In a Seller’s Senior Shoes

There are many times in this business I am the fortunate one. 

One can learn a lot more from a client than any formative real estate class. Want to learn more about Alzheimer’s? Work with clients who must cope with their parents who live with 24/7 at home care, while dealing with an aging mom who is losing her ability to recognize her children. Wonder what it’s like to care for aging parents when living thousands of miles away? Or, how does one pay for the extraordinary cost of home health care? These questions are becoming too common in the realm of advocacy in selling real estate for seniors and their families.

First thing, first: selling doesn’t always need be an only option. Consider leasing your loved one’s home.

Second: resources exist. Whatever county you live in, google senior home health care, senior resources or senior services. Some counties offer more resources than others. If you’re not able to find help in the county you live in, look at nearby counties.

Here, I share a recent example of what it’s like to be in a seller’s shoes. 

Not all sellers are alike. Not all real estate agents are alike. Sometimes they connect, sometimes not. With Doug and Ellen and sister, Nancie, our professional bond focuses on one thing: their parents. Living with 24 hour care in their home, mom has Alzheimer’s. Dad’s around too. The adult kids needed to sell mom and dad’s rental homes in Orange to help offset the cost of 24 hour home health care. Three years ago, we sold one home. Just last month, the other. A privilege to be a part of their story.

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The stories continue. I am the fortunate one.

The Philosophy of an Uncommon Agent

Ah, real estate. Us agents are making the big bucks, right? What’s in selling a home anyway? Put a sign up, mail a few hundred postcards, fill the calendar with multiple open houses, get fellow brokers and agents to come view the home..easy, peasy. With all things virtual and mobile today, geez, notwithstanding good ‘ole MLS, there’s tons of websites and your listing is virtually alive until it’s sold. How difficult is all of this? I mean, what is the big deal of selling a house and why pay so much to sell it? Besides the obvious answer being, oh, there’s a lot of money and legalities of selling or buying a home, some issues have very little to do with either of those. It’s called human connection.

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Yep, people are human. It’s a strange concept, though this REALTOR usually prioritizes that issue and people come first. We do a lot for our sellers and sometimes our sellers aren’t quite aware of our service until their house gets sold and they’re on their way to their next place of residence. As frustrating as this biz can be, it becomes apparent we need to do more to educate our sellers, including yours truly.

I am not a high-volume agent. You can’t mass produce the intimate service I provide to each of my clients. I don’t work in a large brokerage. I work with a small, yet mighty team who support each other, though each transaction is my own.

I serve clients. I earn listings, one at a time. 95% of my business comes from referrals. My services are not for everyone, I know. Some people want the marketing and their price, bottom line and could care less about actual service. Yet for those who need a good dose of human connection with their agent while selling their home, I’m your girl.

There’s a place for high-volume philosophies. Some agents are out there hustling, working their various listings, consistently prospecting, jumping in full force. I do all of that too. Only my energy goes out to one person at a time: you. I much prefer taking on what I can chew well, without sacrificing my integrity or ability to be there for my clients when needed. My “prospecting” approach is reaching out to those who know me and continue building on relationships that are meaningful.  In terms of a client, most of my prospecting involves caring for them at that time and not concerned about my next listing. It’s full force – individually.

Money matters. I like making money. I like earning what I believe I’m worth. Like others, there are financial responsibilities to take care of. Money is a fascinating phenomenon. When it comes to real estate agents, we all have our own philosophies of our business and how we like to operate. One equates success as a top producing listing agent, while others enjoy the search representing buyers. I equate success as doing both. Clients have different needs; gotta do what’s best for them. That’s the beauty of building a business as a real estate agent. It’s taken years to discover I’m right on target with the kind of business I want, the kind of business where I can work for the best broker that aligns with my philosophy and make a difference in each clients’ life, one transaction at a time.

What’s most important in your relationship with a real estate professional? Why did you choose that person to work with? What traits did you like? I love hearing other experiences. Carry on. 🙂

Dementia, Seniors and Selling a House: Where to Begin?

Begin where it matters: your parents needs. 

Having dealt with the difficult decision of whether or not to move my dad-in-law from his home, aside from the question of when, eventually the decision was based on what was best for dad more than any other reason. After he’d fallen once, several months before moving out, this was a great indicator of concerns to come. Granted, dad had dementia. It had progressed and his needs were more pronounced than seniors who show no signs of memory issues. This in mind, and in my experience with dad as well as other clients I’ve helped, here are questions to consider before making the decision of moving mom and/or dad from their home to an alternate senior residence, such as independent senior apartments or assisted living. 

  • Has your loved one been assessed by a geriatric doctor, someone who specializes in dementia? What was the outcome? Was a driver’s license in question or taken away?
  • Does your loved one live alone or with someone else? If living with someone, is that person able to care for your loved one or do they too, need assistance from time to time?
  • What is the condition of the home? Is it safe? Can your loved one cook? Should they be near a kitchen stove or do they forget to turn it off after using? Are there ample grab bars throughout the home? How much is your loved one able to care for him or herself without assistance of any kind?
  • What are your financial options? What kinds of financial resources do you or your family have? What resources can you use to care for your parent(s) if you should decide they remain home or move?
  • How are they socially? Do they enjoy the company of others, activities or would they perhaps be more comfortable in a living environment with less stimulus?
  • What are the current rental prices in your neighborhood? Could your parent(s) move, keep the house and use rental income to cover part of the cost for assisted living? Should they consider selling at all?
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Dad in front of his house a few years before moving to assisted living. 🙂

 

I know there’s a lot to think about. And no two people or circumstances are alike. Dementia is an umbrella term; there are many types, some more progressive than others. With dad, he plateaued a long time – very few serious signs emerged for several years. Nonetheless, keeping in tune with his behavior, spending time doing activities, going places, sharing life with him helped understand and see when those serious signs appeared. In the meantime, we were able to do the research and gain information necessary for when the day came he needed to move out of his house.

Before making the important decision whether or not to sell your parents’ house while dealing with dementia, my hope is you seek the help you need. Please use the resources available to you, be it Alzheimer’s Association or other community resources in the particular county you live in. Look for various senior resources above in the menu under the title called “Senior Real Estate:  Advocacy”.  And I’m always available to help. Contact me anytime. Know that you need not make difficult decisions by yourself. Your parents are in caring hands.

Buying a House: Just Like Getting Married, It’s All In The Prep

Here’s the skinny on buying a house in today’s market. It’s not neurosurgery though to purchase a home right now takes a lot of preparation. Kind of like a finding the right partner for a successful marriage. Stay with me.

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There are 3 stages to the home buying process:

  1. Finding a home.
  2. Negotiating the contract.
  3. Get through the escrow process

Just as there are 3 stages to getting married: 

  1. Find a partner.
  2. Negotiate the relationship.
  3. Get married. 

Get Qualified

Talk to a lender. Talk to a few lenders. Find out what programs are available for your specific needs.  Talk to your partner. How qualified is that partner for your specific needs? Your offer is much more likely to be seriously considered by a seller if you’ve done your due diligence and proper homework completed before even beginning the search. Have that pre-qualified letter handy. Email to your agent, in fact. They’ll keep it in their file for you, usually good for 3 months.  And might even want to write a personal letter to the seller too, reasons why you’d be the perfect buyer. Sellers like knowing a prospective buyer is human.

Interview Agents

Not all agents are from the same ilk. Again, kinda like finding the right partner. Some bond easier than others. You think you’ll marry the first one who asks you out? Perhaps. For the Realtor, ask a lot of questions. Don’t skimp. Ask why he is the best agent for your particular needs? How well does he know the hood? What will he do during the process of a search other agents may or may not do? How does the agent feel about where she hangs her license? Is she ‘eh’ about her company or stand by and share their philosophy? What is an agent’s philosophy? Why is the sky blue and what does it take to get a returned phone call response to my voicemail? Things like that.

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Unlike preparing for marriage, the term timely manner is at one’s discretion. Since this website sticks to matters of real estate, we’ll save a marriage blog post elsewhere.  For a real estate transaction today, motivation to get paperwork done in a timely manner remains paramount to getting an offer accepted. Depending on how motivated a buyer is, get all that fun paperwork done before your search. Have it ready in hand or online, give to your agent of choice and feel the anticipation of a possible acceptance. Maybe, just maybe, the seller will say YES. 

Transforming Family Thru Real Estate

La familia, real estate and a trust: what to do, what to do?

There’s ample reason for taking time in making big decisions after a loved one dies. Upon the death of Mom a year and a half ago, first thoughts of what to do with her house: gut the kitchen, new granite tops, tile floor – the intention was to rent it out, make the most of what Mom worked so hard for and keep her legacy alive at the beach.

Mom's House: Circa 1933
Mom’s House: Circa 1933

Let’s face it, beach house + tenants = goldmine, yes? Not so fast, landlord. Time has a way of teaching different perspectives.
Though it seemed logical to keep the beach house for numerous financial and emotional reasons, my bro and I began questioning what he and I really wanted for ourselves. We came to the realization that we each had our own specific goals. Now we had to work together to find the right compromises that would enable us to move forward.

A living trust takes trust. And good faith.

As co-executors, Mom knew very well how well her kids would work together. This escaped me at the time, as one doesn’t think about such things while a parent is living. Once she was gone, brother and sister had to take the time necessary to reconnect with other and to understand where we were in our individual lives. I commend my Mama for taking action and creating a living trust years ago, as well as for having the faith that her children would do the right thing for themselves and for each other. Her preparation has raised a new awareness of our own lives as we now wish to take care of our own kids as she did for us.

The decision to sell Mom’s house, although not easy, now feels right. When a loved one passes on, give yourself time. Breathe, think, feel, mourn. If there’s real estate involved, even more reason. That property ain’t going anywhere. Decisions should be made with clarity. Other people mean well. They may give advice, feel they are helpful yet not understand your exact situation. Most people believe a simple will will allow heirs to handle the sale of a home. Not true. Depending on the situation it’s very likely “probate” will skim some of the sale profits.  Consider a trust. It’s a gift of legacy. 

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Mom & Paul, (aka, my bro) at 1405
Sometime late 90s
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Mom & Carin 1405 – the circular house:
Sometime late 80s

Surround yourself with trusted advisors, whether they be personal friends or professionals such as a trust attorney, tax consultant and yes, even a Realtor. Shameless plug? You bet. Call it what you will, pretty convicted about this one. Through my own personal experience, the care and compassion I bring to the table are that much stronger, authentic, to the point and undeniably altruistic. Sharing my personal story of Mom – a way to help you, someone you care about, the objective to simply let others know I understand, I care and if need be, will be there to help. 

In the near future, more to share regarding other real estate issues – the purpose, to share, engage and hopefully make one think a little bit, learn a little something.  I make a living helping families find their next home.  A very cool thing. 

Click on link to check out Mom’s house. 🙂

http://animoto.com/play/0EWcemc00DGav96ldzlbZQ