Selling an existing home is one of the tasks that many people view as a hurdle to their continuing care retirement community (CCRC or life plan community) decision. Indeed, according to our Consumer Survey results, more than one in three respondents cited “Putting off dealing with all my stuff / hassle of moving” as a key reason for delaying their CCRC move. When broken out by age, this number goes to over 50 percent among those 81 years of age and greater.
Selling your home and moving are major items on your CCRC to-do list. There are financial implications that go along with the house’s sale, and if you have lived there for an extended period, there are likely emotions tied to it too. There’s stress that comes along with preparing to list a house for sale. There is also stress associated with keeping a house “show ready” while you wait for it to sell.
But for most people, selling their home is a necessary step in their CCRC journey. Typically, people will use the proceeds of the sale to pay their CCRC entry fee. For those whose house doesn’t sell quickly, they may need to apply for and obtain a bridge loan in order to pay their entry fee if they want to go ahead and move into the CCRC.
Benefits of staging your home
While selling a home is rarely simple, there are ways to help your house sell more quickly. According to a 2017 National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey, nearly half of buyers’ agents believe that properly “staging” a home (making it ready for showings to potential buyers) positively impacts buyers’ view of it. More than three-quarters of realtors say that staging a home makes it simpler for prospective buyers to imagine the home as their own.
The NAR survey also found that proper staging has other benefits. The sales price for staged homes is between 1 and 5 percent higher than unstaged homes. Sellers’ agents also report that effectively staging a home often reduces the number of days it spends on the market.
Staging tips to sell your house
So, yes, pricing your home at a reasonable price for your market is important, but you have the power to help your house sell quicker and for more money by staging it. Here are some fairly low-cost, low-effort ways to stage your home to make it more attractive to potential buyers.
When a prospective buyer pulls up to your house, they will instantly form an opinion based on the exterior appearance. So, get your home looking its best while it is on the market. Be sure your house number is easy to see, keep the grass mowed, plant some fresh flowers, and trim the shrubs. If needed, power-wash the house and walkways, and be sure your windows are clean. If you don’t have the time or energy to complete these tasks, consider hiring a lawn service.
On your front porch or stoop, put out the welcome mat, literally and figuratively. The would-be buyer will be standing there as the realtor gets the door unlocked, so sweep away any debris and cobwebs, put out a new mat, and plant flowers in pots. If you have a porch, include some outdoor furniture to create a warm and welcoming scene.
I’ve written before about the need to downsize in order to move to a CCRC, so if you haven’t already done this, it’s a must-do when preparing to list your house for sale. I often recommend separating items into four categories: Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash. If there’s an item you’re unsure about, put it in Keep for now.
Getting rid of unnecessary clutter and excess furniture will make your house seem more spacious, which is appealing to most buyers. It is also advisable to put away personal photos as this can make it easier for the prospective buyer to picture themselves living in the house. And don’t forget to clean up that messy desk!
This one is probably a no brainer, but you want your house to be squeaky clean. This can be challenging since you have to be able to live in your home while it is on the market, but you also need it to be show-ready at a moment’s notice.
Do your best to keep countertops clutter-free and clean. Keep floors swept or vacuumed. Be sure the bathroom is tidy with and towels neatly placed on hooks or towel bars. Dirty clothes should be out of sight, put into the hamper. And for both olfactory and visual purposes, trash should be taken out frequently.
Again, if you don’t have the time or energy for these tasks, consider hiring a cleaning service.
Sometimes it really is the little things. Special touches like houseplants or fresh flowers make a home seem fresh and inviting. Flameless candles on the mantle, attractive accent pillows on the sofa and beds, a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter, and folded towels in the bathroom are other nice details to warm up a space.
Set the scene
You want your home to feel comfortable and welcoming to your potential buyers. Open the blinds to let in natural light and turn on lamps for a warm glow. Set the dining room table with your china and cloth napkins.
The aforementioned NAR survey found that the living room is the most important space to stage, so if needed, remove or rent furniture. Move couches, chairs, and tables away from the walls, a design technique called “floating” the furniture. An area rug makes for a nice visual anchor for a space, even if the room has carpeting.
Staging is all about helping the would-be buyer envision themselves living in your house. Taking the steps above can get you a higher sale price and can mean your house is on the market for less time.
A realtor can help you examine your home to determine which of the tasks above you need to do before listing your home. You may even want to enlist the help of 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.
While selling your existing house is an important step to prepare for your CCRC move, it also can be bittersweet. Consider having a professional photo or painting done of your old house as a memento. In addition to capturing an image of a home you have loved, this can add a special touch to a wall in your new residence.