Whether you inherited something that needs a lot of work or if you’ve fallen a bit behind on home improvements, it’s no problem. You can still sell a house in bad condition. But how you choose to sell a house in poor condition depends on your personal goals, timeline, and financial situation.
Most home sellers want to maximize their profits when selling their home — and why wouldn’t they? A person's home is often their largest asset. But if you’re selling a home in poor condition, you may have to weigh the cost of undertaking the kind of work the home would need to sell for maximum profits vs. the cost of the convenience of selling quickly.
That doesn’t mean that owners of homes in poor condition are out of luck, though. Due to the low inventory of the housing market, there is still a strong demand for homes — even those in poor or bad condition — from individual buyers, investors, and iBuyers alike. To make the most of their home sale, owners of a house in poor condition will need to first diagnose the condition of the home to help decide what the best strategy is for selling.
Without a real estate background, it can be hard to honestly assess if the home you want to sell is in “poor condition.” This can definitely be the case when it comes to inherited property. Ask yourself the following questions to get a better understanding of the home’s state.
An uninhabitable house is, as the name suggests, not suitable for people to live in. It may even be condemned. Such a property has multiple severe issues that make it unsafe for habitation. Such issues include:
These homes can be burdensome for sellers because of the difficulty of finding a suitable buyer. You will likely have to try alternative methods — like selling to an iBuyer or investor — to sell an uninhabitable house.
→ Related: Signs a house will collapse
A habitable house with several flaws and repair issues may receive a “fair condition” rating from a home inspector, but potential buyers and agents may still view it as in poor condition. A “visible repairs needed” house has less severe flaws than a totally uninhabitable house. These flaws include:
If your home needs visible repairs, you may need to reduce the listing price or make significant seller’s concessions in order to close.
A home with good bones that may require some general repair will likely receive a fair grade from home inspectors, but may not fetch the top price you wanted. Some things that can put a cap on your house’s potential:
A home in fair condition in need of updates may not be a deal breaker, especially in a low-inventory seller’s market. Talk to your listing agent about how to market your home if it’s in this condition.
Now that you have an idea of how to assess the quality of your home, what can you do if it’s in truly poor condition? You have a few options on how to go about selling it.
If you’re ready to just move on as fast as possible, you may want to sell your home as-is. You won’t spend any time or money making repairs — what the buyer sees is what the buyer gets. This is one of those instances where you may benefit from selling to a company that buys houses for cash.
If you choose to sell as-is, consider completing a pre-listing inspection. This inspection will give you a deeper understanding of the repairs needed on the home, which you can use to inform your listing price and your disclosure of known home defects to buyers.
Your listing price will likely be under market value, due to the significant amount of work the home needs; and even if you disclose the pre-listing inspection findings to buyers, they may still request an inspection to discover the full extent of damages and repairs they’ll need to make.
However, selling as-is isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Here are some factors to weigh:
In many cases of selling a house in poor condition, it’s worth making some small improvements, especially if you’re trying to sell a “visible repairs needed” house. If you leave these improvements to buyers, you may need to make price cuts or other concessions to make the sale.
While a complete home remodel may cost upward of $50,000, painting and replacing fixtures or cleaning up the landscaping, may only cost a thousand and can be done in a weekend. These lower-cost fixes will give you a better chance of getting your full asking price.
Orchard’s Concierge service will handle these repairs for you to increase your curb and maximize your home sale profits — at no upfront cost to you. We’ll even wait until you’ve moved out, so you don’t have to deal with the stress of remodeling and moving at the same time. Interested in learning more? Get started here.
If your home is in truly bad condition — “totally uninhabitable” — you likely won’t be able to sell it to anyone except developers or flippers. That’s fine, but many investors who know the market well may try to lowball you.
It may not make sense for you to invest tens of thousands of dollars to get your house to like-new condition, but one or two major repairs could get your list price closer to what your home is actually worth. Those investments will also intrigue families and individual home buyers.
Some of the most common big-ticket items that can raise your list price include:
Additionally, things like replacing the flooring and appliances can save buyers a bundle and increase your home’s value.
There are a number of factors to consider before putting money into your poor condition home. In certain circumstances, it may not be worth trying to rehab the home before selling it.
What does the current market look like? What are buyers buying and how fast are they buying it?
While most of America has been in a seller’s market since at least 2020, there are some parts of the country where home prices are falling — so much so that they are experiencing a market correction. It’s important to understand where your home falls in this spectrum to make an informed decision about how to sell your home.
If you’re in a hot market, you might be able to get the price you want without putting much work into your home. If you’re in a slower market, it’s worth at least making minor improvements to make your home more attractive.
Do some research into your neighborhood to see what’s listed in your area. If every home in your neighborhood looks brand new, with updated finishes, new appliances, and beautiful new paint, your poor condition home is going to stick out like a sore thumb. Your home may have more square footage and be in a better location than other homes in the area, but if it’s in significantly worse condition, it will sell for below market value.
→ Learn more about real estate comps
Most transactions in life come with some value proposition. You may buy a painting by an up-and-coming artist for $100 today, but it could be worth $1,000 in a decade. The same rule applies when selling a home in poor condition: Many people would be willing to spend $1,000 in order to get $10,000 more for your home.
Make a list of every repair or update the house needs, and then do some preliminary research to see how much each repair would cost in your area. A severely damaged home may not be worth the amount you’d spend fixing it. The projects most likely to get the highest return are:
So don’t get discouraged if the house you’re trying to sell is in poor condition. As you can see, there are a number of ways to get someone to take it off your hands. It’s up to you to decide how much work to put in beforehand.
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