Have you been thinking about selling your home?

Having a home is a blessing, but at some point in our lives, managing it can become a burden. Whether it’s cutting the lawn in the summer or shoveling snow in the winter, keeping fresh plantings in the garden or a fresh coat of paint on the walls, routine upkeep can be a chore. That’s not to mention the hassle and expense of repairs. If you have been thinking about moving to a community that takes care of the chores so you can enjoy your retirement, real estate experts tell us there has never been a better time to sell your home than right now.

When is the right time to sell?

“We have always said that the best time to sell is when you have a reason, and that hasn’t changed,” says Maureen Hughes, an experienced full-time REALTOR® based in West Chester, Pa., and licensed in both Pennsylvania and Delaware. “But if you are even remotely thinking about selling, now is the best time. Why? Low inventory, high buyer demand and property values at the highest levels. We’re seeing historical numbers related to pricing, inventory, interest rates and sales.”

Inventory, or the number of houses available for sale, is very low. As a result, buyers are competing for homes, often paying more than the asking price and agreeing to terms that are favorable to the seller. Homes are selling quickly and for higher prices than they did a year or so ago.

“In southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware, average sale price has increased 23 percent,” Hughes says. Average Days on Market—a metric that indicates how quickly houses are selling, is less than 10.

The pandemic has had an impact on the market. “In Pennsylvania, we were not able to conduct in-person showings for more than 60 days,” Hughes says. “As more people are vaccinated, more people are looking to make the move they have put on hold.”

Historically low interest rates have also played a role. Buyers can afford to pay more for a home than they might have otherwise. Although interest rates are starting to rise, they still remain relatively low. “It’s always difficult to predict financial markets, but the rates are now below 3 percent, so if they rise even 1 percent, they are still incredibly low,” Hughes says.

How to find a real estate agent who understands your needs

Moving from your home to any type of age-restricted community, whether it’s a 55-plus or a continuing care retirement community, often involves different considerations than when you might have moved for new job opportunities or to accommodate a growing family. You’re in a different phase of life. Chances are you have accumulated a lot of “things.” Your finances may even be more complex if, for example, you have placed you home in a trust. It can be helpful to work with a real estate agent who has specific expertise in helping older adults make these kinds of moves.

For example, Hughes is a Senior Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®), a designation she earned from the National Association of REALTORS® by completing specialized professional training that gives her the knowledge and expertise to guide homebuyers and sellers over the age of 50 through major financial and lifestyle transitions. In addition to their real estate sales, marketing and other skills, they are knowledgeable in the use of tools like reverse mortgages, 401(k) accounts and IRAs for your transaction.

The SRES Council offers a searchable online database where you can find a Senior Real Estate Specialist near you. Unless you already have a trusted relationship with a real estate agent, Hughes suggests interviewing at least two before signing a listing contract. “Look for someone who is knowledgeable of your situation, someone you feel is trustworthy,” she says. “Don’t focus so much on locality, as real estate today is web driven.”

You can’t take it with you

Well before you put your home on the market, think realistically about getting rid of some of the many “things” you have probably acquired over the time you have lived in the house. When you downsize, you won’t have room for them, and an uncluttered house shows better.

“Less is more, so start decluttering!” Hughes says. “Start by identifying what you will definitely be taking with you to your new home. Once you’ve determined what you will be taking, develop a plan for what’s left. What do you plan to donate? What do you plan to give to friends and family members and, possibly, what do you plan to sell? What’s left will need to be disposed of.”

This downsizing process, she adds, usually takes longer than most people anticipate. It takes longer than a month or six weeks to organize a household of 40 years. Although it’s tempting to assume that the children will take much of it off your hands, that’s not usually the case.

“This generation typically doesn’t want the china or crystal or the beautiful armoire that belonged to your grandmother,” says Hughes. “These things, while valuable to you, may hold no value or minimal value on the open market, either.” She recommends working with professionals so you can spend your time focusing on what’s important. “It’s physically and emotionally exhausting to do it all yourself.”

Your real estate agent should have a network of professionals, including organizers and movers, who can help. The community where you plan to move can also be a source of contacts for these services. Our next blog installment will have more on move management services for seniors.

When you’re ready to list your home…

How do you know you’re asking the right price for your home? Your real estate agent will be able to offer insight into the market and will provide a list of “comparables”—homes similar to yours. You and your agent can identify a solid list price based on recent sales in your area. Your real estate agent will also develop a plan to market your home.

Before accepting a buyer’s offer, determine whether they have pre-approval from a mortgage lender. That’s a good sign that they can afford your home.

At settlement, you’ll receive the proceeds of the sale, but you will also have some expenses associated with the transaction. The buyer and seller usually split the real estate transfer taxes payable to the state. The seller usually pays the commission for the listing agent and the buyer’s agent. If you live in a community with a homeowner’s association, you may pay a fee to procure resale documents, and there are small fees for final tax, water and sewer certificates. Your real estate agent can provide you with a detailed list.

If your home is in a trust, the title company will need a copy of your trust documents from you or your attorney in order to transfer the deed. “Make sure you have a bank account in the name of the trust, so the proceeds can be deposited to that account,” Hughes says.


Once you’re finished at the settlement table, you’re ready for your next adventure: life in a community of adults, where you no longer have to worry about all the chores associated with being a homeowner, because it’s all done for you. Whether you are enjoying exciting urban living at Simpson House in Philadelphia, an elegant lifestyle at Jenner’s Pond in West Grove or small-town living at Simpson Meadows in Downingtown, you can relax and plan your day around the activities that are most meaningful to you!

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