How to Sell Your Home and Move into a Senior Living Community

Selling your home is a big step to transitioning to a new lifestyle. If you're like many of the people considering downsizing or moving to a senior living community, it could have been 30 years since you have last dealt with a real estate agent. For some, this may be the first time you are personally selling your home.

If you have limited experience selling a home, or it has been years since you sold a home, you may have dozens of questions swimming around in your head. "How much is your home worth?" "Where do you find a real estate agent?" "Do I have to make any repairs to my home?" "How will I complete repairs?"

To help answer these questions, we've created this four-step process for selling your home.

4 Steps to Sell Your Home Before You Move

  1. Get Your Home's Value

    home valuation assessment on laptop and notebookThe first step to getting your home sold and transitioning into senior living is to get an honest and accurate assessment of your home's value in its current condition. Then, armed with the knowledge of your home's value and a better picture of your overall financial condition, you can make an intelligent, informed decision on your living arrangements.

    To get an honest assessment, you need a third party, such as a real estate agent, to value the home. Your home is likely both financially and emotionally significant. As they say, "there is no place like home." Many homeowners feel that their homes represent their life journey, accomplishments, family, and the life they built.

    As a result, it's easy to overvalue your home and base its value on what it means to you rather than what the real estate market says it's worth. A real estate agent can help keep us grounded in the true value of the home.

    Before you call any real estate agents to do a home value analysis, I recommend enlisting the help of a real estate agent who has achieved their pricing strategy advisor certification. These real estate agents have additional training, knowledge, and experience in home valuations compared to typical agents. As a result, they can provide more accurate home valuations than non-certified real estate agents.

  2. Determine Your Method Of Selling

    When it comes to selling your home, you have a few options. Each option comes with a list of its benefits and disadvantages. Here is a brief list of your options:

    • Fix or update the home and sell it with a real estate agent
    • Sell your home as-is with a real estate agent
    • Sell it as-is to a cash investor without any repairs

    Your method will determine what you need to fix before selling. Generally, fixing or updating the home will allow you to sell the house for more. However, what matters is the net profit, or the money going into your pocket after selling your home.

    It doesn't always make sense to make repairs or updates to a home if it won't help you net more.

    When I help advise seniors, I usually recommend selling the home as-is with a real estate agent. That's because the return on investment isn't usually there. It's just not worth updating a home that hasn't been remodeled since 1980. The costs in money, time, and headache just aren't worth it.

    For those who have more pressing cash needs or reasons they need to sell quickly, you can sell your home to a cash investor as-is. However, you will only get around 40% to 70% of the home's value if you go this route. Therefore, it's a poor financial choice and only recommended if you truly have other pressing needs.
  3. Declutter And Stage

    Most of us have more belongings than we need, but giving up items can be difficult. Our stuff represents the present, the future, and the past. It's the shoulds, woulds, coulds, have-to's, and so much more. Sorting our belongings, especially those with deep emotional memories attached to them, can be challenging.

    However, sorting, decluttering, and downsizing offer an opportunity. It provides a better chance of selling a home and allows you to move into different living arrangements.

    Homes that are staged and have minimal clutter always show better and sell for more money. For example, it's recommended that you keep your shelves and cabinets only 50% full. This allows homebuyers to imagine the potential storage space.

    We've previously written some helpful tips for decluttering. They include starting small, making a plan, giving stuff to relatives, hiring a company to sell some of your belongings, and more.

  4. Find A Real Estate Agent

    older couple meeting with realtorYour needs aren't the same as a first-time homebuyer's. Your needs are unique, so it's important to seek the help of a qualified real estate agent who understands your unique needs and has a solution for your situation.

    Certain real estate agents have achieved a special designation by the National Association of Realtors called the Senior Real Estate Specialist designation. These individuals are uniquely qualified to help guide and assist homeowners over the age of 50 through financial and lifestyle transitions.

    When finding these agents, look and ask for this designation. There are only about 22,000 real estate agents that have this designation. That sounds like a lot, but out of the 1,400,000+ realtors and NAR members, that means only one in roughly sixty-five real estate agents have this designation.

    And that's it—the simple four-step process. Once you enlist the help of a real estate agent, they will take care of all of the logistics for you — from listing to closing.

    I have one additional tip for a particular group of sellers: those who are able to move before selling their homes.

Selling After You Move

Many home sellers will need to sell their homes prior to transitioning to another living arrangement. It's common for a large portion of funds to be locked up in the home's equity or a need to get rid of a mortgage payment before paying for other housing. For those who need to sell first, just follow the four-step process.

However, a certain portion of people can financially afford to move before selling their homes. Maybe you're moving across town or relocating to Florida from Michigan.

If that's you, then the process needs to be modified a bit. Instead of decluttering, you will move out. We recommend keeping some furniture in the home to make it look staged. A staged home always sells better than a completely vacant home.

Your needs will also shift a little bit if you plan to sell your home out of state. In addition to looking for a Senior Real Estate Specialist, make sure the agent you hire can communicate with you effectively and take care of the process while being miles apart.

Are you trying to determine if downsizing is right for you? Check out our blog post, 5 Ways To Tell If It Is Time To Downsize Your Home.

Learn more about preparations to move on our Housing Resources and Long-term Care Resources pages.