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Cover story: Buyers warm up to homes with fireplaces
Relining a chimney for an average-size fireplace typically costs $1,500 to $2,500; if it’s a large fireplace with a three-story chimney, the repair price may go up to $5,000, Mr. Myers said, adding that relining a chimney typically takes a day or two.
He said he advises sellers to fix their fireplaces before putting their properties on the market.
“Everyone hates spending money when they’re getting ready to sell their house, but you either fix it or disclose it and negotiate the repair cost as part of settlement, or you risk it being a deal-breaker at the last minute,” he said.
Ms. Hammond agreed that it’s worth it to fix a fireplace, particularly if it will cost less than $2,000.
“An old fireplace that’s not working can be a fire hazard, and that can kill a deal when it fails home inspection,” she said.
But Virginia Cheezum, a real estate agent with Re/Max Allegiance in Fairfax, said she has never had a fireplace be a deal-breaker.
“I do not advise my sellers to fix things like an inoperable fireplace because if you go through and make all the obvious repairs, you leave nothing for the home inspector to ‘find,’ and his job is to find things, so he will,” she said.
Ms. Scanlon said many sellers tell her that they haven’t used their fireplaces for years, so she advises them to wait and see whether a problem arises during the home inspection. If an expensive repair is needed, the sellers have the option to add a line in their contract that says: “Fireplace conveys as is.”
Still, Ms. Scanlon said, it doesn’t hurt to have the chimney pre-inspected and cleaned before putting a home on the market.
“A lot of chimney companies will give you a one-year warranty on their work, and that’s peace of mind for potential buyers,” she said.
Because a working fireplace is such a big asset when selling a home, it makes sense to highlight that fact in the marketing materials, said David Lloyd, an agent with Weichert, Realtors in Arlington.
“To be able to say ‘wood-burning fireplace’ or ‘gas fireplace’ in the listing is high-impact,” he said. “You also want to be sure to have fireplace shots in any videos or brochures.”
To show off a fireplace to its maximum appeal, Manuela Tantawy, owner of the Staging Fashionista in Woodbridge, said the first step is to eliminate all the personal items from the mantle.
“Most people use their mantles for family photos and to showcase trophies and kids’ artwork,” she said, adding that this is not a good look. “You want the mantle to be sleek and cleaned off.”
Ms. Tantawy recommends hanging a large mirror or a beautiful painting in the space over the mantle.
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