If you’re ready to downsize, consider the following to make your home appealing to the millennial generation of new home buyers.

Remember when you bought your first home? Can you feel the angst and uncertainty whether or not you could afford the mortgage payment? Do you remember the decorating and the general condition of that first home?

Today’s young millennial buyer (age 21-35 depending on where you look in the internet) has the same questions on their mind. Jobs can change often and quickly for this age demographic. The world has changed from when you settled into your career. Back in the day (an overused but accurate saying) when you achieved your full-time job status, most employers prided themselves in retaining their employees for their entire working career. When I interviewed my potential homeowners in 1977, it was assumed that if they were factory workers to managers they would be at that job until age 65. Stability was most common in the workplace.

Unfortunately or fortunately depending on today’s millennial outlook they will have 4-8 different employers throughout their working lifetime. They see this as a good thing as it makes life interesting and challenging. This job movement does affect their buying decision when searching for their first home. Much of their decision involves the question, “will I have trouble selling this home in a few years if I have to sell, and will its value support my next move”. Therefore the condition of your home is critical when deciding to enter the real estate market ready to sell.

Now, when your real estate agent visits you to begin a game plan and assess your home’s value, be prepared for a discussion about staging. Try to have an open mind because a little bit of paint, flooring and positioning of furniture can reward you with thousands of dollars when it comes to an offer. Today’s buyers do not want to paint, scrub and upgrade. In many cases they have great incomes but very little in reserves for upgrades. Therefore when they see a home that is in ‘move in’ condition, a properly priced home will sell quickly. They will make a fabulous offer and in many cases compete with other buyers for your home. Many well prepared homes are getting over-asking in a matter of days!

Speaking of buyers, we are experiencing a surge in lender pre-approvals (an approval of a buyer’s credit and purchasing power before putting in an offer) which means that there are a multitude of young purchasers just waiting for the right home. At the same time, we are experiencing a lack of inventory. Anyone who has studied economics 101 knows that more buyers and fewer sellers equal a strong seller market. It applies to the well-appointed property that has no structural defects. When I refer to defects I am talking about the condition of the roof, furnace, plumbing, electric and especially the basement walls and drainage systems. When I refer to ‘well appointed’, I am referring to the properties appealing to today’s 26-35 year old buyer. If you decide to do nothing cosmetically, make sure you take care of any major structural issues and present your home de-cluttered and clean. Otherwise, you will be disappointed in the lack of results when you try to sell your home.

My best advice is to start with a real estate agent you trust. Have them stop over to do a walk through and give you their opinion as to what improvements are needed to achieve your price point goal. You can sell your home in any condition but the price must reflect the structural and cosmetic condition. Remember, if you decide to sell as is, any issues that crop up will be tripled in cost by a cautious buyer as they are concerned that it may not just need a new roof but may need new wood underneath the roof.

There can be a difference in sales price by as much as 50-60% from a home presented beautifully and structurally sound to the home that shows poorly and needs structural upgrades. If you do decide to stage your home and use a professional interior designer, you may be surprised at the cost to do so. Stagers are trained to spend the least to gain the most for you the seller. A $10,000 investment can bring you $30,000 more in a sale plus your home may sell in a few days instead of many months and several price drops.

There are almost 80 million millennial (some called generation x) many of which are either living with their parents or delaying starting a family. It seems that this group is ready to leave the nest and start their families. If you are thinking of selling, this may be the best opportunity in 8 years. Interest rates are still at record lows and buyers are out in great numbers. Spring is the best time to sell as that is when there are the greatest numbers of buyers…that time is now!

Reprinted with permission from Bruce Nimovitz