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How to Tackle Home Foundation Repairs When You’re Trying to Sell Your House

 Trying to sell your house can be difficult, but it can be especially tough when you are tackling home foundation repairs.  Issues with home foundation are very common with 80% of structural home insurance claims resulting from foundation movement.  The most common foundation issues that homeowners face are those due to water damage from water that is not diverted away from the house.  Finding a foundation issue does not mean that you can’t sell your home or that you need to drastically reduce your home’s listing price.  Working with a structural engineer and a real estate agent you can sell your home and fix your foundation issues.

Does Your Home Have Foundation Problems?

It's not an everyday activity to wander around your home searching for signs of foundation problems.  But if you are getting ready to sell your home you may want to do just that.  Look for obvious signs of structural or foundation issues that should be further investigated.  Some of the signs to look for are foundation settling or sinking, foundation upheaval, gaps between the garage door and pavement, gaps between the house and trim, exterior walls bowing, large horizontal or vertical cracks, porch, deck, or columns that lean or pull away from the house, or a leaning chimney.  Cracks are the most obvious sign of a foundation issue and most are due to settling and are not structural in nature.  

When you have walked around the exterior of your house, you can go inside and do the same. Check for doors and windows that stick or do not open or close properly, cracks or gaps in the walls, floor, or foundation, diagonal wall cracks, sagging, sloping or uneven floors, walls that bow outward or bulge, sagging wood floor planks, cabinet doors not staying closed, or leaks and cracks in and around the fireplace.  If you spot any of these issues you should consult a structural engineer to fully inspect your foundation.  During the inspection, the structural engineer will assess your lot, drainage, soil, moisture, etc.  A professional inspection is the only way to distinguish between a true foundation issue and a false sign such as nail pops, seam breaks, hairline cracks in concrete, normal brick expansion joints, and cracks in floor grout or tiles.  

If it is discovered that your foundation has issues, you will need to determine if you should fix the foundation issue before you go to sell or attempt to sell your home with the issues or “as is.”  

Fix the Issue

The national average of foundation repairs ranges from $2,137 to $7,426, however, the low-end cost of minor repairs like filling cracks costs approximately $450, and high-end repair work such as installing hydraulic piers can cost over $11,000 with very serious damage costing upwards of $30,000.  There are a variety of foundation issues that can be found during a home inspection.  Each of these issues comes with its own cost and timeline to repair.  

Foundation settling and sinking

If your foundation is settling or sinking it will need to be fixed with piers and brackets to secure and support the foundation and prevent further settling.  House settling or sinking repairs can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000.  

Foundation crumbling, chipping or flaking 

These foundation issues are caused by weather and water exposure.  If the deterioration is caused by downspouts and gutters they would simply need to be repaired to prevent further deterioration.  Foundation repairs due to water damage may be as simple and inexpensive as minor crack repair with an epoxy or polyurethane foam injection would cost between $250 and $800.  If the cracks are larger further repairs such as the installation of piers would be needed. 

Interior floor, wall, or ceiling cracks

These interior foundation issues are caused by either settling, sinking, or shifting in the foundation of the home.  If your cracks are small they can be repaired with crack injections, however larger and major cracks may require the installation of piers to brace and support the foundation.  Minor crack repairs with crack injections can cost between $250 to $800 while installing piers could cost anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000.

Uneven or sloping floors

Uneven or sloping flowers and generally caused by soil changes that have caused the foundation to sink or settle.  Fixing sloping flowers means correcting the foundation issue with piers to brace and support the foundation.  Installing piers can cost anywhere from $700 to $25,000.  

Bowing foundation walls

Walls that are bowing are generally doing so because of shifting soil, water damage, or sinking.  Bowing walls that are not severely damaged can be fixed by applying carbon fiber strips with epoxy or reinforcing the walls with anchor plates and steel rods.  However, if the walls are severely damaged piers may be needed for additional reinforcement.  This type of repair can cost anywhere from $700 to $15,000.  

Sell “As Is”

While you might think that foundational issues would deter home buyers there are plenty of buyers who will consider purchasing a home with foundation problems.  Among these people are house flippers who are willing to put in the extra work to fix a foundation issue since they plan to flip the house in the long run.  Other buyers don’t mind a foundation issue because it gives them leverage to get a lower price. 


Should You Repair Foundation Issues Before Selling?

There is no guaranteed yes or no answer to this question.  Selling your home with foundation issues depends on the severity of the issue as well as the current real estate market.  In a seller's market with tight inventory, low mortgage rates, and serious competition, buyers are willing to look the other way on foundation issues and opt to purchase the home and then repair themselves rather than lose out.  Conversely, if the market is more favorable for buyers and there are tons of homes just like yours for sale in your area you might have trouble selling with foundational issues.  Making repairs on your foundation might be expensive but they could increase your home’s value or be considered an asset.  Most importantly, how does the cost of fixing the foundation compare to your home’s sale price?  And how much are you willing to lose on your home sale due to a foundation issue?  Some foundation issues can reduce the sales price by 10% to 15%.  But if your foundation repair is going to cost that much and you are not interested in fixing the home before selling you could skip the repair and market toward house flippers.  

While the cost to fix serious foundation issues can add up quickly, the time that it takes to fix them will not.  Most foundation issues can be fixed in less than a week. If you have found a foundation issue while you are trying to sell your home you should consider the cost to fix the issues versus the loss in your home’s sale price.  If the cost far outweighs the loss you can always market your home to buyers who will not mind fixing the issue themselves.  However, if you do choose to fix the foundation issue you may be able to mark the fix as an asset.  Speak to a professional real estate agent and a structural engineer to assess your situation and assist you in finding the best option.  

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