A young family redecorate their house. SAM Conveyancing discuss What Not to Fix When Selling a House
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What Not to Fix When Selling a House

20/07/2023
(Last Updated: 12/12/2023)
564
8 min read
Key Takeaways

Selling a house in the UK can be an exciting, yet challenging process. While some repairs and updates can increase your property's value and appeal, not everything needs fixing. Focusing on the right areas can save you time and money, while still attracting potential buyers.

In this article, we'll also explore what brings down the value of a house in the UK, whether you need to fix everything before selling, the sellers' liability for repairs after closing, and the legal obligations regarding disclosure when selling a house. You may also want to read our guides on Selling a House in Poor Condition or boosting your Kerb Appeal for sale.

Skip these fixes when selling a house:


Minor Cosmetic Imperfections

While you want your home to look presentable, not all minor cosmetic imperfections need immediate attention. Small scuffs or scratches on walls or floors can often be easily overlooked by potential buyers. Instead of investing in costly repairs for minor blemishes, consider offering a decorating allowance or negotiating the price accordingly.

The time would be better spent on a deep clean of the property, inside and out, including windows, skirting boards, door frames, window sills and around the kitchen units/cooking area.

Personalised Décor

Your house might reflect your unique taste and style through décor choices like bold paint colours, unconventional wallpapers, or unique fixtures. While these might not appeal to everyone, they don't necessarily need to be fixed before selling. In many cases, buyers will want to add their personal touch to the property, and will redecorate to their own taste once they move in.

Major Landscaping

While curb appeal is a major buying factor, a complete landscaping overhaul might not be necessary. Ensure the garden is tidy, mow the lawn, and trim overgrown plants, but extensive landscaping projects can be costly and are unlikely to yield a significant return on investment.

Superficial Wear and Tear

Normal wear and tear that comes with living in a house can be expected, and buyers generally understand this. Minor scratches on surfaces, worn-out carpets, or aging kitchen cabinets might not need immediate replacement, unless they are significantly affecting the overall look and functionality of the property.

Non-Functional or Unused Spaces

If you have an attic, basement or garage that is currently unused or in need of renovation, you might not need to fix them before selling. Instead, present these spaces as opportunities for potential buyers to convert into living space according to their needs. If they don't need the space, they won't want to pay for the conversion through a higher purchase price, but they will appreciate the potential to repurpose the spaces in their own time.

If you are looking to maximise your selling potential, it may be worth asking a valuer how much an additional bedroom would add to the value of the property, against the cost of converting the unused space. Bear in mind though, that you'll cause more issues for yourself when selling if the work fails to meet planning and building regulations requirements.

Outdated but Functional Appliances

While updated appliances can be appealing to buyers, perfectly functional older appliances can still be a selling point. You can also get away with replacing old or broken appliances with better, second hand ones. In most cases, instead of replacing the appliances, consider offering an appliance warranty or highlighting their reliability.

The main exception to this rule is the boiler. An old boiler is likely to flag up on the buyer's home survey even if it's still running okay. This is because boilers of a certain age are prone to breaking down and are typically much less efficient than a new one. If your boiler is old and tired, this can be worthwhile to fix when selling a house.

Minor Plumbing or Electrical Issues:

Unless there are safety concerns, minor plumbing or electrical issues like dripping faucets or faulty light switches can be disclosed to potential buyers, who can then decide how they want to handle them. Again, many buyers will redecorate after their purchase, which may include hardware.

What Brings Down the Value of a House in the UK?


1. Structural problems

Significant structural issues like foundation cracks, subsidence and rotten or compromised beams and joists can significantly reduce the value of a property and may deter potential buyers.

2. Tired and shabby fixtures and fittings

Old and worn-out fixtures, such as outdated kitchen cabinets and bathroom fittings, can make a house less appealing to buyers.

3. Damp and mould

Damp and mould issues can raise major concerns about potential health hazards and expensive repairs, leading to lower offers.

4. Inadequate insulation and energy efficiency

Homes with poor insulation and energy performance might be less desirable to buyers seeking to minimise utility costs.

5. Unkempt gardens or exteriors

Neglected gardens and poorly maintained exteriors can create a negative first impression, impacting the property's overall value.

Do I Need to Fix Everything Before Selling a House?

While some repairs and updates can make your house more attractive to buyers, you don't necessarily need to fix everything. Focus on essential repairs that significantly affect a potential buyer's decision and your sale price:

Cosmetic enhancements

Minor cosmetic updates like fresh paint, new carpets, and improved lighting are relatively cheap to do and can give your home a more appealing look. These are optional, depending on your capacity and if you're willing to accept slightly less for a scruffier property.

Addressing safety issues

It's crucial to fix any safety hazards, such as faulty wiring, loose handrails and compromised beams, joists and rafters, as these can raise concerns for buyers and affect your ability to sell.

Curb appeal

First impressions matter. Enhance the curb appeal of your property by tidying up the garden, repainting the front door, and maintaining a well-kept exterior.

Major structural issues

Significant structural problems should be addressed or disclosed to potential buyers. In some cases, you might consider adjusting the asking price to accommodate necessary repairs.

Broken external doors & windows

If the glazing is broken or blown, or the wood or frames are damaged to pose a risk to the security of the house or water ingress, this should be fixed before selling a house.

Get familiar with the common defects which are picked up in a home survey, as these are the main triggers for buyers to pull or reduce their offer.


Selling a house in poor condition?

If the house is in poor overall condition and you do not have the time or the liquid cash to fix it before selling, you should consider reducing your asking price. Properties in poor condition can still sell for more than others in less desirable locations. Selling at auction can be a great way to sell a property quickly without having to fix it.


Are the Sellers of a House Liable for Repairs After the Closing in the UK?

In the UK, the general rule is "buyer beware." Once the sale is completed, the responsibility for repairs typically falls on the buyer. However, there are some exceptions:

Contractual agreements

If specific repair agreements are included in the contract, the seller may be liable for those repairs even after the closing.

Misrepresentation

If the seller deliberately conceals or misrepresents known issues, they might still be held liable for repairs or face legal consequences.

Warranty or guarantee provisions

Some sellers may offer warranties or guarantees for certain aspects of the property, which could hold them accountable for repairs within the specified period.

What Do You Legally Have to Disclose When Selling a House in the UK?

In the UK, sellers have legal obligations regarding property disclosure. Sellers must provide accurate and comprehensive information about the property, including:

Structural issues

Any known structural problems must be disclosed to potential buyers.

Damp and mould:

Sellers should inform buyers about any past or present damp or mold issues.

Planning permissions and building regulations

If there have been alterations or extensions to the property, the relevant planning permissions and building regulation certificates must be disclosed.

Disputes or neighbour issues

Sellers should disclose any ongoing disputes with neighbours or boundary-related issues.

Flood risks

If the property is at - risk of flooding, sellers are required to inform buyers about this.

When selling a house in the UK, it's essential to prioritise repairs and updates that significantly impact the property's value and appeal. By strategically choosing what not to fix, you can save time and money, and better focus your efforts on presenting your home in its best light to potential buyers. Remember, honesty and transparency are critical for building trust with buyers and achieving a successful sale.

Are you ready to sell?
Our expert conveyancing solicitors are well equipped to handle the sale of your property. Whether fixing-up for a better price or completing quickly to release funds, get a fixed fee conveyancing quote today and enjoy our no sale no fee guarantee.

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Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Written by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Reviewed by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.

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