Step-by-Step: A Guide for Transitioning to Senior Living

Making the decision to move into a senior living community can be difficult. There’s a sense of personal space and identity that comes with living in your own home and many people are hesitant to give that up. And yet, sometimes this is a choice life decides to make for you.

For my family, we are dealing with this situation right now. My 92-year-old Granny has been fortunate enough to live a long life on her own. But a fall back in January has resulted in a medical situation that now means my grandmother cannot keep living by herself. Following her stay in rehab, doctors have let us know that Granny should move into an assisted living community.

A lot of decisions will need to be made with Granny as we help her with this transition, including what to do with her house. And that’s where someone like David Miller of The Miller Realty Group can provide the advice and expertise we need for such an important life step.

David and his wife Anne-Marie have been in the real estate business for 12 years. After the recent housing crisis, his team noticed an increase in the number of seniors requesting help with selling their home, either for downsizing or transitioning into senior living. He saw that where the seniors really needed help was preparing their house to sell, not just the selling of their house. They typically didn’t know where to start and who to use to help them.

“They would go visit these communities and see everything they have to offer and get excited about it. But when they would get home, they would start thinking about everything they would have to do before they make the move - clean out the house, go through all the stuff they have kept for the past 30 years,” says Miller. “And what would happen is they would get very overwhelmed.” In a lot of cases, the client would decide against the move, when, as Miller puts it, “we all know that is not in their best interest.”

To help these types of clients, The Miller Realty Group created a 5 Step Senior Transition Program which provides a single point of contact for all of the vendors they would need from preparing their house to sell to moving their furniture to their next destination.

Step #1: Making The Call

The first step in the process should be to call a real estate professional out to the home and discuss finances. The agent should be able to tell you how much your property is worth and how much you can expect to net at the closing table. You will also want to establish a timeline for when you would also like to make the move. David has met with clients, like my grandmother, who need to make an immediate move, and he has also worked with clients who are planning ahead, considering a change of living arrangements for as far as five years down the road.

Step #2: What are you going to take with you?

This step is what David terms as the toughest. Some people have lived in the same home for a very long time, and there can be a lot of stuff to go through. “I always like to say, ‘If you’ve got space, you’re going to fill it with something,’” says David. Emotional attachments to particular items can add to your stress. This is where hiring a professional organizer can be a huge help. David’s company has pre-established relationships with vendors for situations like this and he usually likes to provide homeowners with as many as three different vendors they could choose from.

As you go through your stuff, there are three questions Miller suggests you ask yourself:

1. Are you going to miss it?

2. Do you currently use it?

3. Do you have room for it at your new place?

Asking these questions will make sure you keep only the necessary items. What you have leftover will then need to be distributed.

Step #3: What are you going to do with the stuff left behind?

Your neighbors will not take kindly to a large drop of junk at the curb. And not everyone will want all that you are willing to pass along. “We all think our kids are going to come and pick it up,” says David. “But most of the time they don’t want your stuff.” Options you can consider include having a charity come pick it up or hosting an estate sale. Again, this is a step that might require the help of an experienced vendor. Agents like David can help you connect with the right people for the service you need.

Step #4: Get the house in top showing condition

Once you have cleaned and organized the home, it is time to make all final repairs before listing. Having an agent help you determine what would add value and what would not is key in helping you net as much money as you can. David recalls a client who had $10,000 set aside to put on a new roof. But when David went to preview the home and saw the pink carpet, and the home’s pink-painted interior, along with some rust stains on the exterior, he was able to convince the senior that it would be best to spend some of the money on the cosmetic items rather than a new roof. Upon listing, the home received multiple offers and David was then able to negotiate a concession in sale price of only $2,500 to address the roof repair. By investing money into the proper items David feels that you will always net more money!

Step #5: Just List It

The last step is listing the house. Recent statistics for the Orlando housing market have the average time a home spends on the market at 63 days. For a senior, the idea of multiple home showings and open houses can be disruptive and even unnerving. Your agent should have a marketing plan that aggressively positions your home so that it sells fast, negating any inconvenience for you to the smallest time necessary.

By following The Miller Realty Group’s 5 Step Senior Transition Program for helping my grandmother with her situation, my family can feel good about the route we are taking. And we can be sure her move into a senior-living facility will be a smooth transition.

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