If you are fortunate enough to have aging parents who still live in the family home, you know that the day will come when they will move out. Whether this occurs because of deteriorating health or death itself, you or someone in your family will need to consider what to do with years of accumulated furniture, clothes, records, knickknacks, memorabilia, appliances, and more. If this occurs because of death, the process might need to be quick if you need to sell a home.
On the other hand, if your parents are in stable, though declining health, you may have time enough to make a plan that reduces the volume of possessions over time. Regardless, cleaning out the family home is inevitable.
Reducing The Volume Of “Stuff”
Many seniors want to stay in their home until the bitter end, or at least until their health prohibits it. Unless they have had a minimalist philosophy over the years, they may meet advancing old age with too much “stuff.” They may not have the endurance or the desire to undertake the task of reducing what they have by themselves, so you or your siblings or other family members may be called upon to undertake the task. Reducing the volume of possessions may even be necessary to keep the home safe.
Approaching The Purge
If you find yourself in the position of purging the family home here are some things that might help you get through the process with minimal stress.
• Develop a short-term and long-term plan. Ask yourself, what needs to be done now to make the home a safe and friendly environment for your parents? What needs to be done if they have an imminent move ahead? What needs to be done if you anticipate that within two or three years, your parents may need to consider assisted living and move out of the home? What needs to be done to make a salable at that time or upon their death?
This assessment will make you realize that downsizing, purging, and decluttering the place might be a project that requires time and help from other family members. If the home needs work, undertaking the process also requires money. Many tasks in older homes are beyond the competency even of helpful DIY-friendly children.
• Line up professionals. As you are cleaning out the family home, you might benefit by calling in a home inspector, stager, and Halifax real estate agent to help you determine what needs to be done for safety and saleability. Though you might not need the stager and Realtor® for a while, you will get the direction you need.
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“Preparing to Downsize” Report
• Start out with a home inspection. A home inspection may not only confirm the need to make known repairs, but also bring to light other defects. You, perhaps with the help of your Realtor, can decide what you need to do to prepare the house for eventual sale. This will give you time to get financing together or take care of repairs gradually. Of course, you want to attend to any repairs or updates needed to make parent safer now.
You can also do your own “home inspection” of what’s inside and clean and organize closets, medicine cabinets and cupboards to make sure that both you and they know the whereabouts of essential medications, clothing, and other items.
• Where will the stuff go? As you undergo this process, it might be a good time to engage your parents in conversations about how they want their things distributed. They might want some items to go to family members in time; if you need to reduce the volume of furniture or other items, the “time” may be now. When your parents weigh in on the distribution, you will have a better idea of what to keep, what to give to or earmark for family members, and what to give to charity or sell.
• Imminent needs. Perhaps your parental housecleaning is done with an eye to an upcoming move to assisted living or even to a smaller apartment. This means that you may also have to help in making arrangements with movers and packers (or doing the packing), connecting and disconnecting utilities, planning for what will go to the new residence, and helping to shop for anything that they need.
• Take time to remember. As you plan and implement the purge of the family home, allow yourself enough time to not only completes a task, but also to deal with the emotion that you, your parents, and any family members who are involved in the project might feel. “Breaking up is hard to do,” even if what you’re talking about is severing ties to possessions. Some things that you will come across and either decide to keep, distribute, or give away will bring up memories. Make sure to savor them even as you complete the task at hand. You are not just ridding out the past, you are experiencing closure with it.
As Specialist In Senior Real Estate, I Can Help You…
As you make plans for long-term sale of your Halifax-area family home, give me a call. I will be glad to help you make assessments about what you must do to make the house more marketable and more salable when the time comes. I specialize in Boomer and Senior real estate and will be glad to offer you my expertise. If you find you need even more help, I am connected to an extensive network of other senior focused professionals who might be able to help you with estate planning, tax counseling, or other issues.
Looking to sell your home? Give me a call today.
Roy Thomas SRES® (Senior’s Real Estate Specialist) is a REALTOR® with Sutton Group Professional Realty. Since 1991, Roy specializes in helping retirees with their later in life real estate transactions. Call Roy at 902-497-3031 or contact Roy here