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Should I Fix Basement Leaks Before Selling my Chicago Home?

Aug 26, 2013 • By Matthew Stock.

For Sale In Water

In the blazing hot real estate market of the early and mid-2000s, selling a Chicago home was pretty easy.  Take your pick of Realtors competing for listings, slap up a “For Sale” Sign and wait for the offers to roll in.  For the really fortunate, there might even have been a bidding war that resulted in offers that exceeded the asking price.

Those days, for better or worse, are gone, probably for the foreseeable future.  Today’s real estate market belongs to the buyer and there are much fewer of them as the economy still struggles to regain its footing.  Selling a house has become far more difficult than it was 8 – 10 years ago and buyers can take their pick of dozens of offerings instead of jumping for the first suitable house they see.

For sellers, this means that they really have to be on their game.  The house has to look good and be priced right because the smallest thing that raises a red flag in a buyer’s mind can kill the sale.  One thing that turns off buyers, particularly first-timers, is any defect in the house and a seller’s offer of a credit for repairs usually isn’t enough to allay their fears.

A leaky basement is one thing that often chases away buyers and many Chicago homes have basement water problems, especially with the drought-and-rain cycle in recent years.  Potential sellers have to consider how unrepaired basement seepage will impact the sale of their home.

Fix Basement Leaks Before You Sell Your Chicago Home

There is little question that a house with a waterproofed basement will be an easier sell than one that leaks.  In Illinois, as in many states, sellers are required to disclose basement water problems to potential buyers; failing to do so can result in costly lawsuits.

Many sellers, however, especially for those who are, in Realtor-speak, “motivated” due to job transfers or other circumstances, don’t want to be bothered with repairs and offer credits to buyers to perform the repairs themselves.  Some buyers, maybe equally motivated, will accept this as part of the deal but many won’t, for several reasons:

  • There’s likely another similar house for sale at a comparable price but with a dry basement;
  • The buyer may not understand the basement water problem and may be unsure about whether the offered credit will be enough to fix the damage; or,
  • The buyer doesn’t want to deal with major repairs on top of moving into a new home.

Even buyers with enough knowledge of home repairs or sufficient confidence to take on basement waterproofing in a new home are unlikely to accept the first credit offered and will negotiate from a position of strength, probably resulting in a lower purchase price or other concessions.  Good news for them; not so good for the seller.

So, in most cases, it is beneficial to a seller to fix any basement leaks in their home before putting it on the market.  This should make the home easier to sell and avoid credits and concessions; the seller will not have to fear disclosure statements and home inspections.

Of course, another critical choice will be finding a basement waterproofing contractor that will accurately assess the damage and perform necessary repairs permanently, cost-effectively and in a timely manner so the seller doesn’t miss market opportunities.  At U.S. Waterproofing, we have been keeping Chicagoland basements dry for 56 years and work closely with Realtors and home inspectors to help ensure that homes are ready for market.  Why not ask for a free consultation before you put up the “For Sale” sign?


Tags: fix basement leaks, fix basement leaks chicago, fix basement leaks before selling'

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