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Working closely with our elderly parents can lead to our being involved in helping them with real estate transactions. This can include selling their property during a time of severe illness in order to help them move in with us or move into a care facility. Trying to conduct this kind of complicated real estate transaction during a time of extreme stress just adds to the feeling of being in a tiny room with the walls all coming in closer and closer! Finding a good real estate agent who can go above and beyond the call of duty to help you through this process is essential! It’s also very tough to do in normal times and much harder when your time is short, your nerves are on edge, your parent is ill, and you are struggling just to hold on to a single ball, never mind trying to “keep all the balls in the air.” What’s a Sandwich Generation son or daughter to do?
If possible, prepare ahead of time. Assuming you are NOT dealing with that kind of situation right now, but are helping parents who are homeowners, start researching real estate agents in that area now. The best way to find a good agent is to contact at least three and ask each to come and give you a free comparative analysis as well as explain to you how they handle each transaction. Explain to each of them that you are not selling right now, but expect to in the next two years and explain why. If any of them aren’t interested in helping you with this, that is great. You don’t want an agent who is good. You want an agent who is great! This will actually help winnow out the less great ones!
Be warned. This part of the process is time consuming! First you have to do a lot of research online, as well as offline. Ask friends, relatives, coworkers, etc. if they have an agent they can recommend and why. Then do some intensive research about them on the web. You don’t want someone just because they’re good friends with your coworker. You want someone who is reliable, responsible, and has a proven track record. New agents can often do a great job because they are enthusiastic, excited and may only have your house to work on. I would not, however, recommend them for this type of situation. You need an experienced agent who is willing to take over extra responsibility including hiring and overseeing handymen, home stagers, etc., if health issues preclude you from being as involved as you would normally like.
After you have done all the research, pick the best, but hold on to the information for any of the others who may also be excellent. When the time comes to sell, hopefully your agent will still be available and ready to go. If not, having the information on the others could be a major help. Even if the agent you selected is no longer working, they will probably be a good resource to help you find another agent, so that you won’t be starting from scratch. Admittedly, there is no guarantee with this method. But not having any plan in place when the time comes at you unexpectedly can guarantee more than a migraine headache for you! It would be best to take the time now to save yourself some major problems down the road.