By: Victoria B. Hathaway – Guest Contributor, Director of The Silver Group of the Bob Lucido Team of Keller Williams Integrity
Did you know that over the next two decades, “Boomers” will swell the nation’s older adult population by 30 million, and an estimated 16 million older adult households will be moving in the next decade?
If you are an older adult who is thinking about a downsize of your possessions and your home, doing the downsize, preparing your home for sale, selling your home, and deciding where to move can feel like a very daunting project. Knowing what to do first and having detailed information about vendors and resources are the keys to a safe and successful experience.
When I am called upon for a consultation, the area expert real estate agent from my team and I both attend. We cover a wide range of topics, usually spending at least two hours (frequently longer) in order to answer all questions and provide specific resources.
Let’s take a look at the process, step-by-step, to examine how you, the home seller, should experience a listing consultation!
Choosing The Right Agent:
I recommend that, if you have the time and energy, you should take advantage of having multiple presentations by Agents. The benefit of understanding that different Agents have different personalities, experience, expertise and marketing budgets cannot be underestimated for the benefit of you the Seller. Listing a home is a specialty all its own, involving guidance for pricing, preparing the home for Buyers, marketing, advocating for the Seller through the home inspection and appraisal, and negotiating the contract against the Buyer – something totally different from the specialty of being a Buyer Agent. Make sure to ask what makes the Agent “different” and what makes their firm “better”?! Marketing budgets, accolades and awards, years of experience, value-added services such as free staging and moving trucks, and researching the length of the listing contract (ranging from a 24-hour cancellation policy to several months) are specific issues that can and should be deciding factors when making the decision about who you will hire for this very important process.
In a home visit, the Agent will be able to personally assess the condition of your home (whether out-of-date, fully updated, or something in between) as well as any structural improvements, and additions or needed repairs, as they help to guide you in pricing your home accurately. You should not use your tax assessment or Zillow to determine the selling price of the home. Seeing your home enables the Agent to share guidance about various paths to selling, including selling as-is, refreshed, or completely renovated, and the pluses and minuses of each. This is the time when the Agent should make specific recommendations for what to repair and replace, and help you to understand how each of these paths affect pricing, expectations for the selling timetable, and how Buyers are most likely to behave when making offers in each of these formats. Perception is reality, so for example low-ball offers are common with as-is properties, and multiple offers with bidding wars are common for homes that are updated and renovated. Care should be taken to determine what is best for you as the Seller, your unique situation, and needs.
Market Analysis & Pricing:
As the Seller, you should be presented with a detailed market analysis of the home, showing all recent market activity (usually up to three months back in time and in close proximity to your home) including pricing for homes that have sold, are under contract, or are currently on the market. Out of this array, a close examination of which homes are most like your home (square footage, age, condition, improvements) will help your Agent assist you with recommending the right selling price.
The Agent should be knowledgeable about the timing of your home sale, educating about how the time of year may impact the process and creating predictability around the Buyer. For example, many families with school-age children are home shopping in the spring and early summer in order to be settled prior to the start of the school year. Winter shoppers tend to be serious Buyers and know they are coping with reduced inventory at that time of year, which is good for you as the Seller. Another aspect of timing the sale is for your Agent to pay close attention to your requirements for your move timetable. If you are under contract with a senior living community, it is normal to have a structured timetable and occupancy date for the move. Your Agent should help you determine if you must sell in order to be able to make the move or if you are able to move first and then sell.
Once you have determined your home’s pricing and timing for the sale, the next step should be a visit by your Agent’s professional Stager, who has specialized training in visual merchandising, current color palettes and finishes (cabinets, hardware, lighting, trims, walls and flooring) most in demand by Buyers. The Stager will help guide you in preparing your home for the greatest possible appeal to Buyers. Working to declutter and to use what you already own, rearranged to best effect, should always be the goal.
Although most Sellers are in residence during the home’s selling period, many times older adult Sellers have already vacated the home and this is absolutely fine! Homes that are both vacant and/or empty do not present a selling challenge and your needs as Seller should always be paramount.
Victoria Hathaway is the Director of The Silver Group of the Bob Lucido Team of Keller Williams Integrity. She is a Realtor, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP), Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), President of the Coalition of Geriatric Services (COGS), and serves the Aging Studies Advisory Board, Johns Hopkins University. She may be reached at 410-979-4284 or via email at [email protected]