Preparing Your Home for Sale Selling a Home Selling Process

Selling A Home In A Retirement Community: What You Need To Know

When you moved into your “55+ community,” you might have intended to stay for the long haul. But plans change — and if you’re now looking to sell your property in a retirement community, you probably want to save money on the deal.

Real estate agents typically take 5% – 6% of the sale price, which could mean as much as $15,000 in commissions on the sale of a $250,000 house. Listing your home as “for sale by owner” could help you cut down on costs because you won’t have to pay the buyer’s agent. But there are some extra steps you’ll need to take when selling in an active-adult community. Here’s what you need to know.

Research Your Community’s Guidelines On Selling

Most communities that cater to older homeowners are deed restricted, which means there are clauses that limit how you can use your property. Check with your homeowners association for details. Your community might have rules surrounding who can buy your property, such as:

  • Home buyers must meet age restrictions, and children might not be allowed as permanent residents.
  • Buyers might also have to answer questions about their health and finances.
  • Some communities don’t allow “For Sale” signs in the yard.
  • Open houses could be allowed, but usually without signage.
  • Prospective buyers might need to park in designated areas when touring the property.
  • Pets may or may not be allowed.

Age is usually the most important restriction. That’s because at least 80% of owned units in a 55+ community must be occupied by at least one homeowner who’s 55 or older, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Determine What Similar Homes Are Selling For

Coming up with a listing price is something of an art form: You want to make enough from the sale to pay off your mortgage balance and pocket the profits, but you also want to set the price low enough to attract enough buyers or set up your listing for a bidding war.

Generally, you’ll attract more buyers to an age-restricted community if you live in an area with a large population of seniors. In 2018, more than half the 65+ population was concentrated among California, Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and North Carolina.

But you don’t have to live in one of these states to net a good selling price. Start by researching recent sales of comparable homes in your community. The homes should have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms and a similar square footage.

Calculate the average cost per square foot. For example, if a home measures 1,500 square feet and sold for $250,000, then it cost $167 per square foot. You can also use free online resources to determine your home’s value or scour local tax records for recent sales data. Use all of this information to guide your listing price.

You also stand to get top dollar if you list your home when more people are hunting for properties. In most areas of the U.S., the best time to sell is during the first two weeks of May. Listings go for about 6% more at this time of year, and homes sell 18.5 days faster than any other month.

Prepare And List Your Home

Once you set a price for your home, it’s time to prepare your home for potential buyers and put it on the market. To make your home more attractive to buyers, take some time to:

  • Clean and declutter the interior and exterior.
  • Replace light bulbs and add lamps to improve lighting.
  • Make small cosmetic repairs.
  • Paint the interior walls with warm, neutral colors.
  • Hire a professional to take photos of the home.

Next, write a property summary and create a property flyer. It should highlight the features of your retirement community and help buyers imagine what it would be like to live there. You can hand these out to your open house guests or use them while marketing (more on that below). The flyer should include these details:

  • Property address
  • Asking price
  • Monthly fee for the retirement community
  • Large, colorful photos
  • A brief description of the home
  • The cost of annual or monthly property taxes
  • Your name, phone number and email address
  • Recent upgrades and special features
  • Square footage and number of beds/baths
  • Neighborhood amenities

Market Your Home

When marketing your home to prospective buyers, you’ll need to go where your buyers are — while following your community’s rules. Here are some ideas:

  • Post signs in the yard: If your community allows it, stick a “For Sale” sign in your front yard with your contact information. Consider purchasing a phone number solely for this purpose and creating a unique email address to handle incoming messages from buyers.
  • Post on community bulletin boards: Where do the seniors in your area usually gather? For example, bulletin boards at gyms, golf courses and churches could draw attention to your buyer demographic, or you can advertise in your local newspaper.
  • Use snail mail for flyers: Mail out your property flyer to your friends and neighbors, who might know of someone looking to buy property in your community.
  • Respond by phone: When you start hearing back from potential buyers, follow up via phone call to answer questions and provide more information. This is a personal touch that seniors might appreciate.
  • Create A Website: Seniors might prefer to check out videos of available properties before scheduling an appointment to view them. Attract them by creating a website for your listing and including photos of your home and a video for virtual walkthroughs. The website should include all the information from your property flyer.
  • Don’t forget your other online options: While some seniors avoid the internet, others are active on social media. Create a Facebook page for your listing and invite others to share it via their social media channels.

You might need to schedule private listings or host a few open houses before you receive offers. From there, you can negotiate the selling price, sign a purchase and sale agreement, and speed toward closing day.

Preparing Your Home for Sale Selling a Home

Hosting An Open House: Tips For Marketing Your Home

Once you’ve listed your home online and posted your yard sign, an open house can be a great way to add marketing exposure to your sale. During their home search, two out of every five buyers attend open houses at some point. In addition to advertising, an open house can help you manage showings and might even lead to a bidding war. Here’s what you need to know to attract more buyers to your showing.

1. Do The Research

Before you stage your home and create your advertising campaign, take a look at homes for sale in your area. Tour open houses if you can, paying attention to the staging and features. How do the real estate agents talk about the home, and how do buyers react? Use this information to help you prepare.

2. Stage For Success

If you haven’t cleaned, decluttered and depersonalized already, then now is the time. Be thoughtful about how you want your home to appear and what it will take to get it there. Start big by evaluating any major upgrades or repairs you’ll need to make and then work your way to cleaning and arranging furniture.

Just before the open house, consider taking your pets to a friend’s house for the day and hiding your valuables, medication and other personal items. Some sellers even set out refreshments for a cozy touch.

3. Set A Date

Open houses are typically held on weekend mornings. As you research other homes for sale in your area, find out when they’re holding open houses. Schedule yours for the same day so you can benefit from the foot traffic.

4. Advertise Your Home

There are a few ways to advertise your open house, and it starts with posting signs in your front yard and around the neighborhood. You can also advertise in your local newspaper, on public bulletin boards and even at apartment complexes. Then, move to your online advertising:

  • Advertise online: As much as 90% of buyers use the internet to find a home, so your online ads will be critical. You can create a home listing at free websites such as Craigslist, Yahoo! Classifieds, and Google Merchant Center. Remember to include your home description, photos and the date and time of your open house.
  • Use social media: Many buyers find their next home through word of mouth, so social media should be your go-to platform. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok can put your advertisement in front of thousands of potential buyers – and best of all, it’s free. A few weeks before the open house, post your home description and photos on the social media accounts you typically use. Include the date and time of the open house, and make the post shareable so your friends can help spread the word. Your social media sales kit can also give you some direction here.

5. Invite Your Friends, Neighbors And Co-workers

You can do this both online and in person. First create an open house event on Facebook and invite your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to help you spread the word. If you’re not connected through social media, then invite them in person or via email. You might even hold a special preview for them to help you prepare and give honest feedback.

6. Create A Property Summary

Make a property flyer – also called a property summary – and leave it at the entry of your home. Make sure it highlights all of the features that make your house unique and helps buyers imagine what it would be like to live in your neighborhood. Here are some ideas of what to include:

  • Property address and at least one photo of the exterior
  • Asking price
  • Your name and email address
  • A brief description of the home
  • Recent upgrades and special features
  • Property taxes
  • Square footage and number of beds/baths
  • Neighborhood amenities and school information

7. Think Outside The Box

Getting attention takes creativity, even in a seller’s market. Setting a theme that matches the style of your home’s architecture can set your open house apart from the others. Some agents have seen success renting drones to advertise for open houses. See if a local store will give you permission to set up shop with your drone and hand out listing flyers to onlookers.

8. Be Professional

Homebuyers know they’ll work directly with you as a FSBO seller, so make yourself available at the open house. But it’s important to emotionally disconnect from the home and treat it as an asset you’re selling. Make your visitors feel comfortable by allowing them to explore the house, ask questions and provide feedback at their leisure.

9. Follow Up

Create a sign-in sheet that visitors will fill out when they arrive. Ask them to leave their name, email address and phone number. Not everyone will leave their information – but those who do are more interested in buying. Follow up with your visitors a few days after the open house, and offer to answer any questions they have.

What tips would you share with other home sellers to make their open house a success?

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Real Estate Tips for First-Time Home Sellers

The housing market was on fire in 2020, as record-low mortgage rates helped drive home sales. And due to a smaller inventory and higher median listing price – which grew by 15.4% in November compared to last year – it’s a great time to sell a house and get top dollar. If you want to make the most money on what is probably the biggest investment of your life, consider selling your home yourself.

While you’ll need to devote time and energy to this process, following pro real estate tips can help you save when selling your home. Many homeowners pay the selling agent and listing agent a commission that adds up to 6% of the selling price. On a $350,000 house, that’s $21,000 – and going the FSBO route can potentially cut that cost in half.

All you need is some marketing know-how, an entrepreneurial spirit and the help of ForSaleByOwner. Here’s how it works.

Clean and Declutter

You want home buyers to fall in love with your home – but clutter can be distracting and give potential buyers a poor impression. It’s a good idea to deep clean and organize your home before putting it on the market. According to a 2019 HomeLight report, this step could add up to $4,310 to the home’s value. Plus, you might enjoy the space more while you’re still in the home.

Tackle each part of the house: the basement, living room, bedrooms and so on. Go through your items and put them into three main piles: keep, sell or donate. Create an organization system for the items you keep, and give the entire home a deep cleaning.

Stage and Photograph the Home

Home staging – which involves arranging the furniture and decorations in your home to emphasize its strong points – makes it easier for the buyer to visualize themselves there. You can hire a company to handle the staging, and according to a National Association of REALTORS® report, home sellers say it added up to 10% to their home’s value.

After you stage the home, hiring a professional photographer can also help your home sell quickly and even get a better deal. Listings that include high-quality photography sell for $3,000 – $11,000 more.

Determine Your Asking Price

Using our Pricing Scout, determine your property’s worth. This tool gives you an estimated market value and summary of nearby comparable sales.

You can also consider a “do-it-yourself” comparative market analysis to make sure you’re on target. Home sellers should gather information about home sales from the past 3 – 6 months, limiting the search to homes within a half-mile radius. Calculate the price per square foot to help guide your listing price.

Prepare and Repair

Home buyers have high expectations, and your property needs to “wow” to stand out. Check your property inside and out and identify problem areas for repair or upgrade, then prioritize those issues within your budget.

While home buyers usually hire a home inspector, home sellers can also hire one of these professionals to help plan the repair process and estimate costs involved.

Market Your Home

The best homes have compelling property descriptions and drool-worthy pictures, strategically placed to give the listing maximum exposure online. ForSaleByOwner can help you create a stellar marketing plan and find a listing package that works for your situation and budget.

When setting up your marketing strategy, review online listing options (including MLS) and decide which is best for you. Then, craft an appealing ad that highlights your home’s best features and shows high-quality photos of its amenities.

Don’t forget to put “For Sale” signs outside, blast the listing on all your social media channels, and ask your friends to share.

Schedule Showings

Sit down with a calendar and organize your showings schedule. Try to offer as many time slots as possible for buyers, and make sure your home is spotless and pets out of sight. Advertise your open house dates, share them on social media and make a plan for gathering feedback from visitors to improve future showings.

Negotiate the Sale

You’re getting close to selling your home! A buyer is interested and now it’s time to negotiate. Use our Find a Pro feature to locate a real estate attorney who can help you with all the paperwork coming your way.

In your mind, decide on a minimum price you’re willing to accept and if you’re going to negotiate online or in person. Update your comparative market analysis if your home has been on the market for a while, and come up with a negotiation strategy, including any concessions you’re willing to make.

Close the Deal

You’ve got an offer on the table. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the legal forms in our Real Estate Forms & Guides section, though your attorney will complete the paperwork and provide state-specific forms, disclosures and contracts. Contact your mortgage company to determine an exact payoff amount.

During closing, you’ll be working with your buyer’s inspector and appraiser. They may come back with an amended offer once. This is part of negotiations.

Once you’ve all agreed on concessions and price, verify all details in the contract have been met. Use our Find a Pro feature again to hire a title agency to close the sale and provide a closing venue. You and the seller should agree on a closing date, and make sure you have a plan for covering closing costs.

Once the nitty-gritty is out of the way and you’ve got a closing date, it’s time to take care of you! Hire a moving company, cancel your utilities and gather any warranty paperwork for the buyer. All that’s left is handing over the keys and starting your next adventure!

You can sell your home on your own successfully as long as you have the right tools, and we’re here to help you out! Learn more real estate tips about selling through ForSaleByOwner today.