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Is It Worth Replacing Windows Before Selling a House?


replaced windows before home sale

Replacing your windows before selling your house is routinely touted by realtors and other real estate professionals as a great investment. They have a point: replacing windows offers the sixth highest return on investment of any pre-sale project.

What they don’t say is how much it costs. At an average cost of more than $17,000, replacing windows can be a huge financial burden for sellers. 

This dilemma can leave sellers floundering. Is it worth replacing windows before selling a house? How can you know for sure? 

Here are the facts every seller needs to make an informed and smart decision for their property. 

Do New Windows Help Sell a House?

New windows have a lot to offer a property. They can:

  • Improve curb appeal
  • Give the impression of a well-maintained and updated home
  • Increase energy efficiency

In that respect, they can potentially help sell a house.

The improved energy efficiency factor is particularly important, as 89 percent of buyers cite it as a priority when house shopping. The returns on energy-efficient windows tend to be highest in northern or desert regions where extreme temperatures have the biggest impact on annual HVAC expenses.

Not All Windows Are Created Equal

What most advocates of installing new windows fail to point out is that not all new windows are equal in buyers’ eyes. Buyers who want energy-efficient homes are specifically looking for windows that boast key energy efficiency features such as:

  • Low-E glass
  • Double panes
  • Argon gas

This means that to get the promised return on investment, sellers can’t just install any new windows. Instead, they need to invest in expensive new windows. This dramatically increases the cost burden on sellers. 

At the same time, advocates often overestimate the value of new windows and underestimate the importance of other factors. For instance, they may point to the appeal of new windows without taking into consideration: 

  • A buyer’s individual market
  • The overall state of the house 
  • The speed and timing of a sale

Yet each of these factors can largely negate or diminish the value new windows might otherwise offer.

Market Variations

New windows help a house stand out. When sellers are competing for a small number of buyers, this can be important. 

But in today’s market, such situations are the exception rather than the rule. Today, as it has been for the last several years, the demand for houses is high. The supply of available homes is low and is not expected to increase any time soon.

As such, experts predict that it will continue to be a seller’s market nationwide for some time to come. Faced with an ongoing shortage of available properties, buyers are more likely to purchase properties in their target area even if they need work. 

This means that there is less need for sellers to install new windows in order to make their properties competitive. It also makes the overall return on investment for big projects like replacing windows lower than normal, giving sellers even less reason to complete them. 

Overall State of the House 

Regardless of the state of the market, it is important for sellers to keep in mind that new windows are not a cure-all. While they may attract buyer attention, they cannot compensate for other problems with a property such as:

  • A dated appearance or fixtures
  • Poor maintenance
  • An aging roof 
  • The general need for renovation or updating

Homeowners seeking to spruce up a house for sale typically have numerous other opportunities to boost their homes’ appeal that:

  • Cost less
  • Take less time
  • Provide a bigger impact on buyer perceptions 

This means that replacing windows is often not a good use of sellers’ time or money unless everything else in their home is already picture-perfect. 

The Speed and Timing Of a Sale

Finally, advocates for replacing windows rarely discuss the fact that putting new windows in a home can be an enormous project. It requires sellers to work with contractors, which involves:

  • Research
  • Phone calls
  • Site inspections
  • Scheduling a project
  • Taking time off from work to be present during the project
  • Potentially arranging for loans or other financing

With both contractors and raw materials in short supply, it can take weeks or even months for sellers to get their windows replaced. This can leave them responsible for the costs and upkeep of a home they want to sell for extended periods of time. That, in turn, can negatively affect their:

  • Stress levels
  • Finances
  • Ability to sell the home during peak homebuying seasons
  • Ability to close out other legal processes dependent on the sale such as a divorce or probate
  • Ability to move on and take advantage of new opportunities

The slight increase in a sale price that a seller might see from replacing their windows rarely balances out all of these other costs. 

Is It Worth Replacing Windows Before Selling a House?

Looking at all of this information, sellers are often left wondering, “So should I replace my windows before I sell my house or not?” 

The bottom line is that for most sellers, replacing their windows before selling simply is not worthwhile.

  • Windows have a decent return on investment but are lower-impact than many other less expensive renovation projects
  • Installing new windows requires sellers to invest more in a property than they can ever hope to recoup
  • A strong sellers’ market means that renovations are less valuable now overall
  • Replacing windows cannot compensate for other unappealing aspects of a property

Ultimately, focusing on window treatments when selling a house is not a good strategy. This is particularly true in the current market where having even the best home windows does not substantially affect the sellability of most homes. 

But What if My Home Isn’t Very Sellable?   

The news that new windows likely won’t help a sale can be disheartening to sellers who were hoping that it could be their ticket to selling their home. 

Whether they are trying to unload an unwanted house they inherited, trying to sell a home in a divorce, stuck with a house in poor repair, or dependent on selling a home to begin the next chapter of their lives, it’s not uncommon for sellers to feel trapped by a hard-to-sell home.

Fortunately, there are better options. 

Selling to an Investor

Selling a home that needs any kind of work or updating on the traditional real estate market can be stressful. Even in strong sellers’ markets, buyers and their agents can push for renovations, concessions, or price reductions. Properties with issues that cause them to fail to meet mortgage lenders’ standards can be especially hard to move.

But the traditional real estate market is not the only place to sell a property. In fact, sellers are increasingly choosing to sell their properties to investors to avoid the fuss, hassle, and hefty costs that come with selling a home on the traditional market.

There are many benefits to selling to an investor. Among the highlights are that selling to an investor:

  • Is much faster than pursuing a traditional sale
  • Prevents sellers from needing to make renovations to their homes
  • Saves sellers huge amounts of money in fees, commissions, and other costs
  • Provides sellers with cash in hand right away
  • Can simplify and speed up other legal processes such as divorce or probate
  • Enables property owners to get a fair price for their home without complicated and time-consuming negotiations, prep work, or stress

Since investors don’t need to go through mortgage lenders and are not looking to move into a home themselves, they are willing and able to buy properties other buyers might not. This makes them ideal buyers, particularly for sellers with homes they fear might be hard to sell.  

Working with investors is also convenient. Sellers can request a quote online at any time. They need only very basic information, such as the address of their home, to get started and there is no obligation. 

Investors then provide sellers with a quote and easy-to-understand terms of sale. In most cases, investors will even offer to pay for closing costs. Sellers can complete the sale and have cash in hand in less than two weeks with no renovations, agents, or staging required.  

Get a Quote

Is it worth replacing windows before selling a house? No. Not when selling to cash buyers who are willing to buy your home as-is for a great price is so fast and easy. 

Get a quote today and discover how much your home is worth just as it is.

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