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Moving Your Mom? Should You Consider a Senior Real Estate Specialist?

Insights & Ideas Team •  July 18, 2016 | Home and Family

It was August 2014. Sandy Kreusel’s father had died. Her mother, Marilyn, was left with a three-bedroom ranch home and a big yard. The house had been the family home for more than 30 years.

Marilyn felt lonely, and Sandy could see that. She couldn’t keep up with the maintenance the house needed. “There was always something going wrong, and I would have to call someone,” Marilyn said. “I didn’t like having to do that.” The thought of moving was difficult, but the loneliness and worry were also hard. In a matter of months, Marilyn called Bruce Nemovitz, a Senior Real Estate Specialist.

A Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) is trained to understand the challenges faced by a home seller over the age of 50, including the emotional turmoil that can come with the thought of parting with a long-time family home. Agents with this kind of training are easy to find through the Senior Advantage Real Estate Council. Using an SRES costs no more than using the services of a regular real estate agent. A SRES takes the standard commission on the house sale, which averages about six percent nationwide.

By the time Nemovitz stepped in to help Marilyn, he had been a Senior Real Estate Specialist for 23 years. He has written two books on the subject. He advised Marilyn to make some changes to help stage her home. And when she got concerned about selling her home, he and his partner, his wife, Jeanne, assured Marilyn, “Don’t worry. Just take baby steps every day.”

Nemovitz knows how difficult even those baby steps can be. Marilyn was a good example of that. The thought of leaving behind a home where she raised her children, leaving neighbors she’d known for years—all of that was painful.  

Nemovitz says often that sadness is outweighed by the stress of caring for a home. He says children should look for signs their parents are stressed about house maintenance, and they should listen for comments from mom or dad about feeling isolated. There may be a change in a parent’s mobility, due to injury or illness. Safety concerns loom large. “I hear it often,” says Nemovitz. “The children are worried that the neighborhood has changed.” Those children don’t always agree on what the next step should be and when it should be taken. “You can see how complex this process is,” he added. 

To streamline the process, Nemovitz outlined five steps to take toward moving a loved one to a safer, more manageable setting.

1. Gather information. Have a family meeting to find out where everyone is on the issue, and to divide up tasks, including who will have durable power of attorney for handling financial matters. It is also time to have a positive, supportive conversation with your loved one.  Nemovitz says, “Let her know you love her, that the end goal is her happiness and safety and that you want to go through it with her.”

Your Estate Plan: Is a Trust Right for You?2. Contact a real estate agent. Consider a Senior Real Estate Agent (SRES) if help is needed in aligning resources and support for Mom or Dad.   

3. Explore options. Seek the help of an elder law attorney for advice on issues such as health care, long-term care planning and Social Security. It’s also time to visit apartments or complexes on your list. Weigh options according to mobility needs and availability of assistance and activities. 

4. Downsize. Sort through belongings. Decide what fits in the new living situation and what to sell or donate. Nemovitz recommends moving familiar pieces of furniture to the new place to help make it instantly feel more like home. 

5. Seek a financial consultation. A financial professional can help determine a budget. Such a consultant can give a full picture of investments and pensions and position those assets for best returns. If your loved one already has a financial professional, set up an appointment to get all the information updated.

Marilyn’s house was listed and sold in one day. Her daughters helped with downsizing. They sorted furniture and other items, donating some, selling others in an online forum. Marilyn kept her dining room set and an oak clock that chimes.

Marilyn and her daughters found a unit in a newly built apartment complex only a few miles from the home she sold. For her, the decision came down to a few questions. Do I need assisted living? Do I want independent living with some support? or Can I still be on my own? Marilyn took stock of her own health, which was good, and decided that an apartment in a senior complex was the perfect option. “That was the best choice for me,” she said, smiling. Two of Marilyn’s daughters live nearby, including Sandy, who added, “Mom has met friends here in the complex. There is bingo, morning coffee time and a happy hour once a week.”

Nemovitz sees that kind of positive outcome often. He says once his elderly clients have received an accepted offer, they take on a new mindset. “They tell me they should have done it sooner.”  

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