As the economy heals, more people who’ve lost a job are finding new work, albeit often in a distant location. But moving for work often means selling a beloved home, and that transition can be painful, said Ronald Phipps, a veteran real estate broker.
To delay the need to sell, some homeowners postpone, believing their property will gain value as time passes. This strategy usually depends on converting the property to a rental unit for an interim period.
But Phipps said that overseeing a rental from a distance rarely works well — even for owners who hire a rental management company.
“When you rent, there are always complications. Tenants never treat a house with the same care as the owners. In addition, there are always carrying costs involved with renting out a property,” he said.
Instead of focusing on the possibility of renting, Phipps urges homeowners planning an out-of-state move to be pragmatic and do all they can to seek a speedy sale.
Phipps said home sellers, especially those who must move quickly, are best served by pricing accurately from the outset rather than trying to “test the market” on the assumption they could take price cuts later if necessary.
“Your highest impact comes at the beginning of your listing. That’s when you’re most likely to get fair market value — not after people start to question why your house has been sitting unsold for so long,” Phipps said.
Here are a few tips for homeowners seeking a quick turnaround sale in advance of a distant job move:
•Don’t ignore cosmetic upgrades, even if you’re short on money.
Are your savings depleted due to recent unemployment or other economic hardship? If so, Phipps said you’re better off borrowing for basic cosmetic improvements than going on the market in “as is” shape.
If at all possible, Phipps urges home sellers in a financial pinch to avoid borrowing on their credit cards for pre-sale upgrades — friends or family would be safer options, if possible.
•Do the work needed to make your place clean and clear.
“People are used to thinking that ‘sweat equity’ is for homebuyers. But it’s also for home sellers. The only costs necessary for cleaning and clearing are for basic supplies and your elbow grease,” said Ashley Richardson, a longtime real estate agent affiliated with the Council of Residential Specialists (www.crs.com).
During the purging process, she strongly encourages sellers to remove family photos and other personal mementos.
•Concentrate on your exterior image.
“Nowadays, buyers’ first impressions are often virtual. That’s because they’re using Google Earth to preview homes. In addition, they also drive by a place to check it out before committing to a showing,” Phipps said.
He said that just as people judge books by their covers, so do they judge houses by their exterior appearance. Among the outside elements that could dissuade buyers from looking inside are peeling paint, unruly shrubs and clunker cars.
•Schedule an event that gives you a concrete deadline.
Phipps encourages you to give yourself a hard deadline by scheduling a “broker’s open house” on the day your home goes on the Multiple Listing Service.
A “broker’s open,” as it’s known, is an event to which real estate agents throughout your area are invited. It’s an effective tool for marketing an attractive property to those most likely to be working with serious buyers.
“Having a deadline is always a good motivator. You don’t want procrastination to cost you valuable time that your house could be on the market,” Phipps said.
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