Selling a house in poor condition, even a rundown one, can be challenging, but it is achievable.
To help you decide your best sales option, and if it makes sense for you to invest more money into your home before selling, consider important factors like:
- Your home’s actual condition (if it’s truly in disrepair or not)
- How fast you need to sell
- Your financial goals, specifically, if you’re willing to sell for less than fair market value
If you’re trying to sell a home in poor condition, Clever Offers is a great place to start. You’ll match with a top local real estate agent, who will bring you offers from top cash home buyers in your area. You’ll also get a free home valuation to compare the cash offers to your home’s fair market value. Get cash offers from top local buyers now!
What makes a home’s condition ‘poor’?
A home may be dilapidated, in need of major repairs, or in need of minor repairs. Here’s how real estate experts weigh the condition of homes, and your various selling options.
Dilapidated or uninhabitable homes
Homes in this category usually have various safety concerns that make them dangerous or unlivable.
Common issues with dilapidated homes:
- Extensive roof damage causing active leaks
- Mold in bathrooms, kitchen, and living areas
- Severe foundation issues that compromise the structural integrity of the home
- Lead-based paint or asbestos
- Nonfunctioning electrical wiring or outdated aluminum wiring, which can be a fire hazard
Costly repairs like these tend to scare away most home buyers, making it much harder to sell this type of home on the open market.
Options for dilapidated homes
The good news is that many investors or companies that buy houses for cash prefer to buy these types of properties. Cash buyers purchase homes at a discounted price to account for the cost of repairs and the time it takes to fix it up and resell it.
Another option is to list the home on the open market in as-is condition, targeting investors, house flippers, and retail buyers who don’t mind making repairs.
Our friends at Clever can connect you to a local real estate expert to help you decide your best course of action.
Homes requiring major repairs
Homes in this category are livable but require a few major repairs.
Common issues that need major repairs:
- Nonfunctioning heating and cooling systems
- Mold in a crawl space or basement (but not a living area)
- Termite damage
- Active plumbing leaks
A home requiring major repairs is usually harder to sell on the open market. You can sell the home in as-is condition to avoid making expensive repairs, but you may get fewer offers and less attention from buyers, and sell for less than your desired price.
Options for homes requiring major repairs
Investors and companies that buy houses for cash are two choices. Their offer price will reflect your home’s condition and required repairs, but it may be your best bet if you need to sell fast and can’t afford to make repairs.
Listing on the open market is an option, too. But it only makes sense if you can wait at least a few months to close.
Homes requiring minor repairs
A house requiring minor repairs needs a little TLC, but it’s in good shape otherwise. There are no issues with the home’s major systems (foundation, roof, HVAC, plumbing, electrical). The house is move-in ready for a new buyer, minus a few minor cosmetic or maintenance-related issues.
Common issues that need minor work:
- Outdated wallpaper or painting
- Deep grime
- Old carpets or flooring
- Drafty windows and doors
- Clogged sinks and toilets
- Broken appliances
Since these are all relatively inexpensive items to fix (typically costing less than $1,000 per item) and might not scare away or turn off potential home buyers.
Options for homes requiring minor repairs
You can either fix the issues before listing your home or sell your home in as-is condition.
If you decide to make minor repairs, it’s best to focus on the ones carrying the highest return on investment. A local real estate agent can help you determine which repairs will get you the most bang for your buck — and which to skip entirely — before listing your home.
Options for selling a home in poor condition
If you decide to offload a house in poor condition, you can sell it to cash buyers or investors or list it on the open market.
Sell to cash buyers or investors
Cash buyers or local real estate investors prefer to buy homes that need major work or upgrades. It’s the fastest, easiest way to sell a dilapidated house or one needing major repairs. You can get an offer within 24 hours and close in as fast as a week, with zero repairs required.
The process is typically much smoother than listing in the open market. It’s also your most convenient option, since you can skip:
- Investing in pre-listing repairs and improvements
- Marketing your property and hosting potential home buyers
- Negotiating with buyers
- Navigating inspection, financing, or appraisal contingencies
The downside: Cash home buyers usually offer 75% (or less) of a home’s after-repair value. That means a home worth $300,000 after being fixed up might only sell for $225,000. But not having to pay realtor commissions and closing costs could help you offset the lower sale price.
Connect with a Clever agent to compare cash offers from local investors and companies that buy houses for cash in your local market. The agent will tell you what your house is worth and help you decide if selling to a cash buyer is your best choice.
List with a real estate agent
If your home needs minor repairs or cosmetic fixes, then listing on the open market with a local realtor is likely a better option. You’ll probably get a higher offer price compared with selling to a cash home buying company, as the companies prefer to buy homes requiring major repairs.
A home with less serious issues still appeals to most buyers since it has good bones and doesn’t require extensive repairs. Plus, you might be able to make minor repairs or cosmetic fixes yourself or hire a contractor at a low price before listing it for sale.
A realtor can recommend whether or not it makes sense to sell as-is on the open market and list below fair market value, or make pre-listing repairs and list at a higher price.
The drawbacks to listing with a realtor
Listing on the open market with an agent comes with no guarantees. It will take you longer to sell (at least 2–3 months) compared to selling to a cash buyer (a few weeks).
Your success also depends on your realtor’s experience and expertise. For the best results, it’s smart to hire a realtor with experience selling homes that are not 100% move-in ready or in perfect condition.
Connect with a realtor with a proven track record — someone who has experienced success in selling homes in poor condition.
Learn how to find a realtor in your market. Our guide breaks down all of the ways to find a quality local real estate agent, and how to compare your choices.
Consider using an agent matching service, which pre-screens and matches you to local realtors after first learning about your needs as a seller, to save time. You can request to work with a realtor who has experience selling homes in poor condition, for example.
Should I make repairs before selling my house if it’s in poor condition?
We spoke with experienced real estate agents who help their clients weigh the pros and cons of investing in repairs. They agreed that the best repair option depends on several factors, including what’s standard in your neighborhood. Your budget will ultimately dictate which repairs you can afford to complete before attempting to sell your home.
|Minor repairs||Major repairs|
Repairs can be worthwhile when they bring your home up to the standards buyers expect in your area. For example, if every similar listing has an updated kitchen and yours dates back to the 1970s, an upgrade may help you compete.
If your home is uninhabitable in its current condition, a typical buyer may not be able to secure financing to purchase it. These major repairs come with a hefty price tag, but they can dramatically expand the pool of potential buyers.
Our friends at Clever have built a nationwide network of local real estate experts who can advise you on what repairs are worth making before listing – or if it makes more sense to sell in as-is condition.
Pros of making minor repairs
If you can afford to set aside a few hundred dollars, minor cosmetic repairs could be a relatively easy and low-cost way to boost your home’s value.
✅ You can save money
You can save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars if you make minor repairs yourself. With the help of YouTube, you might be able to handle things like:
- Repainting your home’s interior or exterior
- Replacing old faucets
- Changing outdated light fixtures
- Refinishing kitchen or bathroom cabinets
These minor repairs can help boost the value and presentation of your home, are relatively easy to complete, and generally only cost a few hundred dollars.
✅ You can finish minor repairs quickly
Minor repairs can typically be completed in a week or less, so you don’t have to invest too much money and time.
Cons of making minor repairs
❌ No guaranteed returns
While making minor repairs can help make your home more attractive to buyers — which may lead to a quicker sale or more offers — there’s still no guarantee that you’ll earn more from the sale than you invested in minor repairs.
In some cases, the key benefit of minor repairs is that they can bring your home in line with buyer expectations and standards. In other words, buyers may consider minor repairs more of a necessity than an upgrade.
❌ It still costs money
Although most minor repairs are substantially cheaper than major repairs, the truth is that they still cost money. You still have to be realistic about what you can afford to spend and stick to your budget. Otherwise, you could end up spending more than you initially expected.
Pros of making major repairs
Major repairs can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take weeks or months to complete — so we recommend talking to a local real estate professional before investing. A realtor can help you understand which major repairs will increase your home value and how much they might expand your pool of potential buyers.
Here are some of the key advantages of making major repairs before selling.
✅ Boost your property value
Major repairs are expensive — but can also raise your property value and livability. These types of repairs involve bringing your home up to standards by fixing:
- Foundation issues
- Mold problems
- An old roof
- HVAC inefficiencies
- Faulty electrical wiring
You may not get a great return for major repairs, but bringing your home up to market standards will allow you to list it at fair market value and potentially sell faster.
✅ Attract a broader pool of buyers
Before lenders extend financing to a home buyer, they ensure that the home meets their standards. If your home is in very poor condition, buyers might struggle to access the funds to purchase it.
If your home’s major components are newly repaired, lenders are more likely to approve financing to buyers interested in your home.
✅ Lower the odds of a home inspection report issue
Nearly 10% of all real estate transactions get delayed and 37% of contracts fall through because of home inspection issues, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
Repairing your home before listing reduces the chances that a buyer finds an issue on their home inspection and asks it to be fixed — or backs out of the contract entirely.
Cons of making major repairs
❌ Some repairs are expensive and time-consuming
For example, some major repairs – like replacing a roof or HVAC system – can easily cost $10,000 or more and take weeks (if not months) to complete.
While there are benefits to completing major repairs, it’s also important to weigh your potential return on investment. If the repairs are outside of your budget and sales timeline, you can still sell as is or work with a cash buyer.
Can I sell my house even if it's in terrible condition?
Yes. Cash buyers or local real estate investors prefer to buy homes needing costly repairs. Cash buyers purchase homes at a discounted price to account for the cost of repairs and the time it takes to fix it up and resell it. Learn how to sell a dilapidated home or one that requires major repairs.
What is the most common reason a home fails to sell?
It depends primarily on your local real estate market, and if it's currently a seller's or buyer's market. Common reasons a home might not sell include a major safety issue, or an asking price that's too high. Learn if you should make repairs or sell your home in as-is condition.
Do you lose a lot of money by selling a house in as-is condition?
You might lose a lot or a little by selling in as-is condition, depending on the condition of your home and how much money is required to fix it up. Cash home buyers typically pay 75% or less of a home's after-repair value, for example.