Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Details of Your Parent's House

Sometime during the process of your parent's aging, you may be faced with arranging the sale of your parent's house. Or you may be helping your parent in this stressful activity. Selling a house involves a lot of paperwork, a variety of activities, answering questions, and making decisions. Adult children often cite that one of the most draining aspects of preparing the house for sale can be filling out the "disclosure" form and highlighting the house's selling points, mostly because they were so unprepared.

The "disclosure" form is required by State law and in general requires the seller to reveal any known defects or damage to the property. Not too long ago, I was helping my sister-in-law set up the sale of my father-in-law's house in Florida which had been hit by the double hurricane whammy of Charlie and Ivan in 2004. The real estate agent was thorough in asking about all the damage incurred during the storms and if, when and how the damage had been repaired. Not having lived in the house ourselves nor been involved in any of the repairs, we had to dig deep in our memories of what our parents had talked about and rely on a folder of receipts that they had kept. Every question was a new, hard memory search. We both wished we had paid more attention.

The selling information is another long form that details every aspect of the house's items which will be included in the sale. How old are the appliances? When was the roof replaced? Was anything remodeled recently? What about the furnace and water heater? Included here is everything you, if you were the buyer, would want to know before plunking down your hard-earned cash. I've sold at least 4 houses over my lifetime and believe me, this kind of information is hard enough to remember when you're selling your own house, but when you have to do it for your parent...you can imagine the headache.

The solution is to begin to gather this kind of information as soon as you have any indication that you will be involved in selling your parent's home, even if that might be years in the future. Whenever your parent talks about something that has been repaired or replaced, note it in a notebook or computer file. Try to note the age of everything permanent in the house--roof, carpets, flooring, windows--and the year the home was originally built.

Other things to note:
  • Swimming Pool -- when installed, is there regular maintenance, how old is the pump
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) -- are there dues, how often, how much, what's included, where are the HOA documents
  • School District -- what district, where would children attend school
  • Room Sizes -- the real estate agent will take measurements, but if you're selling "by Owner", you'll need this information
  • Bathrooms -- how many, how old are the fixtures
  • Water/Sewer -- what water system (city, county, well), city sewers or septic system. last time the septic system was serviced
  • Windows -- wood, fibreglass, double- or single pane, when installed
  • Storage space -- large or small closets, basement or attic available
  • Garage -- how large, any storage

What makes the house special? The house's characteristics and its location both have special features. Ask your parent why, exactly, he likes this house. Take a look around with objective eyes. Hardwood floors, an extra office space, the view out the back, near to shopping and bus stops, plenty of storage, alarm system, sunlights, stained glass windows, nearby walking paths--all of these can be added to selling information to give the house the extra push it might need in the market.

Get a picture of your parent's house as real estate. Gather the details with business in mind as well as your memories. When it's time to complete the paperwork, the process will be easier and less stressful for everyone.

Blessings on your caregiving day!

No comments:

Post a Comment