“I want to sell my home, but my kids are against it. How do I make us all happy?” Practical advice from an experienced Realtor®
For the last fifteen years, my niece has lived with her grandmother, providing companionship and making sure she is okay. My niece doesn’t drive and doesn’t work. Now that her grandmother has chosen an apartment at an assisted living community, it’s time to sell her home. But my niece says this is her home too, and won’t leave. What do we do?
The challenge of helping live-in companions relocate when it comes time to sell an older adult’s home is more common than many folks realize. In our experience, we have frequently assisted clients with two moves: helping the older homeowner downsize into a care community, and guiding the live-in family member / caregiver to a new home for them. This can be tricky to navigate, because the family member / caregiver is legally a tenant, and as such is entitled to all of the rights and protections of state and local landlord-tenant law. While some are cooperative and understanding, others may refuse to move, creating real and expensive obstacles to the sale of the home.
We suggest several initial steps: Providing plenty of advance notice in writing, offer to cover their costs of packing and moving, and if possible, provide funds for first month’s rent and security deposit in a new place. These can ease the financial burden of relocation. Family members / caregivers who have no way to pay rent elsewhere, because they have no consistent income, may have to adjust to a new chapter in their life where they become self-supporting. If your niece refuses to move, and her grandmother’s care and housing needs can’t be met because of this, a wise next step will be to consult with an attorney for specific guidance.
I’m getting tired of taking care of my big three-level house with all the repairs and upkeep. I’d like to “retire” to a small apartment, and sell my home. But my kids are protesting that they thought I would leave the home to them, and they don’t want me to sell it. I feel stuck between what they want and what I need. How do I make us both happy?
Taking care of a big house is a lot of work! It requires labor, time, and money to keep everything ship-shape inside and out, year after year. It is normal and expected, after decades of this ongoing investment, to want to hang up the homeowner hat and enjoy a simpler lifestyle of apartment living. Ultimately, since this is your home, it is your decision when and how you will sell the home. In our experience, we have found there are always a wide range of opinions in families about downsizing, and it is virtually impossible to please everyone at the same time.
As a compromise, if you wish, you can offer to stay in the home for a specified amount of time while your kids make arrangements to purchase the home from you. This can be for full market value or at a discount, whatever makes sense for you. A real estate broker can draw up the appropriate documents for this type of “off-market sale.” If they are unable or unwilling by the end of that period to purchase it, then at least they had the opportunity to try. At the end of the day, it’s important to do what’s best for you, your immediate needs, and your long-term care.
The homes in our neighborhood have been selling with bidding wars. We would rather not sell to an investor or builder who will tear our home down or radically change it – we hope to sell to someone who will keep its original charm. Do we have to sell to the highest offer? Do we have to sell to an investor if they beat the others in price?
There are important federal, state, and local laws regarding how a seller may choose the buyer of their home, which were written to prevent buyers from being excluded from homeownership on the basis of their race, skin color, nationality, gender, and many other factors. Historically, many groups of people were discriminated against in housing, and prohibited from buying a home. These laws protect their rights to homeownership.
However, “investor”, “builder”, and “house-flipper” are not one of these protected classes. It is perfectly legal and acceptable for a homeowner to choose a buyer who wants to live in the home, and plans to preserve the original charm with no intention of tearing it down. Sellers can inquire about this of potential buyers during the listing and sale process. It is also fine to choose an offer that is not the highest price in favor of choosing a lower offer from a buyer who appreciates your home’s features. You are not obligated to take the highest price. Two things to remember: 1) The decision of choosing a buyer cannot be based on the buyer’s identity as part of one of the protected classes (see www.hum.wa.gov/fair-housing for more details). 2) After the sale closes, it is highly unlikely that the past homeowner can influence the new homeowner’s decisions in regards to the home or property.
Ask your real estate broker for guidance in how to share your preference for an “owner-occupant” in the listing without compromising the outcome of your home sale. Good luck!
Do you have a real estate question for us? Send it to email@example.com.
Rebecca Bomann is Founder and CEO of SASH Services, and Designated Broker of SASH Realty. With a background in social work and elder care, Rebecca created SASH to provide real estate services tailored for clients’ unique needs. Since 2005, SASH has served clients of all ages, with specialized home sale services for older adults and their families.
Office: 6118 S 204th St Suite 395 Kent, WA