Please don’t call it empty nest

Gary Kelley, Realtor –
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By Gary Kelley

I called a friend this morning and asked him what I should write about this month. This guy can be a little gruff, and for purposes of this article I’m going to call him “Bill.”

“Bill, you always comment on my articles. What would you like to see?”

If you know “Bill” you know he is never shy on ideas. This question stumped him. “I had something the other day and lost it,” was his reply.

So I told him about a recent exchange with a prospect. As background, most real estate agents have automated systems for helping keep in touch with people. In the vernacular, we “drip” on people (a.k.a. we email them). In this case, the prospect was someone we met at an open house.  Her emailed reply was a kick in the gut:

“I am moving because my husband passed away suddenly and in front of me. Please stop sending me emails about an empty nest.”

While sometimes the automated emails appear out of context, this one obviously rubbed a still raw nerve. I felt horrible.

Bill was quick to reply (arguably in his typical a gruff style): “We’ve always heard you wait a year after a spouse passes to make a move. Maybe she just isn’t ready.”

Well, Bill, what does it mean to be ready? When do you know?

Bill suddenly turned very philosophical.

“We’ve lived in this house for years,” he said. “We’ve had many great times here, and lots of family events. And there comes a time when you look around and say, ‘why are we holding on to this thing?’ Are you holding on to the house, or are you really holding on to the memories? I will hopefully always have the memories; I just don’t need the upkeep (time and money) of the big house.”

This led to a conversation on people being “frozen” in their situation. The price the house will command compared to what the next house might cost, and then the style of house.

“I don’t want to end up in a high rise,” Bill added. “I want something like Westborough’s Walker Meadow or Northborough’s Birchwood – basically a community of smaller homes (preferably with a single floor layout).”

Bill was on a roll.

“People don’t want to talk about these things. Sure, there is the end-of-life discussion and there ought to be a next phase of life discussion. The communities are great, and I hate to see so many people moving away. You should be able to age in your own community.”

O.K., Bill, what’s the answer?

Bill chuckled, “You’re the one writing the article. Everyone’s answer is different. And they need to talk to people like you to help get to their answer.

“I watch you, you don’t ‘sell houses.’ You help people. And often a house sale is then enabled.”

If you need advice on selling your home or buying a new one, give us a call.


Kelley is a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist™ (CLHMS) and award-winning Realtor. He invites you to follow him on Facebook at

[email protected]