By Joy Loverde
Let’s say Mom and Dad have decided to move into a retirement community or move closer to you, and now they want you to handle the process of selling their home. Where do you start? Worse yet, what if you don’t live anywhere near your parents? How do you accomplish this important task from long distance?
I was a long distance family caregiver living in Chicago when Mom called me from Florida. She said her husband, Bill was not well and they are ready to move back home. I was put in charge of helping her find a real estate agent – with no time to spare. The house had to sell fast – not an easy feat in the Florida housing market. Good news is the house sold in one week – thanks to hiring the right real estate agent.
Here are a few tips from my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner (Random House, 2009, Updated and Revised) if you are now in charge of getting the house sold.
For starters, make sure the real estate agents that you are considering meet the following criteria:
- they are full-time real estate agents (no part-timers)
- they have achieved the highest sales ranking within their company
- they proven sales records (you can find this information online). You only want to work with the best.
Once you narrow down your search to the top three agents, conduct a Google background check on each of them. What are others saying about them? Do they have an excellent reputation?
Next step is to call the top three on your list and interview them over the phone. Did they call you back promptly if you left a voice message? Did they listen as you spoke about your situation? Did you like what you heard?
If the answer to these questions is “yes” then give your parents the contact information of your top three agents and ask them to interview each of them over the phone as well. If they have a “good feeling” about the agents then it’s time to invite them to the house for an in-person interview.
There are more specific questions to ask agents in the interview process. You’ll find a complete list of questions online on my website (www.elderindustry.com). Go to the “Downloads” tab and scroll down to the Chapter 9 Housing chapter.
In the meantime, here are a few questions to get you started.
How many homes in this area have you sold in the past two years?
What is your track record for average number of days on market?
The right real estate agent should also have excellent marketing skills. Ask the agents what their strategy will be to sell the house. Also ask if they have a website. These days many houses are sold over the Internet.
Finally, if you are a long-distance family caregiver and you are trying to accomplish the goal of getting your parents’ house sold from far away, perhaps the most important question you can ask yourself is this…
Do I sincerely believe that this particular real estate agent will become almost a “family member” to Mom and Dad? Will he/she be willing to go far beyond the call of duty to help them and me during this process?
After you choose the real estate agent, there are a few very important tasks that you need to complete in order to get the house sold.
- Make sure your parents can locate the title to the house and any other house-sale related legal documents.
- If your parents are co-owners on the house, make sure each of them has established a separate Power of Attorney in the event of incapacity during the house-sale process. THIS IS CRITICAL. Make sure you have copies of the POA documents.
I wish you well.