When Should Seniors Consider Selling Their Home?

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Whether you’re getting older or helping aging parents consider their next steps, selling a home could be on the horizon. Sometimes, where you live doesn’t fit as well with your lifestyle as it once did, so it makes sense to move. Before posting a for sale sign, consider the reasons that signal it’s time for seniors to sell their homes.

Too much home maintenance, fewer people living in the home, and a shrinking budget are all signs that seniors should sell their house. Mobility issues and health concerns also factor into the decision to sell. Some seniors may find they feel lonely in their home and want to move into a community setting. Others might find assisted living an appealing option.

Whether it’s because of budget, health, or simply a lifestyle shift, many seniors face the decision to leave their home. Here are the primary reasons seniors should seriously consider selling their house to adjust their living situation.

1. Home Maintenance Is Overwhelming

As you get older, things that were once easy might not be as simple. Even basic house cleaning and things like mowing the grass and weeding the garden become much more tiresome.

Plus, seniors are more susceptible to heat stroke and other health issues. Therefore, working in the sun is more likely to lead to problems like heat exhaustion and dehydration. Or, you could be perfectly capable of tackling your home’s maintenance, but you don’t want to anymore. You’d rather spend more time with your family or living life than pushing a mop or lawnmower.

Some seniors may opt to stay put and hire professionals to take over routine maintenance. But choosing this route gets costly, which is why many older homeowners decide to sell their home. If you or someone you know reaches a point where home maintenance is overwhelming and perhaps even impossible, moving makes a lot of sense.

One option is to purchase a smaller home, but the more likely scenario is to rent a small place. When you rent, there are no repairs or maintenance to deal with beyond minor, basic cleaning. There are also various house cleaning professionals that will offer special, discounted rates for seniors. You can find recommendations through friends and family or sites like Angi.

2. Don’t Need As Much Space As Before

Another sign that it’s time to sell is when you don’t use as much of your house as you once did. For seniors, this often happens when they become empty-nesters. Children grow up and move away, leaving two people (or only one person) in a house once home to three, four, five, or more. When this happens, a home can quickly seem to triple in size and feel like too much.

Another possibility is aging individuals no longer use the second floor or the basement due to mobility issues. Or it could be retirees no longer need a home office space, etc. No matter the specific reasons, if you’re no longer using a large portion of your home, it’s time to sell. Let all of that unused real estate go to someone who will relish every inch of space.

3. Significant Budget Changes

Seniors living on a fixed income might find the cost of home ownership no longer as affordable as it was before retirement. Rising insurance costs, property taxes, and higher utility and repair costs add up quickly. Many seniors need to sell their home to use the equity to cover senior living care and supplement retirement income. (This is especially true for seniors that have not paid off their home before retirement and are still footing the mortgage.)

Also, as people get older, budget limitations and home maintenance start to blend together to create a reason for selling. When seniors no longer can tackle home repairs and upkeep themselves, they start hiring professionals more often. This means more money coming out of their budget to pay for home services.

If staying in the home starts to be a financial burden, it’s time to sell. If house payments start to cause more dread, you cringe when you open the electric bill, and you hold your breath when homeowner’s insurance renews, take note. These are all signs that your home is becoming unaffordable. You don’t want to live house poor.

Likewise, if paying for your housing costs takes money away from other critical areas of your budget (like healthcare), it’s time to consider selling. It’s essential to choose the right path so you can live as stress-free as possible.

4. It’s Harder To Maneuver Around The Home

Is it starting to get harder to move around your home? Do you have a two- or three-story house and realize that the stairs seem a lot steeper than they used to be? Maybe your home has various levels or uneven flooring that make walking around a major trip hazard.

If you need to use a wheelchair, you might find that your current home no longer accommodates your new lifestyle. Small doorways, tight corners and turns, and narrow hallways start to limit where you can go in your own home.

If you’re struggling to move from room to room and can only use one or two spaces, it’s time to sell the house. You want your home to be a comfortable place where you feel safe and don’t have to worry about falling.

5. Changing Priorities And Values

As you get older, your life changes. Seniors face several major lifestyle shifts, including retiring, sending children off to college, or losing a partner to divorce or death. These changes can all point to downsizing, renting, or adjusting your living situation somehow.

For others, priorities, interests, and hobbies change. Perhaps you used to host a lot of parties or formal dinners, but now you no longer need the dining room or extra living room. Or, maybe now that it’s just you and your partner, you can’t wait to get an RV and travel the country. If you’ve recently made significant changes to your lifestyle, values, and priorities, then it could be a great time to sell your home.

6. They See Benefits In Assisted Living

Choosing to sell your home as a senior doesn’t always mean you’re facing negative things. Sometimes, seniors decide to sell because they find the idea of assisted living or a retirement community appealing.

They might crave the socialization and sense of community these places offer. Depending on their new residence, other benefits include medical assistance, housekeeping and laundry services, 24/7 support staff and care, and organized activities. Some places also provide transportation and meals.

At What Age Do Most Seniors Downsize?

According to the National Association of Realtors🄬 (NAR), in 2017, 12% of homebuyers between 45 and 64 were downsizing. But the decision to downsize is personal and unique to each individual. Some seniors remain in their home well into their golden years, while others can’t wait to sell. Unfortunately, many seniors end up with little choice when it comes to selling because of health or financial concerns.

Where To Start When Seniors Decide To Sell Their House

After considering the various signs that tell you it’s time to sell, what do you do next? Seniors ready to sell their home should consult with a trusted financial advisor and find an excellent real estate agent. This is not the time to sell by owner. A professional can assess the home and provide an unbiased view of what to fix and not to fix before selling.

Stay patient and compassionate if you’re assisting aging parents or relatives with selling their homes. Remember, this home is likely where they’ve lived for much of their lives and formed many memories. It can be an extremely emotional and challenging time for them. In some cases, they may not want to sell, even though they have no other options, so be prepared for some resistance.

Before listing the home, walk through a plan with a real estate agent by your side. Start decluttering and paring down belongings to make the move easier, and hire a good moving company well ahead of time.

A Final Look At When Seniors Should Sell Their Home

Some of the main reasons seniors end up selling their home are no longer wanting to deal with maintenance or repairs, higher living costs, and a desire to downsize. If it’s harder to move around their house or they no longer use many of the rooms, it makes sense to find a smaller place. Renting also becomes much more appealing to seniors who no longer want the stress of dealing with repairs and other issues.

Many seniors need to sell their home to afford the care they need in their older years. Perhaps the equity from their house will go toward an assisted living facility or various medical needs. For others, selling means more freedom to pursue other interests and new hobbies.

No matter what reason they have for selling, seniors should enlist the help of a qualified real estate agent to walk them through the process. When approached with patience, compassion, and dignity, selling their home can become a new adventure for many seniors.

Related Guides:

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

More by Stacy Randall