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Ready to Sell? Tips for Preparing Your Home for the Real Estate Market

By | 2018-01-08T22:57:53+00:00 January 8th, 2018|

I’ve always loved this time of year. With the busy holidays over, the new year offers a sense of renewal and opportunity; it’s a great time to make a fresh start!

Perhaps, after discussions with loved ones over the holidays, you’ve made the resolution to move to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or life plan community) this year. There’s no doubt that it’s a big decision to make, but many people feel a great sense of relief once the choice is made. When you live in a CCRC, all of your needs along the continuum of care will be provided in one location, and for most CCRC residents, there is comfort and security in knowing that.

Top 5 tips for prepping your home

Now that your senior living decision has been made, the tough part is over. There’s just the “small” matter of selling your house. While this can feel like a daunting task on the surface, it doesn’t have to be. Spring is a great time to sell since many people want to be in their new home in time for the new school year in the fall. So right now—in January and February—is a good time to start doing a few things to prepare your house. Here are five ways that you can boost your home’s value and make it more attractive to would-be buyers.

  1. Clean-out time

One of the first tasks to tackle when you decide to sell is to declutter your home. This is a bigger task for some people than others, but it’s also a good opportunity to enlist the help of your friends and family. As I’ve written about before, host a “declutter party,” complete with music, snacks, and a reward at the end of the day. Separate things into keep, sell, giveaway, and trash categories. It can be helpful to have your adult children assist with this task so that you aren’t saving things that you think they may want when they actually don’t.

If you feel overwhelmed by this clean-up project, there are “declutter specialists” who you can hire—professional organizers who will help you tackle this sometimes-daunting project. Your realtor will be able to refer you to an experienced provider.

>> Related: Making a Move: Packing Parties and Other Creative Ideas

  1. Make it shine!

Once you have gotten rid of the excess clutter in your home, it’s time for a top-to-bottom cleaning. Wipe down all surfaces including counters, sinks and tubs, baseboards, and floors. If you have a smoker or pets in the home, or if you often fry foods or use pungent spices, you also will want to address odor issues. Have the carpets professionally shampooed to help remove lingering smells. A fresh coat of paint on the walls may even be needed in order to eliminate strong odors.

  1. Curb appeal

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this is true for your home too. Take a look at your landscaping: First ensure that your grass is well-kept, and then do a little extra sprucing up with some colorful flowers and a fresh layer of mulch in the beds.

Also look at your home’s front entrance. As prospective buyers wait for their real estate agent to unlock the door, they will be noticing your front steps, porch, and doorway. Be sure there is no peeling paint on the door or molding, cobwebs have been swept from the corners, the stoop is free of leaves or debris, and consider adding an attractive planter full of vibrant flowers to the porch or a seasonal wreath on the door.

  1. Make repairs

It’s time to finally take on that honey-do list! Repair that sagging gutter; fix the broken ceiling fan in the den; nail down that squeaky step. Again, your realtor can offer advice on specific cosmetic repairs that should be made, but you also will want to be sure that all of your home’s appliances and major systems (heating/cooling, water heater, etc.) are in good working order. Once you have an offer and are under contract, problems with these things will turn up on an inspection report, and you don’t want such issues to scare a buyer away, so you might as well repair known issues now.

  1. Neutralize your color palette

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and nowhere is this truer than in people’s taste in home décor! You may love your cherry red kitchen and the floral wallpaper in your bedroom, but a prospective buyer could find them to be a huge turn-off…even a deal-breaker. That’s why you may want to tone down your house’s color palette, freshening up walls with a neutral paint tone like a cream, light gray, or beige. These colors are unobjectionable to almost everyone, and a fresh coat of paint can instantly brighten up a room, making it feel bigger.

>> Related: “…but I love my home”: Is Staying in Your House the Right Move?

Expert real estate advice for seniors

Again, a realtor can help you look at your home objectively to determine which of the tasks above you need to do before listing your home. If you don’t already have a trusted realtor that you want to work with, you may want to consider finding a “seniors real estate specialist” (SRES). These are realtors who have undergone additional training to learn how to better address the unique needs of older clients who are buying, selling, or refinancing a home.

One of the big benefits of SRES realtors is access to their extensive network of related service professionals such as real estate attorneys, financial planners, and accountants who also have expertise in senior-specific legal and financial issues. Learn more about the advantages of utilizing a SRES-certified real estate professional by visiting their website. As with any provider, you will still want to be sure you vet a SRES realtor and ask for references.

>> Related: These Experts Can Ease Seniors’ Stress About Relocating to a CCRC

Still making a decision about senior living?

If you aren’t quite ready to list your house and move to a CCRC, myLifeSite offers a number of resources to help with your senior living decision process, including our blog, which is full of information on topics related to senior living, and our free online CCRC search tool.

About the Author:

Brad Breeding is president and co-founder of myLifeSite, a North Carolina company that develops web-based resources designed to help families make better-informed decisions when considering a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) or lifecare community.