“I am thinking of transitioning to a smaller place to live, but where do I begin?” As a Realtor® this is often the very first question I am asked when meeting with a senior who is looking to sell their home and downsize. It can feel overwhelming. But the good news is there is a lot of help available.
Many seniors take 1-2 years to decide to move and some are less prepared emotionally than others. Relocation Stress Syndrome is real and there is support available. With planning, you can avoid feeling pressured or pushed.
There are many reasons why someone 55+ considers a move. Retirement, finances, health, need for support services, one-level living, or maybe just to find a place that is smaller and easier to afford or maintain. So, where to begin?
Define Your Needs. Here’s an easy first step. Take your time, gather information and write a “do-like and don’t-like list”. What do you like about your current home? What is important to you? Do you crave access to some outside space? Do you have a dog to walk? What makes a place special to you? What don’t you like? (Too many stairs, too big of a yard to mow, etc.) This list will become a guidepost when you begin to look at new places to live and make it easy to articulate precisely what you’re looking for.
Conduct research. There are many housing options to consider including fifty-five plus independent adult communities and cooperatives; assisted living providing basic services for medical or personal care, meals and recreation; and one-level properties, not just for seniors, such as condos and townhomes where outside maintenance is included. Connecting with an experienced housing professional who can explain the choices, costs and how they might fit with your goals and needs is a solid next step.
Plan ahead. It is often helpful to meet with a Realtor® who has experience helping people transition or downsize even before you are ready to make a change. Request a Comparative Market Analysis. This will determine the value of your property through comparison to similar property transactions within a certain radius and help establish a sale price.
Interview Realtors®. An agent experienced in senior housing options and services will understand the pros and cons and costs of all the housing under consideration and can explain the details to you. They can also consider your “do and don’t like list” and suggest some options that fit your requirements.
There is no shortage of Realtors® vying for the job, but how do you select one? Find a licensed Realtor® with lots of experience working with clients who are similar to you. Ask for references and check them. Look for a hands-on, full- time Realtor®, someone who is familiar with services available for individuals 55+ with trusted contacts in those fields. Does this person listen carefully? Do you feel comfortable with them? Trust your instincts.
Make your move. Forget cookie-cutter solutions! For example, my clients Mitch and Sandra had been living in an apartment with stairs. Sandra recently suffered a serious health challenge that made stairs impossible, but the couple didn’t want an assisted living arrangement. For them, we found a small, one-level townhome in a neighborhood they loved, and they are very happy with this. For someone else, moving to assisted living might have been a very good solution.
Enjoy a smooth move and don’t go it alone. Remember that excellent outside help is available! Pack and move, home care, legal, mortgage, de-clutter, downsize, emotional support and more services are available to help make your move leading up to the big day and beyond a pleasant, beneficial and satisfying next step
Terry Eggan, Realtor®, Bridge Realty
EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.