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  1. #1
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    Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    This is lengthy so bear with me.

    A relative was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) recently. He is of retirement age, his wife has one year remaining as a teacher before she can retire and is obligated to fulfill it. Their home is about 35 years old. It is in pretty decent shape, although it does need some work and it is badly outdated. It is a split-level home with a pool, a 0.4-acre lot, and a very long driveway.

    In other words, it's a relatively high-maintenance place even in peak condition (which it isn't), and no place for a 67 year old man with a degenerative, fatal disease to be living - especially given that he's already lost a great deal of mobility and can't do the work himself.

    Naturally they have an urgent need to get out of that house as quickly as possible. They sought the advice of a realtor who strongly recommended a number of maintenance projects before she would put the home on the market. Her goal was to have the home on the market by September, and if it doesn't sell within 2-3 months she would pull it off and try again in the spring.

    From the start, I questioned this advice. This sounded like the advice a realtor would give a regular homeowner without any regard to this unique and urgent situation. He is deteriorating and needs to get out of that home, both for the necessity of getting into something lower-maintenance and so that he can enjoy whatever time he has left. He doesn't have the luxury of time to take on all these home-improvement projects that you or I might take on if we were selling our homes.

    I have thought from the start that they should do the bare minimum to get their home ready for sale and be prepared to take a loss if necessary. The house needs so much updating that they can't possibly do it all, so I think they'd be better off just selling it as is and letting a new owner come in and update everything to his own preferences. Not to mention any bump in price they get as a result of their efforts will easily be offset by the cost it will take to do them.

    But they chose to follow the realtor's advice, so we set about this list of projects. But despite significant volunteer labor and lots of help from family and friends, the September deadline came and went. There is simply too much to do, and no end is in sight. Given that his wife is teaching again and we all have other commitments now that summer is over, it simply isn't sustainable for us to continue to put as much time into this as we have. I'm afraid we would be looking at next May or June at the earliest, plus another who knows how many months to actually complete the sale and move out.

    (And who knows how much more complicated it will try to be to sell a house then with a disabled person likely occupying most of the ground floor because he can't go up or down the stairs to other levels of the house. Imagine trying to get someone in an electric wheelchair out of the house for three hours on Sundays so it can be shown.)

    So now we're reconsidering our strategy, and this is where I could use some advice from someone who knows realty.

    First, is it realistic to think that even if the house isn't fully updated and there is work to be done, that we might be able to find a buyer? Keep in mind, it is in decent shape overall, a lot of work has been done already, and of course it would be cleaned, etc. But no question, it would have to be sold as a house in need of work.

    And second, does anyone have a recommendation for a realtor who specializes in senior citizens looking to downsize - or even better, in working with people who have disabilities to find appropriate housing? Someone who could be more understanding of the situation and the unique challenges it presents?

    Any advice at all would be appreciated.



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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    I can't answer your second question, but there should be no reason you couldn't sell the house as is, you just may take a significant cut in how much you're going to sell it for. But if money isn't the main concern, this would have been the route I'd have chosen to begin with.



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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    Sent a pm


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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    I think you can sell it as is, however it will take a price hit obviously, and a lot of times people have a hard time envisioning how the place would look when finished.


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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    I'd say forget about the money and do what is best for your relative. Prayers to your family.


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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    First of all, very sorry to hear about your family's illness - must be very rough.

    The Realtor probably recomended doing those things to enhance the value of the property and to make it easier to sell. Very few towns have inspecitons that homes have to be up to certain code to transfer them.

    You can sell a property 'as is' but you will most likely take a huge hit on it (because the new home owners will have to do those things.

    I am a lisenced Realtor here in the Des Moines area. Feel free to contact me at 515-224-8540 if I can be of any assistance.


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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    Quote Originally Posted by mj4cy View Post
    I'd say forget about the money and do what is best for your relative. Prayers to your family.
    Thanks. That's sort of what I've been thinking from the start, however it's not my call to make. If it were me I'd get the heck out of dodge and do everything possible to enjoy what time I have left as long as the financial hit wasn't too significant.

    I don't know the intimate details of their finances but my sense is they could afford to take a small loss if they had to. I think their instinct at first was just to take the realtor's advice on the assumption that she is the professional and knows what she's doing. But I think everyone underestimated how much work this would actually take.

    So I'm after some second opinions.



  8. #8
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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    Quote Originally Posted by CyBelieve View Post
    First of all, very sorry to hear about your family's illness - must be very rough.

    The Realtor probably recomended doing those things to enhance the value of the property and to make it easier to sell. Very few towns have inspecitons that homes have to be up to certain code to transfer them.

    You can sell a property 'as is' but you will most likely take a huge hit on it (because the new home owners will have to do those things.

    I am a lisenced Realtor here in the Des Moines area. Feel free to contact me at 515-224-8540 if I can be of any assistance.
    To your first point about the realtor trying to raise the value of the home and make it easier to sell, I agree. And in normal circumstances that makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, these aren't normal circumstances.

    Some of the most necessary repairs, like fixing the roof, patching some concrete around the pool, and repairing a bad garage door, have been done or are nearly complete. The updating I'm referring to includes things like painting, fixtures, new sinks, etc.

    And therein lies the quandary. Unless they stayed in this home for quite awhile longer - easily 12 to 18 months more in my opinion - they will never get all of this updating done. And given the advancement of the ALS, put simply it's time they don't have.

    I'll give you one example. They've updated the kitchen counters. Not the cabinets, not the flooring, not removing the extremely outdated tile from the walls, just the counters. Now, my thinking is that unless you're going to do all those things, why bother? Someone else will just come in and likely want to update all of those things to their own style. So why not just sell it that way rather than taking the time and money to essentially put a band-aid on the problem by doing just one update?

    There's no question it will take a certain kind of buyer, and a real estate agent with some vision. But I just don't see continuing down this path as an option.


    Last edited by Trice; 09-19-2010 at 09:22 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    Quote Originally Posted by Trice View Post
    To your first point about the realtor trying to raise the value of the home and make it easier to sell, I agree. And in normal circumstances that makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, these aren't normal circumstances.

    Some of the most necessary repairs, like fixing the roof, patching some concrete around the pool, and repairing a bad garage door, have been done or are nearly complete. The updating I'm referring to includes things like painting, fixtures, new sinks, etc.

    And therein lies the quandary. Unless they stayed in this home for quite awhile longer - easily 12 to 18 months more in my opinion - they will never get all of this updating done. And given the advancement of the ALS, put simply it's time they don't have.

    I'll give you one example. They've updated the kitchen counters. Not the cabinets, not the flooring, not removing the extremely outdated tile from the walls, just the counters. Now, my thinking is that unless you're going to do all those things, why bother? Someone else will just come in and likely want to update all of those things to their own style. So why not just sell it that way rather than taking the time and money to essentially put a band-aid on the problem by doing just one update?

    There's no question it will take a certain kind of buyer, and a real estate agent with some vision. But I just don't see continuing down this path as an option.
    Here's what I would do in the kitchen - declutter the counter tops (show them off), take some Murphy's Wood Oil Soap (or something similar) and clean the cabinets really well, it's amazing how much "stuff" builds up on them. Do the same thing with the fridge, clean it off and get rid of the personal stuff, and get the kitchen so a buyer can see the space. If the cabinets have hardware, you could update the hardware on them as an option.

    I would also try to declutter the entire house (if needed), clean out closets, organize storage areas, and do a good solid cleaning in the house, so buyers again notice the space of the house, not that it is a little dated. Also, depersonalize the house on the inside, buyers often get distracted by personal photos, etc and forget about the house, and they want to envision what the house will look like with their stuff in the house. On photos, just print some pictures of seascapes, plants, etc, off from the internet or a photo collection and put them in the frames. It's cheap and easy.

    Best of luck and prayers to your family during this difficult time.



  10. #10
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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    Something to confirm. Many people diagnosed as ALS is actually something else. In fact, Lou Gehrig may not have had ALS. There are recent articles.


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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    This is slightly off center advice but I have heard about people doing it. First, take the advice of others in the thread and depersonalize the house and just give it a good cleaning (both go a long ways). Then if they have the financial resources instead of spending money (and unavailable time) on updating the home, take that money and offer it to the buyer as an incentive. They can use it to update the home as they choose or on whatever else they want. Its not entirely logical but a lot of times you can get a sales price difference that is higher than amount of the incentive. Because when people buy a home they rarely have much extra money in their budget for renovations no matter the cost of the home, so getting cash in hand at the time of the sale for renovations makes a big difference for some.


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  12. #12
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    Re: Need some realty advice for an ill relative

    Quote Originally Posted by Three4Cy View Post
    Here's what I would do in the kitchen - declutter the counter tops (show them off), take some Murphy's Wood Oil Soap (or something similar) and clean the cabinets really well, it's amazing how much "stuff" builds up on them. Do the same thing with the fridge, clean it off and get rid of the personal stuff, and get the kitchen so a buyer can see the space. If the cabinets have hardware, you could update the hardware on them as an option.

    I would also try to declutter the entire house (if needed), clean out closets, organize storage areas, and do a good solid cleaning in the house, so buyers again notice the space of the house, not that it is a little dated. Also, depersonalize the house on the inside, buyers often get distracted by personal photos, etc and forget about the house, and they want to envision what the house will look like with their stuff in the house. On photos, just print some pictures of seascapes, plants, etc, off from the internet or a photo collection and put them in the frames. It's cheap and easy.

    Best of luck and prayers to your family during this difficult time.
    Thanks for the advice. I should have said that no matter what happens, the house will be cleaned, decluttered, and "staged" the extent possible. The types of projects I'm questioning whether we should do include minor repairs and facelifts.



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