Is it worth replacing windows before selling a house?

When it comes to replacing windows, many home sellers begin to stress about whether or not they should invest a substantial amount of money on a house they are ultimately going to be leaving in the near future. Will it help the home sell? Will the investment get returned? In this article, we will aim to answer these questions to help you decide whether or not it’s a solid investment to replace the windows in your specific home before selling. Every house is different, and depending on the situation, it may not be a necessary expense.

Benefits:

First, it’s important to note what benefits new windows can add to a home. It’s estimated that you can save 15% on your electric bill when upgrading windows (HomeSelfe, 2018). Newer windows don’t allow as much air to escape as older ones, and they block UV rays that would otherwise cause your house to heat up, therefore, making your heating and cooling systems not have to work as hard to compensate. Prospective buyers might see older windows and perceive your house as a fixer-upper rather than having a turnkey advantage. Whereas newer windows send the message that the house is energy-efficient and move-in ready.

Additionally, new windows give a house an instant face-lift. They are a great cosmetic improvement and can transform your home to look and feel like new! And, if you choose the right style, you can update the house’s entire appearance, making it look sleek and modern. This face-lift also applies to the home’s curb appeal; from the outside, new windows will give it a refreshed and put-together appearance. Curb appeal is everything—the view from the street is a buyer’s first impression and will ultimately be the moment they decide if they want to step inside.

Drawbacks:

Of course, the biggest negative of replacing windows is the cost. The standard window costs around $600, but if you have wood windows, it’ll be closer to $900, and if you need the frame removed prior to installing it, you will have to add $100 per window. The average-sized single-family home would likely cost around $7,000-$10,000 (HomeSelfe, 2018).

Desirability:

A survey done by the National Association of Home Builders in 2017 showed that energy-efficient windows are ranked desirable by 90% of home buyers. So, on this front, it may be worth the investment if you do not have them.

Return:

Probably the most asked question is what the return on this investment is. If you save 15% on your electric bill with new windows and replacing them costs about $7,000, it would take 39 years to get a return on them in this way (HomeSelfe, 2018). However, According to the National Association of Realtors 2016 Cost Versus Value Report, homeowners who sold their house after replacing their windows saw a return of 72% upon resale (PRS, 2017).

When to Replace Windows:

Now that we have laid out the drawbacks, benefits, and some data regarding the return and desirability of new windows, we will outline who should get their windows replaced.

1. Broken Windows: If you have windows with broken glass, latches, locks, springs, etc., it would be wise to get them replaced before selling.

2. Drafts: Older windows tend to let in a draft. If your windows fall into this category, it’s probably a good idea to get new, more energy-efficient ones. Although all windows can start to let in drafts over time as your home settles, older windows tend to do this more because of how they were designed.

3. Inefficiency: These types of windows don’t block UV rays as well.

4. Noisy: If you can hear a lot of noise coming from the outside, this probably means your windows provide very little protection from elements and have likely not been appropriately sealed or were poor quality to begin with.

5. Window Frame Imperfections: If the frames are soft to the touch, chipped, or water damaged, it typically means they are beyond repair and need to be replaced. Soft frames are an indication of rot, and they will probably start sagging if they haven’t already.

6. Difficulties Opening/Closing/Locking: Sometimes, windows simply get stuck and need a little lubrication to be as good as new. Other times, they were not installed correctly and developed balance issues. Rusting and rotting windows will also be challenging to use, and in these cases, you probably need an upgrade.

7. Condensation In-between Layers: Do you notice your windows frosting between the layers of glass? This means your seals have failed you. Without them, moisture is getting between the glass panes and at this point have zero energy efficiency, which is a primary concern for homebuyers.

A Rule of Thumb:

Many window professionals agree that new, quality windows should last about 20 years. If your windows seem to have any of the above issues, but they aren’t quite 20 years old, it’s wise that you get them replaced before selling. However, if your windows don’t have any of the above problems but are 25 years old, for example, you might not need to (unless you’re doing it for aesthetic reasons).

The Verdict:

90% of homebuyers say that energy-efficient windows are vital to them when purchasing a home. This, in of itself, should be enough of a push to get you to replace your old windows, especially since you’ll get, on average, a 72% return. However, if you’re tight on your pre-selling cash and are trying to prioritize what repairs are absolutely necessary, you should examine the list we provided above. If your windows fall into any of those categories, you should put new windows at the top of your priority list. But, if you’re still unconvinced, we will end this article with a few alternatives to getting every single window replaced before selling.

Alternatives:

1. Replace SOME Windows: Only replace windows that are a total disaster or are broken.

2. Solar Film: Instead of buying all new energy-efficient windows, apply a solar film to block UV rays.

3. Caulking/Weatherstripping: Minimize air-leaks and save on money by replacing and adding caulking and weatherstripping. They can wear out over time, so it’s a good idea to do this when you’re selling regardless of whether or not you were considering replacing your windows.


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REFERENCES:
“Is It Worth the Cost to Replace Windows Before Selling a Home?” HomeSelfe, 30 May 2018, www.homeselfe.com/worth-cost-replace-windows-selling-home/

“Should I Replace My Windows before Selling?” PRS Blog, 5 June 2017, www.pellabranch.com/blog/global-blogs/should-i-replace-my-windows-before-selling/