A couple of years ago my grandmother had to move out of her home due to advancing medical needs, and our family faced the task of selling it to help cover rising health care costs.
She had been living in the place since 1970, and as we walked through it, we found the house hadn’t really changed much over the past 45 years. It was out of code, there were structural problems, and certain aspects of the house no longer functioned. It was clear that we had our work cut out for us before we could put the property on the market.
We were facing the same issue that thousands of families across the country face every year. The home health industry has burgeoned, allowing more older people to stay in their homes longer, and in some cases, they may never move out.
As people age in their homes, maintenance and upkeep are often overlooked to a point that many of the houses are not in condition to pass home inspections when it’s time to sell. We’ve all seen the billboards and television ads from companies offering to buy houses in quick, easy transactions, regardless of the property’s state of disrepair.
My family certainly didn’t sell to these types of companies, and we rarely suggest our clients sell to them either. People who do can leave thousands of dollars on the table. With a few simple steps and strategies, families can sell their properties for what they’re worth and walk away with the value they need to cover retirement and health care costs that can grow late in life.
The process starts with hiring a private home inspector. For between $125 and $250, a home inspector can identify structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, roofing and other problems that could stand in the way of a sale.
Once the fundamental problems are out of the way, it’s time to hire a real estate agent who can typically provide advice on cosmetic improvements. That might include paint, flooring and potential updates in the kitchen, bathrooms or other parts of the house that can increase a property’s value and improve its marketability.
All these repairs and improvements can be costly. But don’t invest so much that the ultimate cost per square foot of your house exceeds the market price range of surrounding homes.
Scott Cravens is chief operating officer and a founding principal at Full Sail Capital in Oklahoma City.