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When it's time to sell the family home...

When it's time to sell the family home...
Date Posted: 08/05/2023

When it’s time to sell the family home…


Sometimes a home is simply bricks and mortar. It is an asset to be sold to the highest bidder.

But most of the time it is far more than that. As the cliché goes, home is where the heart is. It is a place of memories, emotions and stories starting with “do you remember when...”.  

For better or for worse, the day eventually arrives when it is time to sell your home. After 20+ years in real estate, we have learned a few things about this challenging process. We hope you find this blog helpful in perhaps providing some perspective and direction. 


Why are you selling?

This is a big one. Sometimes, we meet with sellers who are feeling differently about the move. One person is eager to simplify their day-to-day while their partner is very reluctant.  

There is often a transition where you are proud of your home. The grass and gardens are just the way you like them. You can manage just fine thank-you very much.

Then things slowly start to change. You have rooms you haven’t gone into in several months. The grass and gardens become a burden. Ok, here goes…time to bring up all that laundry from the basement…

Fast forward to the winter and the forecast calls for 25 cm of snow followed by an episode of freezing rain.

Maybe it is time we start thinking about making a move…


The kids are worried.

On occasion, our initial call is with one of the adult children. There is a son living in Etobicoke while their daughter is out in Winnipeg. They’re both in their 50s and are both worried about their parents’ ability to stay in their home safely.

“Hey Mom…I saw you guys got a lot of snow last night. How are you managing?”

The parents don’t want the kids to worry about them. That emotional baggage starts to pile up like the luggage belt at Pearson Airport.

Suddenly the kids are on the internet scouring for real estate in the Niagara Region. They’re reading blogs about downsizing and condo living in St.Catharines.

Hints are made in conversations with Mom & Dad. The kids have a chat and decide it’s time to make the trip down to Niagara to have a chat around the kitchen table.

Pros & Cons lists.

It’s time to get out a legal pad and start your lists.

On the left is Reasons to Stay. On the right is Reasons to Sell.

You will probably think of items such as hosting family gatherings, having outdoor space, we like our neighbourhood and keeping your dining room furniture. Emotions will rule this side of the page and rightfully so. Again, if home really is where the heart is, why would you want to shake up that arrangement.

In the other column, you may write that you want a place with no stairs, more manageable space, no outdoor maintenance, lower costs to operate and the ability to free up some money to allow for travel.

When you’ve finished up that list, look at each item and assess what the real change would be. What would life be like with or without those particular things?

For example, let’s talk about family gatherings. You’ve had years (possibly decades) of special occasions. Christmas or birthdays have always been at that same dining table.

What would life look like if you still did them, but in a different space. If you’re moving to a townhome, there will be space. Or if you’re moving to a condo apartment, many buildings have common area rooms where you can host large gatherings. You might find that it’s having the particular people in the room is more important than the room in which you gather.

What if you were able to sit and enjoy watching a snowstorm rather than worrying about getting out of your driveway. How about the convenient laundry room right beside your bedroom!


Its normal to be stressed.

It would be strange to work with clients who aren’t experiencing some form of apprehension when it comes to pulling up stakes and moving. Even the most seasoned veterans will have their sweaty palm moments.

It is rare that we meet clients that aren’t stressed when thinking about their move. “How are we going to _____?!” conversations are a steady occurrence.

So, deep breaths. Any trepidation you may be feeling is perfectly normal and understandable. The key to reducing that stress is to have a plan drawn up for you to see. A plan that covers the how, when, where and who. Afterall, we’ve already answered the ‘why’ question.  

Get a plan together.

Whether it is us or another Realtor, someone should be able to sit down with you and create a plan from that day to after you move into your new home.

The plan would include:

- getting started. What do we do first? This would include a rough timeline of what will happen and when.

- assessing what level of help is needed to deal with your belongings. We have various companies we work with that can help make this process easier.

- determine what will you pack, donate, recycle or dispose of. It seems daunting, but once items are categorized, the task might appear more reasonable.  

- call the right people. Whether it is movers, an antiques dealer or someone who can help you get organized, we have someone who can help.

- small jobs, big returns. There may be a few items to address in or around your home. We can help get those resolved. Sometimes, a small investment can provide big returns.

- preparing the interior & exterior for going on the market. This might include garden clean-up or help with furniture and accessories. Again, this is where we come in. 


Each seller and home is different so your Realtor should be able to assemble a plan that makes you comfortable and also aligns with the current market and buyer expectations.

Do we buy first or sell first?

The short answer: we would sit down with you to discuss the realities of the current market both for what you’re selling and what you’re looking to buy (or rent).


The longer answer: click here to read our blog that covers this question.


What about Power of Attorney?

We often work with various family members on the sale of a family home. That can include a daughter with Power of Attorney or a simple estate sale with numerous trustees.

The same general principles apply however, we more people involved, the communication and plan will become even more important.

The timeline and plan is critical, especially when the people involved may not live in Niagara. There will typically be legal items to consider including probate and estate issues so similar to the above scenarios, a plan will need to be established specific to the home and the people involved.


Take all the logistics and planning out of it…

The reality is, selling the family home is challenging. Yours truly worked with his parents & siblings to sell our family home that my parents built in 1964. After the initial apprehension and stress, we put together a plan and worked towards moving our folks to a home that made more sense.

My Mom loved it from day one while my Dad, the apprehensive one in the equation, grew to love their new home. Afterall, they could now lock the door behind them and go on a road trip for a few days. All of those garden tools were donated, and the snow shovel was kept as a souvenir during blizzard season!

It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. And the timing was right.

There is a huge difference in selling when you want to as opposed to when you have to.



The above isn’t a complete summary of the process but rather, it’s a rough guide to some of the steps you can take to set yourself up for a successful transition.

If you are in a home and quietly considering what to do next, feel free to contact us for a chat. There will be zero obligation or cost for us to come by for a visit and discuss what you could do to get from A to B.