Selling an older home surrounded by new construction is challenging yet possible. The task is going to require your creativity and a willingness to be upfront with your seller.
Schedule a Walkthrough with the Seller
As a real estate professional, you know an older home must look its best when you’re competing with new construction. You may need to help your seller understand that. You and the seller may have different ideas about what repairs are necessary to improve the home’s appearance.
That’s why it’s important to schedule the joint walkthrough. It gives you the opportunity to recommend specific things the seller can do to get the property ready to sell.
Use a Checklist During the Walkthrough
Your checklist may be part of a home maintenance app. It could be a printout on a clipboard. The format isn’t important. The purpose is to keep yourself from overlooking problems that could turn away buyers. At a minimum, the checklist should have a section for each room in the home. Each room should have a list of areas to inspect.
Checklists also send a message to sellers that the inspection is standard procedure. Their home isn’t being singled out as a problem. Even so, as you make your recommendations, your seller may think your suggestions are nitpicky. You may have to remind the seller how homebuyers react when they see even small problems haven’t been addressed. They move on. They’re thinking if a leaky faucet hasn’t been repaired, the seller probably also neglected major maintenance too.
Prevent Misunderstandings with Written Follow-Up
Shortly after the walkthrough, send your seller a written list of your recommendations. Typically, repairs for an older home include fixing items like:
- Plumbing leaks
- Water damage
- Pest damage
- Broken door hinges
- Cracked windows
- Broken doorknobs
You may want to suggest a few improvements that don’t involve repairs. Often, older homes can benefit from decluttering, a deep clean, and painting all interior walls in a neutral color. You’ll probably need to make suggestions to improve curb appeal as well. Ask your seller to put away personal photos. They prevent homebuyers from imagining themselves living in the home.
Market the Advantages of an Older Home
Cookie-cutter new construction can’t match the charm and character older homes usually have. Part of your job is to emphasize the older’s home unique features that aren’t available in the nearby new construction.
Mature landscaping is an example of the type of feature you could turn into a selling point. Perhaps the yard has mature trees that shade the home during summer, which in turn may reduce energy costs.
For your marketing photos, make sure the photographer focuses on any beautiful elements that the new homes don’t have such as bay windows, stained glass, or antique crown molding. If the home was built in a popular architectural style like Arts and Crafts or Victorian, make sure the photographer gives attention to architectural elements that make the property special.
Suggest a Home Warranty
A home warranty gives buyers peace of mind. Ask your seller to make one part of the sale. Buyers know that the new homes come with a warranty and will likely expect a warranty on the older home. If your seller is reluctant to spend a few hundred dollars on a home warranty, offer a gentle reminder it’s best to have as many tools in selling toolbox as possible.
Remember Real Estate Fundamentals Still Apply
No matter how old the property is, real estate is still location, location, location. Since a builder thinks this community is worth the investment of new construction, the older home is located in a desirable area. You can point to the same local amenities that the builder is using to draw people to the new homes.