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Deferred Maintenance Can Hinder a Sale

If you are thinking of selling a property there are all sorts of things that that need to be accomplished including researching the comparable sales, finding a good agent, creating a marketing plan, cleaning up clutter and doing some staging. However, the vast majority of properties in Incline Village and Crystal Bay are vacation homes that are not occupied full-time by the owners. In some cases owners have spent little or no time at their properties for a period of several months or even years. As a result there are often deferred maintenance issues that are not readily apparent when making a quick visit to your house or condo. But over a long period of time all sorts of things can happen to properties in a market that experiences wild fluctuations brought on by Mother Nature as is the case throughout the Sierras. When buyers are looking at properties they will very often make a second or third visit to the most interesting places. It is on these repeat visits that buyers carefully explore every nook and cranny in an effort to assure themselves that they are not purchasing a white elephant.

Once an offer is written buyers generally have a due diligence period ranging anywhere from 10 to 30 days to perform inspections and investigate the condition of the property. Very often the physical and pest inspection reports will reveal repair and maintenance issues not discovered prior to the offer being written. Sellers who live in the same property all year round will generally discover repair and maintenance issues in the normal course of daily life and attend to them as needed. However, part-time property owners who use their place less frequently may accidentally overlook something that needs to be repaired and they may not always have the same schedule for doing routine maintenance as a full-time property owner would.

Simple things such as changing the furnace filter, opening and closing the vents to the crawlspace, annual servicing of the heating system, etc. are sometimes neglected for a period of years. While a broken pipe that is flooding your kitchen will surely attract attention rather immediately and be fixed expeditiously, that tiny leak under the guest bathroom sink could go unnoticed for many months or longer. Old electrical wiring in a house built 30 or more years ago could have failing insulation and be a fire waiting to happen. The wooden steps leading up to your deck could be cracking or rotting resulting in the potential for a serious injury and subsequently a lawsuit. Deferred maintenance can rear its ugly head as a serious issue especially if you put your property up for sale, get an accepted offer and during the due diligence period the various inspection reports turn up a number of items that need to be addressed. Depending on the significance of these maintenance and repair items it could potentially result in the buyer making a lengthy request for repairs, asking for a reduction in the purchase price or in some cases the buyer might even terminate the transaction.

If you have not used your property on a regular basis and are thinking of putting it up for sale it may behoove you to hire a home inspector to perform a physical inspection and provide you with a report on the condition of the property. This can eliminate potential surprises and it will provide you with an opportunity to do the needed repairs before putting your property on the market. Even doing simple things such as sanding and staining the decks, repairing cracked grout, caulking around the shower or tub, checking faucets and plumbing connections for leaks, tightening down the toilets, servicing the heating system and performing other minor repairs can have a major impact on how a buyer perceives your property.

When buyers get inspection reports that indicate a significant amount of deferred maintenance it can damper their enthusiasm and sometimes lead to a transaction being canceled. All property owners should have a checklist of maintenance items that need to be performed on a regular basis to keep their properties in good shape and to retain their value over the long term. It is a reminder that the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” still rings true in this day and age.