How do you Help your Elderly Parent Downsize and Sell The Family Home?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Fred Griffin Real Estate Florida Broker BK436788

    The time comes for many families when the elderly parents are no longer able to care for the large house that the family grew up in.  The parents want to "downsize", perhaps to a retirement community or assisted living facility.  What steps should the adult children take to help their parent(s) sell their house?


House in Tallahassee, Florida


     I was contacted recently by a family who is deciding "what to do" about selling Mama's house, and settling her into a new place.  Could I come by, and look at their house, and talk with them about it?

     One of the adult daughters greeted me at the door.  "Mama has lived in this house since the early 1950's," she informed me.  "She and Daddy raised us all right here."  The walls of the house were adorned with family photos.  I was shown the late husband's office and library. 

      "Mama doesn't want to leave all of this, and neither do we, but you know it's such a big house and everything, we just feel like the time has come.  We looked at that new assisted living place off of Thomasville Road; we have talked with them about it, they would take good care of Mama, the cost is not an issue for us, but we still are not sure." 

     The daughter continued.  "My brother and my sister don't really want to sell this house, but Sis lives in Atlanta and my brother is in Miami.  My husband and I are settled on the northeast side of Tallahassee; we wouldn't move back into this house.  So we are all discussing what to do about it."


 Family Photo

     It was my turn to speak.  "So you have two decisions to make, don't you?  First, your mother has to decide whether she wants to move into the assisted living place.  Second, there is this house.  If your mother moves out, should you sell the house?  Rent it?  Use the house for family gatherings now and then?"

     "Well, what if we decide to sell the house?  What do we need to do?" she asked.


House in Tallahassee, Florida



     Here is my advice to you, or to any family who is selling the house of a relative or elderly parent:


  1.  You as a family should make the decision together.  Your parent(s), as long as they are legally and mentally competent, will have the final say.

  2.  You need to consult an Attorney.  You want signed documentation from all of the children, and of course from your mother, that everyone is in agreement to sell the house.  If there is any misunderstanding in the future, you will have that document to remind each other that you all said, "Yes".  The Attorney will also give you any necessary legal advice regarding the sale.  If a Power of Attorney is needed, the Lawyer can create the required legal form.

  3.  You should also consult a CPA or Tax Attorney regarding the sale of your mother's principal residence.  You may not think that your mother will have to pay any Capital Gains Tax on the net proceeds from the sale of this house, but you need a professional opinion from a CPA to be absolutely certain.

  4.  Get a pre-sale Home Inspection, and a pre-sale Wood Destroying Organisms Inspection (a "Termite Letter").  This can help you avoid unpleasant surprises; it can also help you if the Buyer wants to renegotiate after he or she makes his own inspections.

  5.  Hire a Licensed Real Estate Appraiser to determine the asking price for your family house.  Provide the Appraiser with the reports from the Home Inspectors.  If a family member later says that, "Mama should have asked more money for the house," you have the written opinion of value from the Appraiser to justify why you priced it as you did.

  6.  Sell the house "As Is, Subject to Inspections".  The house I was called about was built in the year 1952.  That 65-year old house may need thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades (I sold a house recently that required $35,000 worth of structural repairs).  See your Attorney before you sign ANY contract that reads, "Seller Warrants", or "Seller Agrees to Make Necessary Repairs".

  7.  "Mama" needs to move to her new home before we put this house on the market.  It will be much easier to show the house to prospective Buyers, and to sell the house, if it is already vacant.  Get your mother settled into her new home at the assisted living complex, then we will put the house up for sale.



Married Couple Husband and Wife Historic



    When the time comes to sell the house of an elderly parent or relative, there are certain steps that you and your family should take.  See an Attorney and a CPA for legal and financial advice.  Have the property inspected to get a professional overview of the condition of the house.  Hire an Appraiser to help you set the highest realistic asking price.  If it is financially feasible, vacate the house before putting it on the market.



Posted by


Frederick Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker    850-545-1901


Tallahassee Florida Metropolitan Area

Exclusive Representation for Buyers and Sellers 

Call Fred  850-545-1901


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Frederick Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker    850-545-1901


Disclaimer:  Nothing in the above blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.



Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Home Selling
Florida Leon County Tallahassee
Active Rain Newbies
Addicted to Active Rain
Tallahassee Real Estate
assisted living
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home selling for senior citizens

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Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

This is certainly not an easy life change for the person living in the house, or for the entire family. Thanks for the overview of things to consider.

Jun 17, 2017 06:11 AM #7
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
Realty National - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Fred Griffin This is perfect advice and well worth as re-blog which I will do post-haste, before I get beat to the punch!

Jun 17, 2017 07:16 AM #8
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Hi Fred, I saw the reblog from Norm, and can see why he wanted to share this important post. You nailed all of the emotional aspects of this type of sale - it's so important to consider the issues you outline. 

Jun 17, 2017 07:45 AM #9
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
Keller Williams 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

EXCELLENT information....and my PS to this is it is the very wisest decision to be made while Mom is still here to help decide. 

Jun 17, 2017 07:46 AM #10
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Excellent information here on helping an elderly parent sell. Such an emotional and sad time.

I'm surprised this isn't featured. It should be!

Jun 17, 2017 07:54 AM #11
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Such a timely and important post, Fred Griffin ... as there are so many families finding themselves in this situation these days.  I'm sure manyright here on AR too.  

Having been through this with my in-laws ... and having to have that discussion with my own mother, I  know how emotionally charged it can be.  It's definitely the time to have someone, such as yourself, that is sensitive and educated to all the needs of the family/Seller on your side.

Definitely featuring this ... and bookmarking it for future sharing ... thank you!


                                                 FEATURED IN BANANATUDE!




                                        CONGRATULATIONS!   WELL DONE!





Jun 17, 2017 10:50 AM #12
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi 

 Hi, Gene!   Thank you for featuring this post in "Bananatude".  

Jun 17, 2017 03:02 PM #13
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

 Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI NMLS#1483386 

  Thanks for reblogging this post.  

  From the comments here, and on your reblog, it is obvious that many of us Realtors encounter this situation not only from clients, but with our own family members.

Jun 17, 2017 03:04 PM #14
Patricia Feager
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Fred Griffin - I think it's just a matter of time before this becomes a feature story. The content, the photos, the soul searching and advice is perfect! Adult children need to read this and discuss it thoroughly. It's a family decision and you really shared great information that needs to be contemplated seriously.

Your blog post is so good, I think it could even be made into a documentary and shown during the holidays, e.g., Thanksgiving. 

Jun 20, 2017 07:13 AM #15
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Patricia Feager 

   Thanks for your kind  words.

   I am listing the family house of close personal friends next month.  The mother is in her 80's, she has already moved into assisted living.

Jun 20, 2017 07:16 AM #16
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker

Good morning Fred. Thanks to Carol Williams I did not miss this excellent post! Enjoy your day!

Jun 24, 2017 06:00 AM #17
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Fred - this is a really thoughtful discussion.  I went through this too and your steps to follow are spot on.

Jun 24, 2017 08:33 AM #18
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

HI Fred, 

Well written post! There is a lot to consider when selling your parents home and I have seen many hurt feelings over this.  

Jun 24, 2017 02:06 PM #19
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

WOW Fred, that is a very sensitive and thoughtful way to approach the difficult situation that many adult children find themselves in with elderly parents.

Jun 24, 2017 04:56 PM #20
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good evening Fred Griffin ,

This is a situation that we are seeing and will continue to see. It's a family decision and you really shared great information that needs to be contemplated seriously. It's so important to consider the issues you outlined. 

Jun 24, 2017 06:03 PM #21
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Great and informative post Fred Griffin .  I have helped many clients through this process and now helping my father through it as well.

Jun 25, 2017 07:34 PM #22
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Lisa Von Domek 

   Best to your father, and to you, during this chapter of life.

Jun 25, 2017 08:26 PM #23
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Some families are easier to deal with than others...certainly a very difficult time for everyone...usually especially the parent

Jul 16, 2017 11:33 PM #24
Susan Jackson
America's Network Realty Group, Inc - Sandy Springs, GA

This post discusses steps that need to be taken, and how they can prevent future arguments among family members.  Thanks for this valuable information

Jul 17, 2017 10:30 AM #25
Caroline Gerardo
Eagle Home Mortgage, LENNAR HOMES Home Loans - Newport Beach, CA
C. G. Barbeau the Loan Lady

Fred Griffin  What a wonderful article. I have  clients and friends making these decisions. I like the thoughtful advice to get and agreement signed by the parent and the children Family emotions about the "homestead" can linger for years. Often the parent needs the funds to be able to pay for assisted living. I wish there were more options for those who can't climb the stairs or do all the duties of caring for oneself and a house. 

Jul 17, 2017 11:26 AM #26
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