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A guide to assisting aging parents sell their home

From listing to staging and beyond, tips for sellers

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home staging, gay news, Washington Blade

Step 1: Understand Your Parents’ Needs

Have an earnest talk. Understand what they hope to achieve and why they want to sell their home. Understand their timing and have an honest discussion about any fears they may have. Clarify how much or little they want you to be involved in the process. Discuss if they want to live in the home while it’s on the market or somewhere else. Determine if they want to make minor investments to improve the value of their home. You’ll also want to know their financial position. Do they have outstanding debt on the house? If so, how much and to whom do they owe. It’s good to be on the same page out of the gates.

Step 2: Plan & Interview Agents

Decide who will interview agents. You, them, or both? An agent will give you a good sense of the current market and trends but here are some important questions to ask:

  1. How many homes have you sold in the last year? What was your average close price to the original list price? What’s your “average days on the market”?
  2. What’s your commission? What do you recommend for the buyer agent’s commission?
  3. How do you help sellers prepare for the market? Do you have a professional stager?
  4. Do you have a good network of vendors – including handymen, painters, cleaners, organizers, stagers and whomever else you may need to prepare the home for sale?
  5. Will you (or your team) meet vendors, open doors for showings and open houses and require you to come into their office to sign paperwork and review feedback?
  6. What’s the typical selling timeline and process for selling?
    Also, make sure you communicate the best way to reach you or your parents for showings and updates — phone, text, email, maybe in person?

Step 3: Keep, Sell, Donate, Discard

We often find that aging parents living in a home for a long time tend to have accumulated many belongings. The act of going through their possessions is often one of the hardest and most overwhelming parts about selling and moving. This is a time to be especially sensitive to their emotions. If your parents have a significant accumulation, it may be worthwhile to start this process early and delicately handle the process in stages. Here’s our advice on handling this stage.

  1. Keep the items they need for their next home; have a very special memory; or something they want to pass on to a family member for friend. On a side note, my dad did something very interesting a few years back. He had each of his children (there are five of us) pick one special piece of furniture, art, quilt, etc. in his home that we loved or had a special memory to us. That gave him comfort that as he downsizes in the future, he’ll know that what he passes along will be cherished and unique to each person.
  2. Sell items that are valuable but no longer have a use to your parents or another family member. If you are going through an entire house consider hiring a local estate sale company to help with the process. There are also great websites such as Everything But The House that have been gaining traction in the market and will come to the home and create an online marketplace to auction items.
  3. Donate less valuable items that are in good functional condition. Nationwide charities that pick up furniture directly from homes include: Salvation Army, Goodwill, Amvets, Vietnam Veterans, Arc Donation, and Habitat for Humanity.
  4. Discard any old, broken or outdated items. Often times you can schedule a free bulk pick up with you local trash company or you can hire a firm that specializes in “junk” removal.

Step 4: Staging

Often homes that have been lived in for a long time are the best maintained and make incredible homes to buy. However, many buyers have a hard time looking past outdated finishes that are fairly inexpensive to fix, leaving aging sellers with a reduced sales price. We suggest engaging a professional stager, especially in this kind of situation to really maximize the home’s value.

The stager will spend about 90-minutes to two hours walking through the home and pointing out updates that have a high return on investment. Stagers understand that sellers are not interested in making a significant investment in a home but changing things like wall colors, a couple of light fixtures, and rearranging belongs can really go a long way. The stager will also provide recommendations on what to keep, what to store, what to donate/sell and how to clean and organize – if that hasn’t already been done.

Step 5: On the Market

Frequently, aging parents opt not to be in the home while it’s on the market. They will permanently or temporarily move out. This is the most ideal scenario for many aging sellers as it lessens the burden of having their home always ready for showings.

However, this isn’t an option for everyone. While the best advice is to always be ready for showings, there is an opportunity to limit showings to a certain schedule and to ask for advance notice before showings. Also, open houses can be scheduled a week or more in advance or eliminated altogether. There are things that you and your agent can do to limit the burden of work for your loved ones. While your parents may find it tempting to want to be home for showings or open houses, encourage them to allow their agent do their work and enjoy time away from the home. This will give buyers a better experience and remove any possible awkward interactions.

Step 6: Reviewing Offers & Inspections

Reading and understanding offers can feel somewhat complicated. It is perfectly reasonable to ask your agent to review offers with you over the phone or in person. Establish what feels comfortable for all parties involved. Once an offer is accepted, it’s good to remind parents that there maybe an inspection(s) which will require access to their home at an agreed upon time. Inspections can last anywhere from one to four hours depending on the size of their home and the inspection. This is another time you’ll want to encourage them to leave.

Step 7: Closing

Work with your parents to determine if they want to attend closing or if they prefer to have someone else sign the final paperwork. They do have the opportunity to set up Power of Attorney to someone trusted that can act on their behalf. This is fairly common and relatively easy to set up if predetermined in advance. You’ll want to make sure your agent and the closing company has this information well in advance.

For anyone, it’s hard to let go of a place you’ve called home – especially one that you have loved for years and holds so many cherished memories. Knowing the steps and having a dedicated real estate team on your side can help lessen the stress and make the experience less of a burden and perhaps a little joy.

If you have any additional questions about the selling process, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Khalil Alexander El-Ghoul is Principal Broker of Glass House Real Estate. Reach him at 571-235-4821 or [email protected].

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Real Estate

Good news if you’re selling your home at the holidays

In D.C., if priced fairly, the house will move

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Selling this Christmas? Don’t worry if you’re in the D.C. market.

Historically in the real estate industry this is one of the worst times to sell your home. You will receive fewer guests at open houses, fewer showings, and more months on the market. However, like with most things in the world today, this is no longer the industry standard. During the pandemic we saw homes selling in 1-2 days with 15 offers well above asking price and throwing in your first-born and Gucci boots. While those days might be gone for a while, the inventory we usually see at this time of year is also gone. 

Typically I only talk about numbers when they have dollar signs in front, however I feel they are necessary to illustrate my point. Bear with me. If we look at numbers from last year – new listing inventory is down nearly 18%. While we know that home sales have also decreased, there is still a decline year over year for new inventory to hit the market, which is continuing the trend we have seen during the pandemic years of a substantial lack of inventory here in the DC Metro. 

What does this mean for sellers?

If you are hoping to sell your home and receive several offers and the price escalates well over asking, unfortunately you missed that boat. However, properties in D.C. are still selling for list price at nearly a 98% rate. This means as long as your real estate agent prices your property properly then it is likely to still sell for that very list price. The average day on market has only increased by four days, which means again, if the home is properly priced and marketed it will likely sell for list price within an average window. Furthermore, the median sold price has increased almost 5% since last month. If you are worried that buyers might be affected by high interest rates, they are, however in D.C. we are hyper insulated from other trends throughout the U.S., with a consistent trend of shortage in inventory.

What does this mean for buyers?

I know what you’re thinking. “Wow Justin, we thought you had our back but clearly all you care about is ensuring sellers get the most money for their listing.” Although that may be true if I am working for a seller, I shift my mindset of value for my buyer clients too. You might not get a steal of a deal this holiday season on your home, but you will have protections that buyers before you could only dream of. I am talking about — contingencies, baby!

Regardless if you are a first-time homebuyer or you’ve been around the block a few times, you know who you are. Real estate is an investment and as such should be vetted properly to ensure its valued and sound. Homebuyers can expect to have home inspections, termite inspections, appraisals and the list goes on. If you want small credits here and there with an extended closing period you can likely receive those items. While interest rates have increased, your protection (which I would say is more important) has hugely increased.

If your goal is to “new year new home” now is truly a wonderful time to start the process and plan for a fresh start as we head into 2023.

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s international Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well-versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,  [email protected] or BurnsandNoble.com.

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Real Estate

What homeowners are grateful for this year

Where you live should be something to appreciate

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Since you’re reading this over Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to write about gratitude as it pertains to real estate, so I started by Googling “gratitude, house.” 

Unsurprisingly, page after page of results were links to recovery centers and residences.  Sandwiched in between was a now defunct coffeeshop and yoga studio in Bandra, Mumbai. Although I applaud people who are in recovery and I like yoga, none of that hit the target of what I was looking for, so here are some of my thoughts and suggestions.

Can you be grateful for things inside, outside, and around your home? Of course you can! It might not feel as profound as expressing thanks for the people you love, or good health, or your chosen faith, but as a homeowner, you’re making memories and experiencing ups and downs that you’re going to reflect on years down the road.

Think about the purchase of your home and the steps you went through to seal the deal. Did you find it quickly? Did you compete with other buyers and win? Did you pay a fair price? Did you get a great interest rate? Did the loan process and settlement go smoothly? If so, be grateful.

Where you live can also be something to appreciate. Some people want a bustling urban environment with nearby amenities, such as shopping, dining, transportation, or multiple ways to exercise. Others want the quiet and solitude of a cabin in the mountains or on a lake, with acreage, wildlife and beautiful views of all Mother Nature has to offer. Still others want a larger, more reasonably priced home in the suburbs outside the Beltway, where they can hop on a train and get lost in a novel en route to the office. 

So, is your home situated in the neighborhood or environment you wanted? Did the schools, if important to you, meet your expectations? Is it close to (or if you prefer, far from) family members? Is your commute to work or school manageable? If you answered yes to any of these questions, be grateful.

If you work from home, is the space pleasant and the atmosphere conducive to ensuring productivity? Is the color scheme energizing? Peaceful? Would your décor get at least an 8 out of 10 from Room Rater when you have a conference call on Zoom? 

Is your home big enough to expand into as your family grows? Small enough for downsizing? Does the layout still meet your needs or have your needs changed? 

Is what you own your dream house or condo? Could it be? If you need to make some modifications, be thankful for HGTV, the DIY channel, YouTube how-to videos, Thumbtack, and Yelp reviews.

Living through a renovation can bring out the worst in people. Weeks or months of doing dishes in the bathtub or showering at the gym can cause friction in even the most committed relationship. Once your renovation is completed, however, be grateful that your sanity withstood the trauma of living through it. 

Be thankful for the things you don’t notice or think of often. Do you love the way the dining room chandelier casts light on the ceiling at night or how the sun streams in through the skylight in the early morning? 

Perhaps the feature wall you added makes you smile when you come in the front door or a favorite piece of art that reflects your personality catches your eye. Maybe you have pleasant memories of family gatherings in front of the fireplace or choruses of “Score” as you and your friends watch the World Cup on your 65” TV.

If you’re like me, you’re thankful that your boiler made it through last winter, that you didn’t have to patch the roof again this year, or that you found that hole in the fence and repaired it before your dog got out. 

During the year, we can lose sight of the things we are grateful for, so as Elle Woods suggested in “Legally Blonde 2,” I highly recommend keeping a gratitude jar. 

Use it to keep track of what you’re grateful for by writing things down and dropping those notes in the jar. Then, when you have a home anniversary or are stressed out about a renovation, when out-of-town company stays too long or when the kids draw on the walls with a Sharpie, pull out a note from the jar and read it aloud like a mantra. 

Unlike the sisters of Delta Nu, however, you don’t really have to snap your fingers after reading it.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Real Estate

Tips for holiday home sales

Buyers at this time of year are more serious

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Tasteful holiday decorations can improve the look of your home if you’re selling at the holidays.

The holiday season is often considered a difficult time to sell a home – but sometimes it’s necessary. For whatever reason, you may need to make a move quickly, and selling during the holiday months from November through January is your best option. If you find yourself in this situation, you should know that selling during the holiday season does have certain advantages. 

Often, more than during any other time of the year, buyers are in the same situation as sellers – they are buying for a reason. It may be a relocation for work, it could be a move to be closer to an older family member, or any number of other reasons that require a move quickly. As a result, holiday buyers are more serious, and make more competitive offers, not to mention the fact that there is often less competition from other sellers because fewer homes are on the market.

If you find yourself needing to sell your home during the holidays, focusing on the advantages can be helpful, along with a few other tips, including:

• Add some holiday cheer to your home: Often, holiday decorations can add an extra spark of seasonal flair and can be quite helpful to sellers – provided that the decorations aren’t overboard. Decorations that are too large or flashy may distract buyers and make your home feel crowded or cluttered. The right decorations, however, can be cheerful and bright and add some holiday spirit to your home that buyers enjoy. 

• Create some curb appeal: The holiday season is a wonderful time to enhance your home’s curb appeal with tasteful lights and other décor. It’s also important if you live in an area where leaves fall from the trees to be certain to rake and maintain your yard and surrounding landscaping. Certainly, if it is icy or snowy, you should shovel your driveway and sidewalks and make sure your home is safe for potential buyers to visit. Additionally, bare trees often draw more attention to the exterior of a home, so ensuring that your paint is touched up, gutters are cleaned, and other exterior features are in good condition is important. 

• Choose the right price point: Regardless of the time of year, pricing your home competitively will help to increase your chances of selling it quickly. Often, homes priced too high will linger on the market. The longer a home stays on the market, the more skittish some buyers become, and the lower the price may eventually have to go to ultimately sell it. Pricing your home competitively from the beginning can be very helpful.

• Remain accessible: The holidays can be a busy time, with many obligations and activities. As a result, it can often be more difficult than usual for real estate agents to arrange and schedule showings. Clearing your schedule as much as possible to accommodate agents and potential buyers can help to ensure that you get as many showings as possible, which will ultimately increase the chances of a quick and successful sale.

• Find the right real estate agent: The importance of this last tip can’t be overstated. Finding an agent who knows and loves the community will help you to market your home effectively, highlight all of its selling points, and connect with the right buyer. At GayRealEstate.com, buyers and sellers across the country are paired up with LGBTQ-friendly agents who can help them achieve their real estate goals, and this can make all the difference between a smooth and successful selling experience, and a stressful one.

While these tips are intended to be helpful, it’s also extremely important to consult with an agent who knows your unique market and can give you tips for your particular home. At GayRealEstate.com, we’d love to connect you with that agent today. Get in touch with us soon – we look forward to helping you reach your real estate goals.

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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