Why Exposing Your Home to the Market Yields the Best Financial Outcome

Selling a home is a significant financial decision, especially for older adults who often have a substantial portion of their assets tied up in their home’s equity. While the idea of a quick sale to an investor might seem appealing, it rarely maximizes the financial potential of your property. Here’s why exposing your home to the market is the best strategy for securing the highest possible price, even if selling “as-is.”

The Drawbacks of Selling to an Investor

  1. Lower Offers
    • Real estate investors typically seek properties they can buy at a discount, make necessary improvements, and then sell for a profit. As a result, their offers are often below market value. This approach might provide a quick sale, but it sacrifices significant potential profit. Caution – some investors plan on doing nothing to the home, find another buy to “flip it” to for a profit. The investors “profit” is money that you left on the table – money that could have been used for your care or your legacy.
  2. Missed Market Opportunities
    • By bypassing the open market, sellers miss out on the competitive bidding process that can drive up the price. Multiple buyers interested in your home can lead to bidding wars, ultimately raising the final sale price.

Advantages of Exposing Your Home to the Market

  1. Competitive Pricing
    • Listing your home on the open market allows you to receive offers from multiple buyers. This competition helps ensure you get the highest possible price, reflecting the true market value of your home.
  2. Broader Buyer Pool
    • Exposing your home to the market means it reaches a wider audience, including owner-occupant buyers who may be willing to pay more than investors. These buyers are often looking for a place to live and may have emotional attachments that drive them to make higher offers.
  3. Selling “As-Is” to Owner-Occupants
    • One common misconception is that only investors will buy homes “as-is.” In reality, many owner-occupant buyers are willing to purchase homes without requiring the seller to make repairs. These buyers might be looking for a fixer-upper they can customize to their liking, or they might be priced out of move-in-ready homes in their desired neighborhoods.
  4. Emotional Value
    • Owner-occupants are often more emotionally invested in the purchase. They might fall in love with the neighborhood, the home’s unique character, or its potential, leading them to offer more than an investor who is focused purely on profit margins.

Considerations for Older Adults

  1. Equity Protection
    • For many older adults, their home represents a significant portion of their net worth. Protecting and maximizing this equity is crucial for financial stability, especially during retirement. Selling on the open market typically ensures they receive the full value of their property, which is vital for funding future living arrangements, such as moving to an independent living or assisted living community or a senior apartment.
  2. Quick Sales Are Still Possible
    • Listing on the market doesn’t necessarily mean a lengthy sales process. Homes can still sell quickly, especially in a competitive market. Setting a fair price, making minor aesthetic improvements, and marketing effectively can attract serious buyers promptly.
  3. Avoiding Elder Scams
    1. Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams and unfair offers. By working with a reputable experienced real estate agent and exposing the home to the market, seniors can avoid lowball offers and ensure they are getting fair market value. Try finding a Certified Senior Housing Professional™, Certified Downsizing Coach™, or Certified Senior Advisor
  4. Family Involvement
    • Selling through traditional means allows for more transparency and involvement from family members, ensuring that decisions are made in the best interest of the senior’s financial and emotional well-being.

Practical Steps for Selling on the Market

  1. Hire a Knowledgeable Real Estate Agent
    • An experienced agent can provide invaluable guidance through the process, from setting a competitive price to marketing the home effectively. They understand the nuances of the local market and can navigate the complexities of selling “as-is.” They often go by Certified Senior Housing Professional™, Certified Downsizing Coach™.
  2. Market the Home Effectively
    • Professional photos, virtual tours, and open houses can attract a wide range of potential buyers. Highlighting the home’s strengths and potential can make it appealing even without extensive repairs.
  3. Set a Competitive Price
    • Pricing the home accurately is critical. A price that reflects the home’s condition while remaining competitive will attract serious buyers quickly, leading to faster offers and potentially higher final sales prices.
  4. Consider Minor Upgrades
    • While major repairs may not be feasible, minor improvements like fresh paint, landscaping, and thorough cleaning can significantly enhance the home’s appeal without substantial investment.


Selling a home, especially for older adults, should focus on maximizing the financial return to protect and capitalize on the home’s equity. Exposing the home to the open market rather than selling to an investor ensures a broader audience, competitive pricing, and potentially higher offers. There are times (few and far between) when selling to an investor makes sense. In those rare moments, hire an experienced real estate agent who can determine the true market value of the home in its current condition and then shop the home with multiple investors. This investor feeding frenzy often drives up what these cash buyers are willing to pay. I’ve been able to negotiate up to $90,000 more than the investor originally offered, “simply” by knowing the home’s true value and negotiating in the best interest of my client. Yes, I earned a commission, but the Seller is now even more comfortable in their retirement. By working with a knowledgeable real estate agent, you too can look forward an even more secure financial future.


Maximizing Home Sale Value for Seniors: A Comprehensive Guide

Selling a home, especially for seniors, can be an emotional and complex process. Whether the decision stems from downsizing, moving to an assisted living community, or addressing economic security concerns, ensuring the home sells for its maximum value is crucial. Here’s how to achieve that, regardless of the home’s condition, without resorting to real estate investors who more often than not offer the best price.

Understanding the Motivation

Firstly, it’s essential to recognize why the sale is happening. Common reasons include:

  • Downsizing for seniors to a more manageable living space.
  • Transitioning to a senior apartment or assisted living community.
  • Financial necessities, where economic security for seniors becomes a priority.
  • Preparing for end of life scenarios and ensuring proper estate and financial planning.

Understanding the motivation helps tailor the selling strategy to meet specific needs and goals.

Essential Steps to Maximize Value

  1. Home Repair and Maintenance
    • Minor Repairs: Focus on inexpensive but impactful fixes such as repairing leaky faucets, patching holes, and repainting walls. These improvements can significantly boost the home’s appeal.
    • Major Repairs: If the home has more significant issues like a damaged roof or outdated electrical systems, consider whether these repairs are financially feasible. Sometimes, the increased sale price can justify the investment.
  2. Declutter and Depersonalize
    • Remove personal items and excess clutter to make the home appear more spacious and allow potential buyers to envision themselves living there. This is especially important in the context of downsizing for seniors, where a lifetime of accumulated belongings can overwhelm the space.
  3. Professional Staging
    • Staging a home can increase its perceived value. Professional stagers know how to highlight a home’s strengths and downplay its weaknesses, making it more attractive to buyers.
  4. Enhanced Curb Appeal
    • First impressions matter. Simple landscaping, fresh paint on the front door, and clean walkways can make a big difference.
  5. Accurate Pricing
    • Setting the right price is crucial. Overpricing can lead to the home sitting unsold, while underpricing leaves money on the table. An experienced real estate agent specializing in senior moves can provide a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to determine a competitive price.

Senior-Specific Considerations

  1. Elder Abuse and Scams
    • Unfortunately, seniors are often targets for scams. Be cautious of offers that seem too good to be true or pressure to sell quickly. Consulting a trusted senior advocate or involving family members in the process can provide an extra layer of protection.
  2. Family Communication
    • Transparent and open communication with family members is vital. Involve them in the decision-making process to ensure that everyone’s concerns and wishes are addressed. This is especially important if the sale is part of end of life planning or to ensure economic security for seniors.
  3. Aging in Place
    • For seniors who prefer to age in place rather than move to a senior living community or senior apartment community, the focus might be on making the home more livable rather than selling. However, if selling is the chosen route, emphasize the home’s potential for other seniors looking to age in place. We’re talking grab bars, walk in showers, better lighting, non slip flooring, and a main floor laundry.
  4. Estate and Financial Planning
    • Ensure that all financial and legal aspects are in order. This includes updating wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. Consulting with a financial planner or estate attorney can ensure that the proceeds from the home sale are managed effectively to support future needs.

Marketing Strategies

  1. Professional Photography and Virtual Tours
    • High-quality photos and virtual tours can attract more buyers, especially those who may be relocating from other areas. Highlight the home’s best features and any recent upgrades or repairs.
  2. Targeted Advertising
    • Focus on marketing strategies that reach the right audience. For example, advertising in publications and websites frequented by seniors or their families can attract buyers who appreciate the value of a well-maintained home suitable for aging in place.
  3. Highlight Senior-Friendly Features
    • If the home has features that are particularly beneficial for seniors, such as a single-story layout, grab bars, or a walk-in shower, make sure these are highlighted in all marketing materials.
  4. Open Houses
    • Hosting open houses can create a sense of urgency and competition among buyers. Ensure the home is in top condition and consider offering light refreshments to make visitors feel welcome.

Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent
Working with a real estate agent experienced in senior transitions can make a significant difference. They understand the unique needs and concerns of senior sellers and can provide valuable guidance throughout the process. Ensure the agent is knowledgeable about elder abuse prevention, can spot potential scams, and is sensitive to the emotional aspects of selling a longtime home. When interviewing agents, ask them for examples of the resources they have in place to provide a turnkey solution. Some of the best prepared real estate professionals have designations like Certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist™ (CHSP), Certified Downsizing Coach (CDC)™ and Certified Senior Advisor®(CSA). CSA’s are background checked every 3 years.

Selling a home, regardless of its condition, requires careful planning and strategic execution, especially for seniors. By addressing necessary repairs, staging effectively, pricing correctly, and marketing to the right audience, seniors can maximize their home’s sale value. Ensuring family communication, protecting against scams, and integrating estate and financial planning are essential to achieving a successful and beneficial sale. Remember, the goal is not just to sell the home but to do so in a way that best supports the senior’s next life stage.

What (Most) Seniors Don’t Want You to Know

Note: I’m generalizing ……..

Seniors don’t want to leave their homes.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “I want to be carried out feet first”. 

For most, the thought of selling the home is overwhelming – often paralyzing. Maybe it’s the memories, the years of accumulated “stuff”, lack of energy or the fear of what comes next. No matter the reason, just like you and me, older adults want to be where they feel safe. Enjoying their “independence” – when many times they are anything but. 

So, it’s status quo until a life event happens – like the loss of a spouse, a fall, illness, a diagnosis. Still, many times the goal is to stay home, maybe with help (family member or paid companion) or not. 

This took me a while to figure out. Frankly, when I decided to specialize in seniors real estate (2011), I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I related well to older adults and wanted to differentiate myself from the thousands of other agents so this seemed like the right path. What I didn’t count on was overwhelming desire to stay put. 

So I figured, if they are not ready to sell, why not help them stay put longer and safer. I earned an aging in place designation and promoted myself as the real estate agent who helped people stay in their homes longer. Brilliant! It didn’t help pay the bills, but boy did I sleep well at night. What I did come to appreciate was the seniors I met, helped, enjoyed, protected. I got paid in coffee, corn bread and good karma ….. and every so often I got to sell a home. 

I learned some things along the way that you might find helpful: Older adults are chiefly concerned with maintaining control and their legacy (David Solie); Some family members are well intended while others are anything but; The equity in the home can be essential to someone’s care and legacy (so selling to that seemingly nice person who’s willing to pay cash and close fast rarely benefits the home owner or the neighbors); Not having an estate plan is more expensive than having one; Hiring a care manager is money well spent; Finding the right senior living community the first time matters, and so much more. 

To the general public, I offer my older adult consulting and referral services without cost or obligation – really! To the licensed real estate professional, I offer my insight and mentorship, for the asking. 

What I crave is that we honor our elders and treat them with the respect they so richly deserve.  As the good books says, “love thy neighbor as thyself”. 

About the author…
Ted Gottlieb, REALTOR®

Certified Senior Advisor®

Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

Certified Seniors Housing Professional™

Certified Seniors Downsizing Coach ™





Licensed In Missouri since 2003 | MORE™, REALTORS® | 314.690.9922