I meet a lot of elderly people when working in my neighbourhood, and I have the opportunity to talk with their adult children from time to time. From my conversations I’ve learned 3 areas of concern and objection that you may encounter when talking to your aging parents or loved ones about downsizing:
- They have lived there so long that all of their memories are in that house.
- Memories and cherished objects become a part of our identity. We fear losing ourselves when we give up too much at once.
- Some of these things remind them of the hardships and the good times that mark the chapters of their life story. They believe these things might help them get through yet another stage of life and they don’t want to give them up.
- They don’t want to believe that they are getting older and that moving may be a necessity. They don’t want to feel weak and helpless. They remember being strong and self-sufficient and they want to stay that way.
- They have some sense that things are changing and they’re afraid to let anyone know. They don’t want you to see what’s happening.
- Depending on age, your parents may think that selling their home and spending the equity is wasteful or even immoral. People raised during the great depression or in times of austerity (eg. Britain after WW2) often feel this way.
- They don’t want to spend the money to move to assisted living, or they fear they can’t afford it. They don’t have a realistic idea of what staying in their current home really costs, or what it would cost if they really took care of themselves and maintained the home and property.
How can a Real Estate Professional help?
The first two categories may require the help of an Elder Care professional. These things are outside the training and experience of most Realtors, so the best we can offer is patience and compassion.
But an experienced Realtor who is patient and compassionate can work with the family to provide information, resources and services in the following areas:
- Assessing the current value of your parent’s home, and providing guidance in what changes or renovations would bring the greatest financial returns.
- Working with you and your parents, an experienced and compassionate Realtor can compile a set of requirements for your parent’s new home and provide you with listings of suitable homes on the market. A good Realtor will take on the work of setting up viewings of potential new homes that fit your requirements.
- A good Realtor will take care of setting a competitive price, listing on MLS, marketing and showing your parent’s current home, when the time is right for you.
I can’t stress enough that you need to find a Realtor who is experienced and professional and also patient and compassionate. Sadly there are members of the profession who will push you into making a quick decision. It’s hard enough to care for your aging parents without the extra hassle and unpleasantness of pushy people. If you live in the Vancouver area I would be happy to have a chat with you to see if I can help. I can also help you find a suitable Realtor in some other regions of BC, through my personal network.
I’m currently helping my own father through his transition to a care home. My experience hasn’t been too difficult (yet) but I know some people have a really hard time in this chapter of life. I hope you find all the help you need. I’d love to hear your story if you want to share it.