Selling your home can be challenging. Selling your older, dated, and historic home is even more challenging. But if you live in a city (or a state, for that matter), that's as old as the founding of the country, you're bound to have an exposure to these old-er and "antiquated" abodes - in fact, chances are, you own one of them. You might have held on to your home as long as you've had for historical or sentimental reasons, but the recent changes in the local real estate market is probably prompting you to do otherwise; and only rightly so since now is definitely the time to consider letting others in on your "oldie but goodie", cashing in on your investment while the market is scorching hot.
According to the 2012 Home Quality Survey of Greater Boston Homes, more than half (53%) of Bostonian homes were constructed prior to 1920. This figure includes buildings and single-family homes that have five or less than floors in them, referring to brownstones and apartment-type structures. The survey also noted that of the 53% of "older homes", barely half (47%) have gone through "extensive renovations", except for city-mandated structural repairs. This bit of news is especially staggering when you consider that Boston real estate has been in the spotlight of late for all the developments that are on the rise. But of course, majority of these newer properties sit on land that has been recently reclaimed, rezoned, and or redeveloped.
And thanks to the efforts of Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Menino to attract and make the youth a more permanent fixture to Boston's city life, majority of current and prospective homebuyers nowadays belong to the younger demography of 25-39 years of age. And aside from the difference in age, another factor that differs between "historic" home sellers and the vibrant youth of today are their lifestyle preferences. To put it simply, you could say that it's like selling a cassette recorder to a kid.
But not to worry, all is not lost - you could still cash in on your property; all you need do is appeal to a buyer's practicality and put a little effort into your pitch, and you should be all set. The very first thing you'll need to do is to allay the fears of young buyers about maintaining a home that was around during the real "Beantown" days. Second, you'll need to showcase the features that have the most appeal to young couples and families. Have not fear, following our eight tips won't cost a lot of money, and they could reap you an early and hefty offer.
Pre-inspect your home
One of the most difficult decisions for home sellers is to figure out how much to spend on home improvement projects before putting the house on the market. We always recommend paying for a home inspection, especially if you're a bit more senior and have not had the money or energy to keep the house in great shape. An inspection will help determine if there's anything that absolutely must be done before putting the house on the market. In addition to a general home inspection, we recommend that homeowners get the heating and air-conditioning system cleaned and inspected. In Boston, this might entail having those radiators checked and that furnace fixed or replaced. There are tons of services out there that would gladly "trade-in" your old ones for newer models for a fraction of the cost.
Remember: your goal is to provide peace of mind for younger buyers, ensuring them that they won't have to spill that much more by buying a dated home. We also recommender highlighting these small but substantial endeavors in your listing sheet or marketing materials, as that is a prospective buyer's first contact.
Buy a home warranty
Sellers should buy home warranties that cover repairs for the systems (electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling) and appliances in the home. Most home warranties are available as one-year policies and provide coverage while the property is on the market and after the closing. A home warranty costs around $300 to $400 and reassures buyers that they won't be faced with a major repair expense in their first year of homeownership.
Offer a possible expansion or renovation plan
Most real-estate agents know a contractor, and we have definitely have a go-to list of people we contact for the type of job to be done, so it would be fairly simple for us to give you a ballpark estimate of sample fit-and-finish renovation projects such as replacing the flooring or renovating a bathroom. Younger buyers don't always realize that everything they see can be changed with a renovation. If they like the home based on the location, the schools and the general style, they can be persuaded to buy if they can see the possibilities that come with a renovation. Sellers can also pay for simple drawings that show some renovation options that would work well with the home's configuration and its lot.
We also recommend that sellers find out about any permit issues with an expansion such as height or setback restrictions or wetland and to include that information with marketing materials. For instance, we do background research on properties we think have great potential, even taking into account its age. In fact, these gems tend to sell faster than newer homes, since it's already in a well-developed part of town.
Provide renovation loan information
Mortgages are available that allow homebuyers to borrow money to buy the home plus money to pay for renovations. The most popular renovation mortgage program is called the FHA 203(k). The loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration.
Younger buyers who are looking at homes that are 20 or 30 years old are likely to look at the kitchen and baths and want to renovate. A seller can provide information about an FHA 203(k) loan with their marketing materials to show buyers that they can wrap renovation costs into their mortgage. Listing agents usually prepare a cost analysis of a standard mortgage and an FHA 203(k) loan to demonstrate the availability of the loan program and to show buyers what the mortgage payments would be based on prospective renovation plans at various price points such as $5,000, $25,000 or $50,000.
Offer a credit for repairs
Sellers don't always have the money or the energy to make repairs themselves, and besides, some buyers will want to do renovations their own way, so you can offer a credit back for repairs, and suggest to buyers that your home could be an opportunity for them to make it reflect their own personality. While repair credits are often part of the negotiating process, if you know some things will need fixing, you can provide information about the credit upfront to prospective buyers, so they know they won't have to pay for a new furnace as soon as they move in.
Lighten and brighten your home
Homes that were built decades ago are darker with smaller windows, so to compensate for that, you need to remove the heavy window treatments and clean the glass to make sure as much light as possible is coming in. Use the brightest light bulbs you can and update your light fixtures. Particularly, trim shrubs covering windows, remove old carpet from hardwood floors and remove dark, heavy furniture. Don't overdo it though, and just remember to keep it simple. Get rid of your collections and sentimental things, so buyers can visualize themselves in the home.
Highlight neighborhood amenities
The thing with younger buyers, is that they have a long road ahead and are often are interested in schools, even if they don't have children yet. Your marketing materials should mention everything that appeals to young couples and families such as the location near commuter routes or public transportation, swimming pools, tennis courts, a gym, or nearby shops and restaurants. You need to think about what young buyers are most interested in, and then market your house accordingly. If your home has a great yard or a prime location within a subdivision close to the elementary school or a park, we make sure that's highlighted in your marketing.
Paint your home in neutral colors
The old rule of thumb used to be that sellers were supposed to paint their rooms white in order to appeal to all buyers. These days, white rooms tend to look boring, especially to younger buyer since they like neutral colors other than white.
Young buyers are nowadays attracted to highly stylized storefronts of stores like Pottery Barn and West Elm which essentially translate to their living space's look. Check out similar stores and or their catalogs, and you'll see the palette has soft earth tones, off-whites, beige and pale gray. These colors, though neutral, are in style and would give your prospective buyers some room to imagine themselves in the space you're offering.