During my 30s and 40s, I was a Realtor in Dallas. Often, this involved assisting an older couple in selling their long-time family home before they moved into a retirement community or assisted living.  If they had lived in their family home for a long time, downsizing to a smaller home or apartment in an assisted living community could be extremely challenging.  Often it involved the entire family, including adult children, since an elderly couple can feel overwhelmed with selling the property, making repairs, dealing with movers, and deciding what items they need to sell or give away. 

Fortunately, today there are companies which will help simplify the process. Some of them actually specialize in helping seniors sell their home, declutter, pack up their belongings, and unpack once they have relocated.  

Senior Home Purchase Program

A San Diego based company named the Senior Home Purchase Program (SHPP) was founded with the purpose of giving seniors a simple way to make the transition into senior living.  If they choose to use the SHPP program, the company with make a direct purchase of their home, at a small discount, with no fees payed by the seller.  This means the seller does not have to do any prep work, make repairs, or spend money on anything similar.  

Currently, this company only helps seniors in Southern California.  However, seniors may want to get a quote from other companies such as We Buy Ugly Houses or 24 Home Cash Offer to get an “as is” quote on the sale of their home.  There are a variety of similar companies, so if you are interested in getting a cash offer on your home, without repairs or other expenses, you should get quotes from several companies.

If you use one of these wholesale home buying companies, you will have to sell your home at a discount. However, in return, you can set the sale and closing date so it is convenient for you.  You also will not have to make repairs, show your home to strangers, or pay a Realtor commission.  This makes the sale much less stressful for many seniors.

Simply Sell for Easier Home Sales

The same Southern California company that offers the SHPP program also has a program called Simply Sell.  With this program, they sell your home in the traditional way, but they attempt to set a price which will result in a quick sale.  In addition, they do not ask you to pay for any repairs in advance, and they will arrange for someone to help you declutter your home, as well as pack and unpack your belongings.

Once again, this is not the only company which will offer you these services. Any Realtor can arrange to have your home sold “as is” or with a minimal repair allowance.  In addition, many assisted living communities can refer you to someone to help you with the decluttering process.  They will help you go through everything in your home and decide which items you would really like to have with you in your new, smaller residence. Most large moving companies also offer packing and unpacking services.  Of course, it is more complicated to arrange for all these separate services yourself, but the convenience can be worth it.  Hiring people to help you with these services can reduce your stress considerably. 

Rid Yourself of Anything You Do Not Love or Need

Whether you sell your house directly to a company, or use the traditional process, one thing you will want to do is get rid of anything you really do not want or need to have in your new home.  

You may find it helpful to read “The Art of Happy Moving: How to Declutter, Pack, and Start Over While Maintaining Your Sanity and Finding Happiness.”  It can help you simplify your move and enjoy it more.  

You may also find it helpful to take the following steps in planning your move: 

Do you have adult children who may want some of your belongings?  This could be a good time to give them the items you have been wanting to pass to them after you are gone, especially if you have some things you do not expect to be using again in the future.

Take a hard look at all the decorative and entertainment items you own.  Do you really need half a dozen vases, an assortment of platters and trays, dozens of framed photographs, cute little collectibles, an assortment of paintings, enough wine glasses to entertain a couple of dozen people, and souvenirs from every trip you have ever taken?  If your children do not want these things, see if you can find another home for items you no longer want or need.  

If you are moving to an assisted living community which will provide your meals, you may not need many dishes or cooking equipment.  If you will have a kitchenette, you may want to keep a few plates, coffee cups, a couple of pots and pans, a toaster, a coffee maker, and anything else you might need to prepare a small meal or snack. Everything else you should pass on to a family member, such as a grandchild getting their first apartment. Whatever cannot be passed on to a family member could be given to a charity.

You may also want to thin out your furniture before you move.  You will want to take your television, favorite comfy chair, bed, dresser, and any other furniture which will help you make the new residence feel homey. You can also take any other items which you love, if there will be space for them, but you do not want to stuff your new place so full of furniture that it becomes difficult for you to move around, especially if you might need to use a walker or wheelchair in the future.  Take what you love and absolutely must have, but leave as much open space in your new home as possible.

Finally, you may also have much less closet space in your new home. Set aside your favorite clothing, purses, and coats which you plan to wear during the last 10 or 15 years of your life.  You can assume that you will occasionally purchase new items of clothing over the years, or receive them as gifts, so you should happily get rid of anything you no longer wear.  Some of us have a hard time letting go of the suits and business attire we wore when we were working, the formal clothing from past special events, and items which are too small for us, but we hope to be able to wear again someday.  Now is the time to let them go.  Just bring what you love and need.

If you find the above tasks too challenging, you may ask an adult child or grandchild to help you.  If that is not possible, hire someone to help you declutter.  A local moving company, or the assisted living place you are moving to, may be able to recommend someone to help you.  

Most importantly, do what you can to make the process as easy on yourself as possible.  You want your new home to be a comfortable and pleasant place, not storage for everything you have ever owned.

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