Guide to Managing Deferred Maintenance

Posted by Justin Havre on Monday, July 15th, 2019 at 11:46am.

What You Need to Know About Deferred MaintenanceTo be safe for human habitation, homes need to be properly maintained. Homes that are not properly maintained may be plagued by plumbing leaks, electrical problems, structural damage and more.

Homes that have a lot of deferred maintenance can decrease in value, because many home buyers are reluctant to purchase a home with serious deferred maintenance. If your home has a lot of deferred maintenance, you may have a difficult time selling your property. Here's what you need to know.

Why Deferred Maintenance Is a Problem

Small problems become large ones when they're not addressed in a timely manner. Plumbing leaks are one of the best examples of how a minor problem can become significant in a short period.

Plumbing leaks can cause wood in the walls and floors to rot. When this happens, the wood becomes desirable for pests like carpenter ants and termites. Mold and mildew can also grow in moist environments.

A small plumbing leak may seem like no big deal until the floor of the home has become soft, termites have caused thousands of dollars in damage, and the walls have begun to mold. A similar problem can arise from deferred electrical maintenance. When an electrical system is allowed to become too old to be functional, the homeowner may overload the circuits frequently, and could even cause a fire. This kind of an event could cause the homeowner thousands of dollars in damage.

How Much You Can Expect to Spend on Maintenance

Deferred maintenance is avoidable. Most homeowners must spend approximately one percent of their home's value on maintenance every year. Homeowners who budget for these expenses and who repair their home can avoid problems like deferred maintenance.

DIY or Professional Repairs

Once the homeowner is ready to take care of any necessary maintenance, they must ask themselves whether they want to perform DIY repairs or if they would like to hire a contractor. For small problems like drywall repair, interior painting, and drain unclogging, many homeowners perform these tasks without help from a professional. It's important to hire a professional when:

  • The work is too dangerous (like roofing)
  • The work requires specialized knowledge and training to be done properly (such as chimney repair)
  • The repair needs special equipment to be done properly (like sewer work)
  • A permit is needed to complete the project

Repairs that are performed by homeowners who don't have the expertise or the equipment to get the job done right could devalue the home.

Want to Sell But Don't Have the Money to Make Repairs?

Deferred maintenance must be disclosed when the home is put up for sale, especially if the deferred maintenance could cause hardship for the buyer. Examples of the type of maintenance problems that must be disclosed to the buyer include:

Homeowners who want to sell their property but who don't have the money or motivation to make repairs may need to sell their property at a discount. In many cases, the home must be sold for significantly less than the cost of the repair. This is because most home buyers expect their home to be move-in ready. Homes that require a lot of work before the buyer can settle in are less desirable and will take longer to sell.

Homeowners who must sell their home with deferred maintenance must work with their real estate professional to ensure that the home is properly marketed. Buyers must be made aware that the property has a problem, and at the same time must be made aware of the home's positive qualities. Working with a real estate professional can help ensure that this happens.

Make the Home Repairs Happen Cheaply

If you're a homeowner who needs to make repairs on your home and you're having a hard time affording the work, shop around with different contractors to get the best deal possible. Communicate your budget limitations with each contractor you meet. Your contractor may be able to suggest a less expensive repair that could achieve the same goals.

Ask your contractor if you can do some of the work yourself to reduce costs. Sometimes getting a loan is necessary to ensure that the repairs get done.

Work With a Real Estate Professional

If you're an Ellison homeowner with deferred maintenance, work with a real estate professional when the time comes to sell. Your real estate professional can help you decide whether it's better to make the repairs, or to sell the home as is. Either way, your real estate professional can make the transaction easier and more successful.

Justin Havre

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