Dear Savvy Senior,
I need to find some help with selling my elderly mother's house -- where she's lived for almost 50 years -- and relocating her to an apartment or condo closer to where I live. Can you recommend any businesses or services that specialize in helping seniors relocate?
The process of selling a house and moving to a new home, or downsizing to a condo, apartment or senior housing facility is a big job for anyone. But it can be especially overwhelming for seniors who are moving from a long time residence filled with decade's worth of stuff and a lifetime of memories. Fortunately, there are several specialized services available today that can help make your mom's move a lot easier.
Real Estate Specialist
To get help selling your mom's home and/or finding her a new one, you should look into hiring a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) or a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP). These are realtors that have received special training, making them better equipped to help seniors and their family members through the financial and often complex emotional issues that can come with selling a long time family home and relocating.
SRES and CSHP designees are educated and knowledgeable in such areas as downsizing, aging-in-place, senior housing options, reverse mortgages, as well as ways to use pensions, 401k accounts and IRAs in real estate transactions. And, if you need help from other professionals, a SRES and CSHP can put you in touch with qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs and other experts.
To learn more or to locate a professional in your area contact the SRES Council, which also offers a free "Moving On" guide that help seniors and their family members with the decisions and transitions that come with moving. And to find a CSHP see SeniorsRealEstateInstitute.com.
To help your mom get packed up and move, you should consider hiring a "senior move manager." These are organizers who assist older people with the challenges of relocating, and can minimize the stress of this major transition by doing most of the work for you.
They can help your mom pare down her belongings, decide what to take and what to dispose of, recommend charities for donations and help sell her unwanted items. They also get estimates from moving companies, oversee the movers, arrange the move date, supervise the packing and unpacking, have the house cleaned and just about anything you need related to her move.
Costs vary depending on the services and size of the move, but you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000, not including the cost of movers.
To locate a senior move manager visit the National Association of Senior Move Managers website at nasmm.org or call 877-606-2766. You can also search at Caring Transitions, the largest senior relocation and transition services franchised company in the U.S.
But, before you hire one, be sure you ask for references from previous clients and check them. Also find out how many moves they have actually managed, and get a written list of services and fees. And make sure they're insured and bonded.
If you can't find a senior move manager in your area, another option is to hire a certified professional organizer who specializes in downsizing and relocating. To find one, check the National Association of Professional Organizers who has a searchable database on their website at napo.net.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.