Selling a home is rarely simple--and selling a senior's home can add additional considerations and complexity. Your SRES® can modify some aspects of their marketing efforts to meet the individual needs of senior homeowners. Here are the essential steps you can expect during the process, after listing papers are signed:
- Pricing considerations
- Staging your home
- Showing your home
- Negotiating the sale and closing
- Packing and moving
Your SRES® can offer guidance on the difficult task of finding an appropriate market price for your home. The process involves several steps: analyzing your home, comparing it to the local market, and taking into account an aging parent's special circumstances.
Staging your home
Preparing your home for showing to the public is called staging. The goal is to put the home's best foot forward to prospective buyers. Staging usually takes place before the For Sale sign goes up.
Staging involves getting the outside and inside of the home in top shape. Inside, it might involve:
- Hiring a service to do a thorough attic-to-basement cleaning.
- Calling a handyman to do necessary or cosmetic repairs. Does a faucet leak? Does the back door stick? Items like these can leave negative impressions in buyers' minds. It's best to fix them before the home is shown.
- Deciding how each room can look its best. Rooms appear smaller when they contain lots of items. Storing some of a room's contents can create an impression of more space. Your SRES® can share some of the tricks of the trade when it comes to showing your home.
The staging process can be stressful for a senior because it may call for moving and storing treasured objects. Sometimes this can be made easier by family involvement. Is it time for some family heirlooms to be passed on?
It's also important to put away valued possessions you don't want handled by prospective buyers. The goal of staging is not only to make the house look as good as it can, but also to protect objects that have special significance.
Showing your home
Showing a home to prospective buyers while the homeowner is present can put a seller in the awkward position of feeling forced to answer a buyer's sensitive questions. For that reason, agents often prefer to have sellers out of the house during showings.
There are two types of showings:
- Open houses, during which the house is open for a few hours to REALTORS® and potential buyers who wish to view it. Your agent is present during any open houses and requires visitors to sign in.
- Individual showings, during which an agent, not necessarily your SRES®, will bring prospective buyers to your home, show them around and discuss your home's features.
An SRES® knows that there are often special considerations in showing a senior's home.
It's not uncommon for buyer's agents to call on short notice for showings. They may want to show the home during times that are convenient for buyers who work, but inconvenient for a senior homeowner.
- If you prefer showings during specific hours, or by appointment only, your agent can place these requirements in the listing.
- If you are incapacitated or cannot leave the home during a showing, your SRES® can also note this in the listing, and can arrange to be present when other agents show the home.
- During an open house, it's important to place prescription drugs and valuables out of sight. Many seniors like to keep their medications visible and arranged in the order they take them. Your SRES® can suggest ways to keep your medications safe, while preserving your system for managing them.
Your SRES® works with your best interests in mind, and will adapt their business practices to meet your needs.
Negotiating the sale and closing
An offer is made on your home. During slow markets--when sellers outnumber buyers--buyers sometimes come forward with offers well below expectations. How does a homeowner know if the offer is reasonable and serious?
- The offer will be delivered to you by your SRES®, who has dealt with many similar situations in the past. Your agent understands how your local market is now behaving, and can look at factors that will indicate whether the offer you have received should be seriously considered. Remember that the negotiation process almost always requires give and take.
- This is a good time for the family to get together, either in person or on the phone, and discuss the offer. Leaving a sibling out of the discussion can cause more pain down the road. Your SRES® will provide you and your family with unbiased advice, but will always be acting in the best interests of the homeowner.
- Your SRES® will help you determine if a counteroffer should be made, and help guide you through the negotiations.
- Your attorney should review all documents and contracts before accepting an offer and prior to closing.
- After an offer is accepted, but before closing, buyers typically hire a home inspector to examine the condition and structure of the home. The home inspector's report may contain further points to be negotiated, such as the cost of repairs.
At closing you will sign final documents that transfer ownership of your home. Your SRES® will be there to explain the process and documents, as should your attorney. You will receive the proceeds from the sale, minus selling costs. You are now ready to move on.
Packing and moving
Moving from the family home can be overwhelming, especially if you are facing a lifetime of possessions and must make choices about what to bring and what to let go. These decisions can be paralyzing because each possession often triggers a walk down memory lane.
Family members can help a parent sort through possessions, pack and move. But sometimes hiring a third party is the best thing.
Senior moving managers are a new type of service provider, helping attend to the needs of seniors who must downsize when moving. These professionals can:
- Evaluate the contents of your old home and assess space available in the new one.
- Work with a senior to determine how much will fit in the new home.
- Help sort and make decisions about what to keep and what to leave.
- Manage the process of packing and moving, then unpacking and arranging possessions in their new home.
Your SRES® may be able to refer you to a senior moving specialist in your area. You can also look online at www.nasmm.org or call (877) 606-2766.
For families facing the task of packing and moving on their own, think about starting the process well in advance. Set small, achievable daily goals. Establish plans for tackling different rooms. Remember that packing can be emotionally taxing on everyone, so consider ways to break up the work and make it more enjoyable.