5 Things To Fix Before You List Your House in Sacramento

Any conversation about selling a house in Sacramento has to include a list of what you will need fix and update to be competitive in today’s market. Sellers have real choices to make and throughout the process they need to evaluate their budgets, returns on investment and know the point of diminishing returns. It is a matter of knowing the bottom line and evaluating the risk.

Rehabbing or remodeling a house is expensive. I know. My name is Peter Westbrook and I am a real estate investor in Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto. After over 10 years and hundreds of families and houses I know what to do. It is a simple formula… when we start a house we begin by taking it down to the walls. Everything comes out. Toilets, vanities, doors baseboards, kitchen cabinets, light fixtures, ceiling fans countertops, the flooring and appliances. There is no second guessing our process. It is ingrained. We have the maximum impact because we can address every issue from the ground up. We inspect, we test and we replace.  

Unfortunately most sellers can’t go from one end of the house to the other and just clear it out. They have grown attached to that $95 shower head and $300 vanity that was purchased just 3 years ago. For them, our radical clearing out is called … moving day.

Most sellers are a bit more more methodical in their approach and they start by creating a budget and a plan of attack. Most people mistakenly believe (including a lot of inexperienced real estate agents) that they know what needs to be fixed and what they can keep. The think that they understand what adds value when selling a house. I get it… everyone’s an expert. Someone actually said to me the other day… “It’s hard to make a mistake when prices are up in all neighborhoods, interest rates are down and all you need to do to take advantage of any appreciation gains in this market with superficial cosmetic fixes, right”? Not even close.

According to that rationale a great looking front yard is going to win over a would be buyer… A freshly painted front door in a faddish color will grab a buyers attention and they will never notice the old and tired appliances, the banged up but painted doors and baseboards or that stained but original hardwood floor…

Maybe that is all good for television and first impressions, but the truth of the matter is that the buyers perception of a nice house will unravel quickly once the fist inspector hits the scene. All of those cosmetic fixes will end up like a pin prick bursting a balloon at a 5 year olds birthday party. The pop will be loud and most of the bystanders will shudder, wondering what just happened.

Yes, those cosmetic fixes are not going to fool anyone that gets within 3 feet of a problem area. I speak from experience. I am not some arm chair rehab journalist writing to give you tips that are hyperbole.  I am a real estate investor in Stockton, Sacramento and Modesto and it is what I do for a living. For the past 10 years we have developed skills in determining what to fix in any house. That experience comes with making costly mistakes. I can assure you that even though we know how to make it look simple, there are a lot of armchair experts out there offering advice on fixing houses that are just plain wrong.

The challenge for any seller is actually adding real value that buyers are looking for? How many HGTV shows do you have to see before you know what needs to be fixed? The answer really depends on whose money you are spending. The real experts are in the field everyday spending their own money and taking the risk. The truth is that cosmetic fixes are easy and can improve the look of any house. Touch up paint, refinished floors, painting old cabinets and vanities, replacing the guts of an old toilet or replacing broken tiles. Easy stuff…

But what happens when you can’t find the matching tiles, the toilet has a cracked lid, the cabinets and the hardware have already been painted 3 times, the floors have visible water and pet stains and the touch up paint on the doors and walls is slightly a different color because the color and sheen were not a perfect match.

If you are thinking about selling your Sacramento house then you will likely be faced with making some repairs and updates to your home in order to get it ready. Not all repairs are created equal and while you may not want to make expensive repairs that offer little to no return, you may not have any choice if you are determined to sell your house in any conventional manner.

In today’s market you need to remember that buyers want move in ready, banks and other lenders want houses that dont need any repairs and at some point your house has a 98% probability of being both inspected and appraised. If you dont address the problems in advance they will need to be addressed later. I know that it sounds like expensive advice, but imagine thinking that you have sold your house only to find out that the buyers got cold feet because the home inspectors had said the problems were either covered up or made incorrectly.

In this blog, we have put together our list of 5 things to fix before you list your Sacramento home! Pay Attention, it is supposed to cost money!

Think Flooring…

Even old, damaged, and tired flooring can be dealt with for a relatively low cost. Fix cracked tiles with matching tiles and if they cant be matched, consider replacing the flooring altogether. You will need to fill or repair major scratches to hardwood and clean or rip out old carpeting. Even if the floors underneath are nothing to look at, leaving old, dirty and stained carpet is not a recipe for success.

Buyers Want a Sturdy and Dependable Roof…

You will want to fix any damage to the roof. Repair leaky parts and any water damage to the ceiling. Water stains on the ceiling and walls can be huge red flags for potential buyers. They will immediately think there could be mold and much bigger problems. Fix these things before showing your house so you don’t scare off potential buyers!

Be Realistic About the Inside Space…

Just Windows, Doors, Drywall, Siding… If you can see the problems so can a buyer and so will the inspector.

The color of the walls can change the whole look and feel of the room. It doesn’t matter what the conventional wisdom says…  you dont need  consensus. Choose natural and neutral tones. By doing so you will add warmth to a dark and cold feeling rooms,. It is up to you to change the way people feel when they walk in. You want the colors to be warm and inviting. Find a balance between plain and boring and too bold and off-putting. You can utilize some creativity into the scheme, by using different types of materials and colors for tile, granite or backsplash, but  remember you want to appeal to a wide swath of buyers, not just those who share your love for purple. Even though the magazines tell you that wallpaper is seeing a comeback, dont jump on the bandwagon. Today’s fad is tomorrow’s junk and unless you want to increase your holding cost and repair budget realize that but not everyone is interested in prints on the walls. If you decide to leave wallpaper up, let the price reflect that.

Kitchen & Bath   

They say these areas ultimately sell the house. However, it is not necessary to complete major remodels or renovations to make the areas really pop. Small fixes in these spaces can add serious value to your home. Refinish or paint old cabinets to give them new life. Countertops and even tiles can be resurfaced. You can even refinish your tub and shower. You can also add new fixtures, including faucets, drawer pulls, doorknobs and cabinet handles. Doing these things can make a dated space feel modern and fresh almost instantly!


You can’t say enough about curb appeal. There have been studies done, saying people subconsciously decide if they will make an offer on a home within the first few seconds of seeing it. Your landscaping is your first chance to connect and appeal to potential buyers. For a relatively inexpensive investment, adding some plants and cleaning up weeds and overgrowth, can make a huge impact on how fast your home sells. While bad landscaping might be able to be looked over for the perfect house, it is better to start out on the right foot. Start out by making people want to see more of the house, just by looking at the outside!

Fix Before You List Bonus: Lighting

Adding great lighting to the area will help to sell your home. Make sure areas are well lit, and are filled with warm light… nothing too bright or hard on the eyes!

Ready to sell a house in Sacramento? We can help you sell your home fast! Send us a message now, or give us a call today! (209)481-7780

Peter Westbrook

Peter Westbrook is a local Cash Home Buyer / Real Estate Investor in Stockton, Sacramento and Modesto CA and Tulsa Oklahoma. He has written numerous real estate articles that have been published here and by other blog and news outlets. Peter has appeared on several local and national news reports regarding the state of the Stockton and Sacramento Real Estate Markets.

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