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Disclose, don’t disguise

Sellers are often inclined to find the easiest and cheapest ways to prepare their property for sale. They also believe they can save money by avoiding the work altogether. Ignoring issues in a house going on the market is not wise – disguising known issues is even worse. Both options are sure to backfire, which could delay or destroy the sale. Your reputation is also on the line.

Below are some examples of how homeowners try to hedge their bets. These are things to avoid when fixing up your home to sell: covering flooring in various stages of disrepair (such as carpet stains, other floor stains, wear patterns, torn or missing flooring, or other defects) with furniture or rugs; covering broken counter or wall tile with accessories or linens; covering wall cracks with art; covering broken window seals or cracked windows with window treatments; covering an active water stain with paint; covering marred and permanently stained tubs and shower floors with mats; and covering cracked stucco with landscaping

Note the “covering” pattern. Playing dumb by claiming things work when you know they don’t falls into this category too. Inspectors are likely to discover the problems you are concealing. You will be forced to correct the problems anyway or reduce the sale price to accommodate the repairs. Certainly, the new owners will see the problems soon enough. All roads lead to an unpleasant experience on both sides of the deal.

The best choice is to fix it. Well-kept houses attract more buyers and better prices. Buyers who notice problems being camouflaged will wonder what else the sellers are hiding and likely walk away. Distrust does not create an environment for a positive transaction.

If the problem is one you are unwilling or unable to repair, disclose it. There should be no surprises in a real estate sale. Consider getting a few bids from reputable companies to address the needed repairs before you place your house on the market. Buyers are likely to significantly overestimate the costs of these repairs in their negotiations. Having viable bids to correct the problems will help control your losses. The bottom line is disclose, never disguise. Better yet, just fix it!


©, 2016, Mindy Abramson, CSP, all rights reserved