Repairs to Make Before Selling a House

Learn more about repairing a property versus selling it as is and some of the most important major and minor home repairs.

By Emily Southey | 12 minute read

Oct 19

Repairs to Make Before Selling a House

Preparing your house for sale is a major undertaking. From decluttering to hiring a reputable realtor, there is a lot to do before your home is ready to be listed. Another major component of home sale preparation is repairs. If you want to get top dollar for your home, experts recommend that sellers make some key repairs. 

Repairing Your Home Versus Selling As Is

Aren’t sure whether to repair your home or sell it as is? While selling it as it might seem more convenient, doing so could be a mistake. For example, selling as is seems like the cheaper route on the surface, but the reality is that a few minor repairs could significantly increase the value of your home and lead to a much higher sale price. Consider the factors below to help determine whether repairing your home is right for you. 

Factors to consider

Some sellers sink too much money into fixing up their homes or spend money on unnecessary or unnoticeable repairs before listing them. Though some sellers refuse to make any repairs whatsoever and lose out on potential income. Before deciding whether to complete any repairs prior to selling, we urge you to carefully consider the following factors. 


  • The state of the real estate market: In a hot seller’s market, homes are likely to receive multiple offers and can sell in a matter of days. Since demand outpaces supply in a seller’s market, sellers can usually get away with little to no repairs. Unless major repairs are needed, buyers will still be likely to make an offer on the home. Alternatively, in a buyer’s market, buyers can afford to be a bit pickier. In such a market, completing repairs, even minor ones, can increase the odds of selling your home. 
  • The condition of comparable homes on the market: Using your realtor’s comparative market analysis, analyze the other homes for sale in your neighbourhood. Consider how your home stacks up against theirs. Is it in a similar condition or do the other homes on the market feature newer renovations or updates? If the other homes are in better condition than yours, making repairs might be a smart move if you want to compete.  
  • The likelihood of a return on your investment: Certain repairs are more likely to pay off than others. For example, kitchen or bathroom remodels can add significant value to a home, whereas other repairs may add so little value that they aren’t worth it. Speak with a contractor or real estate professional before starting any repairs to ensure you will see the return on investment you desire.

Selling a House As Is

Although doing repairs before selling a house can go a long way, there are certain situations when it might be wiser to sell a property as is. For example, if the home is in need of major repairs — and lots of them — selling it as is typically makes the most sense. Homes that require lots of repairs, from holes in the walls and stained floors to a broken electrical system and leaky faucets, are often referred to as fixer-uppers. If your home qualifies as a fixer-upper, your best bet might be to price it low enough to reflect the necessary repairs and attract multiple offers. 

Are homebuyers looking for fixer-uppers?

The short answer? Some are! There is certainly a portion of homebuyers out there who are not only willing to buy a fixer-up but are specifically looking for a fixer-upper. If your home needs lots of repairs, finding this type of buyer is key. A buyer looking for a fixer-upper likely won’t be thrown off by the state or condition of the home. In fact, they expect to have to do lots of work on the home before it’s move-in ready, from replacing light fixtures and repainting to installing new carpeting or windows. 


Keep in mind that there are certain repairs homebuyers usually aren’t interested in, even if they want to buy a fixer-upper. For example, some buyers will draw the line at homes that require foundational repairs. If moving walls or replacing a roof is necessary for your home to be lived in, your pool of buyers will narrow significantly.

“Some sellers sink too much money into fixing up their homes or spend money on unnecessary or unnoticeable repairs before listing them.”

Pros and Cons of Making House Repairs

Sellers will discover that making repairs on a home before selling comes with both pros and cons. The pros are as follows:


  • Completing repairs can significantly increase the amount a buyer is willing to pay for your home (by as much as tens of thousands of dollars).
  • Mortgage lenders may be more likely to approve a mortgage loan for a home in good condition, which increases your pool of buyers.
  • A home that has been updated or repaired may be more attractive to buyers, which increases the odds of multiple offers.


Meanwhile, the cons of making house repairs are:


  • There is no guarantee of a return on your investment (that is, you could sink money into repairs and not get this money back in the home sale).
  • Repairs take time to complete, with major repairs taking weeks or even months before they’re done.
  • The seller will likely be responsible for the cost of all out-of-pocket repairs.

Most Important Things to Repair Before Selling a House

If you’ve decided that repairing your home is right for you, take a look at the most important things to repair before selling a house. We’ve divided the most important repairs into two categories: major repairs and minor repairs. Major repairs typically take longer and are more expensive but may be necessary if you want to sell your home. Meanwhile, minor repairs are usually quicker and cheaper but can go a long way. 


Major Repairs

Plumbing issues

Plumbing problems can lead to serious water damage, which in turn, can cause dry rot and mould. The cost of repairing plumbing issues depends on the extent of the damage, how long it’s been left unaddressed, and the source of the water. If you’re lucky, plumbing issues may be limited to one leaky faucet or a toilet that won’t stop running. No matter the severity of the issue, addressing plumbing problems is usually worthwhile if you want to sell your home.

Electrical problems

Electrical problems are serious, even life-threatening matters. One problem with your electrical system could lead to a fire that damages the home or worse. The cost of electrical repairs varies significantly, so it’s best to contact an electrician for a quote. Some are inexpensive, like fixing a faulty light switch or frayed wiring, while others, like rewiring your entire home or replacing an old circuit breaker, are more expensive. 

HVAC issues

Your home’s HVAC system (which stands for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) is vital to the comfort of those who live there. However, new HVAC units can be expensive, costing anywhere between $3,000 and $12,000. Therefore, many buyers won’t be willing to purchase a home if they know they will need to pay for a new furnace or air conditioner after moving in. Of course, most sellers also want to avoid this hefty expense. If the HVAC system in your home is giving you trouble, contact a qualified HVAC technician to visit your home and assess the system. They can determine if it needs to be replaced or if a repair will do the trick. HVAC repairs typically cost far less than HVAC replacements.

Roof problems

An old, cracked, or damaged roof can significantly reduce the value of your property — especially since they are so costly to repair. If your roof is clearly in need of a fix, you might be wise to repair it before listing. While roof repairs are expensive, they have a good rate of return by adding major value to your home.

Foundation flaws

Foundation flaws should always be addressed by sellers if they want to sell their homes for the highest possible amount. Issues with the home’s foundation put the structural integrity of the property at risk. Although these repairs can be expensive, they are usually worthwhile. 

Lack of safety features

If your home is missing important modern safety features, like smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, make sure you right these wrongs as soon as possible. Not only are certain safety features legally required but your home’s safety will likely be assessed during a home inspection, so the odds of a buyer not noticing are slim to none. 

Minor Repairs

A fresh coat of paint

The first example of a minor repair that can go a long way is giving your home a fresh coat of paint. Repainting is one of the cheapest fixes a seller can do and it almost always leads to a return on your investment. Repaint the entire home if you can. However, if you don’t have time for that, pay close attention to walls, doors, or trim with chipped or peeling paint. While you’re at it, make sure to remove any wallpaper or decorative borders. When repainting, choose neutral colours that will complement your home’s staging, attract more buyers, and allow buyers to envision themselves in the space. Ultimately, new paint can completely transform a home, making it look cleaner, fresher, and more modern than it did before.

Replace old countertops

Replacing old countertops is a more expensive minor repair but one that may be worthwhile, especially if yours are outdated. A kitchen is the most important room in the home and has the ability to make or break a sale. Within the kitchen, appliances and countertops are everything. So if you’re going to do repairs anywhere, focus on the kitchen and start by replacing old counters.

Invest in brand-new appliances

As mentioned above, kitchens sell homes. A key part of kitchens is appliances. Appliances should not only work properly but should elevate the space. So if yours are old or broken, now might be the time to replace them. You’d be surprised how one noisy fridge or old dishwasher can impact the value of your home. 

We put the real back in real estate.

Join Wahi today and find out how easy it is to get real estate in Ontario.

Refinish hardwood floors

Hardwood floors are one of the most desired features among buyers. If your home has hardwood floors, you’re already on the right track. But if they look dull or are covered in scuffs, this can turn off a buyer. Rather than replacing the floors, you can simply have them refinished. Refinishing hardwood floors can make them look brand new, which can add significant value to your home. If you can’t afford to refinish them, make sure to give them a good polish to conceal any cracks or scratches as best you can. 

Spruce up the front yard

Your home’s exterior is the first impression a buyer has of your house. Make it count by sprucing up your front yard and entryway. This means weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, filling holes or cracks in the driveway or porch, repainting the front porch, cleaning the garage, washing the windows, and restaining the deck. You may even want to add fresh flowers, patio furniture, or a colourful wreath to make your home’s exterior pop.  

Regrout the bathtubs and showers

Regrouting the bathtubs and showers is a quick and easy fix that can make a world of difference. Regrouting old tiles can instantly make an old bathroom look fresh and new. If you don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself, hire a local handyman. 

Clean the windows

Cleaning the windows in your home is another minor repair that costs very little money but goes a long way. Not only do clean windows make your home appear cleaner overall (from both the outside and inside), but they also allow more light to enter your home, making it appear brighter. 

Replace old or outdated light fixtures

Lighting is everything, so take the time to illuminate dark areas of your home and replace old or outdated light fixtures before selling. Light fixtures can instantly brighten and modernize a room. Plus, they don’t require a major investment. In fact, we do not advise you to spend thousands on a fancy chandelier. An affordable yet stylish fixture is the way to go. At a minimum, make sure to replace any old, burnt-out light bulbs (ideally, replace them with high-wattage bulbs to make your home look brighter). 

Frequently Asked Questions

What improvements should I make before listing my home?

This depends on the condition of your home. If there are major areas in need of repair, such as a broken HVAC unit or leaky pipes, these should be addressed before listing your home. In addition, it is recommended that sellers handle any minor repairs that are quick and inexpensive to fix before listing. Examples of such repairs include repainting, refinishing hardwood floors, tidying up the front yard, and replacing outdated light fixtures.

What home repair is the most expensive?

The most expensive home repairs typically include foundation, roof, and HVAC repairs, water and termite damage, mould removal, and plumbing repairs (for example, repairing or installing new pipes). Before agreeing to any repair, make sure to have a professional assess the situation. They can give you an idea of the extent of the problem, as not all plumbing or HVAC repairs are created equal. For example, minor plumbing repairs like fixing a leaky faucet may cost hundreds of dollars to fix whereas major plumbing repairs like installing new pipes can cost thousands. 

Should I contact a real estate agent to get help?

Contacting a realtor is a great idea if you’re looking for help selling your home. Realtors have the resources and expertise to make selling your home a breeze. They will do a comparable market analysis, help you price your home to sell, and be by your side every step of the way. Plus, when you hire a realtor, they take on much of the work themselves. So you can sit back and relax while they host showings, market the property, negotiate with buyers, and prepare all the necessary paperwork to complete the transaction. An experienced realtor can also advise you on whether repairing your home is necessary before selling. They can recommend specific repairs and give you an idea of what kind of return on investment to expect for each one. 

Should I repair the driveway before selling my house?

This depends on the condition of the driveway. If it is warped, cracked, or damaged, repairing it might be a wise decision. If the driveway is seriously damaged, replacing it entirely might be the way to go. Since a home’s driveway is a major contributor to its curb appeal (which can affect overall home value), it’s important for it to be in good condition before selling. That said, before undertaking any major repairs, such as repairing a driveway, it’s best to consult with a contractor or real estate professional who can give you an idea of how much the necessary driveway repairs will cost and what kind of return on investment you can expect.

This depends on the condition of the driveway. If it is warped, cracked, or damaged, repairing it might be a wise decision. If the driveway is seriously damaged, replacing it entirely might be the way to go. Since a home’s driveway is a major contributor to its curb appeal (which can affect overall home value), it’s important for it to be in good condition before selling. That said, before undertaking any major repairs, such as repairing a driveway, it’s best to consult with a contractor or real estate professional who can give you an idea of how much the necessary driveway repairs will cost and what kind of return on investment you can expect.

Emily Southey

Wahi Writer