In Part I of our Downsizing Tips for Seniors, I stressed the importance of planning to insure a successful transition to a smaller, more manageable home. In this installment we explore some of the other challenges confronting seniors and their family members when contemplating the lifestyle changes which accompany this sometimes-complicated process.
This piece is written to help seniors and their friends and family members decide whether they want to hire professionals to save time and effort, or manage the sale of personal property by themselves if they have the time and inclination to do so, or by necessity need to save the money.
What about the real estate?
One of the first decisions facing downsizing seniors is how, when and if the existing home will be offered for sale. Perhaps a family member or neighbor has expressed an interest if the property should go on the market.
Before any decision is made, several key questions must be asked and answered. Will the new home be a rental or outright purchase? Is money or credit available to purchase the new home without first selling the existing property? What is the contemplated time frame? Staging is important in maximizing value; are cosmetic updates or renovations needed before the marketing begins? Will the home show better with or without its existing furnishings?
With the answers to these questions in hand an experienced REALTOR® is in an ideal position to help formulate a strategy. Timing is everything, so consult with your real estate professional early on to devise a well-considered plan, before you begin the process of deciding how personal property will be distributed.
Professional Move Managers offer a variety of services
Nationally as well as in Tulsa, some senior move managers do offer estate sale assistance; however, some items that seniors may want to hold on to are tricky, such as letters and photographs. Often the hardest things to let go of are things that conjure up strong memories of our parenting successes and or failures. And then there are the family heirlooms that may be coveted by more than one child. How do we decide who gets what?
Once it is determined what will move to the new home, decisions must be made on what to do with what’s left. At the bottom of this piece are links to resources that may help seniors evaluate the price of important pieces, and finding the right professionals to help sell them. Here are a few options to consider:
Sell it on eBAY
Downsizing seniors can often rely on professional moving managers for liquidating furniture. These experts are familiar with the circumspection that seniors are confronted with when searching for trusted guidance and experience in conducting estate sales.
For those up to the task, however, it is relatively easy to sell many items on your own. If time permits, smaller items can be sold on eBay. Often a family member or friends can help sell and ship smaller items while larger items can be offered to consignment shops or sold through Craigslist or online Facebook groups.
High end furniture, rugs and handbags do well in consignment shops. Most other common household items won’t sell for much money, so it is important to select only the items which are rare, collectible, or things whose demand exceeds the available supply. Internet search engines help determine the going rate for ordinary home appliances and furnishings.
Consider Garage or Yard Sales
They are a quick and easy ways to sell many items but be realistic when pricing items and expect bargain hunters to try and negotiate even lower prices. Also, be aware of the need to have plenty of watchful eyes on hand when dealing with strangers who are attracted to garage and yard sales.
Don’t forget that these sales also offer opportunities to spread the word if the house is or will be on the market soon. Make sure your REALTOR provides you with plenty of feature sheets to hand out to interested buyers, like I do.
Pause when you’re stumpted
Relying on trusted professionals may help, but downsizing seniors still must face some issues alone, like making the final decision on where various possessions will go. What is to be done with keepsakes and furniture which may be valuable or heirloom but can’t fit in a smaller home?
Even more challenging are items that children, now grown with their own children, have left behind that stir up treasured memories every time they are seen or touched. These may include drawings or other artwork, and or photos of deceased loved ones, and other very personal items. My advice, start early, because dealing with things that have strong sentimental value takes patience and strength of resolve.
Allow time to contemplate past events and experiences, and don’t be afraid to shed a few tears along the way, but remain focused on the new and less complicated lifestyle that awaits by transitioning to new housing. As they say, “parting is such sweet sorrow,” but if things bring up negative as opposed to positive feelings, leave them behind.
Connect with family
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of including as many family members as possible in the downsizing process. Plan a day to have everyone over, or even two, and do this well in advance, or as soon as the decision has been made to downsize. And do it before calling in professionals to avoid hard feelings later.
Perhaps some of your children have already put their names on things they’d love to have, as mine have. These treasures offer a chance to bond in a very meaningful way. Whether it is dealing with memories that have previously been a source of satisfaction or even grief, the transition will go smoother when no one feels left out. These are precious moments, so make the best of them by allowing family members to share their thoughts and memories.
Caveat emptor (buyer beware)
Once all final decisions have been made and a moving date set, it’s important to find movers who are bonded and insured. Sadly, unbonded scammers and charlatans often prey on the aged who are sometimes inclined to make hasty decisions. These predators will agree to a fee before packing the items on the truck but later hold victim’s valuables in a secret location until they can exact more and more money from their marks.
Here are some trusted resources that offer experience and expertise to local downsizing seniors.
First Choice Relocation Tulsa Senior Moving Service from First Choice Relocation in Tulsa, OK and Oklahoma City, OK makes packing and moving as simple as can be. As part of our residential relocation services for seniors, we provide a relocation consultant to personally discuss your individual needs. You have the freedom to opt for only the services you need.
Caring Transitions When Seniors can no longer live safely and securely in their homes due to illness or aging, Caring Transitions gives families peace of mind by coordinating all the details of relocating. The move to a retirement community, nursing care center, hospice, or even another family member’s home can sometimes be overwhelming for families. It’s more than just packing boxes with household items and selling a home. It’s also sorting through years of wonderful memories, precious heirlooms, treasured antiques, and personal belongings.
Craters and Freighters Tulsa Craters & Freighters has experience working with seniors who have decided to right size for their current lifestyle. We can work hand in hand with you to relocate your select items including, art, antiques, family heirlooms, personal effects and any other fragile or valuable items. When you are relocating and are considering moving select items to family members around the country or around the world, Craters & Freighters will provide you quality service of pickup, packaging, insurance and shipping door to door.
National Association of Senior Move Managers Established to provide a knowledgebase for an industry which the modern economy now recognizes, the NASMM offers free and paid resources such as a guide to downsizing for seniors. With partnerships spanning great distances, the NASMM can help elderly people in housing transitions which aren’t wholly local, as well as other paid resources and partners they have gathered on their website over the years. If any of the senior move managers listed are considered, this website is a must to consult to cover the gamut of the entire process.