7 Steps for Selling Your House Before Moving to a Senior Living Community

An older couple packing boxes to move into a senior living community.

Moving to a senior living community requires some planning, and “sell the house” is often at the top of your growing to-do list. If you haven’t sold a home recently, or if it’s been a while since you dipped your toes in the real estate market, you might appreciate a bit of a refresher course.

We’ve pulled together some tips that can make selling your house, or your loved one’s house, a bit easier—and we’re going to talk about how to navigate the emotions that come with such a big transition.

1. Find an experienced real estate agent.

Even if you aren’t ready to put the house on the market right away, it is never too early to begin looking at experienced real estate agents in your area. The right professional can help you navigate the fluctuating real estate market, give you tips for staging the house for sale, and even recommend a timeline that keeps you and your loved ones on track as you look to the future move.

Working with the right person is a must. Be sure to ask around for recommendations for agents in your area who excel at customer service and are there to help their clients throughout the entire selling process, including before the house goes on the market. You can also look for a real estate agent who has the SRES® designation, which stands for Seniors Real Estate Specialist. These qualified individuals are experts in meeting the needs of mature adults who are selling their homes. 


2. Begin rightsizing.

Before your home can hit the market, it is wise to spend time “rightsizing” your loved one’s possessions. Although you might have heard the term “downsizing” before when it comes to moving or organizing, older adults often end up with a much more manageable lifestyle when they choose to reduce some of their clutter and possessions, making the term “rightsizing” more appropriate. Removing extra clutter and relocating to a more manageable home space is often safer for older adults, plus they can have more energy when they don’t have to worry about tackling household chores for a larger house.

Look for expert help.

If rightsizing seems too overwhelming to tackle, you can choose to invest in the assistance of a professional organizer. These experts help with the actual task of rightsizing or simply come in for an evaluation and provide you with a checklist-style plan that keeps you and your loved one on task. 

In addition to professional organizers with experience in rightsizing, there are other resources and services out there designed to make rightsizing even easier for you and your loved one. Work closely with your loved one’s senior living community because they will be able to point you in the direction of vetted professionals to assist with the process.

Take it slow and steady.

If you are taking on the task of rightsizing on your own, it’s important to remember to tackle one room at a time, determining the following:

  • What items your loved one will take with them when moving to a senior living community
  • What items can be donated or sold
  • What items family members can take 

If possible, be sure to allow extra time in the packing and decision-making process for breaks when you or your loved one become overwhelmed. Things will look more manageable with a fresh set of eyes the next day or the next weekend.


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3. Determine your best market moves.

You might not have to put your loved one’s home on the market right away. In this case, you can feel a bit more relaxed and wait until the real estate market is working in your favor. 

Your real estate agent will be able to advise you when your location’s market is seller-friendly, as well as help you find someone who can fix any last-minute projects that could decrease your sale value. For example, hiring someone to clean up your outdoor landscaping can be well worth the investment because it boosts your home’s curb appeal and can lead to more offers.

4. Work with your financial planner.

Before you put your loved one’s home officially up for sale, take time to schedule an appointment with their financial planner. During your time together, speak about your loved one’s plans for senior living and how that cost will fit into their short- and long-term financial plans. This is also the time to talk about any tax questions you might have about senior living expenses or selling the home.

5. Stage to sell.

Now that your loved one has rightsized their possessions, it’s time to stage their home to sell. Your agent will have many suggestions about how to create a cozy and home-like environment without making the counters look cluttered or rooms look too small. You might even find it wise to hire a professional stager who can come in and transform the home in order to increase buyer interest.

If possible, work with your agent to create a schedule when the house can be shown so it doesn’t upset your loved one’s regular routine or cause them any frustration.

6. Talk about emotions related to the move.

Moving to a senior living community is exciting, but it can also be intimidating. Your loved one will likely have a mix of emotions going into the move. 

Talking about it can alleviate some of the stress or anxiety, so be sure to listen and validate their feelings as they bring it up. If you feel your loved one needs additional support, consider scheduling regular counseling appointments with a professional who is experienced with this major life transition.

Your loved one might also feel more comfortable if they know what to expect during moving day and the first few weeks in the community. You can work with your loved one’s new community by staying in communication with them in order to get any questions answered that your loved one might have as moving day approaches.

7. Experience the senior living lifestyle.

Another way to increase positive anticipation about their upcoming move and lifestyle change is to schedule times for your loved one to visit their new community prior to move-in day. They can enjoy a meal in the dining room or attend community events as many times as they would like leading up to their move. These opportunities give them the chance to meet new friends, find their way around the major living spaces of the community, and gain confidence before they’re officially a resident.

Take the next steps for moving to a senior living community.

Moving to a senior living community is exciting, but it can also be quite stressful, just like any other major life transition. The best way to stay positive is to work with experts who are there to support you and guide you through the experience.

Are you curious if it’s time for your loved one to begin rightsizing? It’s never too early to help them begin adjusting their possessions and space to be manageable for their stage in life. Take our free assessment to determine if now is the right time to begin the process.


*Originally published May 2022. Updated June 2023.

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