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Selling a House in Poor Condition
As you're reading this, you're probably thinking of putting your home up for sale. Of course, you'd like to get a decent price for it, but what if it has sustained damage throughout the years, such as peeling paint, a leaking roof, or even has outstanding tax liens and financial obligations such as missed house payments?
Such a property in poor condition is not uncommon.
In fact, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the median age of owner-occupied homes in the country is 39 years! Age can be unkind to anyone, more so to houses with deferred maintenance or downright neglect.
A natural disaster such as a flood or hurricane, or even an accident such as a fire can horribly damage a house that it ends up in such a poor condition.
Sometimes, the damage may have gotten so bad necessitating costly repairs that could add up to tens of thousands of dollars and you may not have the funds for it.
So what can you do?
Well, not all hope is lost. Ultimately, how you'd go about the sales process would depend on your financial situation, your timeline, and your personal motivation.
In this article, we're here to walk you through the process of selling your home in poor condition-- whether you have the budget for extensive repairs or not.
Categories of a House in Poor Condition
Saying a house is in poor condition may mean different things to different people. Even a home inspector wouldn't say that a house is in poor condition no matter how rundown it is.
An inspector will say what he sees onsite, such as how sound the structure is, and then proceed with the recommendations. There just isn't a box to be ticked off that says 'poor condition' in the home inspection report.
Rather, your house may fall in any of these three categories after its condition has been evaluated:
Needs Cosmetic Repairs and Updating
Your home may simply be outdated but it's relatively undamaged. Sure, there are some minor repairs that are needed, but fortunately, these are things you can do yourself using only a few hundred dollars. What's more, the rate of return for these upgrades and fixes can be high.
Since they still cost money, it is important to stick to a budget.
These cosmetic repairs include the following:
- Existing cabinets and doors that are in need of updating - for instance, yellowing shaker cabinet doors that can be replaced with a more modern design
- Stained granite countertop - can be replaced with quartz or sintered stone with new and interesting patterns and colors
- Peeling paint - a fresh coat of paint could spruce up both your home's interior and exteriors
- Messy and overgrown yard - a bit of landscaping could spruce up your yard and boost your home's curb appeal
- Outdated light fixtures - replace outdated incandescent and fluorescent light fixtures with LED down lights and panel lights (you can save on electricity costs too!)
- Stained flooring
- Worn-out carpet
- Cluttered interiors - a little cleanup goes a long way. It can also help your prospective buyer visualize the space better
- Missing fence boards - not only for security reasons, replacing missing fence boards and repainting your fence can make your property look more attractive
Needs Major Repairs and Updating
These are houses that teeter on the edge of uninhabitability. They are considered a house in poor condition due to the following issues:
- Functioning but damaged roof - can be a terribly leaky roof that you're better off replacing it altogether
- Minor foundation issues - such as cracks reparable by sealant or mortar
- Inefficient but still functioning heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
- Damaged and outdated kitchen and bathrooms
- Broken heaters and boilers
- Some plumbing problems and electrical issues - such as broken faucets, nonfunctioning light fixtures, or old pipes which can burst in winter
Poor Condition to the Point of Being Uninhabitable
Houses that are considered uninhabitable have issues threaten the safety of those who might live in them. Some of these issues can be considered code violations. Major repairs must be undertaken to bring them up to standard. These include:
- Serious electrical issues - this may entail rewiring as old wirings can become a fire hazard
- Serious plumbing problems such as a nonfunctioning septic system
- Nonfunctioning heating and cooling systems
- Severely damaged roof - either completely blown away during a natural disaster or eaten away by wood rot, on the verge of collapse
- Severe termite infestation - structural members such as beams and columns made of wood must be thoroughly inspected
- Extensive presence of mold and/or asbestos
- Badly-damaged and unusable chimney
- Serious structural issues such as failing foundation, bowed basement walls, sagging floor and ceiling joists, and so on
- Hoarder house
3 Options in Selling a House In Poor Condition
Yes, selling a house in poor condition can be tough, but it's not impossible.
You have three avenues open to you: invest upfront in making major repairs to get the best price; make quick, low-cost repairs prior to selling on the local market; or sell your house as-is to a real estate investor for cash.
Let's discuss your options one by one.
Option #1: Invest in major repairs before listing on the local real estate market
If you're looking to get the best asking price for your home, then this would be the course of action you need to take.
Usually, the buyer's loan approval is contingent on the habitability of the property they are purchasing. Moreover, most first-time home owners are looking for a house they could immediately move into. In real estate market terminology, these are known as "turnkey" properties.
Making major repairs cost money, and we outlined the nationwide averages for you so you can take them into consideration when evaluating your financial condition:
- Roof replacement - $8,314
- Kitchen remodel - $25,000
- Bathroom remodel - $10,000
- Foundation repair - between $250 and $100,000
- Asbestos abatement - $1,994
- Mold remediation - $2,214
- Termite removal and treatment - $575
Returning your house from its poor condition to its former glory can take months and thousands of dollars to complete. You must calculate how much boost making major repairs can add to your property value.
You must also determine whether you're up to the challenge of supervising the work since construction is volatile, uncertain, complex/chaotic, and ambiguous (VUCA). You can certainly outsource the construction, but you should be strategic on where you invest as doing these repairs does not guarantee that all your upfront costs can be recouped.
If you're working with real estate agents, they can help identify which repairs can bring the greatest ROI and help sell your property for a higher price.
After the repairs and renovation have been made, you can now list with a real estate agent. As in all traditional real estate transactions, they will be the one to take care of the staging, the showing, and the negotiating-- you just have to pay the agent costs, and their commission.
Option #2: Undertake cosmetic fixes before listing with a real estate agent
In a seller's market, you can sometimes do away with even the tiniest of repairs and still get the fair market value of your house. In a buyer's market, however, you'd do well to do these minor repairs to attract potential buyers and sell your house for a higher price.
Let's look at how much some of these minor cosmetic fixes cost:
However, if your home is not too dilapidated, it is still possible to sell as-is the traditional way as long as your buyer can qualify for a mortgage.
Choosing to list with a professional real estate agent can save you time and energy since they will be in-charge of the showings, staging, and negotiations with your buyer. They can also provide you with real estate advice and answer any questions you may have. You must remember though, real estate agents have fees and this will be subtracted from your earnings from the sale.
If you'd like to save money on commission and other financial obligations in selling with a real estate agent, you can go the For Sale by Owner (FSBO) path. This way, you have full control over the sales process, but also full responsibility. If you have the energy and time to spare, then consider this option.
Option #3: Sell as-is to cash buyers
If you would like to save money, time, and energy and would like to sell fast, selling as-is to cash buyers is a good fit. However, you should be willing to accept a discounted offer, as they will be taking on the risk and paying for the repairs.
If your house is absolutely uninhabitable, selling as-is may be your only recourse if you do not have the money for the major repairs that it will entail. Retail buyer's loan approval won't go through for dilapidated houses.
Selling your home as-is means you do away with inspections, repairs, appraisals, and hassle of staging your home for sale. In fact, you could probably attract more cash buyers if your house is obviously distressed as there are buyers who purposely seek them out.
Real estate investors can either be house flippers or landlords who purchase homes and then repair, rehabilitate, and renovate, before selling for a profit or putting it up for rent. These cash buyers don't rely on bank financing or mortgage lenders so the sale can close faster. Most of them even cover closing costs.
Additionally, if your house has outstanding tax liens or financial obligations, the real estate investor will still be able to close fast because these will be subtracted from the cash offer at closing.
A caveat to this convenience of selling as-is comes at a price. Since the real estate investor will have plenty of work to do on your property before it can be sold or rented out, they would factor in these labor and material costs in their cash offer. This means they would most likely be purchasing your property below market value.
But then again, you close the sale quickly, saving you lots of time, and you get cash in your pocket. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Selling a House in Poor Condition: What Should I Do?
Deciding which option to take hinges upon whether you have the time, money, and motivation to fix up all your home's issues prior to listing. If you're the type to take on home improvement projects, then, by all means, do the repairs.
Otherwise, to make it easier for you, here are some steps you could take:
1. Find out Your Home's Actual Condition
Before doing anything, it's best if you know where you stand as far as your home is concerned. You must arrange a home inspection so that you can get ahead of the repairs or upgrades you may need to do to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.
During an inspection, a professional home inspector looks at every nook and cranny of your home to check whether everything is in good working order. And if not, it would say so in the report so you can do something about it. It would prevent you from being caught off-guard if the buyer does their own inspection and uses their report as leverage in the negotiations.
Furthermore, having your home assessed by a professional would help gain the trust of prospective buyers since they'll know exactly the state of the house that they're interested in.
2. Check the Market Conditions and Real Estate Trends
The prevailing market condition can be a deciding factor. In a hot seller's market, where buyers snap up properties like there's no tomorrow, you can probably get a good asking price while doing very little to your property.
In a slower market, however, it can be worthwhile to undertake most minor repairs and even some major ones to sell your home for its market value.
Likewise, pay attention to what is in vogue in real estate. You may not even need to spend much, but a little update to your façade or some minor landscaping work might work wonders in boosting your asking price.
3. Scope out the Competition
In order to determine your home's property value you'd want to set a realistic price. In order to do that, you can do a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA gives you the estimated value of your home based on recently-sold properties in your area. If you have a real estate agent involved, they can prepare a CMA for you.
Even if your home is not in a great condition, you can get a good sales price if the properties for sale in you area are a good mix of fixer-uppers or remodeled, as long as the yard and the house itself is clean.
4. Compute the Return on Investment (ROI) on Repairs
Using the inspection report as your basis, you can list down the repairs that need to be done and see how it stacks up against the potential ROI.
For example, spending a little under $4,000 to replace your garage door could recoup 95% of its cost and improve your home's fair market value. Roof replacement, on the other hand, returns 60% of its cost in a real estate transaction.
5 Tips in Selling Poor Condition Houses
1. Focus on the Positives
It's a glass half-full, half-empty kind of situation. As a seller, you can highlight the positives, such as the square footage of your property, the lot size, the location, proximity to amenities, architectural style, and its features such as the number of rooms and bathrooms.
2. Disclose Major Issues
Honesty is the best policy. It is better to disclose all known issues, even in caveat emptor states. Doing so fosters good will and gives the buyer a clear picture of what they are purchasing. It also clears you from the possibility of getting into legal hot water down the line.
While you're at it, it might be better to call a professional inspector and have your house looked at. An inspection report lists all material defects, and may even uncover problems that you may have missed.
This is a good thing, since buyers usually conduct their own inspection prior to closing on the sale, and if they are the one to discover these problems, they would have the leverage in the negotiations.
Doing your own inspection prevents you from being caught flat-footed. An exception is when selling as-is, as you can skip the inspection altogether.
3. Make Minor Repairs
Doing minor cosmetic repairs that you can do yourself, such as replacing outdated light fixtures, doing some basic landscaping, or giving your home a fresh coat of paint could enhance curb appeal and attract more buyers.
4. Compensate the Buyer for the Needed Repairs if Selling As-Is
Offloading a problem property may be convenient for you, but it will be burdensome to the buyer. A house in poor condition will need lots of repairs so the buyer would expect to be compensated for this.
As a seller, you can shop around for reputable contractors and get quotations which you can then pass on to the buyer if you're selling as-is. These quotations will also help you in setting a realistic price for your house which would help sell it faster.
5. Prepare to Make Concessions on the Price
You can expect your property's market value to take a hit if it is in a really poor condition such as: having structural damage arising from a termite infestation; severe foundation issues; or having asbestos present.
It is better to psychologically prepare for the concessions that the buyer may ask from you such as repair credits at closing, or a significant discount from the market value of your property.
Closing Thoughts: Selling a House in Poor Condition
Hopefully you have a better understanding of what poor condition means in terms of your own house. Making major repairs and selling with an agent will be a long process that may garner you a higher price but not necessarily a higher profit.
However, selling a house in poor condition doesn't have to be complicated. You can sell as-is to a cash buyer in a matter of days allowing you to move on quickly from your house in poor condition.
At Sell My House Fast, we're cash buyers for all kinds of real estate-- even a house in poor condition!
Sagging roof beams? No problem!
Sinking flooring? We'll take it!
Leaky roof and flooded basement? Yes, please!
No property is too troublesome for us. You don't need to deal with a real estate agent and pay their commissions! We close on the date you choose. We even cover all closing costs for you!
So, fill out the form below so we can get started on the process and take the problem property off your hands!
If you'd like to get in touch with us, call us at (844) 207-0788. We'd absolutely love to hear from you!