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What's lurking behind your walls? Don't let buyers wonder

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Selling an apartment is an undertaking, and adding a renovation on top of everything complicates the process exponentially. Especially in today’s market, where choice-starved buyers are often willing to compromise, it may seem like an unnecessary headache. But one area that’s worth some attention is hiding in plain sight: the ceilings and walls.

A reader recently wrote to the New York Times asking whether to fix water damage on the kitchen ceiling as part of a pre-sale reno. The answer? An emphatic yes.

“Buyers are very worried about what might be hidden behind walls,” John Rusk, president of Manhattan-based general contracting firm Rusk Renovations, tells the Times. “If you have a ceiling that has obvious damage from something above, they’re going to imagine the worst. It would be hard to even make a sale when there’s a lurking issue like that.”

And after you’ve repaired the damage, paint the entire ceiling--a patch of paint will only raise red flags for potential buyers about what’s been covered up.

In fact, a coat of white paint on the whole apartment would go a long way to getting a sale done, too. “The kitchen and baths may be dated,” Cini Palmer, an agent in Larchmont, N.Y., tells the Times, “but if it doesn’t look like someone cared for the house and there are leaks or cracks, it makes people wonder what else is wrong with it.”

Related:

Remodeling your NYC kitchen: 12 sanity-saving tips

A step-by-step guide to a DIY backsplash

Does renovating a kitchen pay off when you sell?

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