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How to sell a house in poor condition?

You might be wondering: "how to sell a “problem” property in today's real estate market. There is a sizeable market for those looking to acquire a “less than attractive” home. Rehabbers and investors, have a knack for taking one man’s trash and turning it into their treasure. Essentially, the problems that many believe to accompany such a home are in fact selling points for these individuals. In the event your marketing efforts prove fruitful and you find a potential buyer, you need to take the appropriate steps to close the deal. More often than not, they will be willing to take the property off your hands in exchange for attractive profits; you just need to know how to facilitate the sale.

Contrary to what Instagram-worthy listing photos would have you believe, not every house that hits the market is brand new, freshly remodeled, or sparkling to perfection. Nearly 80% of America’s housing stock has weathered two decades of wind, rain, and sun, and 38% of U.S. homes were built before 1970, according to a report from Freddie Mac. Meanwhile over a third of homeowners say they’ve been putting off at least one home improvement project for a year or more. Homes need constant TLC and keeping up with property maintenance is a never-ending job.

When you decide to sell your time, it’s time to face the music: issues like a leaky roof, dingy floor, potholed driveway, or cracked foundation are going to raise red flags with potential buyers. Most homeowners don’t recognize how much work their house needs until they start to pack up.

But how you choose to sell a house in poor condition really depends on your personal goals, timeline, and financial situation. Do you need to sell fast and accept a discount, or would you rather invest some time and money to command a higher price? In this guide we’ll help you evaluate what kind of shape your house is actually in, determine which repairs and updates you should make (if any), and strike a deal with the right buyer.

“Poor condition” is a relative term in real estate that translates differently from market to market. Your house could fall into any of the following camps:

1. Absolutely uninhabitable

In investor's slang, poor condition houses are ones that are considered uninhabitable. They refer to houses that are rundown, but habitable, as fair condition properties. Fair condition houses have dated finishes and fixtures, or maybe they have foundation issues.

This wide discrepancy between definitions is in part because “poor condition” is a term sometimes used by home inspectors when a house receives a bad inspection report. Houses that receive a poor condition rating have multiple issues that make them uninhabitable, that may include:

  • Serious electrical issues (outdated knob-and-tube wiring; frayed wiring; etc.)

  • Serious plumbing problems (leaky, corroded pipes; non-functioning water heater; etc.)

  • Severe and/or extensive roof damage

  • Black mold

  • Lead and/or asbestos

  • Termite infestation (or unrepaired damage)

  • Severe and/or extensive foundation issues

  • Severe and/or extensive chimney damage

  • Non-functioning HVAC

Selling a House in Poor Condition? You Have Options.

Easy Outs Homes can purchase homes “as is” in any condition. Tell us a bit about your property, and we’ll give you a fair no obligation offer. As a bonus, you can close in as few as seven days.

2. Visible repairs needed

A habitable house with several flaws and repair issues may gain a “fair condition” rating from a home inspector. However, many buyers and their agents will still consider a property as in “poor condition” if it has several of these serious problems:

  • Some electrical issues

  • Some plumbing problems

  • Significant roof damage

  • Significant wood rot

  • Significant foundation issues

  • Failing, yet still functioning HVAC

  • Damaged and outdated kitchen

  • Damaged and outdated bathroom(s)

  • Damaged flooring

  • Damaged and/or non-functioning faucets/light fixtures

3. A bit dingy — could use some updating

A home that has good bones, but has some general repair or deferred maintenance issues may gain a “fair” or “good” condition home inspection rating. However, if the house shows poorly, some buyers will still say it’s in poor condition — especially when writing up their offer.

Items that can give a house a bad rep as a “poor condition” property include:

  • Dirty, cluttered interior

  • Outdated Kitchen

  • Outdated bathroom(s)

  • Dirty, stained flooring

  • Dingy, peeling paint

  • Outdated finishes on faucets & light fixtures

  • Dead, overgrown, untended landscaping, (if you need help with that in Harford county, MD and surrounding areas request a free estimate from a great landscaping company here)

  • Weathered exterior (including peeling paint, minor wood rot, etc.)

I’m selling a poor condition house: What are my options?

No matter what level of “poor condition” your house is in, you have three basic options open to you to get it sold:

1. Do nothing and sell it as-is

Maybe it’s a lack of time, or cash, or motivation, or a combination of all three. But whatever the reason, you have no interest in investing any money or effort into your home before you list it for sale.

If that’s the case, you’ll be selling your property in what’s called as-is condition. Your buyer enters the home sale knowing that they are responsible for fixing any repair issues they find. This puts you in a “take it or leave it” situation should your buyer want to renegotiate an accepted offer after the home inspection.

However selling as-is doesn’t absolve you from all responsibility. You are still legally required to disclose any known problems in most states. Even where you aren’t required to disclose problems with your home, intentionally hiding known issues about your house in a transaction is never advisable. (If you are selling an inherited home that you’ve never lived in, however, you may be exempt from filling out your locale’s real estate disclosure form since you aren’t expected to be familiar with the property).

In addition, don’t be deceived by the “do nothing” mindset. While you don’t need to spend time and money on repairing major problems, it is wise to invest a little bit into your home before listing it for sale. A rundown house that’s also coated in a layer of grime, covered in dirty carpet, and hidden behind wildly overgrown landscaping guarantees you’ll get the least amount of money for your home.

You can net more by using nothing but your own elbow grease or a little cash to hire a pro to deep clean, declutter, and depersonalize your home:

  • Deep clean – $25-50 per hour (around $100 to $400 for a 2,000 square-foot house)

  • Declutter & depersonalize – $255 to $761 for a pro organizer; or 2-10 hours of your own time, plus the cost of storage containers

  • Landscaping maintenance – average of $61 for pro lawn mowing, plus an additional $12 to $40 per hour for weeding and basic pruning

  • Pro carpet cleaning – $50-75 per 10×14 room (including furniture removal/replacement)

2. Make low-cost, cosmetic fixes only

A clean, decluttered house makes necessary repairs seem less daunting to fix, but even buyers in the market for fixer-uppers get intimidated by a long list of must-do repairs.

If your poor condition requires a high number of major and minor repairs, it may make sense to knock out a few of the low-cost, cosmetic fixes to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

For example, let’s say your house hasn’t been updated in 20 years—so it’s due for a new roof, the HVAC is nearing the end of its lifespan, and all of the fixtures (lighting, faucets, appliances, etc.) are worn out and out of style.

Taken altogether, your potential buyer is looking at spending an additional $50,000 to $100,000 or more on remodeling your home. Are you willing to take that much less for your home? Probably not.

On the other hand, if you tackle the smaller jobs before listing, the big price tag items (like the roof or HVAC) that still have a few years of use left will feel manageable rather than overwhelming to potential buyers.

  • Repaint interior – $1,192 to $3,919 average for full home interior (an average of $1-3 per square foot)

  • Replacing outdated light fixtures – $88 to $250 for installation by a licensed electrician, plus an additional $30 to $100+ for each light fixture

  • Replacing old faucets – $246 to remove/install one sink faucet, plus an additional $25 to $200 for each faucet

  • Refinish existing cabinets – $1,800 to $2,200 for pro cabinet refinishing

3. Invest in some major repairs or upgrades

If your home is in truly poor condition, it definitely has severe problems that are too much for the average buyer to take on once you add them all together.

True, it makes no sense for you to invest tens of thousands of dollars putting your rundown house back into brand new condition, but it may make sense to make one or two major repairs simply to get your list price closer to what your home is actually worth.

Picking which needed repair or two you should do requires an honest assessment of what work your home needs, and a little research on how much each job will cost:

  • Replacing flooring – $2,200 to $7,400+ for materials and installation, depending on flooring type

  • Replacing appliances – $3,600+ for new appliances (fridge, oven/stove, dishwasher), plus an additional $100 to $300+ each for installation

  • Updating bathroom – $35,000 for a complete renovation

  • Updating kitchen – $38,300 to $68,000 for an upgrade or a complete renovation

  • Roof repair/replacement – $7,000 including installation and roofing materials

  • HVAC replacement – $8,200 including the unit and installation

If your home needs all of the above (and you don’t have the finances or ability to DIY a few of them to increase your list price), consider selling to a real estate investor.

With access to wholesale materials and a network of contractors, an investor can fix your house up for considerably less than you can — so they may be more willing to pay a reasonable (though still discounted) price for your home than a traditional buyer.

Should you put money toward improving your home’s condition? It depends. And if you decide to sell your house as-is simply request a no obligation offer from Easy Outs Homes. We will help you avoid the headaches and hustles of selling your house in poor condition.


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