Selling your home might seem like a simple retirement project when you first consider it. However, once it’s time to actually start the process, the required steps can sometimes seem overwhelming. Here are seven tips to make your transition to a new home or senior living community easier.
#1 Get Sound Financial Advice
Should you sell? Before putting your home on the market, get tax and financial advice. If you sell at a loss, you might not be able to deduct the loss from income taxes. In general, when you sell for a gain, you can exclude a specified amount of the gain on your return. Tax rules can be somewhat tricky when it comes to homes, so consider getting an opinion from an additional professional if the original advice you receive seems murky. To estimate how much you’ll net, also consider transactional fees. These vary per locale but are costs such as escrow fees, transfer taxes, commissions, and inspection fees. Lastly, estimate your future financial needs as closely as possible. With all of this in mind, you can make the best selling decision in light of your estimated circumstances.
#2 Create a Timeline
It’s a bridge between leaving your current home and the one where you’ll spend your upcoming retirement years. The best timeline shows major transition milestones with realistic flexibility built into the dates. To stay organized, keep your timeline in a special folder along with all your notes, lists, and contact information related to the sale of your home. Reviewing it regularly even before you list your home should alert you to any potential pitfalls and signal when to ask for help from friends or family.
#3 Hire the Right Real Estate Professional
Advice abounds on how to find this person. Some seniors prefer to rely on the real estate agent who has sold the most properties in their neighborhood. Others seek those most often recommended by friends. Some communities have agents who specialize in working with seniors. Whichever approach you prefer, be sure to interview at least several agents. The right professional will ask questions about your future goals. He or she will provide a realistic listing price and answer all your questions promptly before asking you to sign a listing agreement.
#4 Sort and Declutter
Downsizing a home or moving cross-country ignites the need to deal with a lifetime of possessions. Using a timeline makes the process of selling, donating, discarding, or storing less daunting. Examining a floor plan of your next residence will show you how much furniture you can fit into it. Before opening your doors to prospective buyers, keep in mind that you’re showing your home, not your possessions. Since potential buyers will attempt to picture their possessions, not yours, in the house, put excess items in storage or ask a friend to stash them. Now is the perfect time to pass that antique armoire to a family member if there’s no room for it in your new home. Many seniors find it easiest to start on the outside and remove yard debris and distracting décor. Inside, systematically go through each room, closet, and other storage area and mark it off your timeline as you finish. Using stickers in different colors for donating, gifting, storing, and keeping makes the process go much more quickly. Sticking to a specific time to declutter each day helps prevent getting sidetracked or overwhelmed.
#5 Repair and Refresh
Now's the time to repair dripping faucets and sticking doors. Since buyers prefer homes in move-in condition, consider replacing that aging water heater and stained carpet. Consider painting walls that don't look as good as they used to. Trim unruly shrubs and perform a residential facelift with power washing or painting. Since you’ll want to maintain this “buy me” look, keep tools such as lawn mowers easily accessible. This is the perfect time to invite friends and neighbors to stop buy, wield a paintbrush, and enjoy fare from the grill while you reminisce.
#6 Let the Pros Pack and Move
Professional movers are experts. Even if your moving to an assisted living near you, put a lid on anxiety by letting them pack and move the items headed for your new home. The process will be faster than a do-it-yourself move and will probably result in less damage. Be sure to pack enough essentials for your first day or so in your new digs. Take clothes, dishes, linens, a flashlight, and a first-aid kit with you to lower the stress level upon arrival.
#7 Be Patient
The process of listing, showing, and closing on a residence you want to sell can be difficult and time-consuming, particularly for seniors who have spent decades in their homes. Be patient with yourself and those helping you. Keep in mind that your goal is simplifying your life. It’s moving day. Your last box is headed up the ramp of the moving van. You’ve sold your home with a lot less stress than you envisioned. Be sure to give yourself several pats on the back, then take the rest of the day off.
This article was written by Dylan Snyder of the Snyder Real Estate Group in Florida.