My husband and I are empty-nesters
and have decided to buy a smaller home for our retirement. What advice do you have for us?
Retiring and deciding to sell a family home are two momentous decisions. This is a very timely question — June is Seniors’ Month in Ontario — and many couples whose children are grown and out on their own are now going through this transition in life.
Selling a family home can be a difficult decision, even if there are good reasons for it. Your family has grown up in a house that has a lifetime store of memories, and the prospect of leaving it behind can be an emotional experience, even if you are excited about what lies ahead.
The first piece of advice I can give you is to plan ahead, do your research and take your time in making decisions.
It could be that you’ve been out of the housing market for a while and it has changed dramatically in the last few years, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area. I am sure you have a lot of questions and one of the best places to look for information and advice about buying and selling is RECO’s website.
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One of RECO’s responsibilities is to help people be educated consumers — both about buying and selling a home and how to identify the experts to help. Our website has an entire section (reco.on.ca/boomer/) devoted to answering the types of questions you may have about downsizing.
It contains tips on buying and selling, information about buyer and seller representation agreements, safety tips for open houses and advice on how to choose a real estate professional to handle your transactions.
Choosing the right sales representative is vitally important. You want to make sure that whoever represents you is in tune with your needs and understands what is important to you in looking for a new home.
When you start to look for a sales representative, do your research. If you have a neighbourhood in mind for your new home, look to see who is listing properties in that area. Ask family and friends for the names of sales representatives they would recommend.
You can also use RECO’s real estate professional search tool at the top of RECO’s website (reco.on.ca) to search for a sales agent, verify they are registered and view their registration profile.
Once you have narrowed down the search to a few candidates, you should interview them and check their references before you make a final decision. Ideally, the real estate professional you choose will have the right mix of experience and knowledge that suits your needs.
My final piece of advice is about paperwork. When you have settled on a sales representative, you can expect to be asked to sign agreements with the brokerage that permits both the agency and sales representative to represent you in selling your home and helping you buy another. You may want to discuss the different services that are available and select what best meets your needs.
These agreements are legally binding contracts, with obligations for both you and the brokerage, so make sure you read and understand all of the fine print. If something isn’t clear, take extra time and ask them to explain what you may not understand before you sign. You can also seek additional professional help, if necessary.
There’s no doubt that selling your family home can be an experience filled with mixed emotions. That’s why it’s best to be plan ahead, take the time to do your research and get the professional help you need. It will help give you peace of mind as you go through this transition in your life.