Practical advice from an experienced Realtor®
Q: My cousins have offered to do improvements to our aunt’s home, such as a new roof, fixing some wiring, and redoing the back deck. They would be doing it “under the table” for a much lower cost than a normal contractor, so she can sell it soon. Will we have to disclose to buyers who did the work?
A: While it seems like a good idea to get repairs done at such a low cost, there are many pitfalls to having friends or family do work at your aunt’s home. During our years of experience selling homes, we have seen many times how homeowners are adversely affected by the consequences of do-it-yourself or hire-a-friend projects. Here’s why:
First, though friends and family have good intentions, they often lack the experience or technical skill to do the job correctly. If their install or repair is not done according to current building code, this could create expensive “redo” projects or repairs in the future. Second, when friends and family do not have their own business, they are not able to offer a warranty on parts or labor that would protect the homeowner in the future. Finally, since their work is uninsured and unlicensed, if an accident occurs while they are working at the house, who will pay for their medical care? Or if they inadvertently damage the home, who will cover the repairs? This can bring costly risks to the homeowner.
To answer your question, Yes. Buyers often ask for copies of invoices or receipts of work done, and there are standard disclosures that sellers must make about whether proper permits were pulled and inspections were completed for repairs. These answers must be answered honestly.
Our recommendation, and our own firm’s practice, is to only use licensed, insured, and bonded tradespeople who have the technical training and skill to do a job correctly, and who can provide a warranty of their work in writing that can be passed on to the next owner.
Q: My dad has drapes from the 1970s in his home. What’s the best way to use these drapes for his home sale? Shall we have them cleaned? Leave them open? Say that they go with the home? He is rather fond of them.
A: Ah, the beloved drapes! No doubt they were custom-made, with all the latest fabric and design trends of the 1970s. They were probably fabulous then, and it sounds like your dad has really enjoyed them over the years.
The challenge of leaving the 40+ year old drapes on the windows when he puts his home up for sale is how they will impact the home’s appeal in online photos. Heavy drapes from a bygone era make a home look dated, pushing its market value down. The older, thicker fabric also tends to block light from the windows, making rooms appear darker and smaller. In contrast, leaving windows with very light treatments shows off their size and visually declutters a room.
Our recommendation is to remove all dated window treatments, and instead have (at most) neutral-colored sheers that can be clipped back, allowing lots of natural light into each room. If there are blinds, these can be opened all the way, and the strings tucked out of sight for photos. Since your dad is especially attached to the custom drapes, perhaps the home’s listing is a good excuse to take them down and have them professionally cleaned, pressed, and preserved – so that he can take them to his new home or bequeath them to a lucky family member! 🙂
Q: My mother-in-law is very attached to her dining room chandelier. She would like to take it with her to her next home, and not include it in the sale of the home. What is the best way to do this?
A: When a home is sold, the contract language generally specifies that anything “attached” to the home goes with the sale, unless the seller specifically excludes it in writing. So, your mother-in-law can list her home for sale, and display the chandelier in the photos. But her real estate broker should say in the listing that the dining room chandelier “does not convey” or “is not included in the sale”, and make sure it is agreed upon in the contract. Then buyers are aware of this up front, and there are no surprises at closing that would upset the apple cart.
A gracious thing to do would be to provide a gift card for a lighting store for the buyer to purchase a new chandelier. Or, your mother-in-law could take it down now, carefully pack it away, and put a neutral, modern one in its place before the listing. Then it’s already taken care of, and eliminates any chance of a misunderstanding.
A good rule to remember is that all agreements between the seller and the buyer must be in writing, and should be part of the complete purchase and sale contract. Consult your real estate broker or an attorney for the best way to navigate these agreements, for a smooth and successful closing process!
Do you have a real estate question for us? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca Bomann is Founder and CEO of SASH Services, and Designated Broker of SASH Realty. With a background in social work and elder care, Rebecca created SASH to provide real estate services tailored for clients’ unique needs. Since 2005, SASH has served clients of all ages, with specialized home sale services for older adults and their families.
Office: 6118 S 204th St Suite 395 Kent, WA