Whether it’s because of a downsize, a move to a care facility, or after a death, the sad reality is that at some point in your life you may find yourself faced with the task of selling an elderly family member’s home. Here are a few key points to consider.
You’re Going to Need Time – and Help
Not only will you be faced with the emotions attached with selling a loved one’s home, but you will very likely be tasked with cleaning it out from top to bottom. This means not only furniture and clothing but a lifetime’s worth of paperwork, bank statements, photographs, and documents you aren’t sure are relevant or not.
You’re going to need help. Grab a sibling, child, or cousin and put everyone to work. Hire someone for a few hours a week, if you have to. Someone can pack up the dishes while someone else sorts through financial statements and paperwork. Make sure everything has a place – the yardsale pile, the donation pile, the garbage pile. You’re going to be frustrated and tired, but make sure you are thorough so that you don’t miss a drawer or pillow or secret compartment in a floor vent (true story behind that last one).
Sorry, but if you’re going to sell that house you’re going to have to get rid of the wall paper. Most real estate agents will be brave enough to tell you that, whether you want to hear it or not. Wall paper is outdated (especially the kind your elderly family members have) and a fresh coat of paint can really brighten up a house. Hire someone or spend a day with the family getting it off the walls – but do it.
The Carpeting Has to Go
Think about this carefully. The memories you have of your grandmom’s house probably include a familiar smell. Maybe not the smell of a certain food but just the everyday aroma of going to grandma’s house. A lot of times homes owned by elderly people have a distinct odor. It’s not that it’s particularly offensive, but it happens when carpet is decades old and has absorbed years and years of family living. Removing the carpeting and replacing it with new (or in some cases exposing the gorgeous hard wood flooring you didn’t know was beneath it), can make a huge difference in your ability to sell the home.
The task of selling a home an elderly loved one lived in for a long period of time is never easy. Ask your real estate agent to walk through the house with you and give you an idea of what changes have to be made for the staging process. It may take time, but your efforts will help your loved one get a fair price for her home – whether for her continued living expenses or for her estate.