Real Estate Agents Can Play a Role in Senior Living Transition

Tim Watt  |  March 6, 2014

As seniors age and their abilities change, many decide to make the move to a retirement living community. Although the transition comes with a number of benefits, the process of leaving a former home and moving to a new one also comes with several important responsibilities. Real estate agents and family members who are helping an older adult move to independent living may consider the following concerns throughout the process:

Maintain clarity when selling a home
Putting a house or apartment on the market and following through with a sale can be stressful even for seasoned professionals. Before beginning the process, sit down with older adults and lay out a guideline of the steps involved. Lay out not only the various aspects involved in selling property, but also an estimated timeline of events and cost sheet. While it may be impossible to predict an exact selling date, knowing the neighborhood and success of nearby real estate sales can help agents form predictions about other properties.

During the earliest stages of the sale, appropriate items to cover include determining a schedule for preparing and showing the house, and settling on an asking price. Be realistic with older homeowners about the expected price range for their home. If the initial dollar amount is much higher than the predicted selling range, let them know ahead of time so that there are no unfulfilled expectations. It's also important to be upfront about agent costs and those associated with prepping the home for sale. This could include costs associated with cleaning, hiring a company to hold an estate sale or making larger improvements such as landscaping and exterior repair, which could increase the likelihood and speed of a successful sale.

Help streamline the packing process
One of the biggest changes seniors face when moving is adjusting to less room than provided in their previous home. For many individuals, this is a wonderful opportunity to clear out the clutter and excess that builds up over the years. Others, however, may have a difficult time letting go of beloved belongings, particularly those with sentimental value.

To help seniors move into their new space with the most ease, begin the sorting process as soon as possible. Create a comprehensive list and be clear about the amount of room they'll have in their new home. Hosting an estate sale or auction can help provide extra income during the sale to cover expenses. Alternately, they may choose to donate goods to a local charity or pass them on to family and friends instead. For items they would like to hold onto that cannot be accommodated in their new community, rental storage may be an option. Throughout the process, focus on the benefits of lightening their load and starting fresh in their new home.

Consider seniors' emotional needs
For many seniors, the decision to move into a retirement living community means leaving a place where they've resided and called home for many years. In addition to the legal complications, the transition can also be emotionally challenging. Family members and caregivers can help older adults stay informed throughout the process, so that they feel included in all decisions. Maintain clear lines of communication and be ready to answer any questions that may arise.

If a senior seems to be having a particularly difficult time with the transition, it may be advisable to seek professional assistance. A physician or counselor can help explain the medical and emotional benefits of choosing a living situation that provides for needs beyond his or her individual capacity. During conversations, stress the increased physical safety of community living, the reduced number of responsibilities, such as housekeeping and cooking, and perks like an immediately available social group and organized activities.