On Earth Day, April 22nd, we celebrate our celestial home, planet Earth. It is a day to give thanks for the world around us and to take action to protect the natural resources we depend upon. This
The Legacy of Property
Dated: March 25 2021
A belt sander. Tools hung neatly on a shop wall. A subtle track formed from a riding mower out toward the edge of the woods to dump lawn clippings. What are these things? For us, they are signs of home well kept but also something more.
On one day last week, we visited two homes listed by the adult children of their owners. As we left the second one, we tried to count how many properties we’ve viewed this year with the same selling situation. Some were estate sales. Some were caused by changes in living condition. In our experience, all were uncomfortable and difficult circumstances. Yet, each one presented itself with unique opportunities and apparent goals.
Since about 10,000 people are turning 65 each year, the likelihood of your family needing to sell a family homestead in the next decade or so is high. So here’s 5 tips for selling a family member’s home:
1. Take your time
Our first nature when selling a family home might be to dig in and get the process started quickly. Unless financial or extended circumstances dictate, a family might benefit from waiting a bit to sell. Even if a family member hasn’t died, a family homestead is often a place of memories. Time sorting through belongings or preparing for a sale helps grieve that person and life events the home has witnessed. A home is one of the largest investments a person can make. Careful consideration allows a family to honor the stewardship of the family member who purchased the home. Finally, time allows the family to make sound decisions in how to proceed.
2. Develop a plan
If you have taken some time, also use it to determine what the family’s goal is in selling. Is it hold it for appreciation, a quick sale, the most profit, or something else? When some people drive by and see a vacant home or read an obituary online, they see may an opportunity to take advantage. These can be investors or agents only looking to gain a listing. An agent who is trustworthy will give you an honest assessment of what a property’s best use might be, without urging you to immediately list it. For the past 20 years or so, we’ve also heard radio commercials promising guaranteed cash offers for homes with no showings or repairs. Did you know these offers usually come at about a 35% discount to market value? Likewise, offers from online brokers like Zillow, Opendoor, and Redfin are becoming increasingly common. These online companies also discount the purchase price and sometimes pass along convenience fees to the homeowner. A family who establishes selling goals will have a better opportunity to evaluate all options.
3. Stage the property
Let’s face it, most of us have lots of stuff. Too much stuff. At the same time, sorting and giving away a loved one’s belongings can take an emotional toll. Instead of avoiding the cleaning out and decluttering, embrace it. One of the best staged homes we’ve been in recently simply removed the extra furniture and placed it neatly in the garage. A few weeks before that showing, we’d taken another buyer to a home filled with a life-long accumulation of antiques. Our buyer just couldn’t picture herself in that home with that older furniture. Beyond editing furniture and belongings, also stage the home to appeal to the most buyers. This might mean removing a beloved velvet Elvis, but it will help in the selling process. Often homes sold for or by family members are mostly vacant, so do take time in removing personal items like guns, cash, priceless mementos, and especially financial and personal documents. Staging a property, even in the most basic sense, allows buyers to better see the potential of a home.
4. Partner with professionals
When family has called us for an evaluation, we will give some recommendations on how to market the property. For example, a family might want to update or improve an older property before selling. Sometimes spending dollars on improvement will not yield as much return in a sale. On the other hand, completing routine type maintenance on a well-cared for home may result in buyer confidence and a higher sales price. The time spent making a plan will help determine where a family should place effort in dollars and sweat-equity.
5. Know the market
The memories and time spent at a home often make it invaluable to a family. How do you price a home that witnessed decades of Thanksgivings and all of life’s milestones? Those emotional ties can result in emotional pricing. A realistic understanding of comparables will help determine proper pricing. Market forces dictate sales price, so analyzing the sales in the area of very similar properties will give a great indication of how much a home will sell for. You may have noticed, we’re in a seller’s market right now.
Why do these tips mean anything to us? Ultimately, property owners honor us in including us in their life’s milestones and changes. Our heart breaks for the daughter who is pained that she’s no longer able to visit her mother’s farm. We love hearing the grandson who tells us stories of projects completed in his granddad’s shop. The home is a place where memories have happened, but the relationships are the true lasting legacy.
--William & Alison
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