Downsizing 101: 5 Ways to Help Your Parents Sell Their House
Many of us will be faced with helping our parents sell their house at some point in our lives. That process can be an emotional one. If you’re looking for advice on how to help your parents downsize, keep reading. Below are five tips to assist you in making the clean-out process a positive experience that you will both cherish for the rest of your lives.
Here’s a closer look at what you can do to help your parents sell their house
1. Talk it out ahead of time.
If there’s one thing that’s true about downsizing, it’s that it often does not happen overnight. Typically, it starts with a conversation that begins weeks — or even months — before the clean-out process begins. From the aging parent’s perspective, the decision to leave their current home is not an easy one and it can often take time to come to terms with the fact that a new home will likely serve them better going forward.
With that in mind, do your best to talk to your parent about downsizing before it becomes time to make a move. Approach the conversation with compassion and understanding, but don’t be surprised if you get some pushback. After all, it’s important to remember that no one would happily submit to the idea of having their independence stripped away.
However, rather than centering the conversation around losing independence, it’s a better idea to frame this as an opportunity to gain more control over their lives. For example, if your parent is having trouble keeping up with outdoor maintenance, you could talk about how much time and money they would save by moving to a home that needs less upkeep.
2. Set realistic goals for downsizing.
Truth be told, cleaning out a house does not happen overnight, especially when you are trying to tackle many decades worth of accumulated belongings. When you’re helping an aging parent downsize, remember that just the idea of sorting through that much stuff can feel overwhelming. They’ll likely feel that they don’t have any idea of where or how to start.
Fortunately, you may be able to help by setting realistic goals for the process. Rather than attempting to tackle the whole house in one weekend, spread it out over time. Consider working on fully cleaning out one room before moving on to the next. In this case, the more manageable the goal, the more likely you are to make tangible progress.
3. Frame downsizing as an adventure you’ll take together.
Of course, rather than simply giving the order to downsize, you should do your best to assist with the process. Not only will helping your parent go a long way in terms of making them feel supported, but it will also give you an opportunity to try to guide their thinking along the way. Here, it’s often a good idea to frame downsizing as a chance to go down “memory lane” instead of viewing it as a list of tasks that need to be completed.
There’s no telling what you’ll unearth as you go closets and storage spaces that haven’t been touched in years. Whatever you find, odds are there may be a memory attached to those items for your parent. Allow them the grace and deference to share it with you. You’ll likely both be glad that you took the time to listen.
4. Hire a senior real estate specialist.
When the clean-out process is finished and your parent is ready to make their move, it’s time to bring in a real estate agent. In this scenario, not just any real estate agent will do. You should set your sights on hiring a senior real estate specialist (SRES). An SRES is a real estate designation that an agent can earn if they’re interested in specializing in working with senior citizens. These agents train on how to best assist an older population and how to help them downsize.
5. Help them make their new home comfortable.
After the move is over, it’s your job to help them make their new home as welcoming as possible. Often, older adults resist moving from their forever homes because they worry that a new property will not be able to offer them the same level of comfort. You can assuage these fears by offering to help make sure that they’re settled in.
Help them put out their belongings and hang their pictures on the walls. However, beyond that, you should also play a role in helping them create memories in their new home. Make moving to a new environment something to celebrate. Being a bottle of champagne and a couple of glasses. Toast to their ongoing happiness.