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Deb Staley

JoCo KS Specialist

Selling an Older Home That Might Need Updating, Repairs, and Needs Clearing Out

At some point in time, most of us will be faced with selling a parent’s or grandparent’s home. Often, the home has been lived in for many years, is likely not updated, and is just FULL of stuff. I went through this myself with my Mom and Dad’s home.
As a Realtor, I help people through this life event all the time. I will be sharing the best steps to take when faced with this situation. There are 4 of them:Deb Staley has the Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation

1. Selecting a Realtor
2. Clearing the Contents
3. Assessing the Condition
4. Fixing Up

Working with senior citizens and selling their homes is a niche real estate opportunity. There is even a National Association of Realtors designation called Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), which is one that I have earned. Selecting a Realtor who has the SRES designation is a good first step in the process of selling Mom’s house.

The next step—step 2—can be the most difficult one—going through the things in the home and clearing them out. This was difficult for me because of emotional attachments to some things, and the sheer amount of stuff. There are things you’ll want to keep, others will be donated, and some might be sold in a garage sale, an estate sale, or even on eBay and Craigslist. I had 5 days of garage sales at my parents’ home—they lived there 37 years—and what didn’t sell, I put on the curb and put an ad on Craigslist in the Free Stuff category. It was all gone within hours!

Now that the contents of the home are dealt with, you can concentrate on the condition of the home – step 3. There are several easy things you can do that will really help with the sale when it is time for the buyer’s inspections. This is important, because inspection time is the most stressful time in the transaction for both buyers and sellers.

  • Have the heating and cooling system cleaned and serviced. This is important because sometimes a home inspector can’t even inspect the units properly because they are too dirty. It’s only about $80 to have this done. Get the technician to tell you the age of the systems because you will need to disclose that information.
  • Have the home inspected for termites. If it has active wood-destroying insects, you must treat them anyway; that’s how our local board of Realtors’ contracts are written—the seller is responsible for termite treatment.
  • Have a pre-listing inspection done on the home. That will run $300-$400, and it can include the termite inspection. Truthfully, most sellers balk at doing this. Who wants to lay out any more money? But it will save you from unpleasant surprises at inspection time. I’m sure you’ve heard that it is quite the seller’s market, but buyers expect things to be fixed. And that’s next on our list.

Make Decisions on What to Fix or Update

Step 4 is where you will discuss with your Realtor the results of the inspections, the sales data of the neighborhood, and brainstorm about what things you want to do to the home before it goes on the market. If you want to get top dollar, you’ll most likely have to do some things. If you are just done, you can sell the house “as is.” Just be aware that some buyers may be in a loan program that requires certain items to be repaired. As always, your Realtor can advise you on this.

Let’s talk about “as is” for a moment. It just means you are unwilling to replace or repair anything found as a result of a buyer’s inspection. It does not mean you don’t have to disclose everything you know that is material about the home. Non-disclosure is how lawsuits happen.

This might sound like a lot of groundwork—because it is! In any endeavor, preparation is key. By following these steps: selecting the right Realtor, dealing with the contents of the home, assessing and taking care of the home’s condition, you are setting the stage for the easiest possible home sale. And that’s important when you are likely dealing with a lot of emotions. Follow the steps. Go through a well-defined process. Get good advice. It will help you and your family get through this challenging time in the easiest possible way.

Learn the basic steps to sell any home 

©Deb Staley 2017