If you’re like many of us, you probably had at least one family get-together at Mom and Dad’s this holiday season. And chances are good that seeing the old homestead brought back a lot of memories. Isn’t that great? Well, yes, if your parents don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.
But as they get older, more and more seniors are looking to downsize and move on to a senior living community. And when they find that ideal spot it often means selling the house fast.
But when memories are involved, selling a house quickly may not be an option. Take that red spot that makes your parents smile, remembering little Johnny’s first time drinking out of a cup. Prospective homebuyers will only see a stain that means the whole carpet will need to be replaced. And that well-worn chair in the corner? It may remind your Dad of all the happy times he watched TV and read to the grandkids over the years in that very spot. But people looking to buy a home will see an old chair – reminding them that the house is old. And making it hard to picture their own furnishings in that same room.
It’s time to think about marketing your house – well, their house. Just a warning – it may not be an easy task because feelings can be hurt. If speed is more important than the money, they can sell it as is. That means they won’t have to make changes, but they can expect to take a (sometimes substantial) hit in the proceeds.
If they want to get the best price, however, they need to be prepared to make their house, well, less of a home.
Here are some home selling tips and ways to prepare the house for a sale.
- Make the house homey, but less personal. Move or store those older pieces of furniture that are out-of-date or worn. Buyers want to picture this space as their own. That also means removing family pictures and packing up knick-knacks.
- De-clutter. It’s easy to let a house get that lived-in look. Mostly because they’re actually living in it, but people looking to buy a house want to see what they’re getting. Keep it clean, clutter-free and simple. Less is more when it comes to staging a house. If they’re downsizing, this is the time to toss or donate old furniture. If they’re able to take it, move it out of the old house and on to the new. It’s a win-win – your parents will get to make their new house feel like home, while the old place will look less like someone else’s home and more like a blank canvas to prospective buyers.
- Talk to a reliable realtor. He or she can help them decide how much their house is worth based on comparables in their neighborhood. Some things that will affect price will be size, age, renovations, condition, popularity of the neighborhood and the state of the housing market in your area. Unfortunately, memories of good times are meaningless to homebuyers. They’ll want to make their own memories and it’s your parents’ job to help them picture those memories happening here.
- Arrange cupboards and closets. Does the bedroom closet look like a tornado struck? Has it looked like that for the last two decades? Doesn’t matter. Now is (finally) the time to clean it out and make it neat and tidy. Arrange things in a logical order. Make the shoes face the same direction. Make spices easy to find. Buyers will (maybe incorrectly) assume that if the seller took care of their personal stuff, the house has probably been cared for with love as well.
- Curb appeal counts. Go out to the street and try to see the house through the eyes of a prospective homebuyer. What would they notice first? They won’t have to spend a lot of money on major landscaping, but a few pretty potted plants, nicely trimmed grass (no weeds) and freshly painted doors and shutters can go a long ways toward making a house look like a home.
- Repair what you can. Replace burned out light bulbs, fix squeaky doors and repair leaky faucets. They don’t need a complete kitchen or bathroom makeover, but make sure that what can be repaired easily and inexpensively gets done. If something minor screams out for attention, it won’t leave a good impression. If paint colors are outdated or walls are dirty, consider repainting walls a warm neutral color.
- Look forward to the new. Even if your parents are excited to move on to a new home, there’s bound to be some emotions getting in the way of selling and leaving the old house. Help them to look to their future – while passing on the perfect house to a new generation.