Downsizing? Start with the Beginning in Mind

I received a call last week from a professional who works with seniors, whom I have known for a number of years. I’ll call her “J”. She was telling me about one of her senior clients who is 87 with a  daughter with some physical challenges, and she wants to move and find  place for her and her daughter. . J asked me, “Do you do that?”

I said, “Do I help people find accessible housing? Sure!  Easy!”

“However, that’s not where we start. I have some more questions for you, J”

  • Why are they moving?
  • What are the daughters care needs? How old is she? Older than 62?
  • Does she want to rent or own? If she wants to own, is she planning on taking out a mortgage? How is she financing?
  • Are there transportation needs we need to consider?
  • Do they qualify for any subsidies?
  • Does she want to be in a community or a single family home?
  • Can she buy and move before the current house is on the market?”

J said, “I have no idea.”  It’s common in situations like this for people to start by addressing the real estate.  Even though J who has known my team The Senior Services Group for a number of years,  started with “Can you help her find a place to live?”

The house or the real estate is the most tangible place to start. Ironically as Senior Real Estate Specialists, that’s the LAST thing we address!  That’s like starting with the solution before you have formulated the question.  If our client isn’t able to answer all of those questions we keep digging and pull in other specialists as needed to get the answers. It is the answer to all of these assessment questions that helps inform and guide our clients to identify where they would like to live (often options they didn’t know exist), what is financially doable, and the logistics of the actual move.

If you’re thinking about moving, or if you’re helping your parents make the next step, here are some ideas about where to start the conversation:

Financial considerations:

  • Would you like to own or rent?
  • If owning or renting how will the new place be financed?
  • Is the new monthly payment doable?
  • Are there foreseen health challenges going to effect your staying in a home you purchase?
  • Have you talked with your financial planner?

Lifestyle considerations:

  • Is owning important to you?
  • Do you need supportive services?
  • What do you want in your new community? Meals? Housekeeping? Transportation? Pool? In-unit Laundry? Sense of community? Supportive Services?
  • How many times would you like to move in the next 10 years?

Logistical Considerations:

  • What are your goals in the sale of your home?
  • Are you able to move first?
  • What will you do with the personal items you aren’t taking with you?
  • Who will help you move?
  • What would you like to do to the house to prepare for the market?

Instead of jumping in to figure out the solution, start with answering some of these questions first. Start with these questions, and the answers will find you!