There are many reasons why a senior may need to sell their home. As a person ages, their needs and wants in a home may change.
There are quite a few reasons why a senior citizen may need to sell their house. Regardless of why they are selling, it is a big decision and a very overwhelming one at that.
Oftentimes the decision of selling the home will involve adult children that are stepping in to assist with the process. This can be a tough situation to navigate for both elderly parents and their children.
Selling the house, especially if this has been a long-time family home, can also come with an emotional attachment to the house as well as the items within it.
- What if the house is dated or needs work?
- How can we get the most money from the house?
- What does it look like to sell a house “as is”?
- What upgrades will give us the biggest bang for our buck?
- How do I choose a real estate agent?
There is a lot to know and make decisions on during this process. Let’s take a look at how to ensure you are making the right choices for you or your aging parent.
What if the house needs work?
Seniors may have lived in their house for a long time. The house may be dated and not up to modern standards. Generally speaking, a house that is updated can sell for more money. The homeowner and family will have to look at a couple of factors to determine if it is worth fixing up.
Those factors could include:
- Where is the location of the house?
If all of the houses in the area are outdated, it may not help to do many renovations. There is a “median price” that homes sell for dependant on the area of town or the city/town itself.
- How many rooms need to be updated?
Maybe there are parts of the house that have been renovated over the years but one room could just use some sprucing up. If the funds are available, it might be worth it to fix the kitchen or bathroom as those tend to be the rooms that are the focus for homebuyers.
A living room or bedroom is more likely to just need a coat of paint and many buyers can see beyond that. A nice, functional kitchen tends to be a top priority.
- How much money is available for renovations?
Many seniors are living on a pension and little income. Adult children may not even be aware of what the financial situation is for their parents. Make sure to sit down and talk this out, perhaps with a trusted financial advisor.
You will want to make sure that if you are putting money into renovating the house that there will be a profit from the effort. You will also want to make sure that the money from the sale of the house is enough to sustain the new living situation.
- How much stress will renovations cause?
Renovations can be stressful for anyone. They are likely even more stressful for seniors. If you are the adult child, put yourself in the shoes of your aging parent. They are already trying to process the move itself.
It has been comfortable where they are for a long time. Moving is a big change and is likely already emotional and confusing. Is it really worth it to add in the extra stress of renovating and changing the house they know and love?
Yes, it can be important to get the most money possible from the house, but I think some perspective in this situation will show that the mental, physical and emotional health of everyone involved is what should be prioritized.
- Does the home need to be sold right away?
It actually might not be possible to do renovations at all if it is not an option for the senior to be living in the house during the process. Stress, dust, and space are just a few reasons why this may not work.
If for some reason this process needs to happen fairly quickly, this may not even be a consideration. Look at what’s most important.
- So, is it better to fix it up or sell as is?
That’s not an easy, straightforward question, unfortunately. Every choice in this matter will be individually based on the condition of the home and the timeframe that you are working within.
I highly recommend seeking out a real estate agent who is honest, reliable and capable of working with seniors in this situation.
What you should look for in a real estate agent?
Here are some points to consider:
Does the agent come recommended?
Agents are not one in the same. Some have much more experience dealing with seniors and downsizing than others do. If possible, ask around to family and friends.
Perhaps you know someone else who has been in a similar situation. If they had success with their agent, you can set up an interview with that person.
Does the agent specialize in seniors?
Unfortunately, many agents are just out to get a sale. Do your diligence in researching the options available.
If an agent specializes in seniors it is likely that they have connections in their network to other professionals that serve the same market.
Ask the local retirement homes or check with your lawyer or financial advisor. They likely know someone who you can trust to help out.
Choose someone who knows the area.
If you are trying to determine how to get top dollar for the house, you will definitely want to use someone who is trusted locally and knows your area really well.
If they know the area, they will know what houses will sell for in your specific neighborhood. They may also know buyers in the area that are already looking to relocate which may lead to a faster selling time.
Are they caring and compassionate?
Did you know that it’s totally okay (and expected) by agents for you to have interviews with other agents? Avoid giving the job to the first person you find.
You can set up meetings with many agents and pick the one that meets your expectations. As well as all of the traits I listed above, please pick someone who you can feel like you trust and that will be able to serve you in this difficult process.
Do not just pick your cousin because they are a realtor and you feel loyal to the family. This could be a conflict of interest. You want to make sure your real estate agent has the best interest of everyone in mind.
Here are some other factors to consider when selling a house in a situation such as this:
Are you significantly downsizing?
It is likely that the answer here is yes. Especially if you are moving from a home to a smaller condo or retirement community. If so, there is probably a lot of clearing to do of items in the house.
You must factor in how much time it is going to take to go through all of the nostalgia (think garages, attics, basements, etc) and if you would like to pack up before or after the house is sold.
This can be a lot of work. Luckily, there are services out there, such as professional organizers, who will do just that. Many of the items that are no longer wanted can be sold or donated to a local shelter.
It may be hard to let go of some belongings, but it might feel better knowing that they are going to someone in need.
Do you need a storage unit?
This could be a great temporary option if the house needs to be sold quickly or if there is no time for the clearing and sorting of belongings. Storage units can be expensive over time.
If this expense is not feasible perhaps a family member has space in their garage or basement for items that cannot be parted with.
There is definitely a lot to consider when selling a house that is owned by a senior. There is no doubt that this situation will cause a bit of chaos, but be kind to yourself in the meantime.
If you are not in a rush, please slow down and take the time to make decisions that feel good for everyone involved. If you are in a rush, it would probably be better to outsource as much help as possible to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
Whether you are the senior who is selling their home, or if you are the adult child who is helping, I invite you to do as much research as possible, talk to other people who have been in this situation, and reach out for help wherever you need it.