In my daily activities as a Real Estate Professional I am often asked by my clients questions about preparing an older home for sale. It is not uncommon that we are asked to sell older homes for people that are in one of the following categories:
- Moving to a smaller home after raising a family and living for a long period of time in the same home.
- A son or daughter helping an elderly parent sell the family home.
- A person that has inherited a home that they will not keep.
- A person selling a home that has not been maintained with an eye on selling in the near future.
Below is a copy of an email I recently sent to one of my current clients who is preparing an older home for sale. He is preparing to sell his parents home to help with extended care costs for his mother. I hope this will give you an idea of what you might encounter in preparing an older home for sale. (My notes are in Red) Keep in mind each home and selling situation will have a different set of suggestions based on the current goals and financial conditions of the market, the seller, the home, and of course the decision makers. Many things need to be considered when preparing an older home for sale.
Email to Client
Thank you for meeting me yesterday at your mothers home. Below are my recommendations for preparing an older home for sale. These suggestions are designed to improve your chances for a higher sales price by removing the any potential objections, eliminate distractions and improve the homes curb appeal. Eliminating distractions and objections are the main goal...you have to get the buyers focus away from what's wrong with a property!
- Remove lower branches of the Magnolia to just above the roof line so the home can be seen from the street. (I have an affordable tree trimmer) It is important that the home be visible in the photos used online.
- Lower all Shrubs to just below the bottom of the windows. (I have a great landscaper)
- Remove Cedar Bush in Front. Overgrown landscaping will dwarf a home, making it seem smaller and reducing the curb appeal.
- Clean Window and Screens.
- Pressure Wash Exterior Trim. Clean and fresh is the goal. Think of it like a military uniform inspection!
- Clean Gutters and Re-hang as needed.
- Remove miscellaneous items in the rear yard. (Buckets, yard ornaments etc.) (I have crews that will remove what you do not want to keep) If it doesn't have a purpose...it goes.
- Remove or trim back growth from the rear sun room for access to decking area. Create space between the shrubs and home...make it breathe.
(In the perfect world) Remove contents of the home. (I have crews that will remove what you do not want to keep)
- Smaller homes feel much bigger when empty. There is away's the issue of whether to stage a home or not. If you stage a home you want to use new stylish furniture. Vintage chairs, couches and tables are not suggested, they trigger questions about the furniture and who lived in the home before it was on the market and what happened to them? It takes the buyers focus away from looking at the home and how the new buyer would live in the home.
- Remove personal items. Personal items take the buyers focus away from feeling the floor plan and experiencing what the home offers and how they would live in the home.
- Pull all carpets to expose hardwood floors. In this homes case the carpets were older and a little stained but the hardwood beneath had never been exposed so they were in perfect condition!
- Have thoroughly cleaned. (I have cleaning crews I can suggest) Clean, no dust or debris! Consider using professionals...always!
- A Pre Listing Home Inspection can give you an idea about what you may come across in an after sale inspection and is often a good idea with an older home that has been unoccupied. The big issue is that because of the VA Seller Disclosure Law you would then have to disclose any defects that you weren't willing to fix or repair.
- Benefits would be that you won’t be surprised later, you can fix an item discovered before it becomes worse and have a better shot a keeping a deal together by avoiding a buyer walking away because of the results of a Home Inspection.
- Downside…possible repair/replacement expense up front!
- Offering a Home Buyer Home Warranty may be another idea to consider.
- A Home Warranty will cover the systems of the home during the listing period and typically for 1 year after the sale for the buyer. Great if something breaks or dies before the sale. (Just can’t be a pre-existing condition or issue. That is determined by the repair person on the visit) No pre-warranty inspection is required.
- Good news is that your home is covered but you don’t have to pay for the warranty until closing!
Keller Williams Realty
I hope you've found the copy of the above email and my notes on preparing an older home for sale helpful. Keep in mind every situation is different and will require a unique set of solutions customized to what each property needs. Making these types of recommendations and suggestions when preparing an older home for sale are well within the scope of an experienced real estate professional.
Below are a few more tips and types of suggestions that you might encounter when preparing an older home for sale or any other home for that matter!
Other tips to consider when preparing an older home for sale:
• Keep the grass freshly cut.
• Remove all yard clutter.
• Apply fresh paint to wooden fences.
• Paint the front door.
• Weed and apply fresh mulch to garden beds.
• Clean windows inside and out.
• Wash or paint home's exterior.
• Tighten and clean all door handles.
• Ensure gutters and downspouts are firmly attached.
• Clean or paint walls and ceilings.
• Shampoo carpets.
• Clean and organize cabinets and closets.
• Repair all plumbing leaks, including faucets and drain traps.
• Clean all light fixtures.
• Open drapes in the daytime.
• Keep pets secured outdoors.
• Play quiet background music.
• Light the fireplace (if seasonally appropriate).
• Infuse home with a comforting scent like apple spice or vanilla.
• Vacate the property while it is being shown.
Bill Byrd has be licenced since 1986 and has been a Listing Specialist his entire career consistently selling a high volume of real estate every year. Currently his team is experiencing a great year and is available to help anyone in Hampton Roads with their real estate needs and goals!