I'm honored to be a contributing author to the Gilbert Guide Website about Senior Real Estate issues. It's just one more opportunity for me to increase consumer awareness about senior housing and aging issues. This article was recently published:
At seminars, I’m often asked to talk with seniors about the process of selling a home. The most common question I get is: what do I need to do to get my home ready to sell? I usually tell the person who’s asking that I’d be glad to visit the home and make some suggestions. The response I almost always get: “Oh no! I would need to get my house in order before you came over.”
We all think we have more stuff, or a messier house, than everyone else. Despite many a real estate agent’s reassurances, seniors often start to make all sorts of changes to their homes before they invite a real estate agent over for suggestions on preparing their home for sale. Those changes are often not the right ones to help maximize the sale price of the home or help it to sell more quickly. Before you make changes to your home, invite a senior real estate agent over to talk with you about your goals for your move, and the kinds of changes you can make to your home to help you accomplish those goals.
Once the real estate agent understands what is most important to you, he or she can help you develop a list of things to do (or not do) to your home to get it ready for market. Your real estate agent is not going to use a fix-it-yourself, make-a-million-dollars-with-simple-improvements, flip-it, home-improvement cable television show as a guide. Instead, a real estate agent will guide you with real-time local information to help you make sound decisions. Working with a real estate agent early on can keep you from making unnecessary changes to your home, and save you a lot of money in the long run!
4 Ways a Senior Real Estate Specialist Can Save You Money
Let’s be honest. The point in working with any professional is to get the job done better than you can do it on your own. Sure, you could do it, but you probably don’t have unlimited time, resources and the in-depth knowledge of the industry that a professional senior real estate specialist does. Ask yourself: what can this person do for me that I can’t do on my own? Hiring a real estate agent will help you get more return on your investment. A senior real estate specialist can:
- Help you decide what to fix. Talk with your agent about what should be fixed. In general, the rule is: if it’s broken, fix it. In today’s market you’re going to have a lot of competition to sell your home. If you have broken items you’ve just lived with (we all do!), get them fixed. Even if the rest of your home is in reasonably good repair, little things like a leaky faucet, a window that doesn’t open, and a broken garage door opener are all excuses for buyers to lower the amount they’re willing to offer. You can actually save a lot of money by making these small repairs before you sell.
- Help you decide what to replace. Before you replace that living room carpet or those kitchen appliances, talk with a real estate agent and get suggestions on what will make your home more marketable. If the potential buyer for your home is a first time home buyer or young family, the type of flooring you put in the kitchen may be different than if you live in a luxury condominium that might appeal to a young executive. Spending a lot of money on unnecessary high-end flooring for your home may be just as costly as putting in an inexpensive floor in a luxury home. Talk with a local real estate agent about what your competition has, and how you can minimize the cost of improvements without sacrificing the marketability of your home.
- Prevent your spending money on things that break. Getting your home ready for the market is a lot of work, and in some cases, can cost you money. Talk with your agent about a home warranty. Many of the home warranties available today cover the home owner from the date the home is listed until it is under contact with the new buyer. That means if you have a mechanical failure, you won’t be trying to figure out how to pay to get fixed while your home is on the market. Instead you can put in a claim to the home warranty and get it fixed with minimal out-of-pocket cost. A home warranty is also a nice additional selling point for your home—especially when you need to stand out from all the other homes on the market!
- Suggest loan alternatives to buyers that will save you money. With lending guidelines getting tighter for borrowers, home buyers are using first-time home buyer programs that charge fees to the seller. For example, there are two nonprofit programs for first-time home buyers, Nehemiah and Genesis. Both offer essentially the same benefit to the buyer, but one charges the seller a $295 fee, and the other does not. Your real estate agent will help you understand these loan programs and work with the buyer’s loan officer to see if the fees can be reduced.
copyright 2008 The Gilbert Guide