Details of The Dreaded Downsize: Part One: We all want the best for ourselves and our families in retirement years. It’s not unusual for my senior clients or their close family members to come to me and ask for some guidance around their next steps. Although I don’t have a crystal ball, I have completed the Seniors Real Estate Specialist program (SRES) offered through the National Association of Realtors. I’ve been privileged to have had many older adults as clients.
Seniors Real Estate Specialist SRES
SRES is a designation that denotes a high level of knowledge and expertise in helping clients aged 50 + through major financial and lifestyle transitions such as relocation, refinancing and selling the family home. In fact the dreaded downsize affects the whole family. Often adult children often avoid the touchy conversation with elderly parents.
In essence, most of us in our 50s don’t consider ourselves to be the least bit elderly—me included—and that’s true of many folks in their seventies and beyond as well. Elderly? Me??
When seniors are vulnerable
By and large, my experience with seniors consistently reminds me of how vulnerable older adults can be when it comes to their real estate situations. And how valiantly they make do with what can often be very troubling situations. When seniors are vulnerable, they tend to worry about one of three issues:
- Their health and wellness: what if it changes?
- Their finances: how are they supposed to manage on a fixed income?
- The upkeep of their home: how are they going to keep up with the maintenance?
I believe that seniors do best when they stay put at home as long as possible. In time everybody needs to downsize at some point. I’ve had plenty of experience in helping make the transition to new quarters as comfortable as possible.
Two recent client experiences illustrate some of the challenges my clients face at this stage of life.
Too little but not too late!
I was approached by a senior in their twilight years couple last. They were unable to meet their monthly financial commitments and their house was long overdue for maintenance. The old furnace was broken and winter was setting in. Life was hard for them. They wanted to sell but did not know where they would go! In short they were in trouble, on a fixed income and time was running out. In many ways they were in denial!
With this in mind how we solved the problem:
- Meanwhile, years of outstanding Income taxes had been a long standing family feud. I introduced the couple to a financial planner and mediator who was knowledgeable about seniors’ benefits. During the first meeting we determined the family income sources, resulting in a cash flow and expense statement. My clients were pleasantly surprised to find that by getting their taxes up date, they were eligible for more pension, old age security supplements and other seniors’ benefits.
- Further, that same week, while I was standing outside my clients’ home, I could see that the main electrical wire connector was hanging loose, obviously damaged by a winter storm. A major structural issue contributed to lack of heat. I called for some help and it was fast to arrive: the local electrician, a utility electrical inspector and a heating contractor worked together to resolve the problems and heat was restored in short order!
- Eventually, we listed and sold the property in one week. Finally, the buyer agreed to a “lease-back” in the negotiated agreement which allowed the couple to stay in the home for a five-month term. We found a great rental apartment in town, and happy clients moved in! They safely invested the equity from the sale. All things considered it was a success.
Finally if you need help
I’ve successfully worked with many seniors and helped families of seniors, deal with Real Estate situations. It helps me to know a trusted network of senior’s professionals and contractors who are seniors friendly. I invite you to call me at 647-223-0237 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any Seniors Real Estate needs you might have to navigate. I’m here to help!
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