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Repairing a Home Before Sale

Jan 10, 2008
If you're a savvy seller, you've done a termite report. The termite report will include items that are either Section 1 or Section 2. Section 2 items are things of a preventative nature, for example rectifying earth-to-wood contact, clearing vegetation away from the siding, etc. Section 1 items are the more serious items: active pest infestation, termite damage, fungus, and dry rot.

It is uncommon to find homes older than five years that have no Section 1 damage whatsoever, unless the house isn't made of wood. In some counties, the seller is not required to provide Section 1 termite clearance.

In some other counties and states, it is traditional or required to provide this clearance, but in many counties, law and tradition are such that sellers do not usually provide Section 1 clearance. The buyer normally assumes responsibility for repairing the damage.

If the Section 1 repairs are minor, consider having them done. It's a nice bullet point in the marketing - Includes Section 1 Termite Clearance! - especially because not all homes will have this.

If you have a lot of damage, though, I wouldn't necessarily advise that you have the damage repaired. Much of that depends again on who your ideal buyer is. If the ideal buyer for your home is someone who wants an immaculate house in turnkey condition, then by all means, have the repairs done and provide the clearance.

Don't feel compelled to do heavy, expensive repairs. If you feel that your ideal buyer is someone who knows that few homes have Section 1 clearance, just market your home with the cost of needed repairs factored into the price.

A lower price is usually more eye-catching than a higher one, and most buyers aren't expecting to find an existing, older home to be in mint condition, anyway.

If your home has a septic system, you'll really want to do a septic inspection before your put your home on the market. It's not legally required - but a septic problem can be a big issue, and it's something you will want to prepare for.

A home with septic problems is extremely difficult to sell, and it is best to make sure your home's septic system is functioning well. If it's not, and you can't afford to have the system repaired (it can get expensive), then you need to factor this into the asking price.
About the Author
This article was written by Seb Frey, a Real Estate Broker and Realtor in Capitola, California (Santa Cruz County). Seb runs the county's most-complete Real Estate web site, SantaCruzHomeBroker.com. Seb is fluent in Spanish, and works with buyers from all walks of life, helping them to buy or sell Santa Cruz real estate.
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