How to manage your parent’s property once they’ve moved out
Rob Dolbear, Director of Bridgefast Property Services shares his advice on what to do with your parent’s property once they’re unable to look after it, and perhaps themselves, without outside help.
There comes a time in our lives when we have to start thinking seriously about whether our parents can cope independently in their own home. This can be a stressful stage for both parent and child involving some difficult conversations to try to agree what’s for the best.
Living remotely from our parents, in the UK or overseas, can make this situation into more of a challenge but finding the time to get together and look through the options available will allow a mutual decision to be reached.
A planned move in good health will obviously be much easier to organise than an urgent move into care due to deteriorating health but each presents its own issues. More often than not dealing with your parent’s home and funding their care can become a source of great stress and worry if managed poorly.
Whether you’re selling or renting your parent’s property there are a number of things to think about before you take the leap. Read the following hints and tips to help you achieve the best outcome.
Selling your parent’s home
The initial marketing period is crucial and ill-informed decisions at this stage can be hard to recover from further down the line. Things to think about are as follows:
Choosing the right estate agent
You’ll need to get at least two appraisals from estate agents. If you don’t know the local property market very well, selecting those agents can be difficult. The top 6 things to consider:
- The types of property they’re currently selling, the size of their portfolio and the number of properties they have under offer
- Making sure the agent you’re considering provides you with comparable information to support their recommendations on asking price, achievable sale price and probable timescales.
- Property advertisement - both quality of presentation and listings on websites, in newspapers etc
- Check that the agent’s branch is open 7 days a week
- Ensure the commission charge is reasonable.
- Don’t be seduced by the highest valuation. You’re looking for the optimum valuation. A property that’s overpriced for the initial marketing period can ultimately be difficult to sell for its fair value.
Ultimately selecting an agent to actually market the property will depend on the factors above as well as the quality of service and the quality of information provided to you. If you don’t feel happy then trust your instincts and look elsewhere.
Assessments and Certificates
- An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will be required for the property.
- You may need to get an independent assessment of the property to determine whether it needs a touch up to achieve a sale. In general this isn’t needed, as buyers like to make their own mark on a property, but if there are obvious issues affecting its appeal then they should be considered.
- Appoint a solicitor who’ll do the conveyancing. It’s a good idea to monitor their progress to ensure the sale is completed as quickly as possible.
- It’s advisable to have potential buyers professionally assessed with regard to their ability to complete on the purchase. A lower offer from a cash buyer may be better than a higher offer from a buyer in a chain. Consider your options carefully.
You’ll need to monitor your agent’s progress to make sure they’re getting on with it! This can be time consuming but an agent should be accountable for activity on a weekly basis and be able to provide qualitative feedback. Momentum is so important when a property is first marketed and when a sale is being concluded.
Getting down to business
- Are you comfortable negotiating on offers or confident the agent can act in your best interests? Potential buyers may try to exploit circumstances if they know a move is urgent or if the property is already empty.
- You will need to identify the utility providers and contact them to close accounts when the property is sold.
Keeper of the keys
- What arrangements will need to be made with respect to key access?
- A lock change is also something to consider should you worry about access to the property whilst you’re not present.
- Remember if a property is left vacant most insurance policies will lapse or reduce cover after 30 or 60 days so separate vacant property insurance will be required. Take your time when choosing this type of insurance as minimum period conditions may apply and prices vary.
- An empty property will need care and maintenance, particularly over the winter months when a drain down might be needed.
Making sure you select the right removals company to help with this process is important. Your parent’s possessions are precious and should be handled with care. You want a company that understands this and is sensitive to your needs.
The removal process is often a combination of taking certain items to your parent’s new home, arranging for some items to go to family and friends, obtaining auction appraisals for more valuable items and house clearance & collection by charities for what’s left.
Renting your parents’ home
Do you or your parents want to become landlords?
Whilst tenanting your parent’s house may generate some income (notwithstanding tax implications) tenants can be demanding, requiring their requests and repairs to be dealt with quickly.
Do you let the property furnished or unfurnished?
Furnishings need to meet a certain standard as well as Health & Safety requirements. If you opt for unfurnished who is going to deal with the sale, disposal or storage of your parent’s belongings? If you budget for a certain amount of rent, what happens if there is a gap between tenants or market rents fall?
Are you aware of the risks?
If the property is tenanted, you or your parent is effectively exposed to the vagaries of the property market with, as recent history shows, no guarantee of an upward trend. So whilst renting can be appropriate for some, you and your parents need to be aware of the issues before deciding being a landlord is the thing for you.
Forward planning to fund care home fees
If you and your parent are selling their house because they’re moving into care it’s frequently the case that payment is required prior to your parents move and in advance of the sale of the property. Professional, specialised, financial advice should be sought in these circumstances to ensure the right solution is put in place for you and your parent.
Dealing with property is invariably stressful, particularly when this involves a parent’s property with additional concerns and emotions such as a move into care or most difficult of all, the death of a parent. Your own location, work and family situation can add to these stresses. It’s important to go into it with your eyes open, which I hope this article has helped to address, and to know what you can achieve on your own and when professional support is required.
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