Selling Mom and Dad’s Home

Janey Bishop
Janey Bishop
Published on August 7, 2020

One of life’s most challenging aspects is watching our parents age. Then comes the day when you, and they, realize their house no longer matches their lifestyle and needs.

Whether they are downsizing into a smaller, less maintenance-intensive home or are moving in with you or to a senior community, giving up a long-loved home is wrenching.

Thankfully, they have you and you have us and we have tips to help your parent or parents — and you — through this tough time.

Get legal advice

You may be required to use the proceeds of the sale to pay for your parents’ care if they will be moving to an assisted living facility or long-term care facility and will require Medicaid to pay for their care.

Speak with a senior issues attorney early in the process to learn about the complex aspects of selling an elderly parent’s home. Mistakes can be costly so an ounce of prevention is definitely called for in this case.

Line up some labor

Cleaning out a family home is a huge job so don’t try to tackle this alone. If you have siblings, enlist their help. In fact, insist on it.

Not only will you need their muscle but having family around may help ease your parents’ transition as well.

Otherwise, hire some help. Visit the neighbors to let them know what’s happening and ask for a referral to local manual laborers. Who knows? They may volunteer to help.

From my own experiences well-meaning friends and family will offer an opinion over the value of items and they are often wrong. Hire a professional appraiser/estate sale specialist or do thorough research.

Hire a senior certified realtor

It may seem that it’s too early in the process to hire a listing agent, but we disagree, and here’s why.

We prefer to see the home before you start moving things out of it. Advice on what to leave for staging purposes is invaluable.

Plus we can provide advice on whether to paint, replace carpet and other updates that will make the home more attractive to potential buyers.

We will also be able to refer you to an estate sale company (if needed to help sell belongings), cleaners, painters and more.

Hiring us early in the process also allows Mom and Dad to get to know us and feel more comfortable about the sale process.

Consider Moving first, then selling

Because it’s preferable for the homeowner not to be present during buyer showings, it can be easier to move your parents before putting the home on the market.

If they need the equity from the current home to move, however, come up with another solution. Perhaps they can stay with you or a sibling until the home sells.

It’s time to purge

Purging a lifetime of belongings (and memories) will be the most challenging aspect of downsizing for your parents. What to keep, what to get rid, of will be decisions not easily made.

“ … the problem isn’t denial, but rather, the extraordinary difficulty associated with giving up items that are so closely linked to their identities, their past and their memories,” claims Sarah J. Stevenson a move specialist.

It’s not really the items, it’s the memories attached to them

One way to ease your parents’ reluctance is to promise them that you will photograph everything they decide to get rid of and place the photos in a lovely scrapbook that they can take with them to their new home.

Or, if they prefer, you can video their cherished-but-leaving items. This way, they’ll still be able to refresh those memories.

Still, unless the parent is suffering from dementia, it’s important to allow him or her to take the lead in the purge. Yes, it will be slow-going, but it’s important that, in the future, they don’t look back and feel they were railroaded into getting rid of certain items.

Gather family members together to go through your parents’ purge pile. As one elderly woman in an online forum stated, “It is SO much better to know cherished family things will continue on” and be donated or given to someone who will really appreciate the special items.

Have conversations with your parents about these items and the stories behind them. This helps everyone’s anxiety and lets your parents know that the memories associated with the items will live on. My significant other feels the significant loss as an only child of not being able to ask his now deceased parents more about their life stories. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity!

For a free consultation about selling your family home in Woodland Hills, Calabasas, West Hills or the San Fernando Valley      Call Janey Bishop   (818)570-1144     email [email protected]    or watch my videos on

Senior Real Estate Specialist,     Probate Certified,        Real Estate Collaboration Specialist – Divorce

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