Seniors designation can help with ‘rightsizing’

Seniors face unique issues when it’s time to sell the family home but pre-planning and extra time can help

Oak Bay’s Jordy Harris

For many homeowners, their homes are far more than a place to hang their hat and lay their head.

For seniors especially, a home is often filled with a lifetime of memories – of children raised, friends welcomed and challenges met. The prospect of leaving that home, and potentially those memories, can create a unique situation for those home sellers and the professionals helping them with the move.

Add to that the challenges of finding a new property, perhaps after decades out of the real estate market, and the prospect can be daunting, says Oak Bay realtor Jordy Harris, an MLS award-winner with Newport Realty Christie’s International Real Estate.

“Some of my favourite stories and relationships I’ve built were with clients well into their 70s and 80s,” says Harris, who finds great fulfillment in helping seniors navigate the real estate world.

“It’s not just four walls and a roof. We are letting go of this home, however we (can take) these memories into a new setting.”

Harris earned his Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation, which offers “an extra degree of education that is beyond what is required of a licensed broker in B.C.,” he explains.

The training is designed to provide additional education and training in issues that might arise when seniors are buying and selling their homes.

“It can be an overwhelming time when people are selling the family home after decades of raising children and grandchildren there,” Harris says, suggesting giving a little more time and attention to the process can make things go more smoothly. Rather than “downsizing” and giving something up, it’s about finding something “right-sized” for the point they’re at.

Getting an early start on the process can help.

If the prospect of a move is coming up in the next year or so, Harris suggests contacting a realtor as soon as possible – just to start the discussion.

Reviewing what’s involved in the sale and potential new purpose, and mapping out a long-term plan will help ease the uncertainty.

“Get in touch and start the conversation,” Harris suggests. “Having that conversation before they actually need to have it makes it so much easier when the time does come.”

It also helps to customize a marketing plan that fits their unique needs and timeline so the process can happen with as little disruption to their lives as possible, Harris says.

Beyond marketing, financial considerations are also  worth discussing as often there are strategies to address the ramifications of a property sale, Harris says, emphasizing trust and transparency throughout the process is essential.

Developing a plan also means understanding what homeowners’ needs are, in their unique situation. Do they have special requirements around showing their property, for example? Are they considering moving into another property, such as a condominium, or are they looking at a seniors’ residence, perhaps?

For those who have always lived in their own single-family home, navigating the ins and outs of strata living can be a whole new experience.

From staging a home to de-cluttering prior to showing to knowing what to take and what to leave – and how to sell or donate it – finding a realtor with a wide support network can be invaluable. “The important thing there is having the resources available who can help.”

In the end, all the planning is worth it when clients are happy in their new situation, Harris says.

“After there’s time to let the dust settle, the feedback is always, ‘Why didn’t we do this sooner? This is the right size for us.’”