Annandale REAL ESTATE
When It’s Seniors, It’s About More Than the Sale
By: Scott Pearson, Pearson Realty
October 2019, ENDEAVOR News Magazine
Pushing my shopping cart through the Giant on Little River is always an adventure. First, I always get the cart with the one noisy, bum wheel that makes it sound like a freight car is rolling through the aisles. Second, I can hardly read my list that I hurriedly wrote while speaking with my wife. Third, I often am impeded in my task by the number of senior citizens who choke the lanes while moving at a retired pace. Fortunately, I have packed my patience and I am prepared for the stop-and-start that occurs in my grocery shopping.
The truth is that Annandale has a lot of senior homeowners whose numbers seem to have increased dramatically over the last ten years. The concept of “aging in place” has taken hold in our community and there is no better illustration than a simple trip to the grocery store. However, aging in place is only one phase in real estate and people need to use this time to prepare for the ultimate conclusion of that phase, be it moving to assisted living or passing away.
Mom and Dad’s home is often their largest asset and the contents of their home may hold other treasures that should be preserved, first for their benefit and then for the benefit of the estate. However, most real estate agent’s skills and vision rarely extend beyond a sale of the home. The sad truth is that most agents care less about the ultimate outcomes and focus solely on the sale of the home and the resulting commission.
So, if you or your family are feeling the passage of time and opportunity, what should you do? First, do a basic inventory of the assets to determine generally how much money is available. Second, do a budget to assure that whatever income there is will pay all present expenses (after subtracting some that may not be entirely necessary). Then, start considering options on a timeline, such as today, three years from now, and ten years from now with the intention of creating a plan that contains the flexibility of dealing with unexpected illness.
If the homeowners do not have a will, urge them to write one. If they don’t have powers of attorney drafted, or if they haven’t considered a medical advocate, then some serious conversations need to take place. By not creating a financial plan and some basic estate planning they are setting themselves up for chaos, conflict and confusion that can rip a family apart. I’ve seen it and I have sometimes had to play the unenviable task of mediator.
In devising a plan extra care must be taken to assure that the path forward meets both the needs and (to the extent possible) the wants of the homeowners. Their health, safety and happiness are paramount. However, if they haven’t taken necessary steps (some people simply don’t want to think about it) they aren’t doing any favors for themselves or their family.
I work closely with an attorney and an accountant in assisting my older homeowners. Often we meet long before any sale of the house is contemplated so that everything is in place and ready to go prior to the big step of selling the family home. We get to know our clients in a more personal and professional way, including those vexing family dynamics that must be addressed.
Some quick tips in getting started: (1) make sure the homeowner is relatively comfortable with the planning; (2) do not rely on your guess as to what the house is worth or what part it will play in financial planning, have a professional provide this advice; (3) do not sell to one of those “we buy houses” outfits that will reduce the value by up to 20%; (4) look at insurance, medical costs, basic necessities, and the possibility of assisted living or extended care; and (5) always, ALWAYS, remember that it is the homeowner’s needs that come first.
It is staggering, but only 25% of the people die with a will in place. Even fewer have considered a plan for the house and its contents, much less securities, annuities, insurance proceeds, etc. It may appear strange, but my job as a real estate broker takes on a much larger role in assisting senior homeowners. I must assist in evaluating clients’ lives, expenses, and challenges to make sure that I am not just preparing to sell their home. I am preparing a plan for their peace of mind.
Median Sales Price of Annandale Homes
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