Working with our senior clients is a very rewarding experience on many levels for Annette and I.
At the same time, there are unique challenges that we encounter that don’t occur with our younger clients.
For a client selling the family home that they have lived in for 30, 40 or 50+ years, this can be a stressful time. When it is “the family home”, and adult children and grandchildren are involved, the challenges and stress are often magnified.
We find ourselves having to address many unique and sometimes difficult circumstances that don’t occur with younger clients. When children and grandchildren are involved, there are a lot family dynamics to work with. There is also a need to be sensitive, while at the same time, address how to get an outdated or cluttered home ready to sell. We also find ourselves typically playing a more active role than is required with our other buyers and sellers.
While challenging, these situations also provide us with an opportunity build great relationships with an entire family members from multiple generations as we help them all cope during sometimes trying times.
Here are just some of the unique situations we encounter:
People Issues: Dealing with the Family
Issue: Emotions Are Running High
Selling a home is always an emotional time. But the circumstances surrounding selling a family home can bring out more emotional issues than usual. After all, this is a house where now-adult children were raised, and it holds more memories and sentimental importance than a recently-acquired home. Everyone could feel they have a stake in the outcome of the sale.
A large part of our role is to act as a calming force and facilitator in order to help smooth the choppy emotional waters and make the sale, “sail” through for all concerned. This is done by remaining ever helpful to all parties and maintaining good communications.
Issue: Too Many People Are Involved
We often find ourselves dealing with more PEOPLE than usual when selling the family home. And several of those people can be sporting a fine array of emotional issues attached to the sale of and decisions about the home. There is the owner (or owners) and their children and possibly their grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews and others.
Our first goal when becoming involved is to determine who our principal contact will be. We have a duty and obligation to deal with the owner directly unless the owner authorizes us to deal with family members or other trusted individuals. This can sometimes be challenging when a family member wants to help and this isn’t the wish of the owner.
A relative or caregiver can be extremely helpful by acting as a guide, interpreter and facilitator to an elderly owner. With that said, it can be very challenging if more than one person is attempting to fill this role, hence we always ask for one person to be the primary contact.
Issue: The House is Woefully Outdated
More than once or twice we’ve walked into a home and felt like we just stepped through a 30-, 40- or even 50-year time portal.
In this situation, we have two options to move forward with, depending on the situation.
The first is to sell the home with minimal or no changes. The second option if the seller/family has the time, the money, and the inclination, is for us to recommend updates that will provide a return for the investment in addition to causing the house to sell faster and for more money.
What kind of changes do we typically consider?
Paint is always the first and best return on investment option. Removing wallpaper and those popular “borders” from the 1980s goes a long way toward updating the look without breaking the bank. Some of the less desirable, but unchangeable, features can be artfully camouflaged-or perhaps featured for their retro charm-with skillful staging techniques.
Flooring is usually the next best investment. Changing out the 40 year old green carpet does wonders to getting buyer interest and the home sold.
For some homeowners, there priority is not to have their life disrupted with work the house, especially sometimes when they have pets, and they would rather take a slightly lower price over inconvenience and added stress.
Issue: Clutter, Clutter, Everywhere!
Many homes we’ve sold have initially been overflowing with “stuff” and have needed significant help before the home can be successfully shown to potential buyers.
By being sensitive, understanding and explaining the drawbacks of showing a house that’s too full, we are able to then give options on how we can help de-clutter the home to improve a home’s resale value.
In many cases, our clients are moving from a family home into a smaller house, a condo, an apartment or an assisted living situation. In these scenarios, the amount of space available will be dramatically reduced, so we explain that now is the perfect time to share treasures with the rest of the family. Divesting the home of furniture, heirlooms, collections and items of sentimental and financial worth will minimize the expense of moving, plus it will eliminate double-handling and the need for offsite, possibly long-term storage.
These are just some of the challenges we encounter in the sale of the family home. For the most part it is more about the “emotional move” than the “physical move” when it comes to our long term homeowners.
A great resource to learn more is our “Downsizing Made Easy” guide.