Assisting seniors’ in their transition from their own home or condo to a new smaller retirement home or assisted living, takes some time and special attention. In addition to being sensitive to their reluctance and real trepidation for the upcoming change, quite often they simply do not know what to do or who to call to assist them. Sometimes they have family who can help, but other times, they may only have limited assistance from family, friends, or even the Condo Corp where they live. There are a number of issues that need to be addressed to help ease the transition and make it as easy and painless as possible.
It’s important to find out how much room they will have in the new location. Can they take their king sized bed or do they need a smaller queen or even a double bed that will fit? Do they have room for a small dining set? Will there be a sitting area in their new home for watching TV? Some of the retirement residences may have restrictions or rules for balconies’ use or patio use. What are you allowed to have and what will get you a swift notice from Head Office? BBQs are typically a no-no. Plants and seating are usually welcomed. If the bedroom has limited space then we need to determine the floor plan for the room and what furniture will fit. Maybe we can only fit a queen bed, 2 nightstands, and a small dresser. This may mean that the home owner may need to find a new home for their chest of drawers, and accent chairs from their bedroom. The kitchen, if you have one, may be more of a “breakfast bar” rather than a full sized kitchen. Suddenly you no longer require the full sized dining room suite with china buffet and hutch or the large 7 piece kitchen set. Now all you have room for is a smaller 3 piece or at best a small scale 5 piece dining set. Finally the sitting/TV area tends to be much smaller, again, if you have one. So, you may only have room for a small loveseat and possibly a small chair not the full oversized living set that you currently have. So what to do with the furniture that they no longer have a use for? Often family will take the items they want, and then the rest is left for trash or charity.
Here are some interesting alternatives to kijiji and giveaways for excess furniture items. There are numerous women’s shelters that will take furniture and gently used household items to help women who are leaving abusive relationships get a fresh start. It is highly anonymous so don’t call asking for the name of the organization. They screen all donors to ensure it is not an abuser looking for their victim. I will not give out their name to random callers or emails, only clients once we have worked together for a while. This is simply to ensure everyone’s safety. Another option is a company that will “buy” gently used furniture, they will come and pick it up and if they re-sell it, you may get a cheque in the mail. These are always 2 options I give my clients rather than the trash guy or dump option. No one wants to see the furniture they loved and cared for over the years go to the dump, that’s just insensitive and hard to watch. This offers a “feel good” option for home owners. Knowing your treasured belongings can help someone else starting out in a time of need. There is even the rare time I may purchase furniture from my client for my staging business. If it’s in good shape and I know it will work in some of the homes we are often called to stage, then I just may purchase it. Essentially, I am the last resort. Honestly, I often feel awkward and usually will only consider purchasing after the Home Owner or family has asked if I want the piece or know someone who might. Depending on how full my warehouse is or is not, I may even be able to offer short term storage for some items.
The next thing we need to address is what personal belongings (other than furniture) will they be taking? Many of the kitchen items are no longer required. Extra bedding and linens, for secondary bedrooms and baths are no longer necessary. All those treasured memories of a life well lived, need to be sorted through and the treasures kept aside from those that the homeowner can bring themselves to part with. This is the most painful process. It can take a number of weeks or even months to complete this. Rushing this process is simply not emotionally healthy unless the circumstances require the immediate physical health of the individual take precedence and they need to be moved into assisted living urgently. If at all possible, plan the transition and give Mom and Dad time to go through their own things, they will be less resentful, and the move will go much easier. It is very important to keep some of their most treasured items, photos, and other personal treasures for their new home. They may need a lot of help determining what these are. Be sensitive and compassionate. With enough gentle guidance and time and tears, they will find their own way. Remember, this is a major life transition for them that may signify many different things to them. Talk to them about what they are feeling to help them through.
Estate sales and moving sales are a great way to clear out a lot of the items that will not be moving to the new home. This is also a great source of cash for them, which many find quite surprising. Sometimes thrilled at the money they receive and other times sad that that is all their life has been “worth”. Again, this is a very individual reaction and must be handled compassionately and carefully. Prepare them that they will usually not get top dollar but something is better than nothing, they may be pleasantly surprised. Under no circumstances should family members go to Mom and Dad over disputes because they each feel they have the “rights” to something. I’ve watched this happen too many times and the pain in Mom and Dad’s eyes just breaks my heart! They are watching their life of 40-60 years slowly walk out the door forever and their family is more concerned about fighting than showing love and compassion for Mom and Dad when they need it most. What’s the name of that big ugly bird again? Oh yeah, vultures! Honestly! What “stuff” could possibly be more important than your parents’ breaking hearts??!!! This is the time to leave sibling rivalry in the past and focus on your parents!
Finally, getting the home ready for sale is the last step of the transition.This is where our expertise makes a huge difference. Many times, Mom and Dad have already moved out. There are basically 2 options here. If the home is outdated, you can sell it as a fixer upper. This means you are getting a rock bottom price, much less for the home than you would if it was updated and much more desirable to the younger buyers. We take the steps necessary to make your home appealing to the buyer demographic that is most likely to purchase your home. If your home is in a new development and is competing with newer homes, it needs to look like an appealing alternative! This means current colors, décor and furniture to make it look just as good! If the home is in a more mature neighborhood and other homes are seen as starter homes, then it is equally important to make your home more desirable than others, especially since the bidding wars have become much fewer. If the other homes have been updated and have newer countertops, newer flooring, and newer paint and décor, they will simply be more appealing than an older dated home with old wallpaper and green carpet! This means that your neighbors’ home may sell for $30,000, $50,000 or even $70,000 or more over your home, even if it’s the exact same square footage and layout! This is because buyers will pay more for a home in move in condition. Remember, many buyers are young couples with 2 jobs, maybe 1 or 2 young children, and tight budgets, and very hectic schedules. They simply do not have the time or the money to do renovations! They would rather buy a home that has been updated than one that requires a lot of work! If Mom and Dad’s home is outdated, and is appraising well below what other homes in the neighborhood sell for, we can help with this. Our Maximum Equity Program works with the Home Owner and the Realtor to determine what updates need to be done to bring the value of the home up to the upper selling range in your neighborhood. Our team of professional renovators and myself will design and complete the renovations. We work with the Realtor and Home Owner to determine a budget that everyone is comfortable with and allocate that budget to the top priorities needed to bring the home value up! The cost of the renovations is ALWAYS less than the increase in value. My goal is to increase the Home Owners’ equity so they walk away with more money for their retirement! The best part of the Program, is that we offer full financing for all renovations and staging work at a pre-agreed cost until the home sells. The Homeowner knows exactly what it will cost going in, and the Realtor has given them a post renovation dollar value or list price before we start, so they know the selling range of the home after the renovations. We take payment from the proceeds of the home sale so the Home Owner doesn’t have to pay anything up front if they are on a strict retirement budget! Basically I firmly believe your home IS YOUR retirement income! Every Home Owner should have the opportunity to maximize the equity in their single largest investment! One example was a home that initially appraised at $240,000. They did $24,000 in renovations and updates and staging. It listed for $315,000 and sold for a whopping $355,000!!! It’s all about helping the client maximize their equity for the next phase of their life! It’s the best feeling in the world to help people do this!!!
If the home has been well maintained and updated, it may need very little in updates or staging. Sometimes, it may need a fresh coat of paint, some minor repairs, clean the carpet and we stage it with current décor and it looks fabulous! If the Home Owner has furniture that we can use, by all means I’m happy to do so to keep the rental costs down. We are after the best final result that will make the home look great and keep the costs as minimal as possible. If we need to bring furniture in, no problem, we can do as much or as little as required to meet the clients’ budget! There are times when the Home Owner chooses to pay for these services up front rather than financing them. That is fine. Whatever is the best option for the Home Owner is fine with us. Our goal is help in any way we can, and do what is necessary to ensure the Client gets the best sale price and an easy transition into the next phase of their lives.