Even in this ‘selller’s market’ it may be a bit harder to sell your big home
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
If you want to downsize during the current seller’s market, you may find it’s harder than you think to sell your spacious home. The people who are most interested in your house — those between 35 and 45 — have already lived in their small, starter home as young adults.
Buying a larger home like yours is usually a subsequent home purchase, an upgrade from their starter home.
Frank Procopio, broker and owner of Procopio Real Estate in Syracuse, advises selecting the right real estate agent, someone who can manage marketing and social media.
“Your realtor is your key to success,” Procopio said. “With larger homes, larger families are who you want to sell to. Some want the extra space to entertain. A real estate agent can identify that buyer pool, their likes, needs and wants. Interview multiple agents and look at their past sales. Look for agents who have been selling homes your size in your area. They will guide you to success.”
Those shopping for larger homes tend to be at the peak of their career. While their extra income primes them to make a large home purchase, it also makes some of them not interested in fixer-uppers. Others are looking for value and like the idea of putting their own stamp on their home.
Procopio said the kitchen and the bathrooms should be updated before it goes on the market. These areas are the most costly and vital aspects of a home, and also the most inconvenient to upgrade while living in the house.
Also, things like wall-to-wall carpeting should go. Instead, 3/4-inch tongue-and-groove oak flooring appeals to most buyers. For the bedrooms, new carpeting could work and tile or more waterproof flooring for the bathroom.
Curb appeal is also important “especially in summer and fall,” Procopio said. “Landscaping is always a plus. Make sure the lawn is groomed and the property is weeded. If I show up at an open house and there’s a foot of leaves in the yard, that doesn’t make a very good impression. “
Although it’s likely your home will sell eventually, making needed repairs will help you get the most for your home.
“If you want to maximize the return on your investment, you need to address certain things,” said Faye Beckwith, real estate agent, senior residential specialist and co-owner of Freedom Real Estate in Hannibal. “A seasoned real estate agent can help.”
That second pair of expert eyes can help you look for the little — and not-so-little — things that could be off-putting to buyers, from a wonky faucet up to an ancient water heater.
“Sometimes you meet with a senior and they say, ‘We have a new roof, furnace, central air, and water heater,’ but when you get down to the nitty-gritty, it was new when they got the house 30 years ago. The older we get, the faster time flies,” Beckwith said.
Once the home repairs and updates are done, the home should be deep cleaned beyond normal maintenance, including power washing the siding, deck and sidewalk, and sprucing up the interior with “spring cleaning” regardless of the time of year.
“If the senior can afford it and they’re unable to do it themselves, they should go with a professional cleaning service,” Beckwith said.
She knows of homes that have sold for thousands more simply because they were impeccably clean when buyers came.
Staging is the next step in the process. This means that the home’s furnishings should be arranged in an eye-pleasing way, instead of completely removing all furnishings.
“Staging is the preferred route, but that depends upon the price range,” Beckwith said. “If it’s the upper price range, that is critical to take place.”
Potential buyers can readily tell if a queen bed will fit in the spare room or how much room surrounds a table for six in the dining room if a seller stages a home.
Staging also helps buyers perceive the home as spacious, since part of staging is thinning out the furnishings present. Personal photos should be taken down, as it’s more difficult for buyers to picture themselves living there with others’ photos on the walls. Going with one large accent piece on a shelf or table is oftentimes better than many small ones.
“We accumulate things and it’s helpful if you have family to pitch in and help or have them come and get their things stored at your house,” Beckwith said.
Ask family members if they want items that you can’t keep, but don’t feel surprised if your great-niece “repurposes” your dresser drawers into box shelves and the dresser into a bookshelf. Many younger people don’t want grandma’s china, as these dishes can’t go in the dishwasher or microwave. Large, heavy furniture isn’t readily movable, unlike modern furniture.
If you need the money and have some valuable furnishings, consult with an antique dealer to learn their value and an effective way to sell items.
Consider consignment shops or groups seeking donations for fundraising sales for less valuable items, but call ahead first and ask what items they want. A few local organizations include Rescue Mission, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.