Many seniors stretch their nest eggs by downsizing out of their homes and moving into retirement communities, like Deupree House, here in Cincinnati.
Even if your retirement living plans don’t currently include a move, preparing to downsize can still offer advantages. For example, downsizing can make a future transition to a retirement community or assisted living facility easier. It can also reduce clutter, allowing more space for a live-in caregiver should the need arise and reducing trip hazards around the home. Plus, less clutter equals easier cleaning.
Downsizing can also benefit those in need. Particularly now, amid the economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, donating household items can help local shelters and other safety-net organizations provide much-needed help.
Now Is the Time for Retirees to Sell
When you’re ready to downsize, how do you prepare? Start by looking into the local market.
Right now, Cincinnati is a seller’s market, which can make finding a buyer for your home much more straightforward, despite the current economic uncertainty. Overall, the Midwest has seen a surge in home sales in recent years. According to Zillow data, Cincinnati and Kansas City recently knocked Miami and Atlanta off the hottest markets list. As a result, Norada Real Estate Investments recently said, “Cincinnati is a sizzling hot housing market due to low housing inventory and relatively higher demand.”
6 Tips for Selling & Downsizing Your Home
Even in a seller’s market, however, there are many steps to selling your home. If you are considering downsizing for your retirement, use these six tips to make your sale as easy as possible.
1. Make your home’s interior as attractive as possible to potential buyers
Living in one place for many years, you may have become accustomed to your home's quirks.
That stain you could never entirely remove in the kitchen linoleum from dropping a blueberry pie six years ago? Never notice it anymore. The discoloration in the corner of your living room ceiling from a now-repaired leak? You didn't know it was even there!
Remember, though, that prospective buyers can and will notice these minor defects. And they’ll harp on them to get a better purchase price. So, what can you do?
Ask your real estate agent to tour your home and review it to identify potential buyer turnoffs. Getting more eyes on the house may help you to fix simple issues before buyers pick them apart.
Make cosmetic repairs and appliance upgrades as your budget allows. Spending a few hundred dollars to paint a discolored ceiling and replace some tiles may net you a few thousand dollars more in your buyer's offer.
2. Spruce up the yard
The first thing potential buyers will see when they come to look at your home is its exterior, and that first impression will set the tone for the rest of a home tour. If a buyer arrives and finds an overgrown landscape, settling cracks in the driveway, clutter in the yard, or debris poking out of gutters, it’ll lessen your chances of receiving a fair initial offer.
Make sure the lawn is cut and edged. Remove trees and other plant debris from your yard, gardens, roof, and sidewalks. Plant flowers if you’re selling in the spring or summer. If you aren't as mobile as you used to be, get estimates from lawn care companies, or hire a neighborhood teenager to help you.
Pictured: Beautiful landscaping at Deupree House in Cincinnati, OH.
Powerwash the exterior of your home. Pay close attention to light-colored surfaces, against which dirt and grime would be more obvious. Consider hiring a painter to spiff up your home's trim and a roofer to put on new shingles.
Replacement windows, storm doors, and new insulation or siding might improve your home's look and improve its energy-efficiency rate — and could more than pay for themselves at your home’s ultimate sale price.
3. Consider small exterior add-ons and renovations
If you have the funds available, adding a new patio, a small deck, or a brick barbecue can go far toward convincing your buyer that he or she has found a worthy property. You could also realize some price benefit by sealing your driveway, fixing deteriorating brickwork or woodwork, or planting attractive shade trees.
Take care not to go overboard on your exterior additions — you don't want to add a feature that won’t pay for itself at sale or that doesn't fit with the overall aesthetic of your neighbors’ homes.
4. De-personalize your home's interior
During the selling process, box up and store your knick-knacks, artwork, or unnecessary furniture. Decluttering your house can be incredibly challenging for seniors who have lived in one place for a long time, who have intense memories and feelings about their homes. But you must bear in mind that a home purchaser doesn't have the same feelings you do. One recent article on home selling notes, “You want buyers to see the house as a home for their family, not yours.”
Seeing your photographs and personal items, or hearing you recount good memories of happenings in your home, can be a turnoff. If you portray yourself as being very attached to your home, buyers may begin to feel subconsciously guilty, as if they are forcing you away.
Before putting your home on the market, empty it as much as possible. Decluttering will make the interior space appear larger all allow your buyer to envision themselves living in it. It’s hard for a buyer to imagine where his leather couch might fit in your den if you have a giant hutch full of your best china sitting where it might go.
5. Clean your home thoroughly before showings
Make sure you give your home a thorough cleaning before every open house or walkthrough. It should go without saying that no buyer wants to see dirt in the house they’re considering making a home. Pay special attention to:
- Tidying up kitchen countertops
- Maintaining well-organized — not overstuffed — cabinets and closets.
- Deep cleaning bathroom counters, toilets, tubs, and showers
- Decluttering throughout, especially in the basement and garage
By downsizing and reducing clutter in advance, you open up the rooms, making it easier for a potential buyer to see their own family — and furnishings — in the home.
Pictured: Deupree House resident Glenna in her independent living apartment.
And bake some cookies or burn a vanilla-scented candle just before potential buyers arrive to create an inviting, warm atmosphere (and to mask any odors you might have become accustomed to over the years).
6. Know your market and offer attractive pricing
Hire a real estate agent who is active, engaged, and motivated to help you sell your home. Work with him or her to research home values in your area.
Don't base your price solely on your home's appraised value — you also need to know the sale price of comparable homes nearby. Your home may be under- or overvalued compared to the rest of your local market.
An excellent real estate agent will be able to help you determine where your property's value stands relative to the area and devise ways for you to maximize your profit. You don't need to list at the lowest price; you just need to offer the best value.
Offer attractive pricing and terms to your buyer — especially if they are young or a first-time purchaser. They may be unfamiliar with the process and skittish. Offer your buyer credit toward closing costs or offer to pay all the closing costs outright.
And if you can be ready to move out and close in a short amount of time, let your buyer know. Many purchasers are motivated by the opportunity to avoid a protracted sale.
Is it time to consider a premier retirement community?
Downsizing and moving to a retirement community could be the first step toward realizing rewarding, golden years. Selling your long-time home and moving can be a complicated process. But it may be a prudent choice for stretching your retirement dollars. Plus, it can free you from the rigors and costs associated with home maintenance. What other benefits can you get from moving to a retirement community like those available through Episcopal Retirement Services in the Tri-state region?
- Low maintenance lifestyle: No more yard to mow, no more roof to worry about. When you move to a retirement community, you have convenient dining options, entertaining activities, and wellness centers to keep you active.
- Support as your needs change: Our retirement communities are designed to deliver the right level of services, whether that’s independent or assisted living, long-term care, or something in between.
Choose a senior housing provider that meets your medical and social needs and feels like home. You may be selling your property, but you'll be gaining new friends and living well in your new retirement community!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog was originally published on November 1, 2016, but was updated and republished with new information.