Selling a Matrimonial Home As Is vs Making Improvements

The question is often asked as to whether a divorcing couple should put their home on the market “as is” or if they should make improvements before they list. In general, the answer is that it depends on the circumstances.

I’ll preface my thoughts with the proviso that even happily married people who make a great team in stressful circumstances see their stress levels spike in a home improvement project, so adding that to an estrangement is not a good recipe for sanity. Unless there are repairs screaming for being cured that are true health and safety matters, my general recommendation is to sell as is. Virtually no cosmetic project, redecoration, or freshening up is worth the financial and emotional toll, or return on investment for that matter.

There may be times when selling as is would be a bad idea. For example- a leaky roof, mold, standing water, or a electrical panel that has smoke coming out of it should be addressed. If something is truly a glaring defect or health and safety issue that would unduly hinder the sale, then addressing the issue should be a priority ahead of time.

I’ll also add that many town building departments in Westchester and surrounding counties will expect permits, inspections, and all the fees associated with them on more involved projects, which adds to the financial and mental strain. I’ve had more than one client regret the project, telling me how much it hurt to pay for upgrades and improvements that they would never personally enjoy.

But repainting, replacing a cracked window, or updating a tired room aren’t moves that typically offer a worthwhile return on investment. This is especially the case as I write this in the height of a low inventory, strong seller’s market where multiple bids and fewer than 30 days on market are the norm. If you do a cost/benefit analysis that factors in the stress and hit to the quality of life that come with home improvements vs how it will help sell the house, my experience is that unless it is a severe condition that will unduly hinder the sale of the home, “as is” would be the way to go.

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