Picture this: you’ve been happily living in your home for more than 50 years. So many memories were made and valuables collected.
And now, you’re looking to move on and need to sell your family home. There could be a number of reasons for this: maybe you are selling to downsize, or looking to move closer to family. Regardless of the reason, the decision to sell your home likely was a difficult one, and leaving the home you’ve lived in for many years can be both overwhelming and emotional. Here are some things to consider when it comes to putting your home on the market.
The Cost to Sell
Before you even begin to sell your house, you will have to list and present it. First impressions are key, so be sure to go through and make any necessary repairs to your home - fixing leaky ceilings or giving the walls a fresh coat of paint, for example. These can add to the value of your house when you sell it.
A well-kept house should, in theory, bring back a good return. But remember: you still have to pay the agents that help you to sell your property. Sellers typically pay their listing agents an average of 6% of the price of their home. There are also usually closing costs of about 2% of the price of your house.
It is also a good idea to ensure that your house is priced right, relative to the current state of the housing market. If the price is too high from the start, your house might be sitting on the market for too long.
Find a Realtor to Help
With 90% of sellers using a listing agent, the most common way of selling your home is through the hiring of a realtor. Selling your home requires a great deal of time, extensive knowledge of neighborhood and community trends, and negotiation skills.
Your realtor will be able to set the right price for your home to attract buyers, and have access to the facts and figures to stay on top of pricing and sale trends of comparable homes and competing listings.
Your realtor will also make sure that your house gets the attention of buyers through proper staging recommendations and high quality listing photos. Once a buyer has been found, realtors will write up the contract, negotiate counteroffers, keep track of paperwork, and make sure that nothing is overlooked when the final signatures are made.
Remember that not every realtor is created equal, and you should conduct your own interview process before hiring them. Here are two important things to consider:
Experience: Aim for realtors with at least two years of experience.
Number of listings sold: Don’t forget to ask about the percentage of listings they sell, as well as the average list price to actual sell price ratio. Aim for a realtor who has sold an average of 60 to 80% of their listings, and an average list to actual price ratio of at least 95% or higher.
Keep It in the Family
Another option is to keep your home in the family. This can be done through a quitclaim deed, which is a real estate deed where “the owner of a piece of real estate (the grantor) merely releases ("quits") all claims of ownership and transfers their ownership to a grantee.” It doesn’t make any guarantees about the property, and the grantor passes their ownership interest, if there is any, to the grantee.
This type of deed is relatively simple in its written form, as it lists the details of the two parties involved, what is being offered in exchange for ownership, a legal description of the real property, signature of a notary public, and the grantor’s signature. Keep in mind that the house could be in exchange for money, or even something intangible such as love and affection.
Quitclaim deeds are commonly used to transfer property between family members. By using a quitclaim deed, you may save yourself unnecessary costs, as title companies typically charge anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 for a real estate settlement.
However, the largest disadvantage of a quitclaim deed is the fact that it doesn’t give the grantee any protection or guarantee about the property and their ownership of it. For example, the grantor may only have partial ownership of the property or there may be unknown lines against the property.
Although an attorney is not required to draw up a quitclaim deed, each state has specific laws regarding the requirements for completing a quitclaim deed. For example, some states require that the grantee must also sign the quitclaim deed, and states such as Florida and Georgia require signatures of witnesses. Check with you local city or county government about the laws governing quitclaim deeds in your state.
The decision to leave your family home didn’t come easy, so take your time as you consider your options, and make the choice that works best for you, as every situation is unique.
Jim Vogel, co-founder of ElderAction, is passionate about promoting senior health and safety. He focuses on helping ensure seniors are able to thrive throughout their golden years by sharing pertinent resources and information.