Moving and selling a house is rarely an easy proposition, but perhaps the hardest scenario is when the owner has lived there for 40 or 50 years and is now unable to live independently because of age or health issues.
“This is not just a real estate transaction, there’s a huge emotional component here,” explained Robert Ray, owner of Caring Transitions, a consulting firm in Bethesda specializing in estate sales, downsizing and senior relocations, adding that it’s important to have the proper real estate agent.
“You don’t want someone rushing in and saying, ‘Here are the comps in the neighborhood, here’s the listing contract, sign here,’ ” he said. “You want someone who’s specially certified and who understands the needs of the elderly.”
Fortunately, the National Association of Realtors recognized the need for this designation and instituted the senior real estate specialist program in 2007.
Brian Cusick, a real estate agent with Urban Brokers in the District, participated in the two-month program, which consisted of online courses and a series of tests to gain accreditation.
“It teaches about the different generations in terms of what are the similarities and what are the differences,” he said. “Older people may view their homes in terms of security, whereas younger generations may view them more as investments.”
When dealing with older homeowners, Mr. Cusick said, health issues are often a determining factor for the timeline of the sale and move.
“Someone may be in poor health and need to move to a nursing home,” he said. “Someone else may be in perfect health but has decided to move to a retirement community.”
Mr. Cusick remembered one client who knew he had less than a year to live.
“Even though he was in good shape when he first contacted me, he knew he wasn’t long for this world, and his goal was to sell his house before he died to spare his children the burden of selling it and emptying its contents,” he said. “We were able to do that for him, and it was immensely gratifying.”
Another client wanted to sell her home, but it took her a year to sort through her possessions and hold an estate sale, Mr. Cusick said.
“I told her, ‘Your timeline is my timeline,’ ” he said, pointing out that it’s essential to gain the trust of the homeowner. “I’m not a stranger coming in with the intent to sell the house as quickly as possible.”
Kathy Byars, an agent with McEnearney Associates in the District, also has the senior real estate specialist accreditation and said it served to reaffirm what she learned helping her parents’ friends sell their homes.
“Nobody wants to leave their home and admit that they can no longer handle the day-to-day care of themselves,” she said. “People want their independence as long as possible.”
For that reason, selling the house of an older person often is event-driven, Ms. Byars said.View Entire Story
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