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What to Know About Selling a Home in a Retirement Community

By Bill Gassett | April 12, 2021

Selling a House in Retirement Communities

Do you need to sell your home in a retirement community? Selling house in an over 55 community is slightly different than a traditional setting.

If you are over 55 and living in a retirement community, you may have changed your plans and have decided that retirement communities aren't for you. Occasionally this happens, especially when you're moving from a single-family home into a condominium development that has a homeowners association with strict rules.

It is easy for someone to get sick of a lifestyle they are not accustomed to. When you are the king of your castle, one minute and the next to have someone telling you that planting a garden isn't allowed can be frustrating. For some folks, these kinds of rules get old quickly.

It is important to emphasize what to know about retirement communities before making such a significant life decision. It is a crummy situation to have just bought, and know you'll need to pay a real estate agent a commission to turn around and sell your place. Let's face it, getting out of a situation like this will cost quite a bit of money.

Let's take a deep dive into some of the things you'll need to know when selling a home in a retirement community.

Things I Should Know When Selling a House in an Over 55 Retirement Community.

What to Know About Over 55 Housing Sales

Communities for older homeowners are deed-restricted, meaning that clauses are limiting how you can use your property. Checking with your homeowner's association for rules and details will be important.

  • Buyers must usually be over 55 to purchase over 55 housing. Typically, children and families can visit but would not be able to live there. Sometimes it's possible, so you'll need to check.
  • Purchasers may have to answer questions about their health and finances.
  • Many communities don't allow signs in the yard. This restricts advertising options when you're selling.
  • Open houses should be allowed, but you will have to think about how you advertise the property.
  • Pets may be banned, however in many states; a companion animal act has now been passed, allowing this ban to be overturned.

Determine Home Values in Your Retirement Community

Research some recent sales of houses that compare with your property in size, number of bathrooms, garage, and square footage. Real Estate agents refer to this market data as real estate comparables or properties that are most similar to yours. They find "comps" by using the MLS database to pin down your property's value.

If you don't have a real estate agent yet, you can do some research independently. You can use some online resources to determine your home value. There are real estate portals such as Zillow and others where you can see sold properties.

Once you are comfortable meeting with a real estate agent, they should provide you with a list of recent sales in your area. According to data, the best month to sell is the first week in May.

With the popularity of retirement communities increasing every year, if your home is priced accurately and is near shops and transportation, you should find a buyer quickly.

Given how strong real estate markets have been across the country, you may have buyers bidding against each other if you can generate enough interest.

Get Important Documents Together Before Listing

Another crucial considerations when selling a home in a retirement community is collecting all relevant association docs.

There are different rules in different states, but you will require certain things to move forward with your sale. When you live in a planned community that an HOA controls, there are no doubt going to be documents that a buyer will need to review and sign off on.

It will be essential to get these documents together, as the buyer will likely have a contingency in their contract for acceptable review.

Things to do Before Putting Your Home on The Market

Once you have established your home's price, it is time to prepare the property for potential buyers' arrival and, eventually, a home inspection. If you have maintained your home well since purchasing, you'll probably only have a few minor things to do. Some of the vital considerations should be:

  • De-clutter both inside and outside - get a moving pod or a self-storage unit if you need to for excess things you'll be bringing to your next home.
  • When you have junk that needs removal hire a top junk removal company.
  • If you need to repaint the inside, do it in a neutral color.
  • Clean the windows.
  • Weed the garden and other landscaped areas.
  • Re-paint the front door.

Selling For Sale By Owner in a Retirement Community

If you are planning on trying to sell for sale by owner (which is not advisable), you'll need to have a plan in place to try to compensate for all the things a real estate agent would be doing for you.

You'll need to hire a photographer to take photos of your home and write the 'blurb' or summary of your homes' selling qualities. Any advertising should include.

  • Your address
  • Price
  • Association fees
  • Description including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Some photos in color.
  • Any recent upgrades, for example, newly installed kitchen counters and appliances.
  • The size of your property.
  • What you like about the location, including local amenities.
  • Your name, phone number, and email.

Marketing Your Retirement Home

You will need to target your demographic, that is, people looking for over 55 homes. Abide by the rules of communal living while being as creative as possible.

  • If you can't put a sign in your yard, put it inside your window, and light it up at night ( like a Christmas decoration).
  • Use community notice boards at the library, community center, clubs, and doctors' surgery, all places frequented by older people.
  • Make up some fliers, and get your grandchildren to do a letterbox drop
  • When you hear from potential buyers, respond to them and give them the required information.
  • If you are not on yourself, get your grandchildren to set up a Facebook page for your listing, as this is how people stay in touch now and keep monitoring the responses.
  • Have a weekend open house. Get a friend or partner to stay with you during the open house, to write down contacts and phone numbers. Doing so will leave you free to chat with prospective buyers about the attributes of the house. Open houses can be a magnet for theft, so it will help have another set of eyes watching over things.

After a week or two of marketing, you will know where the sale is heading, and you may even have few prospective buyers. If not, you may want to consider hiring a top local real estate agent. Study after study shows you will net more money even after commission when working with a top local agent.

The longer the marketing drags on, the less likely you are to make a sale. So strike while the buyer is hot and get the deal closed.

Work With a Seasoned Real Estate Professional

When selling an over 55 housing choice, it makes sense to work with a professional who has some experience selling retirement homes. You want someone skilled at selling retirement properties. Take a look around and ask any of your friends if they can provide a referral. Seeking someone with strong credentials and a track record of success is always worth it.

Make sure you do your due diligence and don't rush into something as vital as picking a real estate agent.

Final Thoughts on Selling a Retirement Home

None of this is as easy as it looks, and although it can be done, especially in a good seller's market, as you get older, it is a lot of work. Hopefully, you now have a better feel for what to know about selling a home in a retirement community.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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