This month, we are excited to share space on our blog with a member of our trusted network of professionals. Ann Kleber is a professional realtor with Keller Williams Realty and always treats our clients just as we would: like family. Take a look and see what her best advice is for selling the family home.

When selling a family home, there is so much to consider and navigate that it can seem overwhelming. However, with the proper direction from experienced professionals, the process of selling your home can be accomplished in a step-by-step fashion. 

Put Your House in Order Before Selling Your Home

First, have family members get together and discuss timelines and roles for each person. Everyone has different skills and having clearly defined responsibilities for each party will go a long way in eliminating confusion. Some roles to consider would be help in visiting and selecting an appropriate assisted living facility, help sorting through items in the home, help interviewing local realtors, coordinating any necessary repairs to the home, etc. This is also a good time to organize important paperwork such as Wills, Powers of Attorney, Advanced Directives, Trust Documents, Title Documents, etc. 

Divvy up Items & Heirlooms before the Sale

Decluttering or clearing out a family home can seem like a daunting task. I recommend a family get-together where children, grandchildren, or loved ones can come to the home and select any items that may have special sentimental value to them. My family had great success with this. We first selected items that Dad would be taking with him. Many assisted living homes offer excellent guidance on what furniture will fit nicely into the new space. 

Each family member was given a separate colored “sticky note”. Everyone was invited to place their note on the items that they would like. If any single item was selected by more than one person Dad made the final call. It was amazing that there was very little conflict with this process, and it was a great experience for everyone.  Also, this is the time for each family member to take with them any items that they have been storing at the house. I find it works best if there is a deadline to remove the items or they will be donated. 

Choose the Right Realtor for Your Family’s Needs

At this time, I would also suggest consulting with your Realtor. Feel free to interview several, as each will have their own style and experience level. You will be working closely with this person so make sure you are on the same page. Your Realtor should give you an overview of the property and make suggestions for things that should be taken care of prior to listing the home. 

With homes that have been in the family for many years, the best-case scenario may be to have the owners happily moved into their new home and the home cleaned and staged. If this is not possible an experienced Realtor can give other suggestions to minimize the inconvenience to the sellers. Your Realtor will be an invaluable resource throughout the entire process and should be open to meeting with the family regardless of where they are on a timetable. This first meeting could take place weeks, months, or even a year or more prior to the big move. You should consider this a long-term relationship. 

Most importantly, everyone should understand the emotions involved in this process. Make sure you are working with professionals that respect your wishes and boundaries. If everyone knows their individual role and works together, this process can be achieved without undue stress.

While we are currently experiencing a very strong seller’s market, buyers can be very picky. Homes that receive the most interest are those that have been well maintained and updated and often staged to appeal to today’s current buyers. Investing some time and resources upfront will allow you the best return on your investment.

Here is a guideline for updates and repairs that you may want to consider:

Low or No Cost with High Return

Here are a few low- or no-cost actions toy can take to put your house in order:

  • Remove any unnecessary items from the home. There are several local companies that will assist in removing items and donating what can be donated, recycling other items if appropriate, and disposing of anything that can’t be recycled.  
  • Give the home a deep clean, including windows inside and out and cleaning carpets. 
  • Remove carpets if there are hardwood floors beneath. If the floors are in good condition a thorough clean or light buffing can bring them back to life. Refinish the floors if necessary. 
  • Address exterior landscaping, especially around the front door. This will be your buyer’s first impression of the home so make it shine! Painting the front door is an easy project and can add extra curb appeal.

Higher Cost Items That May Be a Good Idea if Time and Resources Allow

Here are a few higher cost items that may increase the likelihood of selling your home at a higher price:

  • Remove Wallpaper and add a fresh coat of neutral paint. Many buyers in today’s market are looking for “move-in ready” and wallpaper is something they do not want to deal with. A neutral color pallet allows buyers to see themselves in the home.
  • Update Lighting. There are so many fun options in lighting at very reasonable prices. Hire a handyman to install and your home will immediately feel more modern and fresh.
  • Kitchen or Bathroom Remodel or Refresh. It is true that Kitchens and Baths sell homes. But most often you will not have the time, resources, or desire to do a full remodel. A great return on investment would be refreshing both by painting cabinets, updating appliances, counters, and fixtures.

Repair Items that are Important to Complete Prior to Selling Your Home

Finally, here are some repair items that are important to consider before listing your family home:

  • Consider having a pre-sale Home Inspection.  Most buyers overestimate the cost of repairs needed on a home. Addressing repairs prior to listing a home allows you to select the contractor and the scope of the repair, often saving you money in the long run. 
  • Roof: If your roof has failed or is at the end of its life expectancy, it would be in your best interest to replace it prior to listing.
  • Electrical: Similar to the roof, if the electrical panel is older there may be issues with the lender or insurance carrier. 
  • Foundation: Your Realtor or Inspector may recommend a foundation evaluation. We have heavy clay soil in Southeastern Wisconsin and many foundations will need to be “braced” at some point. It is best to address this prior to listing a home so you can control the process.

What Do I Do If I Need More Information about Selling My Family’s Home?

As in any big decision, the best thing you can do is consult the experts. The truth is each individual may go through this process just a couple of times in their lifetime…once for their own parents, maybe once for a spouse’s parents. No one ever does this enough to become the expert, and rules change! Consult your Realtor for real estate advice when selling your home, and consult Vesta Senior Network to learn about your best assisted living options .