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Real Estate “Horribilization”

by Chip Collins

Okay…so maybe it’s not a real word…but it definitely is a real thing!


Prospective home-buyers have a tendency to “horribilize” the cost of house projects – and perhaps rightfully so.   After all, it’s better to budget high and come in under budget, than to under-budget and come up short on cash – or just super-frustrated that something ended up costing more than you had wanted or planned.

So, how can home sellers avoid buyer horribilization?

The first step is to take a walk through your property with a set of buyer’s eyes.   This means looking up, down, and all around at every surface, wall, ceiling, floor and corner – inside and outside the home.   If YOU were looking to buy the house, what do you see now (as opposed to all the things you come to accept and/or not even notice any more).

Is the roof stained?

Are the floors worn?

Is there mildew?

How about cracked tiles, or missing grout in the shower or tub?

Unless the home is relatively new, the likelihood is that there are some items that could use some attention.

And, here’s why you need to consider taking action before putting your property on the market:  there is a HIGH probability that the actual cost of correcting/addressing those items will be substantially LOWER than what a buyer might think they will cost.

Said differently, a buyer is almost always going to over-estimate the potential cost of a house project (i.e., “horribilize”), which can have a direct impact on the amount of money they are willing to offer/pay for your house.

Take, for instance, a stained roof.   A seller thinks: It’s fine, doesn’t leak, works great.  A buyer thinks: This house needs a new roof (and they estimate it at $15-20K).   Reality says:  For $500 the roof stains can be cleaned away, making the good-condition roof look great (and, by the way, the REAL cost of a roof is only $8-10K).

So, it’s a good idea to avoid real estate horribilization by taking a proactive step to address/correct areas of concern BEFORE you put your house on the market.  It will save you time, money, and stress in the long run – making the near-term investment WELL worth it.

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