As a Realtor, I’ve sold over 650 homes in the last 11 years, and delayed repairs is the number one thing I see that ends up financially hurting sellers in the sale of their home. Choosing the wrong agent is a very close number two on the list, but in reality those two are mutually related. Let me tell you a story as an example.

Two weeks ago I was showing a home in Liberty, Missouri, to one of our first time home buyers. The home had just come on the market that morning and it was very updated with new interior and exterior paint, new light fixtures, newer appliances, one updated bathroom, and the kitchen even had granite counters with a modern tile backsplash. To be honest, I thought the home was under-priced at $124,000 and I told our buyers that too.

About that time, the front door opened and a man stepped in. He apologized and said he was the homeowner and that he just needed to leave a new door handle for the handyman to replace on the sliding glass door. I told him I thought he’d done some nice updates to the house. He thanked me and then said, “I sure hope someone is interested and makes an offer. I’m tired of spending money on this home. We actually put this home on the market five months ago at $137,900 but buyers complained about all the different paint colors, the carpet needing to be replaced, the kitchen being outdated, and they thought it was overpriced.”

I asked him where he’s living right now. He said, “We bought our new home and moved out several months ago because my Realtor said this home would sell super fast. We lowered the price five times down to $124,000 and still no one was making an offer. My agent said I needed to take it off the market and do some updates so we spent about $10,000 for new paint inside and out, replaced some light fixtures and updated the kitchen and the bathroom downstairs.”

I thanked him for the information and as he was walking out the front door, he mentioned the insurance adjuster may be coming by to check on the roof. Some other roofs in the neighborhood have been replaced due to recent hail damage so he thought he should have his insurance company take a look. As he shut the front door and got into his car, I turned to our buyers and said, “Wow! That guy has gotten some bad advice from his agent. If he would have done some of this work before putting it on the market, he would have sold it immediately and probably gotten another $10,000. As it stands now, he spent $10,000 to update it and he’s now selling it at a discounted price too.”

Our clients did end up making a full price offer later that day, and it’s a good thing we moved fast because I’m sure this home would have gotten multiple offers if we had hesitated in making our offer. Unfortunately, when we completed the home inspections with David Moore of Advantage Home Inspections, we found that the furnace and air conditioner need to be replaced. As a matter of fact, the furnace has elevated levels of carbon monoxide pouring out into the home that could be dangerous. The filter is filthy and it’s doubtful the homeowner had it serviced in the last five years. On top of that, there are several plumbing issues and the home has elevated levels of radon gas so that will have to be remedied at some point.

We got an estimate from Res-Q Services to replace the A/C and furnace for $5,100. The radon mitigation system from Certified Radon is $750 and we guess that fixing the plumbing issues with Taylor Plumbing can be somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000 to $2,000.

To be honest I feel sorry for the homeowner. At this point he’s had the home for sale around five months, he’s lowered the price about $12,000, he’s made improvements to the home at a cost of around $10,000, and now he’s about to get hammered with inspection items of $7,850. He really does not have much of a choice at this point. If he refuses to make the repairs, he will have to put the home back on the market and I guarantee the next buyer will want all these items fixed. Oh, and the roof does have hail damage so that has to be replaced too.

Can you now see how choosing the wrong agent and not doing a proper evaluation of the home up front can hurt you? To be honest though, this guy did have options available to him. If I were his agent he would have never been in this position as I would have advised him to have the furnace checked, repaint some of the interior, and maybe replace a few light fixtures before putting it on the market. I don’t know what the kitchen counters and backsplash looked like before, but I never would have suggested he replace the counters with granite in a $124,000 to $135,000 home. Save your money there because buyers won’t expect granite in that price point.

After we emailed all the inspection reports to the sellers agent, our transaction manager, Courtney Downer called his office phone to speak with him. The receptionist at the office said, “He teaches school full time during the day and only works part-time as a Realtor. You’ll have to call him on his cell phone after 3:30pm when he’s available.” Courtney rolled her eyes and said to me, “Of course he is!”