How to Prepare your Home for Sale
Many seniors fund their move to assisted living by selling their house. The decision itself may be a challenge, but you’re not done once it’s made. The process of selling a home you’ve been comfortably settled into for years will involve a lot of work – probably more than you expect.
There are a number of things you need to do to make sure your house is attractive to potential buyers so you can get enough from the sale to properly afford your time in assisted living. Here’s a run through of some of the most important steps to take.
1. Do a walk through to look for things that may be an issue.
First things first, grab a close friend or family member and walk through every room in the house with the goal of seeing it with fresh eyes. If you were a stranger coming into this home for the first time, how would it look? What problems that you’ve grown accustomed to ignoring are likely to show up loud and clear on a potential buyer’s radar?
Take a notepad with you on your walk through and write down all the things that may be an issue. Also write down all the things that you feel are strengths. In addition to recognizing what to fix, you also want to think about what to play up in a home listing.
2. Talk to a real estate agent for their perspective.
Senior real estate agents do this for a living, so they have extensive experience in seeing what issues buyers notice and are bothered by and what things they most often like in a house. Their walk through will expand upon your initial notes and help you work out a final list of repairs and changes to be made before you list your house.
3. Hire a handyman to make the repairs they recommend.
Most real estate agents will have a go-to handyman they trust to bring in to make the needed updates. At this point, your job is mostly to sit back and let them do their job. Some common tasks that hired contractors usually take on at this stage are painting the walls to more neutral colors, changing out any flooring that’s dirty or scratched, and fixing all those little leaks and scratches homeowners tend to let slide.
4. Clear out as much clutter as possible.
Now it’s time for you to get back to work. You need to go through and start getting rid of stuff. The space available in assisted living is small enough that this is a step you’ll have to take at some point or another. Having it done before you actually get to the point of moving will save you trouble later.
You’ll need to place all of your items into five categories:
- The stuff you can take with you. Note: Keep in mind here that you have limited space in assisted living and the items you decide to put into this category must fit.
- The stuff you can keep in storage or at a friend or family member’s place.
- The stuff you want to give away to friends and family members.
- The stuff you want to give away to charity.
- The stuff you want to sell.
Now get to work getting all the items in the last four categories cleared out and off to their new homes.
Buyers want to be able to see themselves in a space, so you’ll want to move some of the things you’ll be hanging onto, like family portraits, out of sight for the showings. The idea is to make your home appear to be as close to a blank slate as possible so your prospects can easily envision their life within it.
5. Do a thorough cleaning.
This will be a bit easier now that all the clutter’s gone, but expect it to be a big job nonetheless. Consider hiring a professional or recruiting friends and family members to join you in the task, you’ll be glad for any extra help. Go room by room and sweep, dust, wipe down, mop, and sanitize every surface and hidden corner you’ve neglected for the past however many years. You want the place spotless.
6. Make sure the front of the house looks great.
The first thing people will see that makes them decide whether to look further or not is the photo of the front of your house. If your window shingles have paint chipping off, or your door is really due for a paint job, make sure those items get priority. There’s a reason “curb appeal” is a popular phrase thrown around in real estate circles. That first impression of how your home looks from the front is an important part of the decision buyers make.
7. Get your front yard looking nice.
The other big aspect of curb appeal is your lawn. Make sure it’s green and recently mowed (if you have grass; if you’ve xeriscaped, just make sure that everything looks as it should). Make sure any flowers and bushes you have are well trimmed and tended. If you don’t have any flowers in your yard now, consider planting some to make the home look nicer.
8. Make sure there’s plenty of light.
If you’re accustomed to keeping the blinds closed, you’ll need to get used to opening them all up whenever potential buyers are set to come over. Make sure the place has plenty of light so it looks bright and attractive to everyone that comes through. If your current lights aren’t very bright, then new light bulbs or lighting fixtures may be in order to brighten the space and make it more attractive to visitors.
9. Bake cookies or brownies before showings.
Having a place that smells good is a must. If you can swing it, bake brownies or cookies before each time a potential buyer comes through so that your home smells delicious. It wouldn’t hurt to also leave them out for the potential buyer to munch on while they look (but you can also keep some for yourself).
10. Say your goodbyes.
Leaving behind a home you loved is bound to come with the feeling of loss. Spend your final days enjoying what you’ve loved about the home, while getting used to the idea that it will soon be going to a new owner who will make it their own. Take pictures if you want to keep a record of the home you knew, but don’t let your thoughts linger too long. You also have a new home that awaits and will need your personal touch to become a home that’s intimately yours as well.