Real Estate for Seniors

I’m always looking to up my real estate game, taking education and constantly seeking more to offer my clients to maximize their experience. One designation I obtained – Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) – came in personally handy recently when I assisted in the sale of my own mother’s home in France. It got me thinking about the unique factors and needs that come with a senior family member’s decision to move and the team effort required to pull it all off.

It was a difficult decision for my mom to make – even though my brother and I started to plant the seed 10 years ago, it was hard for her to wrap her head around. In her mind, there was no reason to think about moving; she didn’t see a reason to. She loved her house, adored her yard and could still keep up the interior and exterior maintenance. Driving also wasn’t an issue at that time and she could still make the 5-hour journey to visit my brother and his family on the French Riviera.

We also didn’t want to push too hard. In hindsight, waiting brought its own struggles when this summer my now 80-year-old mom decided it was finally time as keeping up with the home had become more difficult and the drive to be closer to my brother had become a bit much for her.

The reality was that moving to a more accommodating property is simply part of aging and waiting so long put my mom in a more vulnerable, difficult position. It was harder to make decisions, her mind and memory played tricks on her, she was not able to drive to look at potential new homes without assistance and it was difficult to understand all the legalities involved with the public notary.

Because my mom didn’t understand exactly what was involved in this next step of her life, she made the decision to sign a listing agreement with a real estate agent without talking to my brother or I…before we knew it, her house was sold! She made decisions on her own, as she has always done since my father passed away 24 years ago, but didn’t realize the impact AND the fact that, at this age, she really did need the help of my brother and I.

Keep in mind, my brother, his family and two full time jobs were 5 hours away from her and I am all the way in Canada but we both had to hop into action once we were told about the sale. All of these combined created fear, stress and huge frustration for not only my mom but my brother and I who were now doing our best to assist with the move.

The decision by my brother and I to not be more forceful when discussing selling came from the fact that we love our mom and highly respect her – but if we had done this 10 years ago, the sale of her house, purchase of her new condo and move to the French Riviera would have been a much better experience for her.

My advice to you?

Be loving and persistent in your conversations on the topic – you know and love your parent and can often see what they can’t in their own situation. While many seniors would prefer to continue living in their current home, in time, there are circumstances that work against that preference so having an early game plan goes a long way to create a smoother transition. Have you as an elder parent shared with your children what your hopes for retirement living looks like? Have you asked your parents what their future home looks like to them? Like I said, it takes a team approach, can be more complicated emotionally and present unique issues so open dialogue is key.

Once the decision to sell is made, it’s time to look at the home as an investment, seeking to maximize the profit remaining for the new purchase. You want to sell the home for the most money, in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of stress for the owner. This is also an opportune time to sort & declutter – making this a family affair will not only speed up the process but can also bring the family closer. Finding old family photos and mementos, passing along special items to other family members can go a long way to making the experience a positive one.

When the space is ready to list, let’s chat about the vision of a new home sweet home. There are generally lots of options available, depending on the specific situation, like age restricted attached homes or apartments or even properties that allow for “aging-in-place” remodeling. We will go over all of your options to make sure you are happy and, most of all, comfortable in the new home. This step is super important! The wrong purchase could mean having to move again and you need a forever home that can support one through every stage of the senior years. Single floor living, step-free entrance, wide doorways/hallways, no exterior maintenance and community resources are some of the points to focus on.

Throughout the process, it is important to be patient – to both yourself and the people involved. The process of listing your home and buying a new one can be stressful for anyone but keep your end goal in mind…simplifying and improving your lifestyle! And I’ll be there every step of the way for you and your support system. As a SRES®, I truly understand the complexities involved in this specialized area of real estate and have both the training and understanding compassion to help you navigate this step of your homeownership journey. Call me anytime or visit me on Facebook and Google!