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Jennifer Patterson

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How to Sell Your Home when Downsizing

Thirteen Tips for Selling your Home When Downsizing
by Jennifer Patterson

Downsizing your home can have many benefits. You can reduce expenses, move closer to the kids, pay off your mortgage, add to your retirement savings, and more. But this article isn't about the reasons to downsize, it's about how to do most effectively. Here are some tips that can help:
  1. Review your Decorating

    Since you're reading this, there's a good chance that you're either in or nearing retirement. As such, your interior decorating style may not appeal to younger buyers. Your wall paper, furniture, carpeting, light fixtures, and wall colors may not fit what younger families are looking for.

    Consider inviting in an unbiased 3rd party (possibly your real estate agent) to look at your house and tell you what she thinks. Then decide what changes or upgrades are appropriate.

    Remember that most buyers make a decision to buy (or not) within the first three to five minutes of seeing your house, so good first impressions are vital.
  2. Declutter, declutter, declutter

    This may be the most difficult part of downsizing. All those treasures you have collected over the years may not fit into your new home. Parting with some of them can be very difficult, but necessary.

    A decluttered home will be much more desirable to potential buyers. Depending on the amount of stuff you have, you may want to get a temporary storage unit to hold some of your things.

    Oh, and make sure your closets are not full of "stuff" when your home is being shown. Closets should be only lightly filled.
  3. Clean like you’ve never cleaned before

    A squeaky clean home suggests to buyers that you took good care of the property, a notion that extends beyond the kitchen counter tops to the entire house. If you’ve neglected certain tasks, like cleaning the inside of your refrigerator or regularly dusting your window blinds, now is the time to tackle them.

    Consider having your house professionally "deep cleaned" before showing, and don't forget the carpets.

    Window screens should be removed and stored, and windows should be spotless, inside and out.
  4. Repair anything that's not functioning properly

    Appliances, cabinets, doors, hinges, garage door openers, switches, gates, doorbells, etc should all be in good working order. Repair cracks in walls or floors.

    Trying to sell a home that needs repairs can prove to be pretty difficult. A good handyman might be your new best friend.
  5. Remove personal items

    When prospective buyers tour your home, you'll want them to picture themselves living there. It can be difficult to envision the space as their own if it's full of your personal items. Remove things like family photos, trophies, golf clubs, etc.
  6. Go neutral

    Bright colors on walls help people express their personality in their homes, but they can be a major turn-off for buyers. When you’re staging your home to sell, one of the very best things you can do is paint over any garish colors with neutrals, like a light gray, white, or taupe.

    Bold and dark colors can distract from a room’s assets, and like photos and clothes, they are signifiers not of the home’s future, but of its past. Buyers might want bright colors themselves, but a light neutral home gives them the option to do that, or not.
  7. Staging

    Home staging is a method of decorating meant to highlight your home’s most impressive assets. The goal is to help buyers imagine themselves living there. Consider hiring a professional staging company to "redecorate" some of your rooms. The first 3 or 4 rooms that people will see are the most important (first impressions!).

    Staging pros really know what they're doing, and studies have shown that staged homes usually sell faster and for a higher price. Staging is not cheap, but it often pays for itself by getting you a better price and a faster sale. And trying to sell an empty home is usually not a good idea.
  8. Hire a real estate agent

    It may be tempting to try to sell your home yourself, but doing so will put you at a disadvantage. Today's world of online advertising makes it even more important to hire a pro. A real estate agent should create a marketing plan for you that includes digital promotion, professional photography/video, attractive signage, and much more.

    Your agent will also be your trusted advisor when questions arise or important decisions need to be made. She will help you set a realistic asking price, handle all negotiations for you, and guide you through the settlement process. Some agents will even help you contact qualified contractors if needed for renovations.

    Before choosing an agent, you’ll want to do some research to make sure you find the person who will best fit your needs.
  9. Consider making small upgrades

    The last thing you want to do when getting ready to sell your home is put a lot of money into it, however, making minor (and inexpensive) upgrades can be a way to make your home attractive to buyers. Kitchens and bathrooms are the best candidates for these types of upgrades. Things like new hardware and light fixtures can really go a long way in making your home more appealing and more valuable.

    Stained or worn carpeting should be replaced.
  10. Don't forget about curb appeal

    The outside of your home is the first thing people see, so it’s important that your curb appeal set the proper tone. Before putting your home on the market, be sure to take care of any external fixes. This includes things like lawn care, repairing damaged shutters, and applying a fresh coat of paint if necessary. Especially important is your front door/entranceway. It should be freshly painted, clean and well lit. And maybe a new lockset would help make a good first impression.

    Keep some of your street-facing outdoor lights on all night while your house is actively on the market.
  11. "To see beauty is to see light" - Victor Hugo

    Good lighting is essential to make your home bright and welcoming for visitors. To take advantage of natural light, keep blinds and curtains open. And get rid of any low-wattage light bulbs. Replace them with brighter bulbs that have a warm color temperature.
  12. Use professional photography and video

    Selling your home is also the perfect time to brag about how great it is. What better way to do that than with some high-quality photos that can be included in your listing. You may feel like you can easily take the pictures yourself, but bad photos can actually do more harm than good. Unless you have some seriously good photography skills, it’s better to hire a professional.

    Virtual walkthroughs using video are becoming a requirement. Again, hire a pro to create your video. Don't try to use your smartphone.
  13. Finally, price your home to sell

    For many sellers, listing their home at the highest possible price seems like the best idea. However, that may not be the case. Having the house sit on the market for too long can become an issue. Prospective buyers may wonder "what's wrong with this house?" if it's been on the market for weeks or months.

    If you’re looking to sell your home quickly, you’ll want to make sure it's priced to sell. This means finding a price that will leave both you and the buyer feeling good about the result. Finding the perfect price will require a bit of research into what other homes in your area are going for. A good agent can help you find the sweet spot.
Hopefully these tips will make downsizing a little easier, and help you sell your home more quickly and for top dollar. Then you can focus on starting life's next chapter.

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