Selling Your Parents Home

Jeff Peterson
Jeff Peterson
Published on November 5, 2018

One of life’s most challenging aspects is watching our parents age. Then comes the day when you, and they, realize they’ve lost their physical independence.

Whether they are downsizing into a smaller, less maintenance-intensive home or are moving in with you, or to a care home, giving up a long-loved home is heart wrenching. Selling your parents home will require thought and consideration and no one should rush into this.

Thankfully, they have you and you have me and I have tips to help you sell your parents home through this difficult time.

Get legal advice

You may be required to use the proceeds of the sale to pay for your parents’ care if they will be moving to an assisted living facility or long-term care facility and will require Medicaid to pay for their care.

Speak with your attorney early in the process to learn about the complex aspects of selling your parents home.

Line up some labor

Cleaning out your parents home is a huge job so don’t try to tackle this alone. If you have siblings, insist on their help.

sabinevanerp / Pixabay

Not only will you need their muscle but having family around may help ease your parents’ transition as well.

Otherwise, hire some help. Visit the neighbors to let them know what’s happening and ask for a referral to local manual laborers. Who knows? They may volunteer to help! Or even better, they may know someone who wants to buy your parents home.

Hire a real estate agent

It may seem that it’s too early in the process to hire a listing agent to sell your parents home, but that is not the case.

As your agent, I should see your parents home before you start moving things out of it. I can offer invaluable advice on what to leave for staging purposes in your parents home.

Ask me for tips on the condition of your parents home. Whether to paint, replace carpet or any other updates, that will make the home more attractive to potential buyers.

As your agent, I will also be able to refer you to an estate sale company (if needed to help get rid of belongings), cleaners, painters and more.

Hiring an agent early in the process also allows Mom and Dad to get to know the agent and feel more comfortable about the sale process.

Move first, then sell

Because it’s so important for the homeowner not to be present during buyer showings, most experienced real estate agents will counsel you to move your parents before putting your parents home on the market.

If they need the equity from the current home to move, however, come up with another solution. Perhaps they can stay with you or a sibling until your parents home sells.

It’s time to purge

Purging a lifetime of belongings (and memories) will be the most challenging aspect of downsizing for your parents. What to keep, what to get rid, of will be decisions not easily made.

“ … the problem isn’t denial, but rather, the extraordinary difficulty associated with giving up items that are so closely linked to their identities, their past and their memories,” claims Sarah J. Stevenson at

It’s not really the items, it’s the memories attached to them

One way to ease your parents’ reluctance is to promise them that you will photograph everything they decide to get rid of and place the photos in a lovely scrapbook that they can take with them to their new home.

Or, if they prefer, you can video their cherished-but-leaving items. This way, they’ll still be able to refresh those memories.

Still, unless the parent is suffering from dementia, it’s important to allow him or her to take the lead in the purge. Yes, it will be slow-going, but it’s important that, in the future, they don’t look back and feel they were railroaded into getting rid of certain items. Remember, the memories of your parents home is what is most important to them.

Gather family members together to go through your parents home and their purge pile. As one elderly woman in an online forum stated, “It is SO much better to know cherished family things will continue on.”

Have conversations with Mom and Dad about these items and the stories behind them. This helps ease their anxiety and lets them know that the memories associated with the items will live on.

If the time has come to sell your parents home, please give me a call as I would be happy to help.

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