5 Ways Deferred Maintenance Can Affect Your Sale

When I am called in to discuss a potential listing, I often hear my seller's saying things like, "We are just getting tired of maintaining this house," or "Taking care of this house is becoming too much for me." 
As a Realtor, that often means to me that there are some big ticket items that the seller knows they need to tackle and they just don't want to take them on. If you find yourself in this boat, this is what you might expect.
  1. Buyers will notice the deferred maintenance and it will be reflected in the price. If they don't notice it, or it is not visible, their home inspector will. You are often better off financially taking care of it prior to listing, rather than discounting your price later.
  2. Sometimes minor repairs send out big warning messages. Buyers often think that if you were willing to ignore obvious repairs, what might be unseen? Sometimes these small items can have big consequences. Many times I have seen cracked or missing grout cause water leaks and ceiling damage on the floor below. 
  3. There will be deferred maintenance items of which you will be unaware. Remember, the home inspector is hired to look at everything--and they prove their worth by finding often obscure concerns (although not always problems). Try to just go with the flow on this, but hire a listing agent that you trust will give you good advice on when to pay and when to hold firm. 
  4. Deferred maintenance items can have big-ticket prices (roof, HVAC, water heater). Do yourself a favor, if you don't intend to replace big ticket items, then have them professionally inspected and maintained. It is worth a couple of hundred dollars to have an HVAC contractor certify that the HVAC is working as expected and that it has received a 'tune up.'
  5. The hotter the market, the less deferred maintenance matters is a myth. If a buyer feels like they have paid full price, or even over full price, they will often start to get cold feet and will lock in on some of these items. The credits you provide may be more than the value of the repair or inspection. Items repaired prior to listing can often be done by the homeowner or a handyman. At least in Virginia, if you wait until post-inspection, you will be required to use a specialist (ie. a plumber, roofer, etc.) for the repair, as part of the contract. 
It is worth taking the time, and money, to deal with deferred maintenance items. I generally find that sellers who opt not to repair certain things prior to listing end up paying for that repair either in reduced sales price or by paying a specialist to take care of the repair prior to closing.
Do yourself a favor, and prior to listing your home, give it a good once-over. If there are things that need to be repaired, go ahead and get them done. You will be happy that you did!



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Comment balloon 2 commentsHolly Weatherwax • July 26 2017 02:51PM


You make a valid point, although I suppose some people simply can't afford to take care of any major repairs - like a roof. Then they need to understand that it will have to be reflected in the price.

It used to annoy me a lot, however, when we would price a house to take needed repairs into account, and then buyers would want to reduce the price because those repairs needed to be done.

I  certainly agree with your point in #5 - doing the repairs before an inspection can be far less expensive than waiting and having to hire a contractor.

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 1 year ago

I think Ian an important conversion to have with sellers so they realize what deferred maintenance will cost them

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA, (Keller Williams Capital Properties) over 1 year ago

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