Selling a home is always a daunting project, and for older people, who probably haven’t bought or sold a home in many years, it can now be quite surprising. Almost everything about a real estate transaction has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. You may be astonished! Which aspects are completely new?

  • How buyers find a house
  • How sellers’ houses are marketed
  • Greater responsibilities put on sellers and buyers
  • Who can possibly afford these high prices?
  • Who is in the market for older homes, and why?
  • What motivates realtors nowadays? (Hint: it’s not their commission)
  • How many documents sellers have to sign?

Older homeowners are a growing and unique demographic in the real estate market. On average, older people have lived in the same home for longer periods of time, so when it comes time to sell a home, it will probably need repairs or updates to fit in with the current market trends. There are several tips that older people can use to get their home sold, so they can move on to the next phase of life.

While the process of selling a home often includes open houses, private showings, offers being written, rejected and re-written, bidding wars, inspections, older people often just wish their house would sell soon and as simply as possible. These tips will help you understand how things have changed and how you can manage the sale with less stress and YOUR best possible financial outcome.

1. Declutter Now
There is nothing more off-putting for buyers than to walk into a house full of clutter. Clutter makes it impossible to see the good bones of the home and to visualize themselves, and their décor in the house. For older people, especially those who have lived in their home for many years, clutter, including too much furniture, may be a real issue during the marketing phase of the process. With clutter present in the home, it won’t command top dollar. There is a much better chance of getting the home sold sooner when it has minimal, up-to-date decor.

The best advice is to clean out some clutter now! Many people opt to get storage units for the weeks or months their home is on the market to store those items from their home. I suggest that you start this decluttering as soon as possible by eliminating 10-15% of what’s in the home, including sports and exercise equipment, tools you’ll never use again, old newspapers, magazines, distressed furniture that you don’t plan to repair, and old clothes, shoes, and coats. Pack up photos and other “keepers” for the coming move. Consider vastly reducing your book collection – they feel heavy and dusty. That’s a great start! When it’s time to actually move, consider hiring a professional organizing service that specializes in seniors. And take your realtor’s advice about staging.

Bear in mind that furniture styles and décor trends have changed drastically for the younger generations. Don’t be surprised if your adult children don’t want much of yours and don’t take it personally. The younger buyers might not enjoy seeing it either. Plan to get rid of some that you’re not taking with you. You might deserve some new furniture in the new ‘pad’, too!

2. Choosing a Realtor
Click to see my earlier blog called “8 Pointers for Finding an Excellent Realtor”.

3. Make Some Repairs
One of the biggest obstacles for people selling older homes is that realtors and buyers may consider your home to be a “fixer upper” or due for a big remodel As we age, our ability to do repair work ourselves (or hire tradespeople) declines. If you want top dollar for your home, you will need to do some fixing and painting to create the feeling that the house has been well cared for. You can also sell it “as is”, whereby you stipulate that you are doing none of the repairs and the price is adjusted accordingly. For some folks, that is perfectly okay and a relief. Go over these repairs carefully with your realtor. Most upgrades will pay for themselves and will add to general appeal and a solid feeling about your home. For the most part, making minor cosmetic repairs, such as fixing a leaky faucet, painting the front door, or removing old, dirty carpets will be well worth it. Many people prefer to do some repairs but not all of them, so ask your realtor for good trades people!

4. Curb Appeal Is a Must
Again, sometimes older people struggle with getting things done around the house and yard. Consider hiring a company to come in and trim back bushes, trees, fix the gate, mow the lawn (regularly) and other landscaping that will ensure a neater appearance. When a home looks great from the curb, people are more curious about what could be on the inside. This will be a worthwhile investment of your money and time. While it may seem like a small issue, curb appeal has a major impact on buyers’ opinions of your home. According to a 2018 National Association of Realtors study, 94% of realtors suggest curb appeal improvements to sellers. A buyer’s decision can be made unconsciously in 30 seconds – before going into the house!

5. Prepare for the Emotions of Selling a Home
The deciding to sell your long-term home will trigger many memories of wonderful times, raising children, family occasions and pride of ownership. Buyers’ critiques of the home, or learning what an investor is going to do it, may feel shocking or hurtful. Owners sometimes are so accustomed to the home they can’t see what the house isn’t. During the transaction their repair requests may insult you. Also emotionally difficult, this may be the last home one owns. This is an acknowledgment of one’s aging. But don’t forget, there is freedom in letting go of real estate, too. No more gardeners, repairs, property taxes, homeowners dues, insurance premiums, and mortgage payments! Decide to stop thinking of the property as a home. View it as a house, a commodity, that you want to sell for the highest dollar possible!
It is important that older owners remember why they’re selling and how this will benefit them and their children, in the long run. Keeping these thoughts in mind helps to ensure that you are selling your home with no regrets. Saying goodbye to it can be very hard. Inviting your children and grandchildren over to have a family meal during this time might be a wonderful way to recall old memories and to give them some family heirlooms, photos or furniture. You can share your excitement, and nervousness, about your next step in life with them as well!

6. Why sell at all?

  • The house is too big. We’re not using it all.
  • It’s unsafe for me. Too many stairs. Too much furniture.
  • Too many repairs, yardwork and other upkeep.
  • Families need big houses, now I need a smaller house.
  • I can’t take walks because I live on a hilly street.
  • I don’t want to be a landlord.

These selling tips for seniors are a great way to shed the responsibility of home ownership and prepare you for your next chapter. Take your time to decide if you are ready to sell and then utilize these tips to make the most of the selling process. Most importantly, keep in mind all the good things that this transaction will bring to you and your family. You’ve made a good decision for yourself. The freedom and the peace of mind you are heading for will be worth every moment of this task. If the going gets tough during the sale, just remember to “keep your eye on the prize”!

ALWAYS feel free to call Millie at 415-987-8636!