There are always family dynamic issues that come into play when selling the family home, especially if one adult child is the primary decision maker. So, as a real estate professional, how do you help families sell this type of property without igniting a complete emotional breakdown?

  • Helping seniors and adult children sell the family home can be tricky, but there are many options.
  • Remaining transparent throughout the process is key to making all shareholders happy.
  • Having a family yard sale is crucial in providing the family with closure.

I specialize in helping senior clientele and their adult children sell the family home and look for more lifestyle-centric housing options.

Over the years, I have come to know that helping seniors to sell their family home for a more right-size option is way easier than helping the seniors’ adult children put the family home up for sale.

There are always family dynamic issues that come into play when selling the family home, especially if one adult child is the primary decision maker. So, as a real estate professional, how do you help families sell this type of property without igniting a complete emotional breakdown?

Explain right-size living

Help the family understand why the right-size option is going to improve their parents’ quality of life. Most adult children have a limited grasp on the types of senior housing options that are truly available.

There are three main types: independent living, assisted care and memory care. Many people are not sure which is which, so I like to discuss the options with my clients upfront and before any paperwork is signed. Knowing just where senior parents are going to live and how much more or less freedom they will have is important.

Independent living

Residents enjoy a private apartment with a kitchenette, can come and go as they please and have a very active lifestyle. They also can receive three meals per day on site, cleaning and laundry services, transportation and a full activities program.

Independent living is similar to retirement or hotel living, but it comes with the added reassurance of more assistance when necessary.

Assisted living

This option has all of the comforts and services of independent living but also assumes that some assistance will be needed on a day-to-day basis. These services might include help with buttoning buttons, bathing, eating, medication management or other activities of daily living.

Memory care

Memory care programs within mainstream assisted living communities tend to be for individuals who have early-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia. Because most assisted living residences are not skilled nursing facilities, they cannot provide adequate care for advanced memory care issues.

Condo living

Condo or townhome living is also a popular option as this option presents total freedom without the work and maintenance required with a traditional home.

Make sure the person in charge is transparent with family members

What I like to suggest for adult children who have legal authority to sell the family home — or who are a huge family-dynamic influencer — is to remain as transparent as possible.

The pressure of what siblings or friends might be saying can cause added tension within an already difficult decision. I always put an emphasis on communication.

I suggest you tell your adult children clientele to send emails to parents with siblings copied, or if parents don’t do email, have Sunday meals and discuss the plans and where you are at as the decision maker.

Tell your clients to talk about options, pros and cons and health concerns that you might have. Laying your cards out on the table and being open and emotionally available to have tough conversations is the easiest way to get through the process.

Declutter the home together

I also suggest having a family yard sale to declutter the home as the family gets it ready to sell. This way, the entire family, friends and neighbors can see what is going on, and there is a chance for everyone to address what is in the home, who wants what and what’s really up for sale or for donating.

Remain positive

This might sound cliche, but it’s needed. Life is not for sissies, and there are a lot of closure-type emotions that come with selling the childhood home, especially if a parent has to go into memory care.

Talk to your clients

Let them know you understand how difficult their situation is, and don’t try to add any more pressure than they might be already feeling.

Hopefully, these tips will help you aid your clients through what can be a tough process. Change isn’t easy, but the right-size option can be beneficial for the entire family.

Sam Benson, SRES, is a real estate broker in the greater Walnut Creek, California, area. You can follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

Email Sam Benson.

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