Aging and Your Home


Gary Kelley, Realtor®
Gary Kelley, Realtor –
[email protected]

We are working with two clients where the parents have passed away and the offspring are dealing with the home.  It’s often heart wrenching for the children…and a mixture of grief over their loss and annoyance at having to deal with the parents’ stuff.

Everyone has a different situation and you’re advised to get legal and financial advice from professionals. In my case, when my dad passed away my mom’s immediate reaction was to sell the house and move into an apartment.  What we did was a transaction where I bought her home, made improvements for home longevity (vinyl siding, new roof, new HVAC system (including adding AC), a full interior paint job, new carpets, etc.  I paid a mortgage on the home, with the intent of selling the home or withdrawing equity when I need to fund my children’s college.  It kept mom in the house and forced a college saving plan (with a mortgage deductible.)  When Mom passed, my sister bought the house “furnished.”  I never had to do the painful cleanout.

We were not brilliant financial planners and legal minds.  We did what made sense for our family at the time with assistance from others.  One thing our attorney suggested was charging mom a single dollar a year.  “Why? She’s selling me the house and can live there.”  The attorney was patient with me, “Gary, what if your mom can’t pay the dollar…not from a financial perspective…from a mental/physical one.  You don’t want to be obligated to keep the home if she’s never coming back.”  Good advice.

It makes sense to have discussions with parents in advance of needing to regarding their financial position (is there a mortgage?  Is there a reverse mortgage?)  Also…what is going to happen to all their stuff?

The “stuff” question is a deep one.  Nobody wants others in their stuff perhaps because of privacy and at some point, pride.  We tend to accumulate stuff….at first, it’s a box.  Then it is the attic, then the basement, then the garage.  Just stuff everywhere.

I’m no better.  I moved into my condo 8 years ago and the attic was filled.  I’m not planning to pass soon, and it still bothered me. So, I hired a neighborhood kid to bring everything out of the attic and trash it.  Except tax records.  And my childhood trains.  And the 35-year-old Celtics jacket I don’t fit in anymore.

Then I moved on to the garage.  And the secret place under my stairs.

I still need to focus on closets.  There was an era when I wore suits to work every day.  Those suits were pricey!  As were the ties.  So, I’m the guy with closets full of outdated clothes (cuffed pants and ties of every width.)

My point is parents can spend some time getting ahead of this. When they don’t, the kids are left with a lot of work.  My view is attack this from a position of value…. let the family take everything they want (or label everything), let an estate sale value/sell what they can, donate what can be donated, and then have a junk removal company take the rest.  Some people take pride in filling dumpsters…. I prefer to deal with items of value and let the pros deal with the rest.

Decluttering is often the first step in any sale, and this is way to lean into it.

Reader Mike: this opportunity multiplies when there are multiple parents, second homes, etc.


Enjoy and stay sanitized!

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Gary is heard on WCRN AM 830 discussing “All Things Real Estate.”

If you need advice on selling your home or buying a new one, give us a call 508-733-6005.

Aging and Your Home