How to get your mother’s house ready to sell

green carpet
Green sculpted carpet

I sold my parents home a few years ago. I moved them out first and then figured out what to do with their excess stuff.

It seemed overwhelming at the time but I have helped clients through this process and selling houses is what I do. There were some legal issues too. I can not give my clients legal advice. I consulted with an attorney who specializes in Elder Law.  I used my durable power of attorney which included the power to sell their real property.

One of the challenges of selling a home that is or was owned and lived in by an elderly person is making it look as appealing as possible to younger home buyers. Sometimes the homes look as if time stood still.

The first hurdle can be getting the owners to give up some decorating choices they made long ago. My mom doesn’t know that I had the wallpaper border removed from the kitchen, and repainted or she would be upset about it.

Often “grandma’s” house is in good repair and is an excellent opportunity for first time home buyers to fix some of the cosmetics and build equity.

As a seller, I don’t want to put any more money into the home than I have to. Here are some of the things I did that were fairly inexpensive that helped sell grandma’s house:

1. Clean everything

2. Repaint in light neutral colors.

3. Replacing old drapes with sheers in shades of white.

4.  Replacing any window shade or blind that was anything other than white or just remove them.

5. Buy new shower curtains, towels and coordinating rugs for the bathrooms for staging. 

6. Replace light fixtures and shades.

7. Remove wallpaper and paint walls.

8. Remove worn carpeting to expose hardwood floors. It is better to have wood floors that need a little work than worn carpeting.

9. Remove worn linoleum and replace.

The list isn’t really prioritized by importance but it is in order of how much the project is likely to cost. It is important to have a budget and to stick with it. If the improvement won’t help sell the home faster or for more money it isn’t worth doing. The smallest improvements that give the greatest payback. Cleaning and painting have the highest ROI.

Removing a wallpaper border can have a tremendous impact. Putting a new backsplash in the kitchen can also have a high return on investment. Consider new switch plates and don’t forget t clean light fixtures.

It is also a good idea to have furnace or boiler serviced and have any repairs were done that are needed. As a rule, anything that leaks should be fixed and there are usually other obvious repairs too.  Sometimes small maintenance issues result in low offers.

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