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Are you in the midst of helping an elderly parent sell their house? Or preparing yourself for that coming scenario? Or are you, like me, trying to sell your own house from a distance, while juggling all the different hats of a Sandwich Generation caregiver?
Here are a few tips I’ve learned when selling houses in the past, along with currently working through the process from a distance. I’m sure there will be more in the coming weeks:
- Make sure you have good realtor. As I discussed in Real Help for Elderly Parents’ Real Estate Issues it’s vital to select one who can work well for you independently since you aren’t able to be there often, it at all.
- Stage the house. Whether you use a professional, do it yourself with a book, or are a talented room decorator (I wish I was! :)), it is important to do some kind of staging. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, About’s Homebuying section, Dressing a House for Success – STAGING A HOME , defines staging as “what you do after you’ve cleaned, decluttered, painted, made minor repairs; it’s all about dressing the house for sale.”Instead of a vacant house that looks empty and sterile, staging can turn it into a warm home that is welcoming and inviting. The least expensive solution to this is to find a real estate agent who has their staging credential and offers staging as a free service to their clients. I was blessed with that twice! Its wonderful! If that is not an option, your agent can probably recommend a stager. Be aware that can cost $500-$3,000 or even more! In my case, my agent and I have worked together, using a few pieces of furniture, decorations, plants, and rugs to take the house from boring to enticing.
- If you can’t get there at least every week or so, hire a maid service to come and tidy it on a regular basis. I stopped by my house one time after being gone only five days. I noticed that agents and their clients had tracked in dirt and leaves at both the front and back doors, not surprising as the weather had been cold and wet. I also noticed some doors and a cupboard open that should have been closed. The maid service can ensure it stays looking wonderful, add a little extra security by having a regular “eye” on the place, and replace important things like toilet paper and light bulbs. I would also have a gardener come out regularly to keep the lawn looking sparkling and lovely. That’s the first thing a buyer sees as they get out, so this is a vital priority.
- Ask a neighbor to take out and bring in trash cans as necessary. They probably won’t need to do it weekly, but with the gardener and maid adding to the cans, once or twice a month would be a necessity.
- Make sure the agent’s flyers are restocked regularly. Your agent should be doing this, but it would be wise to also ask a neighbor to check and restock flyers periodically. There’s nothing more frustrating then hearing from the neighbors that people stopped to look at the house, get a flyer, but none were in the box.
- Check with the neighbor weekly for updates on how the property looks. They can help keep the property safer by being more alert and aware, knowing that you will be calling.
- Thank the neighbor often with smiles, grateful words, and lots of chocolate.
- Many lists recommend putting pots of flowering plants around the front door. This is great if you are there to supervise but what if bad weather hits? You’re already asking the neighbor for a lot. I would recommend sprucing up your front yard with mulch, great lawn care, and well-trimmed hedges. I’d probably skip the pots.
- Bite the high electric bill bullet and leave all the lights on at all times. It will make your house shine. In the long run, the small amount extra this will cost will be well worth it in speeding up the sale of the house.
Selling a house from a distance is both easier and harder. Hopefully these tips will make the harder, easier.