You’ve taken a big step in deciding to downsize. It’s a decision that we know will reap many rewards, especially if you’ve chosen to move to active adult retirement living. But, first things first: getting your current home sold! While the process may seem overwhelming between decluttering, deciding what updates or repairs are needed, and finding a real estate agent, it doesn’t have to be as headache-inducing as you may think. These downsizing dos can help.
Getting Your Home Ready
Regardless of how excited you may be to downsize and start a new adventure, we know it’s hard to leave the home where you and your family have made so many memories. And while you may cherish every scratch, every carefully chosen paint color, and every photo or memento displayed, it’s important to be as objective as possible, keeping potential buyers in mind as you consider what’s needed to get your home sold including:
- Decluttering – This is a crucial but often overlooked step when putting your home on the market. Quite simply, too much ‘stuff’ can make the space feel smaller than it is, and all those family treasures displayed or hanging on the wall can actually be distracting to buyers. Plus, you need to declutter to downsize anyway! See how with these tips from our recent blog.
- Freshening up the space – If it’s been a while since you’ve made updates, you’d be surprised at the difference something as simple as a fresh coat of paint or updated fixtures can make. Remember, you’re trying to appeal to a wide group of buyers, so a neutral color palette and design choices are usually best.
- Spending wisely – Even if the home could use a major overhaul, it’s likely not in the budget, nor is it necessary to get your house sold. Instead, spend your time and money in the areas in which you’ll get the most return like the kitchen, bathrooms, and curb appeal.
- Being prepared – In any home, but particularly older ones, there may be problems that you can’t see, so it’s always best to have your own inspection done before listing the house for sale. That way, you won’t be caught off guard and can either fix any issues, adjust the price, or offer a home warranty, so potential buyers have peace of mind.
- Staging your space – You only have one chance to make that positive first impression, and staging is your best shot at doing so. Turn on all the lights, open the curtains, close interior doors, turn down the AC temperature, fluff the pillows, and make sure everything is clean and put away. Some real estate agents even play soft music in the background or bake cookies to engage all the senses.
Finding a Realtor When Downsizing
Now that you’ve started decluttering and getting the house ready, it’s time for the next step: finding the right real estate agent to sell it. Don’t let the sheer number of real estate agents fool you; they certainly aren’t all the same. The best way to start your search is to ask family, friends, acquaintances, and neighbors for referrals. If you need more options to compare or are looking to pare down your referral list- online reviews can help, too.
From there, choose two to three real estate agents to vet more fully, and set up an appointment with each at your home. Beyond simply listening to their pitch, asking these questions can help as well:
- What houses in this neighborhood have you sold in the past year?
- What price range are houses in the neighborhood selling for? (Referred to as “comparables” or “comps”)
- Based on the comparables, where do you think this house should be priced to sell?
- What tools will you use to sell the house, such as advertising, enhanced listings, photography, videography, open houses, and showing other real estate agents?
- What commissions and fees will you charge to sell the house?
- Do you see any issues with the house that need to be addressed before putting it on the market?
- Will I work with you directly or with a team member?
- What is the best way to communicate with you?
- How long is the listing contract?
- Do you have experience working with retirees who are downsizing?
An experienced and professional real estate agent should be prepared to answer all of your questions either in the interview or quickly after. If they can’t and/or they use high-pressure sales tactics, consider those red flags. Ultimately, you want to feel comfortable with the agent you choose, feel confident in their abilities, and trust that they are working in your best interest to sell the house quickly at a fair price.
Move Now, or Later?
Unfortunately, listing your home for sale can cause quite a bit of disruption in your day-to-day life with open houses and showings in which you have to make yourself scarce, not to mention keeping the place picture perfect just in case someone wants to see it. If your budget allows, you might find it easier to go ahead and move into your next home (ideally in an independent living or active adult retirement living community) to avoid living through the sales process.