Sweat equity pays off as Baby Boomers downsize and young buyers move in

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -  Sweat equity can pay off for San Diego's first-time homebuyers taking over the properties of downsizing Baby Boomers.

The region's once red-hot housing market will continue to cool in 2019, according to a study by the California Association of Realtors released earlier this month. High home prices and rising interest rates are expected to slow sales.

In our effort to help you find ways to make it in San Diego, 10News discovered a generation of people motivated to sell, and a generation willing to do the work to get a better deal.

"So, if you think about going into the grocery store and there's a bin of apples, you want to pick the one that's the shiniest right?” says Lisa Becker, a realtor for Keller-Williams. “Our job is to help the sellers spend money strategically and wisely, and yet we have a saying, ‘Don’t step over a dollar bill to pick up a penny.'"

Becker encourages sellers not to spend money where it isn't necessary to sell their homes, including her current clients.

“They’ve been here for 40 years, they’re in their late 70s,” says Becker. 

Baby Boomers are the fastest growing generation of sellers. According to Pew Research, 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day, many with adult children long gone. Now these Boomers are looking to downsize into something more manageable on a fixed income.

“They just took $5,000 and resurfaced the pool, because the pool needed it,” says Becker showing off the backyard pool. “So, they’re taking care of the property, but this is a reason they want out.”

An acre lot is harder to manage for someone in their 70s but might be perfect for a young family looking for their first home. With Boomers, many of the homes are well taken care of and maintained, but the interiors are not always up to modern designs.

“So that’s where we come in as the realtor to have them do it in the simplest way possible,” says Becker. “So, when we take down the wallpaper and bring in more contemporary accessories, this kitchen will be absolutely fine. They’ve taken really great care of it, yet it’s still tile counters, and we know the buyer is going to want to put in quartz or granite in here.”

No need for a costly upgrade in the kitchen or any other rooms. Instead, Becker and her team will take out all the furniture and stage the entire house.

“So, as we go through the home, we’re going to be neutralizing all the paint,” says Becker. That gives the younger buyer a vision of the home’s potential.

Repairs that need to be made will be made.

“We’re going to come in and get this repaired because it just begs too many questions,” says Becker, pointing out rotting wood on the back patio cover.

The goal is to grab the buyer’s attention and allow them to put in some sweat equity after moving in, creating their vision for larger projects like kitchens and master bedrooms.

“Buyers' logic makes them think, and emotion makes them act. So, we want them coming into the home and feeling like, ‘Oh, I could live here,’” says Becker.

Becker and her team have provided an entire checklist of items that are simple ways to spruce up your home if you’re in the market to sell.

The checklist includes:

  • Apply fresh mulch to flower beds
  • Clean windows inside and out
  • Power wash your home’s exterior
  • Paint the front door
  • Replace worn cabinet and door knobs
  • Clean light fixtures and ceiling fans

For sellers who want to make more substantial changes to their home, Today's Homeowner and Remodeling Magazine ranked projects by return on the investment. Replacing siding, and minor bathroom and kitchen remodels were the top changes to homes.

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