Friday, September 30, 2011

Selling Your Parent's Home--A Broker's Tips

Van Cooper sells seniors' homes. As a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) with Windermere in Kirkland, Washington, he helps Boomers and their parents market what is usually the family's largest asset with the most emotional value.

"Lots of feelings can pop up during the process including loss of control and abandonment," he says. "My goal is to treat people fairly, with dignity and respect. My position is to facilitate a sale that's as easy and low stress as possible."

Cooper shares his tips on selling your parent's home.

1. Give your parent as much support as possible. Depending on your situation, you may be handling the decision making yourself, or taking a lesser role. Even if your parent says, "I want to do this on my own," offer your eyes, ears and thoughts, to ask questions and clarify things. Point out that this is a difficult transaction for anyone, and you'd like to help wherever you can.

2. Interview at least three potential real estate agents. Chatting with them will give you a good idea if they're a good emotional fit. During the interviews, they will offer you competitive market analyses, including comparable properties. If some of those homes are still active, ask to drive with the realtor to look and compare them with your parent's home. Another tip: "Ask for a second visit. If he or she is edgy, that's a huge red flag," Cooper says.

3. Ask more questions. Does the agent tell you how much it will cost to update your parent's home, and what updates will boost the selling price the most? Is the agent offering a team of professionals who can do the remodeling, clean the home, stage it, hold estate sales, and do other tasks as needed?

4. Decide on the details of the process. Will your parents move before the house is upgraded and listed, or will they stay in the home? Cooper says both ways work. If your parents continue to live in the home, it's best that viewings are done by appointment, so you or others can take them out of the home while strangers are looking around.

5. Determine how often the agent will communicate with you and in what manner. Emails? Phone calls? Personal visits? Letters and cards? If time goes on, you may need to discuss lowering the price, usually 3 to 5 percent if the property was priced correctly at the beginning.

Is this easy? Probably not. But working with a real estate agent who knows and understands seniors helps tremendously, Cooper says.

Have you heard of an SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist)? It's an endorsement that requires two days of study, plus fees and exams. "People who get this certification are more likely to have an interest in providing seniors the service they have earned," Cooper says.

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