The Boomerater™ Report, our weekly collaboration with online baby boomer resource Boomerater, this week offers tips to help sell a house in a down economy. “I’m looking for clever ways to help sell my home is this tough market,” a Boomerater member asks. “My mother has moved into assisted living and I need to sell her home.” Other Boomerater members weighed in with their suggestions:
[See Make a Housing Plan for Your Later Years.] Cover the basics. Simple repairs should always be taken care of, and a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference. Be critical when you consider the home’s curb appeal, get rid of dead or overgrown bushes, and spruce up the yard. Also, eliminate all clutter so that the house looks bigger and the new owners can envision their belongings instead of being overwhelmed by yours. Put away anything that is not essential, including family photos, collections, toys, etc. And make sure you list the house at a realistic price that ensures a quick sale. The biggest mistake is pricing too high, especially in today's market.
Set the stage for the sale. Among other things, I highly recommend staging or having it staged. The best way is to find a real estate agent with staging credentials who offers staging as a free service. The second best way, in this economy, is to do it yourself. There are some excellent books available to help you. I had a great agent for two sales who did it. For my third sale, I had another great agent, but she hadn't ever staged, so she and I did it together based on my previous Realtor's suggestions and ideas. It looked great and the staging gave us a competitive advantage because so few of the houses in the area had been staged. We even had a couple of other agents ask who we had hired to stage it. Put deodorizer sticks or deodorizer plug-ins throughout the house to create a lovely fragrance. (Think Bed, Bath and Beyond, and how great it is to walk into their fragrant store.) Leaving all the lights on will raise your electric bill a teeny bit BUT will also make your house show really nicely, making it well worth it.
Check on the house weekly. Change light bulbs, flush toilets, sweep, tidy, weed, etc. If you don't live in the area, arrange for a neighbor to do so. I totally concur that you should research area prices and pick a realistic price.
Link your home to the $8,000 tax credit. Looks like the Senate will likely extend the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home-buyers (due to expire November 30) and even allow benefits for some people who already own homes. Also, the amount you can earn and still get the credit will likely go up from $75,000 per person ($150,000 per couple) to $125,000 ($250,000 per couple.) The extension would be in effect through April 30, 2010 for having a house under contract, with 60 days after that to close the sale. Hopefully, this will bring new buyers into the market and make it easier to sell a home. Take advantage of the opportunity by advertising your house as a great starter home or the perfect home for the couple who wants to downsize.
[See Smart Ways to Access Your Housing Wealth.] Video tours lead to quicker sales. Make sure you use a Realtor who posts videos on their website. This is the new state-of-the-art feature in real estate that really boosts your chances of getting the house sold.
Home-selling sites to consider. Trulia.com is a good real estate site where you can search message boards for information about available houses. Remember to give a detailed description of the house. It will help people find your listing through a search engine from the features you list. You can also list it on eBay and craigslist.org. You might want to check out Zillow.com’s “Make Me Move” section. You can list your mother’s home for any price and hopefully someone will contact you to buy it. Another great site to check out is Homethinking.
Alternatives in a tough market. If you have trouble selling think about a lease-to-own deal or just renting it. If the market turns around you’ll likely get more value out of the house if you hold on to it. A good lease-to-own site is The Mortgage Professor's Web Site.
Add your own comments or read other member tips for selling a home in a weak economy on Boomerater. Boomerater is an online resource for baby boomers, with comprehensive directories to help you find everything from senior housing to adventure travel. The site also contains forums where boomers can post questions and swap first-hand experiences. If there are questions on your mind that you would like answered by other people who have faced similar situations, or you have advice of your own to share, go to Boomerater.com and participate in the forums. Say that The Best Life sent you.