Are you wondering what you don’t need to fix when selling your home in Massachusetts? You are not alone. Many potential home sellers wonder which items are worth addressing and what to skip.

When selling a house, it’s essential to distinguish between necessary repairs and those that may not significantly impact your home’s sale price or appeal.

As a Massachusetts Realtor with nearly forty years of home sales under my belt, I always get asked this question. It is wise for potential sellers to care as it can impact their bottom line.

What you should know is that every property and circumstance is different. Sometimes, upgrades are worth doing; other times, they wouldn’t make a significant difference.

I will share my experience picking and choosing what you shouldn’t worry about. When advising a home seller, the primary concern is return on investment and saleability. These are the things that a homeowner should focus on.

If you can sell your home quicker and for more money, that is a win-win.

I have been guiding potential home sellers in Massachusetts for many years on what they should and should not fix. It is an essential part of my job to give owners advice that makes sense for their situation.

There are several fixes that should be avoided due to low ROI.

Let’s dive into what repairs/improvements you can skip.

What Not to Fix When You Sell a Massachusetts Home

What Not to Fix When You Sell a Massachusetts Home

How to Decide What Isn’t Worth Fixing in Your Massachusetts Home

Deciding what not to fix when selling your home can streamline the selling process and maximize your return on investment. You can make the best decisions when selling by following my advice below.

You will make wise decisions when following these steps.

Consult a Top Producing Listing Agent

Begin by consulting a top-producing listing agent. Choose someone successful in selling many homes in your area. They understand the market and buyer expectations. This insight is invaluable.

As I mentioned, one of the things I am asked quite often when interviewing with sellers is what to fix. Every house is different.

One of the things a good Realtor will consider is the current market environment. Does it favor buyers or sellers? Fewer modifications will need to be made when the market heavily favors sellers.

On the other hand, an extreme buyer’s market usually dictates a different strategy. You may need to do more to satisfy most potential buyers.

Often, markets are somewhere in between. This is when a skilled Realtor can immensely help.

Assess Your Home’s Condition

Evaluate your home’s current state. Not all potential repair areas. Your agent can help identify which issues significantly impact sales prospects.

I recommend pointing out any areas of concern and asking your agent for advice. Put a checklist together that will be easy to review.

Understand Buyer Expectations

Learn about current buyer expectations in your market. Some buyers seek fixer-uppers, while others prefer move-in-ready homes.

Your agent’s experience can help guide you in this area. This goes back to understanding the current real estate market conditions.

Consider Return on Investment (ROI)

Not all repairs will offer a good ROI on your Massachusetts property. Discuss with your agent which fixes will likely increase your home’s value versus those that won’t.

Sometimes, there may not be a significant return on investment, but it could help the saleability.

Prioritize Based on Impact

Focus on repairs that enhance curb appeal and address functional or safety issues. Cosmetic fixes often have lower priority unless they significantly improve first impressions.

For example, if each room in your home is a bright color, it makes sense to correct this deficiency. Buyers prefer neutral. Think earth tones or gray, which is very popular among Massachusetts buyers.

Factor in Time and Resources

Consider your available time and budget. Some repairs might be ideal but unrealistic due to these constraints. Your agent can advise on the best use of your resources.

Can you get a contractor to your Massachusetts home in a timely fashion? Will the price for making the improvements be reasonable?

Review Comparable Sales

Your agent can provide data on recent sales in your area. Finding relevant real estate comps to review is essential. This comparison helps decide if similar homes sold better with certain upgrades or repairs.

I recommend asking your agent to give you an as-is price and one with the modifications completed.

Listen to Professional Advice

Ultimately, deciding what not to fix should align with professional advice. A top-producing listing agent has the expertise to guide these decisions effectively.

By following these steps and leveraging the knowledge of a skilled listing agent, you can make informed decisions about what not to fix when selling your home.

This approach ensures you focus on improvements that matter most. It will help save time and money while appealing to buyers in your market.

The Do Not Fix List For Your Massachusetts Home

While I recommend a professional viewpoint on what not to correct in your house, these are everyday items to skip.

Not Replacing Windows When Selling a Home

Replacing windows might seem necessary when preparing your home for sale. However, skipping this renovation is often a good idea unless the windows are inoperable.

Here’s why.

Low Return on Investment

Windows has a surprisingly low return on investment (ROI) compared to other home improvements. The window replacement cost is high and rarely adds equivalent value to the sale price.

Buyers may not be willing to pay more for new windows. It makes the investment less beneficial for sellers. You will likely only get back 50-70 percent of what you spend, so replacing them doesn’t make sense.

Operability is Key

The primary reason to consider replacing windows is if they malfunction. Windows that won’t open, close, or lock properly can be a safety issue and turn off potential buyers.

Focus on other repairs or upgrades if your windows are operable and provide adequate insulation.

Cosmetic Improvements Can Suffice

Instead of total replacement, cosmetic improvements can enhance your windows’ appeal. Cleaning the windows, repairing minor damages, and adding a fresh coat of paint to the frames can significantly improve their appearance without a substantial cost.

Energy Efficiency Concerns

While new windows can improve energy efficiency, the selling point may not resonate with all buyers. Energy efficiency improvements offer better ROI in regions with extreme weather conditions.

However, the upfront cost might not be justified if your home is in a mild climate or if you’re selling outside peak buying seasons.

Consult with a Real Estate Professional

Before deciding, consult with a real estate professional. They can provide insights into your area’s market trends and buyer preferences.

It might be worth considering if new windows are a common expectation among homes in your price range. However, in many cases, the investment is better allocated elsewhere.

Focus on What Matters Most

Invest in improvements with the highest ROI and those that will make your home more appealing to the broadest audience.

Often, this means prioritizing kitchen and bathroom updates, fresh paint, and ensuring your home’s major systems are in good working order.

Replacing Appliances Not Always Necessary

When selling your house, replacing older appliances might seem like a must-do. However, it’s often not necessary. Here’s why:

Buyers Prefer Personal Choices

Many Massachusetts home buyers prefer selecting their appliances. This preference allows them to choose models that fit their style and needs.

Energy Efficiency Attracts Buyers

Today’s buyers lean towards energy-efficient appliances. They might replace older models anyway, making pre-sale replacements less appealing.

Cost vs. Benefit

New appliances can be expensive. The investment doesn’t always increase home value significantly. Save the expense; let buyers decide on upgrades.

Highlight Potential Instead

Rather than replacing, highlight the potential for upgrades. Buyers appreciate envisioning how they can personalize the space.

Consider a Home Warranty

Offering a home warranty can be more cost-effective. It reassures buyers about potential appliance issues without the need for replacements.

A warranty can be especially valuable to a buyer on a strict budget.

Focus on What’s Important

Invest in improvements with higher returns. Focus on deep cleaning, decluttering, and minor repairs instead of costly appliance upgrades.

In summary, replacing older appliances before selling isn’t always necessary. Buyers often prefer choosing their own, especially for energy efficiency.

Save the cost and focus on more impactful home preparations.

Partial Room Upgrades is Usually a Mistake

Don't Create Lipstick on a Pig Selling a Massachusetts House

Don’t Create Lipstick on a Pig Selling a Massachusetts House

Have you ever heard of the term “putting lipstick on a pig?” This can be a common approach in real estate. Of course, it is a mistake. It is dumb to do a significant upgrade in a room while leaving the rest as-is.

Your improvements will only magnify how bad the rest of the items look. For example, replacing just the counters would be a mistake if your kitchen has old dark wooded cabinets.

Imagine a dark, out-of-style kitchen with new, stunning granite counters. It doesn’t sound like a match. Trust me, potential buyers won’t either.

Doing partial upgrades in a room can be a mistake when selling a house. It creates inconsistency, potentially deterring buyers. Here’s why.

Reasons to Avoid Doing Half The Job

Creates Inconsistent Aesthetic: Partial upgrades disrupt the room’s overall aesthetic. Mixing old and new elements can make spaces feel disjointed and not cohesive.

Highlights Unfinished Areas: Instead of improving appeal, partial upgrades can draw attention to what’s not upgraded. This contrast can make the remaining areas look worse.

Buyers Prefer Completeness: Massachusetts Buyers favor fully upgraded rooms. They appreciate complete, harmonious designs over having to finish what the seller started.

Waste of Investment: Investing in partial upgrades might not increase property value as expected. The money might be better spent elsewhere.

Energy-Efficient Preferences: Some believe partial upgrades with energy-efficient features attract buyers. However, inconsistency in the room might overshadow these upgrades.

Sends Mixed Messages: Partial upgrades can send mixed messages about the home’s maintenance. Buyers might wonder what else is halfway done or neglected.

Buyers Enjoy Personalizing: Many buyers look forward to personalizing their new home. They might prefer a lower price over partial upgrades, using savings to customize as they see fit.

Avoid partial room upgrades when selling your Massachusetts home. Focus on complete, cohesive improvements or leave the room as is, allowing buyers to implement their vision.

Fixing Basement Flooring, WalkWay, or DriveWay Cracks

Fixing cracks in driveways, walkways, or basement floors may not always be necessary before selling a home. When you consider what you don’t need to fix, these items are on the list.

Here’s why.

Minor Cracks Are Common

Minor cracks are typical and expected, especially in concrete and asphalt. They rarely deter buyers unless they pose safety issues.

Costly Repairs with Low ROI

Repairing these cracks can be expensive. The return on investment is often low, as buyers might not value these repairs as much as sellers.

Aesthetic vs. Structural Concerns

Most cracks are cosmetic, not structural. Buyers may overlook them if the overall property meets their needs. Ask any home inspector, and they will confirm this information.

You should only worry about sealing basement flooring cracks if there are elevated radon levels.

Buyers Plan to Customize

New homeowners often plan to personalize their space. They might replace or modify driveways, walkways, or flooring according to their tastes.

Disclosure Over Repair

Disclosing the existence of these cracks can be more cost-effective than repairing them. Honesty about the property’s condition builds trust with potential buyers.

Focus on More Impactful Improvements

Sellers should prioritize repairs and improvements that offer a higher ROI and significantly impact the home’s appeal.

In summary, unless cracks in driveways, walkways, or basement floors are severe and affect the property’s safety or structural integrity, fixing them may not be necessary.

Instead, focus resources on more impactful updates.

Grandfathered Building Code Issues

You can often skip addressing grandfathered building code issues when selling a home in Massachusetts. Here’s why.

Grandfathered Codes are Legally Acceptable

These issues comply with past codes and are legally acceptable. They don’t need updating to current standards unless significant renovations are undertaken.

Updating Can Be Costly

Bringing the home up to current codes can be expensive. The investment might not yield a significant return on the sale price.

Buyers Expect Some Issues

In older homes, buyers often expect some non-compliance with current codes. It’s considered part of the charm and character of the property.

Disclosures Over Repairs

Disclosing grandfathered issues is crucial. Honesty about the home’s condition can prevent legal problems and build trust with potential buyers.

Focus on More Pressing Repairs

Sellers should prioritize repairs that significantly affect the home’s value and appeal, such as functional or aesthetic improvements.

May Not Affect Functionality

Many grandfathered code issues don’t impact the home’s functionality or safety, making them less critical to address before selling. However, it is worth noting that FHA and VA loans have stricter condition requirements.

If the buyer gets an FHA loan, the appraiser could flag an item that must be repaired. The property condition requirements with FHA loans will be different.

The One Exception

There is one item I would recommend fixing: a building code change many years ago. A change was made that requires bathroom vents to exit through the roof.

Years ago, all that moisture would be dumped into our attics. It created mold issues that needed to be rectified. I still see this often when selling Massachusetts homes.

I recommend you fix this and ensure your attic has no mold problems.


Deciding what to fix or not isn’t rocket science. With timely professional advice, you can understand what to do. These tips will put you in a better position when it’s time to sell your house.

Call me if you are considering selling your place in the Metrowest, Massachusetts, area and need guidance. I would be happy to help. I can lay out exactly what not to fix in your property.