Are you thinking of selling your home to move to a senior supportive environment? Or perhaps to move in with an adult son or daughter who can help with your needs as you grow older? You may be considering leaving the family home with all that it represents—the place where children were raised; the safety and security of a family unit; the physical space where your oldest and dearest memories reside. For seniors, it can signify the best years of their lives, where friends and community ties were made.
Many seniors would prefer to continue living in their own home, or aging in place. Sometimes, circumstances work against those preferences:
• Home maintenance becomes a burden
• A major life event forces considering a move
• An aging parent wants to live closer to adult children or other caretakers
• Financial concerns make it difficult to keep the home
• Support services are needed that are not available at home
Whatever the reason, there may come a time when parents, along with their adult children, consider selling and moving on. This booklet is designed to help guide your family through the complex issues and unique situations you may encounter during the process.
Selling a senior’s home is different
Many homeowners have previously bought and sold homes. However, selling a senior’s home can be much more complicated, due to the number of unique issues and decisions—and sometimes the number of people involved. Though seniors usually make the decision to sell, it is not uncommon for adult children to help them sort through these and other issues:
• Is moving the best alternative? If so, where? Have other options been explored?
• Are close family members on board with a decision to sell?
• What is the best way to downsize a lifetime’s worth of possessions and family heirlooms?
• What are the tax-related implications of a sale?
• What effects might a sale have on future income?
The financial, logistical and emotional issues involved in a move can be stressful for a family to navigate. Senior parents and their adult children may feel they are in unfamiliar waters as they deal with these questions.
Issues to consider before starting the process
Are all relevant family members aware of the upcoming sale and the reasons for it?
It’s a good idea to have a family discussion about the decision to sell, prior to signing commitments. Adult children often have strong emotional stakes in the sale. Some family members may not want to say goodbye to the home. A family talk can help prevent later misunderstandings and avoid delays in the process. If the move involves significant downsizing, this may also be a time to bring up property and possessions issues.
Have the tax consequences of a sale been considered?
Selling a home can trigger significant taxation. Capital gains taxes may apply in the event the sales proceeds aren’t used to buy another home. Before listing a home, it’s a good idea to consult a tax specialist or professional financial advisor to determine how a sale will affect your finances. If you don’t have an advisor, your SRES® can provide you with a list of referrals to choose from.
Will an adult child be acting on the behalf of a parent in the sale?
In the event an aging parent is ill or incapacitated, another family member will need authority to make legally-binding decisions with regard to the home. If this is the case, a durable power of attorney document must be in place prior to the incapacity, naming an agent who will act on behalf of the senior.
If family members are assisting a parent in the sales process, has one member been chosen to be the contact in communicating with professionals?
It’s best to have one family member take the lead in communicating with the SRES® and other professionals. Multiple contacts can create confusion and delays
What to expect from your SRES®
A REALTOR® who chooses to become an SRES® does so because he or she enjoys interacting with seniors.
Their decision to become an SRES® is rooted in a desire to help others. It means that your REALTOR® has respect for older individuals; has the ability to listen deeply and ask the right questions; knows how to communicate the old-fashioned way, with a handshake and a visit. Be prepared to sit and chat awhile. They’ll want to take time to get to know you and your family’s situation, as you’ll want to learn more about them.