How to Sell a Home in Bad Condition

November 21st, 2023

Selling | Realtors®
How to Sell a Home in Bad Condition

How to Sell a Home in Bad Condition

No matter how poor the condition of your house is, you have options to sell it. Here are the ins and outs of selling a home in bad condition. 

Chances are you came across this article because you're wondering how to sell a home in bad condition. 

Homes with beautifully updated kitchens and impeccable landscaping in new condition will receive thousands of views online and likely sell in hours instead of days. Homes in bad condition will be harder to sell — they can still be sold. 

So, how do we go about selling a home in bad condition?

This topic is more complicated than it might sound because "poor condition" is a spectrum rather than a set description. Additionally, other factors like the real estate market and your location can impact what it means to sell a house in bad condition.

Let's deeply dive into everything you need to know about selling a home in bad condition.

1. Is Your Home in Bad Condition? 

When people use the term "bad condition," they can mean various things. There is a spectrum between homes that are uninhabitable and homes that are structurally sound but desperately in need of updates. Let's look at the different places your house might fall on the spectrum to help you understand how your house measures up.

Completely Uninhabitable

Several things could cause a house to be completely uninhabitable. These include:

  • Black mold
  • Extensive or severe roof damage
  • Serious electrical issues, such as frayed wiring or outdated knob and tube wiring
  • Serious plumbing issues, such as a nonfunctioning water heater or corroded and leaky pipe
  • Termite infestation or damage from a termite infestation that has not been repaired
  • Asbestos or lead
  • Nonfunctioning HVAC system
  • Extensive or severe chimney damage
  • Extensive or severe foundation issues

These issues create a scenario where it is dangerous for someone to live in the home. Whether the uninhabitable conditions were caused by storm damage, careless renters, neglect, or something else, selling a house in poor condition can entail a different process than selling a habitable home.

mold and moisture buildup in residential home

Visually In Need of Repairs

The next spot on the spectrum is when a house is habitable but has several repair issues and flaws. During a home inspection, a home inspector might deem a house of this sort to be in "fair condition" rather than "poor condition."

However, several issues might still lead real estate agents and buyers to consider a house in bad condition. These include:

  • Significant roof damage
  • Some plumbing problems
  • Some electrical issues
  • Significant foundation issues
  • Significant wood rot
  • Damaged and outdated kitchen
  • Damage flooring
  • Damaged and outdated bathrooms
  • Failing yet still working HVAC system
  • Nonfunctioning or damaged light fixtures and faucets

As you can see, these conditions do not necessarily make a home uninhabitable but still pose major problems.

Structurally Fine But in Need of Updating

Lastly, some houses for sale might be structurally fine, but there are some issues with deferred maintenance or the need for general repairs. A home inspector might find a house in this condition to be "fair" or "good." However, some buyers and their agents might still claim a house of this sort is in poor condition.

Even when the bones of your home are good, certain issues can give your house a bad reputation. These include:

  • An outdated kitchen
  • Outdated bathroom
  • An interior that is cluttered or dirty
  • Peeling or dingy paint
  • Stained or dirty flooring
  • Overgrown, dead, or neglected landscaping
  • Outdated light fixtures or faucets
  • Whether the exterior includes minor wood rot or peeling paint

As you can see, many of these issues are much more minor than with other homes in poor conditions. These are more superficial repairs that might be worth making before selling your house.

Home in need of repairs visually falling apart

2. Selling a Home in Bad Condition: The Options

When selling a house in poor condition, you have several options. Depending on whether the problem is more superficial or more severe, you will have to decide how much you want to invest in the property before trying to sell it.

Selling a House As Is

When a house is uninhabitable, you likely won't be able to sell it to a traditional homebuyer. This is because even if you find a buyer for your home, they will likely struggle to get financing for a house with significant structural or other major issues.

This doesn't mean that you cannot sell your house, however. If you have a house in bad condition and are not interested in or able to make the necessary expensive repairs, consider selling your house as-is to a real estate investor.

When you sell a house as is, the buyer typically pays in cash. This means that they do not have to receive funding from a lender. It also means that you can sell your house without a real estate agent to save money on the commissions.

On top of that, you won't have to deal with any closing costs when you sell your house as-is to an investor. If there are any outstanding house payments, tax liens, or financial obligations, the investor will usually pay these.

If you are in a real bind and need to sell your house fast, this is probably the way to go. Some home-buying companies claim that the closing on your property can happen in as little as seven days. Typically, they will give you a no-obligation cash offer you can accept or deny.

When selling a house as-is, you don't have to make any repairs or upgrades you would if you were putting the house on the market. If you're in a hurry to sell your property, don't have the money to make the fixes, and don't want to deal with the long-drawn-out process of preparing, staging, listing, and selling your home, selling your house as-is could make sense.

Just because you are selling your house as-is, though, it does not mean that you don't have any responsibilities. In most states, it is your legal obligation to disclose any problems you know about.

Also, you can still do some work to help boost the value of your home without making major repairs. Decluttering and depersonalizing the home, deep cleaning, cleaning the carpeting, and getting the yard in order might help fetch you a higher price.

While this can make sense for some people in certain circumstances, there are some downsides to selling your house as-is. Firstly, the offer you receive from a real estate investor will be on the low end of the spectrum. After all, They are an investor and plan on fixing up the house to rent it out or flip it for profit.

Secondly, there are a lot of scams out there when it comes to buying and selling houses for cash. Researching and looking into companies before you sign any paperwork is important. You should never have to give one of these companies any money, even if it seems nominal.

Look online for other people's experiences with real estate investors and home-buying companies. Ask your friends and family who have sold their house as-is their experience with the investor they worked with.

Some of these companies are looking to prey on people who are in unfortunate circumstances. They will offer far too little money and try to exploit you. If it seems like an investor is pressuring you or manipulating you into accepting a subpar cash offer, walk away.

Making Minor and Cosmetic Repairs

If there is a long list of home inspection issues and repairs that your house needs, this can be intimidating to buyers. Knocking some of the cosmetic and lower-cost repairs off of the to-do list can help make your home appealing to more people.

When people want to buy a fixer-upper home, they incorporate their projected spending into how much they are willing to pay.

While you might not have the time or money to replace your roof, do a kitchen remodel, or put in a new HVAC system, there are a lot of low-cost repairs you can make to spruce the place up. These include:

  • Replacing outdated light fixtures
  • Repainting the interior
  • Refinishing existing cabinets
  • Replacing old faucets
  • Sprucing up the landscaping
  • Replace missing fence boards

Some of these repairs are smaller than others. Replacing outdated light fixtures might cost you a few hundred dollars, while refinishing your cabinets will likely cost a few thousand dollars.

Home in Bad Condition - Older Home Left Untouched

Investing in Upgrades and Major Repairs

If you have time and money, you might decide to fix up your house before selling it so that you can find a buyer more easily and fetch the highest price for your home.

If you choose to go this route, you'll want to be very considerate of how much money you are investing and how that will reflect in the price of the home.

Some major repairs and upgrades that you might consider making before listing your house include:

  • Renovating a bathroom: A complete renovation, on average, will cost between $6,624 and $16,892
  • Replacing flooring: The price will depend on the flooring type, but on average, it will cost an average of $3,000 for a 500-square-foot space
  • Updating kitchen: A complete renovation or upgrade can cost between $14,549 and $40,425
  • Replacing kitchen appliances: A new oven, fridge, microwave, and dishwasher will cost between $2,100 and $5,400
  • Roof replacement/repair: On average, this will cost you between $7,600 and $80,000
  • HVAC replacement: The cost of a new unit and the installation in North Carolina is between $3,500 and $10,000

Sometimes, it might make sense for you to make these major repairs or upgrades before selling your home. However, if your house needs many of these repairs, you might want to consider selling to a real estate investor.

These investors are in the business of fixing up run-down houses, so they have a network of contractors and access to wholesale materials, which means they can spend far less money doing the same repairs.

3. Should You Invest Before Selling a House in Poor Condition?

When it comes time to sell your house, you'll want to run the numbers on whether it makes sense to make repairs or upgrades. You will want to consider several things to help you make these decisions.

Current Market Conditions

One important consideration is what type of market there is in your area. Is your home in a hot seller's market where there is massive competition for homes, and the values of houses are rising? If this is the case, you might do fine selling your home without making as many repairs.

On the other hand, if you're in a buyer's or just a slower market, you'll probably want to invest some money and time into sprucing your property up. Otherwise, you'll be forced to let your house sit on the market for months or list your home way lower than you'd like to get a faster sale.

Home in bad condition in the mountains with sunset

The Competition

Another thing you'll want to take into account is what the competition is like. You can look at other homes for sale in your area to see how much you should invest to fix your property.

For example, if your house is in a great neighborhood where all the other homes are completely updated and remodeled and have awesome curb appeal, your home won't be that popular. If this is the case, without putting in any effort to make the house more appealing, you might have to sell your home for less than it would be worth in a different location.

On the other hand, your neighborhood has a solid mix of houses in various states, run-down, completely remodeled, and everything in between. If this is the case, your house in a decluttered and clean state could stand a chance of getting a decent price.


It only makes sense to spend money to fix up your home if that money will get you a higher sale price. If an improvement costs you $2,000 and fetches you $15,000 to $20,000 more on the sale price, that's a great return on investment. On the other hand, you don't want to find yourself in a situation where you're paying $20,000 to only make $10,000 or $15,000 more on the sale price.

Research which improvements will add value to your home are more likely to give you a positive ROI. Many expensive upgrades aren't worth doing if you immediately sell your home. People typically do kitchen or bathroom upgrades if they will enjoy these upgrades for several years before listing their house on the market.


If you sell your home on the traditional market, your buyer's lender will likely require a home inspection. It's your responsibility in most states to disclose anything that you know is wrong with the property. However, you likely don't know everything wrong with your home, and the inspector will likely find more issues to deal with.

Buyers typically use the home inspection report as a tool during negotiation. You can either negotiate with them for a lower price, agree to make some necessary repairs or walk away from the deal entirely.

If you're selling the home as-is, it's fine to be straightforward about the fact that you aren't going to make any upgrades or repairs.

4. Tips For Selling a House in Bad Condition

Each property is different, and what makes sense for your home before you sell it will depend on several factors. That being said, here are some general tips to help sell a house in any condition.

Shine a Light on What's Good About the Property

Have you ever looked at a real estate listing only to find that the property was way nicer in person than they made it sound on paper?

Your real estate listing is not the time to be a Debbie-downer. Brainstorming your property's positive aspects and ensuring your copy is written compellingly can help drive more buyers to set up a showing.

Even if your home is a little worse for wear, does it have a few of the mountains that are to die for? Or is your home located in a desirable school district or near a bustling city center?

Understanding what buyers are looking for can help you write an ad that drives the most prospective buyers to your property. Maybe you chose to replace the HVAC system and upgrade to energy-efficient appliances. In the listing description, you'll want to make these aspects of your house front and center.

Depending on the condition of your house and your sales price, it can be more or less reasonable to hire a real estate photographer. However, more often than not, having professional real estate photos taken of your property can help to ensure that your house is presented in the best possible light and garners as much interest as possible.

Be Honest About Its Shortcomings

While it's good to highlight all of the positives, it's also important not to downplay or lie about your home's negative aspects. Even if you lie about your home's condition, it will all come out in the wash during the home inspection.

Home interior in bad condition, rundown home

Take Care of Easy Repairs

If your home has been severely damaged in a storm, water, or fire, there's not much point in repainting what's left of the interior walls. However, if your home is structurally sound but a little dingy or behind the times, knocking out some easy upgrades can help your home sell faster and for more money.

Small upgrades like fresh window screens, new landscaping, fresh interior paint, or re-finished cabinetry can make your home much more appealing and help you justify a higher asking price.

Price Your Property Right

One of the many reasons it is almost always worth hiring a real estate agent is that they can help you find the right price for your property. If you price your property too low, you'll leave money on the table. On the other hand, if you price your property too high, it can mean it stands weeks or even months longer on the market.

Real estate agents have experience without a price home so that you make as much money as possible without scaring away many initially interested buyers.

Decide What Concessions You're Open to Ahead of Time

It is common practice for buyers to try and negotiate on the sales price, and after the inspection report comes back, they might ask you to make repairs or lower the price even more. Having a firm sense of how low you want to go on the price and which repairs you're willing to make ahead of time can help ensure you end up with a deal that works for you.

Be Patient

Lastly, if you're selling a house in bad condition or even fair condition, sometimes you must be patient. If your home isn't exactly move-in ready, then it might take a little longer to find an interested buyer. Your real estate agent will probably discuss a timeline for reducing the price if you haven't gotten any bites after a certain period.

Selling a Home in Bad Condition in Raleigh, NC - Final Thoughts

Selling a home in bad condition is possible, but it means deciding whether to improve its condition before selling it or letting a buyer or investor take care of the necessary repairs. To help determine your course of action, you'll want to consider the real estate market, your location, and your own personal circumstances and desires.

Is it time for you to sell your home in Raleigh? If you'd like help selling your home, let us know, and we can give you a full market analysis.

Find your new home Search real estate and homes for sale
Share this post
Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! Nice to 'meet' you and thanks for visiting our Raleigh Real Estate Blog! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I'm a REALTOR® in Raleigh-Durham, NC, the owner of Raleigh Realty. I work alongside some of the best Realtors in Raleigh. You can find more of my real estate content on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and more. Realtor Magazine named me a top 30 under 30 Realtor in the country (it was a long time ago haha). Any way, that's enough about me. I'd love to learn more about you if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram or connect with our team at Raleigh Realty. Looking forward to connecting!

Related Blogs

10 Best Home Staging Tips to Sell Your House Fast
Looking to sell your home fast? Check out our guide for home staging tips to help you get your house sold quickly.
October 10th, 2023
Selling your Home? 7 Improvements that Add Value for Resale
What are low cost ways to improve my home so that it will sell for top dollar? Here are seven home improvements to net you more on the sale of your house!
October 04th, 2023
11 Tips When Selling a Home for The First Time
Are you selling your home for the first time? Here are eleven tips for selling your home.
September 26th, 2023
15 Steps To Selling Your Home
Selling your home can be a daunting task, but with these 15 steps, it can be a breeze! Please continue reading to learn about the 15 essential steps to take before selling your home or putting it on the market.
March 29th, 2023