Most Frequently Asked Questions by Seniors

Seniors looking at a paper getting questions answered about downsizing


Q. How long do people usually “think about it” before moving?

A. Some take longer than others, but our experience has been that people take a minimum of 6-12 months to make an emotional move. The emotional movie takes place in one’s mind. Once that emotional move has been made, a physical move can often occur within 30-45 days depending on what needs to be done.

Q. What if my kids live out of province and I need help moving?

A. Hiring a move manager—also known as a moving coordinator—is the ideal solution for people in this situation. A Move Manager will carry out pre-move surveys, and calculate and cost the move process, often working to your budget and limitations. The Move Manager is responsible for preparing all associated paperwork, maintaining accurate records and accounts and issuing invoices in a timely manner. There are seven companies that provide this service, and they will likely assist you at an hourly rate.

Q. When do I start sorting my possessions?

A. Sorting can seem overwhelming at first glance, so we recommend you begin with one room, closet, or dresser. Keep in mind that you are only looking for items that you may be taking with you. If you open a cupboard or closet and say, “I don’t want any of that,” then leave it alone and move on. A common misconception is that every nook and cranny needs to be gone through. If you’re using an, estate sale company they will allow you to take a last-minute scan of items you may have overlooked during the move while they are setting up for the sale. As you sort, segregate items to be moved with you from those to be sold, by leaving the ones to be sold right where they are! Use sticky notes to label furniture, closets, cabinets, and other areas, s “sell,” “move,” “donate,” “family to take,” etc.

Q. Doesn’t a house show better with furniture?

A. This is a common question asked by people who are trying to decide whether they should move before or after their house sells. Every real estate professional will have an opinion on this matter. Regardless of how the house looks, furnished or unfurnished, there are other factors more important. Safety and convenience are primary considerations and good reasons to go ahead and move prior to placing your home on the market. Time and stress also factor into the decision. When the home sells, there might be as few as three weeks to as many as six weeks to make your move and liquidate the remaining personal property. Trying to manage all that needs to be done can be overwhelming, thus moving prior to the sale is preferable.

Q. What do estate sale companies charge for their services?

A. Estate sale companies vary in their fees. Many have a base fee plus a percentage of the gross sales. It may also depend on whether the sale is held in your home virtually. The typical fee percentage ranges from 25% to 35%, with more experienced and upscale liquidators often charging more.

Q. What if the real estate agent recommends, I move before selling, but I need the equity from my home for moving expenses?

A. Many homeowners use the equity in their home to pay for their next house, for a retirement community entrance fee, and/or for moving expenses. If their move needs to be scheduled prior to closing the sale of their home, temporary financing can be an option. Banks, credit unions, or mortgage lenders can provide loans— “bridge loans”—which allow use of equity in a current home to finance the move to another home or retirement community. Once the home is sold, proceeds from the sale are applied to pay off the loan. Since many retirement communities will work with prospective residents when circumstances result in this type of delayed asset transfer, a “bridge loan” should be reserved as a last resort for temporary financing.

Q. My house will likely need to have some repairs and/or improvements made before it is sold. Where should I start? (Or what can I do to ensure I get the most money from the sale of my existing home?)

A. Sometimes, it’s advantageous to make needed repairs and home improvements before placing a home on the market. There are multiple issues to consider when making appropriate decisions about what needs to be done and when to do it, and an experienced REALTOR® is one of the best resources to guide your decisions. An “as-is” sale is somewhat misleading, since there are often repairs or replacements needed before a sale can be closed, to satisfy requirements of mortgage lenders, appraisers, or home inspectors, and to comply with local building codes.

Q. How many retirement communities should I visit before I make a decision?

A. To make sure you are choosing from the best available communities, do your homework! While some cities have a number of retirement living options, others are limited to fewer choices. Visit those that appear to fit your preferences and go comparison-shopping. Visit your top choices more than once, at different times of the day than your previous tours and remember to review the tips prepared for you in this manual.

Q. I need to move to assisted living, but it is very expensive. Are there any resources to help cover the cost?

A. Assisted living communities to provide various levels of care, some of which may be covered by certain long-term care insurance policies. If you have this type of insurance, contact the company in advance and inquire as to whether your policy has an assisted living benefit. Calling 211 is one of the best ways you can learn about the community and social service programs and financial help that can help improve your quality of life. In fact, the 211 Helpline in Ontario answered nearly 300,000 calls last year, with a quarter of those calls related to basic needs like housing, food, financial assistance and help with utility bills. Many calls were from seniors and caregivers who wanted to know what type of practical help, like home support or income assistance was available and how to access it.

Q. Why should I use a REALTOR® with experience working with downsizing and retirement community moves?

A. These professionals understand the challenges of a move from a long-time home as well as the professional resources and vendors to assist with the many details involved in such a move. In addition to the technical details of the transaction, Downsizing Specialists have a special appreciation for the emotional nature of this type of move, and they will take the time necessary to help seniors and their families work through the emotional aspects.

Q. What do REALTORS® charge?

A. REALTORS® typically charges a commission which is based on a percentage of the home’s sales price—usually 5%. Discount brokers may charge less and leave the showing and contract negotiations to the homeowner. Specialized brokers may charge more and include added-value services in their fees.

Q. Why should I hire the Downsize Wwith Us Team instead of my friend from church, my past REALTOR®, my daughter’s best friend, or my neighbour?

A. A downsizing move–is unlike any other movie you have made in the past. In fact, depending on the market and economic circumstances (whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market), it is more critical now that you choose a trained REALTOR® with high-level sales and superior knowledge and negotiation skills the average REALTOR® may not yet possess. Remember, your downsizing move involves a rather extensive set of unique components, requiring highly specialized professionals to assist you in several dissimilar areas.