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Success in Seniors Real Estate

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Working With Downsizing Sellers

By March 18, 2021No Comments

Avoid these three mistakes when working with downsizing sellers.

What are the top three mistakes agents make when working with downsizing sellers? All agents will encounter long-time homeowners and downsizing sellers whether they focus on the senior niche or not. If you’re thinking, “Well, that’s not really my specialty,” please pay attention because the next client you talk to may be in this very situation. When I say “downsizing seller,” I mean someone who a) may have lived in their home for three, four, or five decades, or b) is moving from a larger house to a smaller one and has accumulated a lot of possessions over the years that they won’t be moving with them. 

Now, here are the top three mistakes you must avoid when working with these sellers:

1. Focusing only on the home sale. Long-time homeowners typically accumulate a lot of possessions. No matter how big their home is, they often have things in every nook and cranny. Even minimalists can have things they didn’t realize they had. If you list a home without noticing the challenges of dealing with the owner’s possessions or having the resources to do so, that can create problems for you and your client. 

“You need to ask downsizing sellers a lot of questions.”

2. Listing the home while occupied. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Why won’t my seller leave for showings?” In some cases, long-time owners have mobility issues, have a pet, or can’t drive after dark. Thus, they either can’t leave for showings or don’t feel safe doing so. In some cases, you may have to ask some questions to ensure they’re comfortable leaving for showings. There are a whole host of other things that can occur when listing a house while occupied that can have a cascading effect, and one of those is personal possessions. 

3. Solidifying a purchase contract before the client secures a new residence. If you’re thinking, “I would never sell someone’s home before they knew where they’d move next,” I thought the same thing. That is, until I started talking with senior living communities who said they’d get calls from clients who’d say they needed to look at an apartment so they could move because their Realtor sold their home. They’re excited that their home is sold, but they don’t know where they’ll go, and they only have a limited time to figure that out.

As I mentioned above, there’s a cascading effect to take into consideration for these people. They not only have to find a place to move, but they also have a household to liquidate. If they can’t move everything with them, what will they do with their extra stuff?

All three of these mistakes are intertwined, so the bottom line is that you need to ask downsizing sellers a lot of questions to avoid them. For example, do you have a new place to live and is it currently available for occupancy? Do you know what you’ll do with your extra possessions that can’t be moved? What is your availability to let us show the home when buyers want to see it – are you able to leave for showings? 

These are great clients to have, so it’s important to be fully equipped to handle the details of these types of transactions. If you have questions about this topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you.


If you are considering a specialty working with mature homeowners and downsizing seniors, join our community of Certified Senior Housing Professionals by signing up today for Success in Seniors Real Estate!

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