Are you thinking about listing your home for sale?
When a home is less than move-in ready, hiring a contractor can help correct problems – large and small – and position your property to show at its best.
Whether you’re a seller looking for top dollar or a buyer considering your options including “as is” property sales, think about hiring the right contractor.
An “as is” home sale doesn’t mean the property is falling down or unlivable.
It may mean cosmetic elements – like paint, dated kitchens, baths and flooring – may not be on-trend for current home and interior decor tastes.
But “as is” can also mean the home has an aging roof, older HVAC components, an aged heating system or older hot water tanks, in need of replacement now or in the short term.
Keep in mind minimum state and federal home disclosure standards will apply to real estate sales and transfers, regardless of a home’s condition.
And home sellers are required by law to fully disclose issues with the property and “known material defects” to prospective buyers.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020 the number of home improvement, remodeling and renovation projects have skyrocketed.
According to Zippia.com, a career resource website, about 76% of American homeowners completed home improvement projects in 2020. The industry is estimated to surpass $1 trillion in sales by 2027.
“Contractors are busy,” said Chris Egner, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry in Wheeling, Illinois and owner of Chris Egner Design-Build-Remodel in New Berlin, Wisconsin.
Leigh Nunno, a Realtor and associate broker at Melissa Healy Group at Keller Williams Real Estate in Doylestown, said she regularly discusses property changes and upgrades with prospective buyers.
These conversations are aimed at getting an idea of the buyer’s plans once they own the property and how they envision living there.
“We’ll make suggestions [regarding]the contractors they can call for an estimate, so they can calculate that cost when budgeting to purchase the home,” she explained.
During the inspection phase, an issue may be flagged that can be corrected by the seller.
Ordered by property owners before a home is listed or sells, identifying a home’s shortcomings or failings gives the current owner a chance to correct or remediate them. This proactive approach can save time, hassles and headaches after the property is on the market.
When the buyer orders a home inspection, Nunno said there may be something flagged by the inspector at that time, “and we’ll work with the buyer to help find a contractor to address those issues.”
Ask for project estimates, not bids
While getting three estimates is the long-standing wisdom for hiring contractors, avoid using the word ‘bid’ when talking to them initially.
John Gemmi, owner of Gemmi Construction Inc. in Buckingham Township recommends prospective clients use the word “bid” carefully, if at all, because it can signal a “race to the bottom” price goal.
Better, according to Gemmi, is to get three different contractor estimates for a project, after the scope of work is defined.
“I’m glad to talk with prospective clients about an investment range for the project,” he said.
Gemmi encourages customers to “power date” three to four contractors over the phone to “get to know them” before making a final decision.
Egner recommends talking to two or three contractors with the intention of finding a good fit before settling on pricing.
“It really isn’t about cost early on. First of all, the contractor doesn’t know yet what he’s doing to do for you, and you might not know the scope of your project,” he explained.
Call contractor references
Quality contractors are thrilled to show you their work, and they’re only too happy to share happy customer references.
When calling a contractor reference consider these starter questions:
• Did the job start on time? If not, why not?
• How are unanticipated problems resolved?
• Is there a point person, or project manager with whom you will communicate?
• Was communication prompt and honest – in other words did you have rapport with the contractor?
• Were you happy with the finished work?
• Did you and the contractor “hit it off?”
“Have a clear picture of what you want to invest, and a budget,” Egner said.
Are you comfortable with the contractor you’ve selected? This point is valuable because while the relationship will likely be “brief” it’s still important because “…they’ll be in your house [possibly]for a long time,” Egner said.
Remodeling interest and jobs have been exceptionally busy, as people spend more time in their homes, Egner said.
“It’s been non-stop for the industry,” he said.
He recommends consumers check NARI’s website, and consider working with a NARI member.
“If it’s a NARI member, you know they have been vetted and are held to our code of ethics. Regardless of whether the project is large or small, you want to work with a professional,” he said.