What do you need to do to prepare your older home for sale?
How do you prepare for downsizing?
Preparing an older home for sale can be a daunting task. If you've lived in your home for 20 sometime years, chances are you've stored a lot of "stuff" that is either sentimental or you thought you might use at a later date. Other things to consider are deferred maintenance or needed updating.
This may be one of the most overwhelming of all task. Even if you aren't moving, it would be a great idea to start decluttering now. Where to begin?
If you're an empty nester like me, you may want to start with your kids rooms. Have them remove items they don't want and take items they want to keep. You can do it gradually if time allows. When my kids came home for a visit, I would ask them to pull 10-20 things from their closets that I could donate. I don't mind if they have personal things at my house. Their room will always be their room as far as I'm concerned. I just didn't want it to be a big job when the time came. I certainly don't want to pay to move items they don't want should we ever move. Asking them to pull 10-20 items I could donate was a small task they were willing to undertake while they were home. The first time they came home during the pandemic, they both completely cleaned everything out. I mean, they couldn't visit with friends so there was plenty of time.
Next would be to make a game plan. When decluttering, I know there will be some things that go to trash or recycling, some that are donated, items that can be sold, some things that will go to family or friends, and some that I still can't let go of.
Mindset is big for me. I tell myself that I need to give away things that I can no longer use. I also think about the resale or furniture consignment stores I've gone into. I see so much stuff that people no longer want or use. I know some of it is from estates. I don't want to leave things behind that my kids don't want and have to deal with. If you have a few items to sell, you can do it on Facebook marketplace or an app. Make sure you do it safely. If you have a lot of things to sell then consider a yard sale or an estate sale.
For items you want to donate, find out the best local places for donations. I live in Cary NC so I like to donate to Dorcus Ministries, the local veterans association and Habitat for Humanity. A note in the pocket in Raleigh is another good place to donate clothing since they clothe kids in the community. There are also great resources for donating eye glasses, old cds and vhs tapes, and books.
If you have items that can be recycled, be sure to add them to the proper recycling bins based on your community recycling program.
Throw out items that cannot be sold, recycled, donated or given away. This is the very last option. It can be difficult because it may include old kids projects, old christmas cards and various sentimental things you've saved. Moving items from one home to another can be very expensive and take up useful space. If your kids don't want their old projects and it holds meaning for you, take a photo then place it in the trash bin. It has served its purpose.
Getting rid of clothes can be one of the most difficult things for some people. You have to find a way to part with clothes you didn't wear in the season it serves. It may not seem like it at the time, but you most likely won't miss those items. So, be ruthless when decluttering the closet. It will be worth it.
Don't forget about the garage and storage shed. It can be difficult to let go of tools and yard maintenance items.
When you're done decluttering, you should have things you actually use and items you're willing to pay a premium to move.
If this is overwhelming, ask your listing agent for recommendations for organization and estate companies who can help.
2) Deferred maintenance:
As a professional Real Estate agent, I see a lot of deferred maintenance. Sometimes the home seller legitimately didn't know about the items. Sometimes they're very obvious items. Here's what you can do.
- Get a home inspection. There are pros and cons to this that can be discussed with your listing agent. Ultimately, be prepared to make repairs once you get it back. A home that is older and/or hasn't sold in many years will often have more items than a home that changed hands in the past 3-5 years.
- Have your home pressure washed and gutters cleaned out.
- Get a check-up for your roof to ensure everything is in good condition.
- Have maintenance on your HVAC systems.
- Hire a plumber or handyman to check out your water heater and do necessary maintenance.
- Have your listing agent walk through your house with you and point out items that need to be taken care of prior to selling your home.
3) Updating your house:
Sometimes people want to sell their house with the least amount of work. If your home is outdated and you're willing to have items updates in order to sell it, talk with your listing agent to see if it will pay off. Some items will and some won't. And... some things will cost you more money of not done prior to listing a house for sale. The current market conditions and the ideal buyer may determine what should and shouldn't be done.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is people don't want to replace the carpet. The excuse I hear most is, "I don't know what carpet they will want". A neutral carpet is fine. If it is dirty or soiled, that can hurt a sale more than you might think.
There is a reason investors can buy a house, update it and sell it for significantly more. That's because people don't have the funds to do it themselves and eye candy sells.
If you have limited funds, talk with your listing agent to see how those funds can be used to maximize the value and sales price of the home.
4) Final Preparation:
Once you've decluttered, taken care of deferred maintenance and made necessary updates, you'll want to make sure your house is clean and staged to sell. Sometimes, the seller and/or agent can stage the house and other times a professional will need to be called in. This is something your listing agent can assist with. There isn't a "one size fits all" solution. Many variables determine what is necessary and what is nice to have done. Be open to what is recommended. You should trust whomever you hire to sell your house.
Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Selling a home when you're in your golden years is a lot different than when you're starting out.
If you're selling a home in Wake County or the Triangle, I'm happy to help. I have a lot of experience with preparing a home for sale and negotiating the easiest least stressful sale.