Helping elderly parents downsize |

What help is available if your parents have to sell up and downsize?

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If you have an elderly parent who needs to move to a more manageable property, what help is available? There are some companies that can take the strain out of a move like this.

Helping elderly parents downsize – preparing the property

One of the hardest steps for your parent or relative to take is to get rid of possessions they’ve accumulated over a lifetime. Moving to a smaller home, whether it’s their own bungalow or a property in a retirement complex, invariably means getting rid of furniture (and may mean getting rid of most of it) — as well as general clutter.

  • Don’t worry about getting the property into a ‘show home’ state. Getting rid of clutter (or hiding it) and making sure the property is clean is definitely worth doing but it doesn’t have to have co-ordinated carpets throughout to sell.

SAVVY TIP: It’s often worth talking to a local estate agent to ask them what they’d recommend you do — if anything at all. If you’re selling a property in a road with half a dozen similar ones it may be worth making sure yours looks as good as the rest. But if you’re selling in a small village or rural location where it’s harder for buyers to make direct comparisons it may not be worth doing.

  • Sell, give away, recycle, store or throw out what isn’t needed. Use sites such as eBay, Gumtree or Preloved to sell, charity shops or freecycle to give away and local recyling points for old newspapers and magazines, clothes, jars etc. Bear in mind that this can be really hard for someone who’s elderly to do — especially if they’ve lost their husband/partner or their partner is in hospital or has moved to a care home, says Alison Hesketh, from TimeFinders, which helps people with the practicalities of retirement downsizing. “We will help that person sort through their possessions and work out what they want to keep, what they’d like to give to family members and we can advise on whether any of their items are valuable and should be sold through auction. We make sure we go at their pace so they don’t feel overwhelmed.”

SAVVY TIP: If you use a service like this it’s worth making sure that anyone who comes to your parents’ house is checked by the DBS (it stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, which replaced the CRB system) . Charges for a downsize/decluttering service vary widely but expect to pay around £3,000 unless it’s particularly straightforward.

Managing the sale

Companies that offer to manage the sale process may work in a slightly different way to each other but in broad terms they may offer to:

  • Choose an estate agent for you. Companies such as Bridgefast will prepare a report about the property and the state of the housing market and will give your parent/you advice on which estate agent to go with and how much to sell the property for.

SAVVY TIP: The amount companies charge varies but Bridgefast charges an upfront fee of £299 (which pays for the property appraisal, valuation and marketing plan) and a fee of 2.25% of the property’s price, which includes the estate agent’s fees and legal fees incurred by Bridgefast. If a property takes a long time to sell and your parent needs to move into a care home they can borrow against the future sale of their home.

  • Manage the estate agent and negotiate offers. The company should offer to make sure that the estate agent is actively marketing the property and to deal with offers to make sure you get the best outcome (whether that’s the highest price possible or a quick sale).

SAVVY TIP: Many estate agents in rural areas don’t do accompanied viewings because it takes up too much time (and, with petrol prices rising, it can be expensive). However, they will often make an exception if you explain the circumstances.

  • Help with removals and house clearance. This can involve booking a removals company, help with packing and more if needed.

SAVVY TIP: If you don’t think you need professional help organising removals etc you can always get quotes from a range of different companies via websites such as

  • Sorting out utilities at your old property and new one. If moving house is stressful so is dealing with utility companies’ call centres if they make a mistake on your account. For some older people, especially those with hearing problems, explaining the problem again and again can be hugely stressful.

SAVVY TIP: Some companies, including TimeFinders, will help your parents get settled into their new home by finding branches of societies and community groups etc that they might find interesting.

Related articles:

Can you give away your home to avoid care fees?

Understanding lasting powers of attorney; when you need one

10 ways to make sure your will isn’t challenged

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