Six keys to serving older homeowners

Do older family members feel free or shackled in their current home?

Older homeowners play a special role in Seattle’s housing scene.

Some folks are watching their homes appreciate and their taxes (and the overall cost of living) jump. Often a move makes lots of sense: fewer stairs, less upkeep, proximity to loved ones, a walkable neighborhood, access to home equity. But, packing up years of memories and change can be daunting—psychologically and from a purely project management perspective.

Close enough to loved ones?

At the same time, Seattle’s population is swelling with younger homebuyers who (longingly) look at unoccupied bedrooms in neighborhoods rich with memories and character. And as we know, they are paying top dollar to do so.

While it’s tempting to put off the daunting task of moving, the best approach is to do it on your terms; it’s much harder when events dictate the terms of the move. In our experience, seniors (and their families) who plan ahead experience less stress and greater satisfaction.

Stairs getting to be too much?

Six keys to service

There are great opportunities for those who are ready to sell, but the key step is choosing it. Regardless of the opinions of adult children, seniors need to come to this decision. In our experience, with clients (and family members), we have found several keys to be helpful once the decision to move has been made:

  1. Specialized counsel.
    A team attuned to seniors needs is key. What housing options support the lifestyle of older people? Experience with the psychological and financial contexts help, as well as listening and communication skills. (Newsflash! Texting and Facebook may not be the starting point.;)
  2. Understanding the market. 

    Maintenance too taxing?

    What is the home actually worth? Sometimes old-school Seattle sellers “don’t want to be greedy.” They want a “fair price” without excessive haggling. While we love this commitment to fairness, buyers (aka flippers) can prey on that sense of fairness for their own profit. The right agents can represent your values and financial interests.

  3. Options.

    Time to travel?

    Understanding (and assisting) with where to go next is key. We can help find a rental or smaller unit in the right location, whether that means access to doctors and health care or an easy hop to SeaTac for travel. We also work with eldercare advisors who are well versed in more intensive care options and the logistics of those transitions.

  4. Financial Complexities.

    Does the home support active living?

    Selling a home can interact with pensions, taxes, social security, medicare, and estate planning in unexpected ways. Coordinating real estate choices with a financial planner is smart. A team who is familiar with addressing these issues can be invaluable.

  5. Empathy. Many people don’t appreciate how selling a home and moving, which marks the passing of a certain phase of life, can be discombobulating and stressful. It’s hard enough to pack up stuff, let alone put a ribbon on 30 or 40 years of memories. Representation that honors that reality is crucial.
  6. Help with Packing.
    Many families end up sorting through an older family member’s belongings after they pass away. A move late in life can be an opportunity to begin the process together. We have helped older sellers with a variety of packing, decluttering, estate sales, hauling, donating, moving, etc. We are good at the project management, while being respectful of the emotional charge.

In addition to our experience, several useful web resources informed this article:

Over the coming weeks, we will be delving into these issues more deeply. Check back for more detailed stories on real estate for older people and family members.




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