Patience and compassion: Helping the retirement community make the challenging transition away from their homes

Patience and compassion: Helping the retirement community make the challenging transition away from their homes

I feel very fortunate to be able to give presentations at retirement homes because it allows me to connect with and help people who are facing big decisions. Well-Spring Community, for example, invites me in from time to time to meet with Greensboro residents who are grappling with a lot of questions involving when they should make the move away from their longtime homes and into a retirement community.

They want to know about the current market and whether or not it’s a good time to sell. A lot of people aren’t in tune with that. It can be hard to stay informed about the market when you’ve got a lot of other things going on in your life. They also want to know what they would have to do to get a good price for their home. How can they manage a move right now? What’s involved in staging? All of these uncertainties build up and cause stress.

As we give a market update and provide staging techniques and other helpful information, we aren’t trying to sell them on working with us. I view these conversations as a public service. Most people think retirement is a laid-back time when you’re no longer working, but it actually can be very stressful. With real estate being a big factor, my team and I have the opportunity to help. Here are a few ways that we, as real estate agents, can minimize the stress of moving out of a beloved home and into a retirement community.

Be compassionate
When you have been in a house for decades, maybe even 50 years like some of my clients, your home represents all of your family memories. Everywhere you look, there is something meaningful that’s hard to let go. The prospect of leaving that home and getting rid of so many possessions can be a difficult thing to process. And, for people who have lived through the Depression, possessions can mean a lot to them. They value their books, their artwork, their furniture and their decor because they worked very hard to have them. I respect that, I don’t rush them, and I make sure they know I understand how hard the decluttering process can be — along with many other aspects of such a big life transition.

Ease the staging process
The staging process can help you detach and transition to the idea of a new home because as your home is being painted and redecorated, it begins to no longer feel like your house. You can start imagining your next phase as you begin to let go. Some people can handle that and find it helpful while others find it difficult to be in the home during staging. In this case, I encourage homeowners to move out of the house when it comes time to stage. They feel reassured knowing progress is being made on selling their former home while they are already settling into their new one.

Keep it personal by minimizing electronic transactions
Everything in our industry has become electronic. Every day, clients are providing electronic signatures for real estate transactions and they are grateful for the convenience. This is typically not the case for people who are moving into a retirement home. You need to respect how they have done business over the years, and most often that’s been in person, not over email or text. It’s important to go see them, spend time with them and walk them through different phases of the closing process. They appreciate handwritten notes and phone calls. They want that kind of interaction — and you want to show them that you are going to be with them every step of the way.

I absolutely love working with people at this point in their life. I love the time I get to spend with them and the opportunity to learn from them. Their perspective is important and comes from experiencing a great deal over decades of time. They can teach us so much. Plus, this is an emotional time and it’s an honor to share in what they are going through and let them know they have our support.

Without a doubt, patience and compassion are an absolute must when working with clients who are selling their family homes and facing an entirely new way of life. Put your phone in the car when you visit them, or turn it over so that it won’t distract you. Give them the time and care they deserve. Think about what is going to keep them relaxed and focused and how you can help ease their minds. And trust me — there is nothing better than helping them make this immense transition and come out on the other side feeling secure and relieved.

For more on this topic, I invite you to listen to the episode “Retirement Reality: Staying Upbeat While Downsizing” from my podcast Melissa Unscripted. You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio and more. What other questions do you have about transitioning to retirement? Let me know in the comments!

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