Catch up with deferred maintenance

After the Great Recession, the country’s housing stock deteriorated.  Many financially strapped home owners could not afford the cost of maintaining their home.  Many of those home owners deferred maintenance thinking they would do it when their financial picture got better.  Others abandoned their homes, willing to face foreclosure to have a fresh start.

deferred maintenance
Home quality

As a result, the housing stock deteriorated as time passed. Foreclosed homes deteriorated during the foreclosure process.  And many others decided to sell their deferred maintenance home.  It wasn’t until five to seven years after the recession that “the cost of doing nothing” was realized.

However, the antithesis was the many home owners who opted to update and remodeled their homes in lieu of moving.  The decision to stay and “make do” was primarily because of the depressed home sale market. Many home owners who wanted to move couldn’t because the potential sale price would have been much lower than what the home owner needed to move.  Additionally, there were many who were “under-water,” meaning that their mortgage payoff was higher than what the home was worth at that time.

As the market improved, home sellers realized that their well maintained, renovated/updated homes, sell faster and for more. Real estate agents quickly embraced the idea of renovating prior to putting the home on the market.  The pay off for this strategy was evident in the recent sellers’ market (2020-2022), where well maintained and updated homes garnered a lot of attention, received multiple offers, and launched home sale prices to double digit increases.

Just as remodeling can increase the value of your home, deferring maintenance will decrease your home’s value. Unfortunately, many home owners, and their agents, believe that years of deferred maintenance can be overcome with simple and inexpensive renovations.  The truth is that years of deferred maintenance deteriorates the condition of your home, making it vulnerable to the elements, pests, and time.  Deferring maintenance also makes repairs and updates more costly down the road. 

If your home has deferred maintenance, it’s not too late to catch up.  If there are many projects with which to catch up, prioritize the most important.  You will find that as you catch up with deferred maintenance, your comfort and enjoyment of your home increases.  And if you’re planning a move in near future, keeping up with home maintenance will make your home sale preparation straightforward and easy.

By Dan Krell
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