Tips on Selling the Home of an Older Person in Your Life

A Story by Lyne Stephens | Updated 10/22/2018 10:53am


by Lyne Stephens, Realtor®, SRES, SFR, Housed Real Estate + Relocation | Keller Willliams Realty

A new study from George Mason University reports that older Americans own most homes nationwide, with Baby Boomers (people born between 1948 - 1965) owning two out of every five homes. As America’s Baby Boomer and Silent Generations continue to age (as we all must), their children and grandchildren will eventually face the challenge of selling their homes. Sadly, the most common reason this responsibility is thrust on someone is because a parent or elderly relative has died, leaving the house empty or inhabited by a widowed spouse who doesn’t want to live alone.

There are, of course, other reasons that older Americans want to sell their homes. Perhaps they want to downsize to help mitigate the financial and physical cost of home maintenance, or move to an assisted living facility. Many elderly Americans fear that potential buyers and others involved in the home sale process will try to take advantage of them in their old age, and so enlist the help of a loved one to ensure they’re treated fairly.  

Below, we discuss seven steps to get you through the process of selling the home of an older person in your life.

Choose a Point Person

Choose a financially-astute and trustworthy person in your family to take the lead on the home sale process; if your loved one has died, this person will most likely be the executor of the will. The point person will work with the realtor and other professionals to close the sale.

Consult a Realtor

Consulting a realtor, such as our agents here at Housed, is always the first step in any home sale process. A good real estate agent knows the local market intimately, and will be able to help you determine an asking price - the most crucial step in selling any home. They can also establish a “sell by” date so the home doesn’t just sit forever on the market. They will also assist you in staging the home, arranging open houses, marketing the home online and elsewhere, and creating curb appeal for potential buyers.

Relocate First

Avoid the double stress of moving and selling a home by doing the former in advance. While it means double the living expenses until the home is sold, it may be worth it to keep the home presentable and staged for a quicker sale. Not only will it give you peace of mind that your loved one has a place to live, it will also save them last-minute trouble to get out of the house for showings and the anxiety of strangers coming through the house.

Clean Out the Home

Homes that are well lived-in tend to acquire clutter. Unfortunately, nostalgia doesn’t always show well, and it’s a good idea to clear it out to make the home more appealing to buyers. Pack up the things your elderly relative wants to keep, or the things their heirs are entitled to if your loved one is deceased. You can use a local junk hauling service to take away furniture and anything else you need to throw away.

Make Repairs & Improvements

Homes require ongoing maintenance that can be challenging for older Americans to handle. Make sure that critical points of the home, such as the exterior paint, the roof, the plumbing, HVAC systems, etc. are well-maintained and up-to-date. You’ll want to make repairs, especially if they’ve gone unaddressed for some time. You may also consider replacing outdated design elements, such as remodeling the kitchen or putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Ask your realtor which improvements would be best to add value to the home.    

Complete the Paperwork

Everyone hates red tape, but it’s important to have the proper paperwork in order, especially if your elderly relative has died. For example, you’ll need to submit the death certificate to the title company before an insurance company can issue a policy to the new homeowners. Your loved one’s lenders (as well as any buyers) will also want to know that no one else can claim ownership of the home. You want to ensure that the title can pass to the new owner smoothly.

Accept an Offer

If you’re lucky enough to receive multiple offers on your home, the best deal might not be the highest price point. As we’ve discussed on the Housed blog before, the best offer is the one that’s the most likely to go through, with the buyer’s finances in order and free of contingencies.

An older loved one’s home is often full of memories, and saying goodbye to a place is often nearly as hard as saying goodbye to a person. Our trusted professionals here at Housed can ease the burden of the selling process through an emotional time to help make it a bit less painful for you and your family.

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