This is a Big Decision for the Family! Not my family, but the family of close friends. Their Mother is a senior citizen and a widow. She has been in the same house since the 1950's. Two of the children want "Mama" to sell the house and move in with one of them.
To "Mama", this place is Home Sweet Home. She says, "I know I should sell the place, but it's a hard thing for me to do". One son is defensive and wants his mother to stay put. The other son and the daughter have built "mother-in-law suites" in their own houses; they fully expect their mother to sell and relocate.
The Family wanted my advice on selling the house. We met at the Subject Property.
With respect, this house looks like "your Grandmother's house". Lots of stuff, lots of pictures, lots of bric-a-brac. Very homey, very personal, very dated.
The house itself needs major updates. The roof looks old, the HVAC system is from the late 1980's, the carpet is worn. The bathrooms are outdated; so is the kitchen.
My advice, should your Mother decide to sell:
Consult a CPA about the gain on the sale and any other tax or financial issues. Yes, it appears to be Homestead, no Capital Gains, etc. but you need to hear it from a Professional. You might also want the CPA's advice (or a Financial Advisor) on where to put the money that Mama nets from the sale (several hundred thousand dollars).
Retain a Real Estate Attorney. Ask the Lawyer's advice on getting all the children on board with this. I've seen bad blood and lawsuits arise between siblings in these situations. An Attorney can make sure that everyone "agrees in advance".
Also ask the Lawyer about getting a Power of Attorney for one or more of the children to sell the house. If you put the house on the Market, and Mama waffles or has second thoughts, it will be a problem when Offers come in, or when the Closing Process is underway. If the children can sign Contracts and ultimately sign the Deed, the sale will go a lot smoother.
Hire a Real Estate Appraiser to determine the List Price. If any legal issues or legal challenges regarding the sales price are brought by a family member, or if someone simply thinks that, "Mama could have got more money", the Appraisal should protect you.
Sell the House, "As Is, Subject to Inspections". If you start updating one thing, you will have to update the next. You will be looking at tens of thousands of dollars in paint, roofing, air conditioning, appliances, and fixtures. You can discuss this with the Appraiser; he or she can offer guidance; he or she will most likely address "Condition" in your Appraisal Report.
Most important, Mama needs to go ahead and move out of the house. The house can be professionally cleaned and made presentable for sale; it will be easy to show when it is vacant.
It can be a very emotional decision for a Senior Citizen to sell their long-time home. Proceed with caution and seek the advice of Professionals to ensure a smooth sale.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, or financial advice. For legal advice see an attorney. For tax advice or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.
Frederick Griffin, Licensed Real Estate Broker Tallahassee, Florida