Sometimes we get so busy and involved in the real estate business, that we overlook the obvious when it comes to the condition of our parents' and grandparents homes. On a regular basis, we prepare older homeowners to "downsize," move into assisting living facilities, or into more accessible, one-floor dwellings. We pride ourselves in explaining to these folks the positive impression that an up-to-date bathroom, modern kitchen, or clutter-free living space will make on buyers who view homes with critical eyes and limited forgiveness- especially in this "Buyer's Market!"
Like the tale of the shoemaker whose children were relegated to wear ill-fitting and ragged shoes, are some of us guilty of not protecting our parents and grandparents from the ill effects of reduced property values because of run-down conditions, massive over cluttering and/or or functional obsolescence?
Several years ago, the proverbial "chickens came home to roost," when my mother, a widow, decided to move from the house where she and my late father had lived for more than 50 years. Suffice it to say, that the bitter-sweet task of preparing the home for resale was daunting. Although my mother had taken care of some critical home repairs and replacements such as the installation of vinyl siding and the rebuilding of a caved-in porch, I had to call a plumber, electrician, "junk" hauler, HVAC technician, painter, professional cleaner, and lawn specialist to correct significant issues. In a two-week period, I slept less than six hours a night and maintained such a regimented schedule that I felt like a robot. The prospect of not being ready to place my childhood home on the market before the end of my two-week vacation brought about near "panic attacks."
One of the biggest culprits in this whirlwind home-readying marathon was a beloved earthly creature who collected and saved EVERYTHING in the event of needing this or that some day. A "pack-rat" by nature, my late father had crammed tools, machinery, signs, two-by fours, golf clubs, cement blocks, fishing rods, ladders, and countless other objects into every nook and cranny in our basement, attic, garage, and garage attic. I developed the little-know art of throwing random objects into the huge dumpster rented for the tidy sum of $500. Would you believe that I could identify the targets that the projectiles hit by sound? Aluminum, copper, glass, plastic, paper, etc...
After meeting the deadline when the entire house and garage were empty and ready for potential buyers to scrutinize, I was moved with emotion at seeing the small ranch house where I grew up naked and cold. Near exhaustion swept over me as I helped my beloved mother into my car and headed out the gravel driveway for the last time.
It is with genuine concern for parents and grandparents everywhere, that I offer the following caveat to all Active Rainers: Help these loved ones protect what are probably their largest investments. From an asset-management perspective, explain the need for them to maintain their properties in the best shape possible. If they are no longer able to take care of improvements such as replacing worn-out carpeting or patching cracks in the walls or ceilings, please help them in any way you can. In the end, it will mean peace of mind, a higher sales price, and less stress and strain on everyone.