If you’re helping an older relative sell a home, here are a few tips to remember that will make the process go much smoother.

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If you have an older relative looking to sell their longtime home (one they’ve lived in for 20-plus years), this is a unique selling situation. If you plan on helping them sell, there are a few tips to keep in mind that will make the process easier for everyone.

First, remember that they might not be as familiar with the current home selling process as you are, especially if you’ve moved from one city to another, have a history of trading up homes every five to 10 years, or otherwise managed the moving process several times. People who’ve lived in the same home for many decades have missed out on the “movement” of the real estate market. They probably aren’t looking at real estate listings all the time on their phone or computer, so they might not understand what’s necessary to sell a home. You need to understand this difference in mindset and have a little patience.


    Your loved one should feel like they’re involved in the process and have the ability to understand the information being given to them.


Second, keep in mind that this might be a highly emotional and difficult situation for them. Someone who’s lost a spouse or is suffering the physical and cognitive challenges of aging is experiencing a loss of control in other areas of life, and a home sale touches on these issues. Living in a home for a long time means there may be feelings of loss associated with its sale, even if they know it’s logically the right step to take.

Additionally, reach out to a real estate professional early on to help explain the home sale process to them months before you plan on listing. Your loved one should feel like they’re involved in the process and have the ability to understand the information being given to them. Also, they need to trust the agent who will eventually execute their home sale. 

Next, remember who’s boss. I’ve been through this situation before—I supervised the renovation and sale of my parents’ house. While you may be responsible for juggling all the moving parts of the home sale, it’s important symbolically to make your loved one feel like they’re still in control of everything and that they’re included in the process.  

There’s a lot more to unpack in terms of selling a home, so I’ll reiterate: Get an early start, even if you don’t know when you’ll list the home. 

If you’d like to talk more about how to help an older relative sell their home or have any other real estate questions, don’t hesitate to call or email me. I’d love to help.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORSĀ®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.