What to consider when selling later in life, plus what to watch out for.
Does your age factor into selling your home?
“At different stages of life, you have different needs,” explains Sudbury REALTOR® Gwen Price. “Those in their 30s to 40s are looking to sell their first home and buy their second, move-up home, usually because of the growth of family and income. Those in their 50s and 60s are looking to possibly downsize and move into an apartment or condo. Clients who are 70s+ are often physically unable to maintain the home and are usually on a fixed income. They’re not typically buying another house; they are wanting to move into an apartment or a retirement home.”
Price is one of the cohosts of a TV show called Ageing in Action. Interviews on the show focus on healthy ageing in Northern Ontario, not just for seniors, but for all ages. The agent has a certificate in gerontology, a SRES® (Seniors Real Estate Specialist®) designation and has always been a big advocate for seniors and protecting them.
“I love their stories and I feel like there’s such a great amount of ageism out there. It’s so subtle in all of the marketing and the news, as though once you’ve reached this threshold, you must be ready for the retirement home. But baby boomers are very involved, we worked outside the home and have a different mindset. In their 60s and 70s, people are thinking about things differently.”
Price is very well-connected and has an extensive network of contacts that she draws on.
She attends the Seniors Advisory Panel Network monthly meeting to keep abreast of things happening in the City of Greater Sudbury. “I like to be considered a trusted source of information,” the agent says.
Those who are 50 and over are often thinking of downsizing. They may have become empty-nesters or plan to retire soon, so they need less house. There are several things to take into account: are they still able to maintain the home themselves or do they need to hire people to do repairs? Are they part of the sandwich generation, where they have elderly parents, and their kids need help to go to school or buy their first home? Some may actually find a home with an extra unit more suitable for their needs.
Price recommends that people who fall into this category think about the equity in their home and their retirement needs. “Think about YOUR needs, not what others think you need,” she says. “Don’t be pressured by family or others to sell your home if you’re not ready. Listen to qualified, trusted professionals. Be very wary of people trying to take advantage of you to convince you to sell your home.”
She worries especially about those “handwritten” notes that are being delivered to many doors and the effect this can have on the frail elderly. “They are looking to take advantage of the vulnerable,” Price warns. It’s a strong sellers’ market after all, and people over 70 are more susceptible to coercion and elder abuse. She doesn’t want anyone to fall for this worrisome tactic and cautions homeowners not to accept offers like this. “I don’t begrudge people selling privately, but you shouldn’t accept an offer without consulting someone first. Vulnerable people are being taken advantage of.”
In this market, that means you could lose $100,000, a costly mistake. Many buyers come to Sudbury with the intention to buy homes, flip them and sell them—to make a profit on the backs of vulnerable people. These letters often appear to be from a nice young couple who are just starting out and they position their interest in your home as wanting to help.
“Isolation and loneliness have made this demographic vulnerable to those that will take advantage,” warns Price, a senior herself. She’s still healthy, still working and cares deeply about seniors.
The pandemic has also added health concerns into the mix. Fear of the virus has many homeowners frightened of having hordes of people come through their house.
Sellers in this age range do face unique challenges. Health needs start to become part of the ageing process. People may find they need less stairs, so a condo or a smaller home may be more suitable. Finances also come into play; being on a fixed income may make costly repairs difficult to fund.
There are definitely some benefits to selling your home when you’re over the age of 50. Usually by this point you have lots of equity in your home, which makes it a source of income you can use, whether that’s to age in place comfortably, travel, invest or pay off debt (credit cards, loans, etc.).
“Often this age group has lived in their home for many years, raised their family and there are lots of memories, mostly good. It is an emotional process to go through,” says Price. “It is also signalling to them that they are coming into a stage of life that they may feel they are losing control of their lives, that they won’t be listened to for their needs and wants. They need someone to listen to them, have patience and empathy.”
For more information, visit Gwen Price Homes or call 705-561-2335.