By law, do I need to repair my house before selling it?

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Question:

My charming (but run-down) older house needs a lot of work, but I’d like to skip making any repairs before I sell it. Is there any legal reason I need to make repairs?

 

Answer:

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle (and cost) of identifying and fixing problems, you can sell your house “as is.”  This essentially tells the buyer that you don’t want to fix anything or lower the price for repairs.

But selling the house as is doesn’t mean that you can completely wash your hands of responsibility for the condition of your property. Not even an as-is sale will relieve you of your responsibility to disclose the problems you know about. (See the Nolo articles on seller disclosures for useful advice. And savvy buyers will still insist on an inspection contingency in the contract, reasoning that they want to know what your house’s problems are before they make a commitment to buy, even if you’re not going to fix those problems.

An as-is sale may simplify the sales process, but it probably won’t help you get maximum dollar. Interested buyers will expect you to offer a rock-bottom price, to compensate for the risk they’re assuming for covering any major problems with the house.

And if you’re selling your house in a down market, an as-is sale may be particularly unprofitable because you’re competing with other as-is low-priced properties, including foreclosures.

Ask your real estate agent for advice before selling your house as-is. Your agent may say that you’re better off fixing your house up and selling it at market value.

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