You’ve decided to say “goodbye” to yard work and maintenance hassles by putting your house on the market and moving to a senior living community like Blue Skies of Texas in San Antonio. Now you may find yourself wondering how to navigate the often-stressful world of real estate sales. How much is my home worth? Why should I buy a new light fixture even though we’re downsizing? And what does “staging” mean anyway?
To help you make sense of it all, we spoke with Jennifer Wilson, an award-winning San Antonio real estate agent who specializes in working with seniors preparing for the next chapter of their lives. Here are her top five tips for attracting potential buyers and getting the best deal possible.
1) Price It Right
The moment you place your house on the market, it becomes a product for sale, and a big key to success is understanding your competition. “Right now, homebuilders are offering buyers huge concessions like paying closing costs and buying down interest rates,” Wilson says. “So you need to be open to price adjustments and maybe a few concessions of your own.”
Whether you live in Texas or not, a trusted real estate professional can help you find the “sweet spot” of pricing based on your location and the condition of your home. But be sure to choose an agent with a record of closing sales every month, not just two or three times per year. That’s because highly active agents are most in tune with factors like market conditions and mortgage industry changes. Wilson typically reviews three to six months’ worth of data when she’s comparing selling prices in a neighborhood.
2) Create a Good First Impression—Online
Gone are the days when the Sunday paper would give potential buyers their first glimpse of your home. Now, it’s all about a strong online presence. “Once they’ve chosen a particular area, today’s buyers head straight to their phones to check out the listings,” Wilson says. “And based on what they see, they make fast decisions about which homes they like or don’t like.”
That means paying attention to curb appeal, including details like painting shutters, landscaping and pulling those weeds out of your gutters. Mulch, particularly dark-colored varieties, can also be your secret weapon for instant beautification. And always choose an agent who uses professional-quality photography to showcase your home’s best features.
Finally, make sure your front door welcomes buyers with open arms. “Buyers spend more time on your front porch than anywhere else in your home,” Wilson stresses. “I strongly encourage seniors selling their home to stand on their porch for a couple of minutes and look around. You may be surprised about what pops out at you.”
3) Little Touches Can Make a Big Impact
With sales prices increasing, buyers expect your house to look well maintained and in good repair, particularly if it’s more than 10 years old or you haven’t done any major improvements in the past 10 years. “I’m not talking about a $60,000 bathroom overhaul,” Wilson laughs. “Sometimes all it takes is a few new light fixtures and mirrors to make a room look more up-to-date.”
If you have a worn ceiling fan, for example, you may be tempted to let the buyer choose a new model for themselves. But making a small investment in a brand-new fan can help freshen up the entire room and generate more showings. Your agent can be an invaluable source of budget-friendly ideas that will make potential buyers want to move in right away.
4) Declutter and Stage
Want to know what buyers are looking for when they walk through your home? Check out a few new construction models. You’ll find clear countertops, neutral décor and plenty of open space. Decluttering is one of the first steps in downsizing, and it’s essential to making potential buyers take notice.
“Nobody wants to see clutter, either in person or when they’re clicking through photos on Zillow,” Wilson says. “Decluttering will make your home seem larger and more appealing to potential homebuyers, so thin out your shelves, clear off your countertops and tackle those crowded closets.”
One of Wilson’s top home staging tips is to make your furnishings and color palate as neutral as possible. She also recommends taking down any religious or politically affiliated items. “Buyers need to visualize themselves living in your home, so be open to your agent’s opinions as to what appeals to people of all tastes and persuasions,” she advises.
5) Practice Patience Without Panic
Getting flustered when an offer isn’t made within a couple of weeks is one of the biggest pitfalls that home sellers fall into. Wilson tells us that right now in the San Antonio area, it takes an average of 70 to 90 days on the market before an offer is made—but there’s lots of variation between neighborhoods.
The key to staying calm is good communication with an agent(s) you trust. They’re your best guide as to when it’s time to make a decision about a concession or price reduction. “Be aware of what your specific neighborhood looks like in terms of days on the market,” Wilson advises. “That will help keep you out of panic mode, which could cause you to drop the price prematurely.”
You’ve Got This
Listing your home for sale can feel like a huge mountain to climb, but there are plenty of resources available to help you along the way.
If you’d like a deeper dive into preparing for your home’s big reveal, you’re in luck because Wilson will be sharing her expertise in a webinar for the Blue Skies of Texas retirement community on February 20th. Her presentation will be packed with details about the current real estate market, plus more specific tips on how to outshine your competition online. So you can start enjoying an active, chore-free life as soon as possible. Register now.
To learn more about our vibrant senior living community or schedule a tour, call 210-677-8666.