid doing any of the following renovations before selling:

How to Renovate Wisely Before Selling

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it simply isn’t worth the investment to do any large renovations before selling. Even painting the interior and exterior of the home will only yield a 51% return, according to HomeLight. In some cases, painting the house may be necessary. But you may also have heard the old saying, “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!”. So, if there’s nothing wrong with the paintwork, don’t bother!

However, if your CMA suggests you have to renovate (or should to get a higher return on investment), here’s how to renovate wisely before selling.

Don’t Renovate According to the Latest Trend

Unless you intend to stay in the home, avoid renovations based on trends. Trends are exactly what the name implies. A trend. It’s seasonal, meaning you will have to repaint or retile according to the new trend in the following year or a few years later.

Also, what may be stylish to some could come off as being obnoxious to others. The trick is to keep it simple and standard. There are other ways to give your home a facelift on a budget and change the overall appearance of the home.

For example, fixing fixtures and faucets can go a long way in improving the overall appearance of your home. As does painting the cabinets and changing the hardware instead of replacing them. Cleaning the grout between tiles can also give your home a whole new look. Other, relatively inexpensive changes include painting a door, doorframe, trim, or room to a neutral color.

Don’t Start Renovations You Can’t Finish in Time

Renovations take time, and there’s nothing worse than having to delay a sale because you need to finish a series of unfinished remodeling projects. Only tackle changes and upgrades if you have the budget available for it and can purchase all of the tools and supplies needed to make the repairs. The last thing you want is to start repairs and run out of money mid-way. Structure a budget and time frame and stick to it religiously. 

In addition, supply chains often experience issues, and you may end up waiting longer than expected for those cabinets you ordered several months ago. A good rule of thumb is to wait until all of the supplies and tools have been purchased and are sitting in your home before you take on the job. Selling a house with unfinished projects can make your home look cluttered, untidy, and not polished. This can put off potential buyers and even decrease home value slightly.

What Should I Fix Before Selling a House?

a person fixing pipework

There are some repairs that need to be conducted in order to make sure your home passes the home inspection. These changes relate to safety and include things like:

As a side note, not all electrical issues need to be addressed. For example, a light fixture that doesn’t work or a loose plug cover may not affect the outcome of the inspection. This means that it isn’t always necessary to fix small issues.


Consult with your realtor regarding a CMA and only repair what is absolutely necessary to make your home comparable to other homes in the neighborhood. Cleaning, organizing, and decluttering inside and outside the home can dramatically improve your curb appeal. Attend to all repairs that are safety-related and avoid any major renovations. Small repairs around the home can dramatically improve the overall appearance of the home without breaking the bank. 

Are you considering renovating vs selling your home? At Brotherly Love Real Estate, we buy houses as is in Philadelphia, San Diego, and New Jersey. To learn more about what we do, contact us online or give our expert team a call today at (215) 769-9875.

Author: My name is Shaun. I recently sold my house. I spent a lot of time and money fixing it so that I would sell it for top dollar. When it finally sold, I didn’t get all my money back from the repairs. It was really upsetting. I was sure I would recoup my cash. In fact, not only did I expect to recoup all my money but I thought my house would sell for more! I was expecting a huge payday! Boy was I wrong! If only I had been given the chance to read an article like this.