It can be a difficult process for families when the time comes to sell your aging parents’ home and transition them to a new living situation. If there are several family members involved in this process, there will likely be varied opinions and this may lead to family conflict.
Some realtors are particularly attuned to these challenges and can offer some advice to help pave the way for a smoother transition.
“When I meet with a family to discuss listing their parents’ home, I first ask to have a discussion with all relevant family members present, so I can get a sense for who is invested and what their feelings and expectations are,” says Bonnie Wilke, a 25-year CIR realtor. “This tends to mitigate the chances of misunderstandings and heartaches later.”
Bonnie encourages families to engage in a process that unfolds something like this:
- Invite a trusted realtor to meet with the family to learn the basics about the property and inform them about circumstances surrounding the move. Ensure all family members who have a stake in the situation are present or their views are represented. In some instances, the first meeting is best held outside of the parents’ home, in a neutral location.
- Share as much information as possible. Tell the realtor reasons for wanting or needing to sell, including any health issues or special circumstances. Share financial impacts of selling the home, as well as hopes, wishes and any potential obstacles around the move. Be as candid as possible.
- Share any plans in place or thought that has been given to the best relocation options.
- If the move includes the purchase of another property, share exact information such as timing, size, price, location and desirable features. Ensure you have given proper thought to proximity to family members, church, shopping, health care facilities, ease of mobility, access to public transportation, etc.
- If your senior parents are transitioning to a retirement community or an assisted living situation, share the plans that are in place and indicate time sensitive aspects of the move, specifically as it pertains to the sale of their home.
- If the move is not pressing, allow sufficient time between the first meeting with the realtor and the planned time for the transition to occur. This will allow sufficient time for your loved one to make emotional adjustments, and it will allow for a thoughtful downsizing process.
- If the move is pressing, ask the realtor for precise direction on downsizing, de-cluttering and preparing a home for a quick sale.
As most people who have been through this know, physical health factors, emotions and expectations are some of the biggest factor to consider in this important change in life. Ensuring your parents’ wishes are met and their dignity is respected is paramount. Where possible, it is helpful if families can set aside any differences of opinion and formulate a plan that places their parents’ wellbeing at the centre of all decisions.
For further discussion and next steps, tune into the next blog: Part two: Downsizing and Preparing the House for Sale