As you get older, you might be considering making changes to your living situation. Whether you’re thinking moving somewhere warmer or moving into an assisted living community, you will likely need to make a big decision about what to do with your house. Should you sell? Should you rent it out? Should you buy another house closer to family or friends?
Like any big decision in life what is best for you may not be the same as what is best for another. The real estate market has been increasing dramatically in recent years. Selling now would likely net you a nice profit, but remember, selling your home means you’ll have to find a new place to live and go through the process of moving.
For those who don’t need a lump sum right away renting your home could provide additional monthly income if you don’t mind being a landlord. It is also important to consider how many years you would likely use it as a rental because you could lose the primary residence tax exemption. In simple terms you can sell your primary residence and be exempt from capital gains up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 if married and filing jointly. As always you should consult a tax professional about your particular situation.
4 Tips for Seniors Selling their Homes
1. Consult with Your Financial Advisor
A good place to start for seniors thinking about selling their home is with your financial advisor. After the rapid appreciation of real estate in recent years it is likely you will have a significant gain. You will want to discuss the tax implications of selling and how the sale of your home will impact your retirement planning.
You may also want to discuss the idea with your family. If you have children they may want to buy the property from you. If you are considering the snowbird lifestyle you may want to consider living with them part time while you rent out the property for additional income.
2. Hire a Good Real Estate Agent
It’s important that you hire the right real estate agent when selling your house. A good real estate agent will price your home appropriately to maximize the selling price while ensuring the home will sell, not just sit on the market for months.
There are Realtors who have earned the designation of Senior Real Estate Specialists (SRES). These agents have taken additional training in order to address the unique needs of seniors. They are familiar with many of the financial considerations including reverse mortgages and taxes. They will also be familiar with local retirement settings and which options will be able to meet you needs. An SRES agent will help you plan and coordinate all the pieces that go into preparing a home sale, listing and showing your home, and then moving.
3. Declutter and Clean
Like most people you’ve probably accumulated a lot of things in your house. Before selling your home is the perfect time to declutter. Donate items you no longer need, pass along sentimental items to family and friends, sell items to make a little extra cash, or put them into storage if you think you may need them at a later date.
When it comes to cleaning, hire a professional to perform a deep cleaning in your house. Having your carpets cleaned, floors scrubbed, and windows clean will make a big difference when photographing and showing your house.
4. Hire a Moving Service
You may want to consider hiring a moving service instead of trying to move everything yourself. Hiring help will reduce the risk for injury or falls when moving heavy boxes or furniture. If you prefer not to hire movers consider asking family, friends, or neighbors for help.
There are many factors to consider when thinking about selling your home. Carefully weigh your current needs and do your best to think about what your future needs are likely to be. Selling a home and moving can be a stressful experience especially for those who have been in their home for a long period of time. Don’t be afraid to lean of family, friends, and professionals for help.
Ty Strahl is the Spokane areas leading Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). Her job is to help navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.