9 Things That Devalue a Home

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Feverpitched / Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you’re preparing to sell your home or thinking about it in the future, even as a retirement option, it’s not always as simple as giving it a quick clean and putting it on the market. There are a number of things that can devalue your home and make it either tough to sell, or ensure it sells for below your asking price.

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Here we learn from real estate experts what devalues a home and the major things to avoid or consider before putting it on the market.

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One thing you can’t always control is unfortunately one of the most important determining factors in home value, according Rinal Patel, a Licensed Realtor and Co-Founder of We Buy Philly Home.

“A bad location means that the home will not be as desirable to potential buyers, which will make it harder to sell and, as a result, will likely result in a lower sales price. Places with a high crime rate, far from amenities, or in a bad school district are examples of bad locations that can devalue a home.”

Keep that in mind before you buy.

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Shoddy Repairs

The most common problems that devalue a home are “shoddy repairs,” says real estate investor Tomas Satas, founder and CEO at Windy City HomeBuyer. “You wouldn’t believe the things that people do to ‘fix’ their homes.”

He described such bad ideas as supporting the floor joists with temporary supports but never putting a permanent support in, decks supported with leaning stacks of lumber or piles of stones, and much more.

“I totally understand having to find a temporary solution, but if you own a home, please follow through with proper repairs to keep your home safe and avoid failing inspection. You’re going to have to pay for it one way or another.” 

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Delayed or Ignoring Maintenance

A house may not need repairs as often as cars or electronics, but you have to maintain a certain amount of upkeep. Jeff Shipwash, owner and founder of Shipwash Properties LLC, said, “Many homeowners put off or delay simple maintenance and upkeep items such as seasonal HVAC maintenance, roof repairs, gutter repairs and cleaning, exterior cleaning, and many other items.” 

Additionally, ignoring repairs is a bad idea. “When you have an obvious repair such as a small roof leak, you should remedy that as soon as possible. Letting this go could result in damage that would exceed most budgets. In addition, failing to clean gutters yearly could result in damage around your foundation. A damaged foundation will kill the value of your home.”

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Unpermitted Work

Another issue Shipwash sees is work done without a permit. “Things such as additions, new decks, electrical additions, plumbing additions, etc, typically require permits. When a home has unpermitted work, this will devalue your home. A new buyer has to take on the responsibility of having those things redone and also the fees associated with having it inspected.”

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Poor Quality Paint Job

The exterior of your property is a first impression to a potential buyer, said Sep Niakan, managing broker of Condoblackbook. “Exterior paint that is fading, chipping, or peeling is a major turnoff. Painting your home in a distinctive color has another drawback. Buyers choose neutral hues like beige, grey, white, and cream. Therefore, pick your colors wisely and repaint the outside as soon as it starts to fade.”

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When you move into a home, it’s natural to make it your own so you feel comfortable. The problem, according to Kate Diaz, a real estate expert and co-founder of Swanky Den, is that too much customization can devalue your home.

“While making your home your own is important, you don’t want to go overboard with customization. Too much personalization can make it difficult for potential buyers to envision themselves living in the space. Stick to more neutral colors and designs that appeal to a wider range of people.”

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Poor Curb Appeal

Letting the outside of your home and yard deteriorate is one of the quickest ways of devaluing your property, said Alain Perez-Majul, a real estate agent and investor with virtuecashbuyers.com.

“For one, you want your property to remain inviting and attractive to others — when selling your home, this is the main thing that draws potential buyers in. Secondly, appraisers pay a lot of attention to curb appeal, and thus poor curb appeal is an easy way to bring down the value of your home.”

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Outdated Features

You want your house to reflect your taste, but not another time, according to Kurt Grosse, a real estate agent with Realty One Group in Las Vegas. “Things that I see that devalue a home and most of our clients walk away from immediately are homes where the owner has a 20-year-old house and has not upgraded a thing.” He cites such features as apartment-grade carpet and four inch tile counters and showers as turnoffs.

He added, “Outdated features in a home causes homebuyers to assume that nothing in the home has ever been touched since it was built. Purchase offers will tend to reflect the expense of updating the house plus replacing HVAC units, windows, and appliances.”

Unfinished projects also devalue properties. Rust anywhere is a sign that the home seller doesn’t do proper maintenance on the home.

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Dirty or Stinky Rooms

Be warned that home buyers also offer less for a home that smells badly, said Kevin Bazazzadeh, real estate agent and founder of Brilliant Day Homes. “A dirty front door, old and dirty lights, and also bugs and spider webs will lower the offer price. Nothing is more devaluing than pet feces and urine in a house. Bird droppings on a roof or patio that aren’t cleaned up often have my buyers refusing to consider purchasing a property.”

Keep it clean, folks!

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