Ask an Expert: Realtor Expert



Dr. Ann Meyerson is a Realtor and Transition Counselor. She specializes in helping seniors and their families during real estate transitions. She has developed guidelines and strategies to assist clients with the preparation and sale of a home as well as working with them throughout the move process. Dr. Meyerson has done extensive speaking on “The Psychology of Moving” to audiences exploring their options and has promoted the concept of preparing seniors both emotionally and logistically for this important next transition.

Featured as an industry expert on Channel 12 News and as the host of The Real Estate Forum on Cablevision, Dr. Meyerson is licensed by the National Association of Realtors in both Florida and Connecticut since 1985. She received her graduate training at the University of Maryland in Counseling and a doctorate in Educational Leadership at Georgia State University.

Dr. Meyerson shares her first-hand knowledge of the journey and can relate with warmth and humor about working with her widowed mother and two teenage daughters on making the right move for Mom. Dr. Meyerson has expert advice about the real estate process from “When Is the Right Time to Make the Move”, “What are the Steps to Getting the House on the Market” to “How Do We Select the Most Suitable  Real Estate Agent.”

Below are Dr. Meyerson’s answers to some of the top questions we’ve received about moving elderly parents.

Q: When is the right time to begin the move process for my elderly parents?

A: Often, concerned family members question the timing process to begin assisting their elderly parents with a move. It is never too early to begin the psychological process. While the actual move may be months or sometimes years away, the emotional preparation begins much earlier.

Individuals and their support family should explore all of the next phase options prior to the actual implementation. Relevant questions include:

  1. Where is the next home going to be?
  2. How much will it cost? What is actually affordable?
  3. What is the current home worth?
  4. What is involved in putting it on the market?
  5. Do repairs or maintenance need to be done?
  6. Most importantly, when is the appropriate time to make the move?

In many cases, these questions need to be explored before any action can be taken. A well thought-out plan and goals will ease the transition process. With careful planning and consulting with family, friends, lawyers, financial advisors and realtors, positive steps can be taken. In a crisis or when sellers are not motivated, the wrong decisions can be made about house pricing, timing, necessary preparation and the logistics of the sale.

For seniors and their families, the decision-making may not be a smooth or easy process. In order to understand the full process, it is helpful to get a Realtor’s Assessment. Many Realtors have expertise in this specialty and can help the family with their decision-making at the beginning stages of the move.

Learn more about how to handle tough conversations with your elderly loved ones.

My parents keep making excuses for not moving. What can I do to help them?

A: As a Realtor working with Senior Transitions, I am finding a not infrequent situation in which seniors are acquiescing to leaving their current home without really meaning it. Often the seller thinks they are doing all the right things while psychologically they are putting up many road blocks. These elder sellers go through all of the preliminary steps. They explore their alternate living options, begin decluttering, consult their attorney  and many even go so far as to meet with real estate agents , select one and put the house on the market. The question is; are they really ready to make the move or are they practicing Fantasy Real Estate?

The rules of Fantasy Real Estate may not be readily apparent but as the MLS listing and the showing process begins they quickly become evident. Here are a few signs that the seller is actually less than willing:

  1. Is the property priced realistically?
  2. When given feedback that the market is not responding favorably to the price, does the owner resist a price adjustment?
  3. Does the seller set up an arbitrary price below which they will not sell?
  4.  Is the house difficult to show?  Are the time frames for showing unrealistic?

If the showing guidelines are too restrictive and the property can only be shown in good weather, this  is not a co-operative seller. When the seller insists on being present at all showings even though a licensed Realtor accompanies the prospective this may be an unwillingness  of the owner to give up control.

These are but a few of the signals that non sellers send out when they aren’t comfortable with the decision to make the move. Not only must seniors and their families acknowledge this phenomena but the Listing Agent must also be savvy. It is not fair to the seller to persist for too long in this unsuccessful marketing attempt. It is also is not fair to the buyers, their agent or to the Listing Agent. A key factor in Senior Transitions may involve a heart to heart with all parties involved in the actual listing. Sellers and members of their support systems must agree not to proceed until Fantasy Real Estate becomes Real Estate.

Q: When my parents move into assisted living should we sell or rent their house?

A: This is an excellent question that is asked quite often by concerned families. There is no set response to this inquiry; it really depends on each individual situation.

There are many considerations. What are the plans for this house in the long term? If family members are considering using the property for personal use, it may be advantageous to rent it short term until these decisions are reached. Senior parents may also need a little psychological room to give up “their home” in stages and renting out the property can be a temporary solution.

Another extremely important factor will be an economic one. If the next move requires a significant financial contribution, the house may need to be sold immediately to free up the funds for current use. In this situation, it is necessary to determine the real estate value of the property. The marketability of the house and a review of market conditions should be explored. Even on a preliminary basis, a Realtor should be consulted to assist with obtaining accurate information.

Renting a property involves many factors. The profitability of the rental income will depend on the existing mortgage costs, real estate taxes, maintenance fees and operating costs. There may also be estate and tax considerations that should be addressed with an accountant or financial adviser.

The realities of being a landlord also need to be examined. Determine if there is a family member locally who is willing to accept the responsibility. Property management can be a very time consuming and is an ongoing job. Ask a real estate agent to provide you with a standard lease so you can review what will be required of the owner and the tenant. Determining the correct amount for the rental is also key.

A final word of advice: The worst decision regarding selling versus renting is to do nothing. Please do not keep the property empty while family decisions are made. Obviously, there may be a period when repairs or fix-ups to the house may be required before it can be sold or rented. Long term, a vacant house or condo can be problematic and only delays the decision-making process. Determinations about what to do with the property need to be made simultaneously with decisions about the entire senior transition process.

Q: Is it better to sell my mother’s house before or after she moves to her new residence?

A: In my experience with transitioning elder home owners, this really depends on what each seller is comfortable with. In an ideal situation, the house or unit will be in prepped to be put on the market. Some sellers embrace this process while others are not comfortable or capable of handling the decluttering and staging aspects. Often, the required changes are too overwhelming and should be handled after the current owner has vacated.

A house on the market must be able to be shown with ease. Showing hours when possible should make it accessible to potential buyers.  Often, elder home owners have difficulty with morning showings and may require 24-hour notice. It is not advisable to have a seller present when the house is being shown. Input from the owner is not appropriate when a licensed agent is bringing a potential buyer. It may also be upsetting for Mom to watch someone go through her home and she can be a negative influence through no fault of her own.

The reality is that an older seller may not be physically or cognitively able to leave the property each time it is shown. An experienced real estate agent will work around these showing circumstances. However, I have found myself that it is critical that a possible buyer be able to imagine themselves in the property. When Mom is hovering, it is more difficult to close the deal!

The entire transition team working with Mom should help her decide what is best for her. She will usually let you know what makes her feel comfortable. If it is economically feasible to move Mom or to make other arrangements for her while her house is on the market, this may be the best alternative. Of course, there is always the exception! I had a very dear senior seller who not only wanted to be at every showing, she actually served pineapple juice and cookies to the prospective buyers! We did get her home sold for a good price and her transition went smoothly.

Contact Ann Meyerson, Ph.D., Licensed Realtor in Florida and Connecticut:
561-929-2149 or 203-216-4072

Update: January 2018