Fix minor structural problems or update bathrooms before selling? Always wanted a jacuzzi tub!!

Asked by D. Lee, Quincy, MA Mon Jan 14, 2008

My husband and I disagree. He wants to fix some rotting wood under the house on the sill and replace the roof over the front porch before selling. I say we replace the old plastic narrow tub/shower unit with a new whirlpool tub and tile. I have been wanting the tub forever anyway. Must I forego the tub to improve our chances of selling (next year or the year after). P.S. two kids iin college right is tight.

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Jim Welden, Agent, Greenwood Village, CO
Mon Jan 14, 2008
D. Lee - I have to agree with Dirk & Chris - the new bath will help put a purchase contract in place - the rotting wood/roof will cause the contract to fall apart - ideally do both but my vote if you could only choose one is to take care of the structural items.

If the colors (tile, fixtures, countertops) are ok in the existing bath, just make sure the bath is immaculate, the caulk and grout is in good condition, and add some new towels when you pautr in on the market. Maybe the whole bath does not need to be redone - maybe just changing the countertop and/or sink(s) and/or hardware and new paint will freshen up the bath......besides, get the jacuzzi in the new home so you get to enjoy it! You are smart to focus on it now before you put the home on the market.
1 vote
Chris Head, Agent, Norwell, MA
Mon Jan 14, 2008
Dirk is right. Fix the problems. If you don't fix the problems, you will need to disclose material defects to prospective buyers. Once you sell you don't ever want to hear from your buyers again...especially through their attorney! If you decide not to fix and price the house lower due the work that needs to be done, you'll eliminate some potential buyers. And buyers that make an offer will probably still try to negotiate the cost of the repair. Without the fixes, you will probably net less than if you spend the money to repair these items so they are not an issue.

Good Luck, and get that FAFSA form completed so you'll have some money to spend with a contractor!
1 vote
Dirk Knudsen, Agent, Hillsboro, OR
Mon Jan 14, 2008
Structure is Job #1. Any good home inspector is going to find dry rot and a bad roof. You have no decision here but to go with hubby and agree with him.

Now a Tub Remodel is a great thing to do as well as Bathrooms and Kitchens are top items in selling a home. BUt this has to come after the basics are covered. You are right to want what you want but put yourself in the buyers shoes. They will walk as soon as they find dry rot and a faulty roof! Hopefully you can get both but if not this is what I would do!

Bets wishes to you!

Dirk T Knudsen
Re\Max Hall of Fame
#1 Rated Team in Oregon
"The Real Estate Doctor"
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1 vote
Jon Ernest, , Brookline, MA
Tue Jan 15, 2008
I am suffering from lack of information. And therefore have two answers based on two possible outcomes...

I don't know how bad the rot is. You at first say Minor... So the first thing you should actually do is hire a home inspector yourself. Now as a warning, whatever the home inspector finds will all of the sudden become a "known material defect" and therefore have to be disclosed when you sell. But it gives you two possibilities:

1) If (s)he says it's not so minor, and it's of serious concern... that is what your potential buyers are going to hear from their home inspector, they won't move ahead from that point. If that's what you hear... then no jaccuzi for you, everyone else below is absolutely right.

2) If you hire a home inspector, and they aren't worried about it, turn the jets on high and here's why:

You don't ever hear the saying, or read the statistics that sills and roofs sell houses. The saying is that Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses.

The moment you say "structural" people get worried (as you can read below). Are you a structural engineer? Have you had a structural engineer look at it?

Fix up the bathroom, and when your'e redy to sell, be sure to disclose that some wood on the sill is suspected to be rotting (show them the area of concern), and disclose any material defects you know of, and put it on a Sellers Disclosure statement to give to your agent. Also with the roof, if it's been leaking you might as well fix it, you'd have to disclose the leaking. If it's just old but there haven't been any problems, then disclose the age of the roof and that there haven't been any problems. You're not planning on selling this as a new construction are you? Of course not, this is Greater Boston. Homes here are old, it's part of their charm.
0 votes
Stacey A. Ma…, , Westfield, MA
Mon Jan 14, 2008
Hi D. Lee, just to be sure you hear the message and not all the testosterone, the guys are right, the rot and roof come first. Especially if it will be a year or two before you put it on the market, those seemingly small issues could lead to big expensive problems if not corrected now. Get them out of the way, and worry about the tub down the road. Good luck! Stacey
0 votes
Michael Lefe…, Agent, Westborough, MA
Mon Jan 14, 2008
D. Lee,
I know it's not what you want to hear, but I have to agree with the other guys- fix the struxtural items first. The structural items will definitely come up during a thorough home inspection and you'll have to deal with them ($) at some point. It would be a shame to throw your limited budget into the bathroom only to lose a deal over the structural issues that come up at the home inspection. Plus, these structural issues will only get worse between now and the time you decide to sell. Hold out for the whirlpool in your next home! Jim had some great suggestions for the bathroom. An immaculate, freshly painted bathroom will go a long way towards a sale, but you can't hide structural issues from a good inspector. Good luck!
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