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  1. Blog
  2. What not to fix when selling a house (UK)
House selling tips
27 February 2024

What not to fix when selling a house (UK)

Sam Edwards
Senior Writer & Researcher
A woman using a roller to paint the wall of her home.

Table of contents

  1. 1. Before you consider any home improvements...
  2. 2. What NOT to fix when selling a house
  3. 3. What you SHOULD fix when selling a house
  4. 4. Summary: Don't fix what isn't worth fixing!
  5. 5. FAQs

If you put your house up for sale, you want it to do as well as possible. No one wants their final selling price to be a far cry from the initial asking price.

But a house that's a shadow of itself can falter and fail, especially if certain features are in poor nick. By and large, most homesellers will make some minor cosmetic fixes to their homes before they go to market.

But let's go a step further. What things shouldn't you fix when selling a house in the UK?

Before you consider any home improvements...

It's well worth doing the following before you make any home improvements.

1. Take the costs into consideration

Selling your home might make you money, but it can cost you too. Make sure you’ve got a good idea of the costs before making any home improvements. Expenses can easily mount up, especially when paired with other things like conveyancing fees, estate agent fees, and mortgage repayments.

2. Take the temperature of the market

In a seller's market, properties sell like hotcakes, even if they need work. In buyer's markets however, selling becomes a bit more difficult. There are more homes for sale, but less demand. While sales are always slower in a buyer's market, a poorly maintained property with major structural issues will deter potential buyers in ANY market.

You can get a full analysis of the property market in the GetAgent Market Update.

3. Request valuations from THREE estate agents

You can't just take your home to market with guesswork. You need an expert's opinion to set a price for your home. With excellent knowledge of your local area and marketing expertise to match, a trusted local estate agent is your best chance at this.

After valuing your home, your agent will provide you with reports containing both their valuation, and an analysis of recently sold properties that are similar to yours from the local area. Using this information, you can see where your property stands in the local market, and if it’s worth making any changes.

Why three valuations are best...

It's a well-known fact that you should never rely on a single valuation of your home. We recommend inviting at least three estate agents, and then instructing the agent with the most reliable valuation.

You don't need to worry about costs. Valuations are a business expense for estate agents, at zero cost to potential homesellers.

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What NOT to fix when selling a house

Now we've covered the things you should prioritise before making home improvements, let's dive into the things you shouldn't fix when selling a house.

1. Don’t spend too much fixing or replacing old appliances

Unless they're on their last legs, you should avoid replacing old appliances. New 'white goods' (fridges, washing machines, driers) are unlikely to add significant value to your home.

Some appliances, like boilers, may need replacements to pass a surveyor’s report. You don’t have to splurge on a boiler - a second-hand one is perfectly legal, provided it's in good working condition. Plus, many buyers take their newer white goods with them, so don’t worry too much about replacing luxury items like driers or fridges.

Remember: It's important to never shirk out on safety appliances. Make sure smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other safety appliances are in good-working condition.

2. Don’t go over-the-top with decorating

A good example of ‘too much’ is aggressive home staging.

Home staging is the practice of framing your home’s interior to look more appealing to potential buyers. For most homeowners, home staging simply means decluttering and moving some furnishings around. But some, in the hope of attracting potential buyers, take it a step further, moving their items into storage and renting out new furniture to better present their properties.

We strongly advise against this. Brand-new furnishings can be false and unsettling in a property that needs a lot of work. A simple clean and tidy along with a touch of paint can work wonders.

Most buyers are able to see past the minor cosmetic issues in a property. You're better off revitalising existing colour schemes with some inexpensive paint or fixing small stuff like skirting boards and grouting.

3. Avoid major renovations or extensive landscaping projects

Unless you have a pot of cash, it's probably best to avoid major renovations or landscaping. The return isn't worth the hassle if you are thinking of selling in the next six months.

Most lived-in homes have wear and tear, and most of these issues are easily remedied. Scuffed floorboards or cracked, peeling paint are easily fixed without needing to hire anyone. Brand-new tiling and kitchen counters on the other hand, cost money.

The same goes for gardens. Unless your property has suffered from flooding in the past, landscaping work does not come under 'major issues'. You're better off improving the current state of your property with some inexpensive quick wins.

In many ways, you're better off lowering the price of your home rather than spending ages redesigning it. A new sink or garden might sound tempting, but it'll look out of place if the rest of your house isn’t new.

In other words: you’re not doing enough to add value but you're doing enough to point out the flaws in the rest of your property.

4. Don't bother with small electrical issues

It goes without saying that big electrical faults are dangerous and should be addressed quickly. But there's a big difference between a faulty light switch and a tangle of sparking wires sticking out of the wall. Light switches can be ignored. Sparking wires cannot.

Small electrical issues often pass without issue in most surveyor's reports. If in doubt, check the results of your most recent Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) survey. Don't know if you have an EPC? Check below.

Does my house already have an EPC?

EPCs are valid for 10 years, and you can use the one purchased by the previous owner.
So, you may have an EPC and not know it!

5. Don't worry too much about grandfathered building codes

When considering renovations or updates to your property, it's essential to understand the concept of grandfathered building codes. Grandfathered building codes are aspects of a property that were compliant with building regulations during construction, but may not meet today's standards.

Here's what you need to know:

  • If the property was originally built to code, no urgent changes are required to meet current regulations.
  • Old layouts and sizes are acceptable if they met the standards in place at the time of construction.
  • Dated plumbing and wiring systems are permissible if a surveyor deems them functioning and safe.
  • Recognised historic properties may be exempt from certain modern requirements.

When selling your home, transparency is key. Be open with prospective buyers about any dated features that may not meet current standards. By providing clear information, you can build trust and minimise potential issues during the sales process.

What you SHOULD fix when selling a house

We've covered the things you should avoid fixing when selling a house. Let's now go over the main things you SHOULD fix when selling. The following list is in order of importance and should be fairly inexpensive to cover. Minor repairs - not major.

1. Ensure boiler and gas fittings compliance

Enhance the appeal and safety of your property by bringing boiler and gas fittings up to standard, providing both comfort and security to the buyers. Again, no need for costly repairs (within reason). Second-hand and in working condition will work just as well.

2. Ensure electrical compliance

Ensure the electrical system meets current safety standards, promoting both well-being and compliance with regulations.

3. Fix any plumbing leaks

It's good to address any plumbing issues that cause water damage and mould. These things will demonstrate the structural integrity of the house and your willingness to ensure a successful sale.

Some leaks may prove costly. A leaking roof, for example, can be expensive to fix. The best you can do in this situation is field quotes from contractors and prioritise your repairs according to immediate importance.

4. Replace cracked window glass

Replacing damaged glass improves the security and energy efficiency of your property while enhancing the overall appearance. Don't forget - the exterior of your home is the first thing buyers will see. Your property's curb appeal counts.

5. Refine wall surfaces

Carefully fill and paint over any structural cracks in walls to present a well-maintained appearance and attract buyers.

Summary: Don't fix what isn't worth fixing!

Your property is an asset, but viewing your home in purely financial terms can leave you blind to glaring issues that need fixing. But as long as your property is both safe and warm, you're in good hands.

If the house you’re selling is in extremely poor condition however, this isn’t something that can be fixed for cheap. In such a scenario, your best course of action should be to lower the price of your home enough to attract multiple offers from different contractors.


Do you have to declare defects when selling a house?

Sellers are legally obliged to inform buyers about any defects to their property in the TA6 form, which should be provided before contracts are exchanged.

Are you liable for repairs after selling a house?

If the buyer discovers a defect after completion, the buyer may be able to claim damages if they suspect you of misrepresentation or breach of contract. Normally, the grounds for a claim are only possible for six years.

How much
is your home worth?

It’s always worth knowing the value of your home. Discover the price of your property with an instant valuation. GetAgent tracks the figures, so you don’t have to.

How much
is your home worth?

It’s always worth knowing the value of your home. Discover the price of your property with an instant valuation. GetAgent tracks the figures, so you don’t have to.

Ready to compare agents?

It takes 2 minutes. 100% free. No obligation.

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