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How to Help Your Parents Sell Their House in Sacramento

Get some tips on helping your parents sell their Sacramento home. Seniorly has some local resources and advice on selling your parents' house.

By Stephen Anderson · Updated Jan 2, 2023
sacramento houses

Selling a house is daunting at the best of times — selling your parents' house when they aren't able to do so themselves is unfortunately even more complicated. Luckily, there are a variety of experts out there who can help your family to make decisions swiftly and take some of the stress out of the process of moving mom and dad out, deciding where their stuff goes, and preparing the property for sale.

Besides the complex legal and logistical challenges of selling your parents house, you might also be dealing with intense emotions during this process, as well as those of other family members and your parents themselves. Even if their current home was not your childhood home, you might have many memories there, or feel overwhelmed at the amount of possessions you'll have to sort through, or sad that your parents can no longer live independently. Or you might be relieved that they'll be in a new home where, whether it's yours or a senior living community, they'll be able to receive the loving care they need. 

Whatever you and your family is feeling, it's normal to have a reaction to this kind of upheaval, and many of the professionals you might hire or consult will be familiar with the high emotions of your situation.

Legalities 

Among the first steps you'll need to take are figuring out the legalese of your situation. If you're just helping your parent, or parents, you likely won't need a lawyer, though you will need their presence and signatures on major documents and contracts. But if your parents are no longer able to make their own decisions, you need to investigate how to get access to their accounts and make legal moves for them.

If your parent is incapacitated by illness, dementia, or other conditions, you'll need power of attorney (POA), a document that allows you to make decisions about the house and other assets on your parents' behalf. 

An estate planning attorney can help you get the necessary documents in place to ensure that your parent's money and assets are protected and accessible to you and/or whoever has power of attorney. It is possible to fill power of attorney forms out online, but you will still need to have them notarized. We recommend using a lawyer to make sure everything is done correctly, you can ask them whether they charge a flat fee for POA documents or by the hour. Their expertise is worth the investment.

There are a number of estate planning attorneys in Sacramento, such as Yee Law Group or Smith Estate Law. Ask family and friends for recommendations, too.

Determine your timeline

The timing of your parents' move and when they sell their house depends on a number of variables. Are they moving in with you? Or into senior living? Are they recovering from an illness or injury in a skilled nursing facility before moving into long term care in a senior living community? Are you planning to use the money from the sale of the house to pay for senior living? Is that senior living community a 55+ retirement community, an assisted living facility, or is it a continuing care retirement community (CCRC)?

You'll need to know the answers to some of these questions to know how fast you need to get your parents' house on the market. If you're interested in a CCRC, you'll likely need to pay an entrance fee in addition to monthly rent. Similarly, independent living communities and 55+ retirement communities tend to require down payments, as you often own your own home within them. In these instances, and assuming you'll need the money from the house sale, you'll need to move quickly so that you can use the profit from the house towards your senior living choice. 

If, however, your parent is moving into an assisted living facility or receiving in-home care at your house, you might have more wiggle room in your schedule. Typically, assisted living and memory care communities that are not wings or neighborhoods of a larger CCRC only require monthly rent. This can still be expensive — prices vary widely by location and other factors — but you won't need a large sum just to get them moved in. This will give you some time to pack up the house, get it ready to sell, and put it on the market.

What to do with The Stuff

With few exceptions, most of our parents, after decades of life, have a lot of stuff, more than you might think. It might pay to ask if everything they own is in the house or if they have a storage unit or safety deposit box that needs to be accounted for. Decide on a system to tackle organization. Room to room? Top down? There are many ways to go about it, but we recommend these first steps:

  1. First, locate and secure important documents and heirloom items so they won't get lost in the shuffle.
  2. Next, tackle smaller items and the things that are easier to let go of: clothes that don't fit, broken things, duplicates, and things they won't need in their new home, like kitchen goods and lawn care items.
  3. Save big items like furniture for later, unless they are badly worn or damaged, as these can help you stage the home for sale. Even if they seem outdated, having some furniture is better than an empty room in real estate listing photos.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, tackle things in bite-sized chunks. Consider asking family or friends to help pack things up. Utilize an estate sale company: these professionals can not only help you figure out how to sort but also get you some cash back from the years of collected stuff.

  • Estate sale companies like Schiff Estate Services or Grasons 
  • Donation centers
    • Keep in mind Goodwill and other resale shops are no longer accepting furniture donations (as of 2022), but places like Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento still do. Call ahead to check before you haul big items to a donation center.
  • Consignment stores: if your furniture and other household items are in good shape and especially if they're high quality or vintage, contact a consignment shop like Upscale Consignment Furniture to see if they would be willing to sell them.

Watch out for: Depending on personal circumstances and personality, you might also want to ask if your loved ones have squirreled away cash somewhere in the house. You probably remember seeing news stories about thousands of dollars in cash being found in a sofa from the thrift store, or tens of thousands stashed in the walls or under floorboards. This behavior might seem illogical, but often comes from a place of fear. Sometimes people with unstable or even abusive childhoods became used to having to move quickly and quietly. Moreover, minorities who have faced discrimination from institutions like banks are less likely to trust them with their hard-earned money. 

Try to approach this situation with patience and grace. In the unlikely event that you do find money in the walls and it is damaged (perhaps by water or rodents), you might be able to send it to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, who will examine it for authenticity and send you a check for the amount.

Family drama

Downsizing and/or selling the family home, as well as divvying up family stuff, can be a stressful period. Sometimes this stress and the high emotions of accepting that our parents are aging can bring out the worst in us. Conversely, you might already be dreading the interference or poor attitude of relatives that have a history of bad behavior towards you, your parents, or both. Be ready to set boundaries.

If you have disagreements with adult siblings or other relatives on who gets what, and you can't consult a parent's wishes, consider bringing in a neutral third party. While this might cost you money to pay someone to act as an intermediary, it will save your sanity in the long run. Lawyers can act as intermediaries, but you might also look into family counselors who specialize in conflict resolution, like Francine Farrell & Associates, PC.

List the house

You can of course use a traditional real estate agent to list your parents' house, but if your parents are moving into a senior living community, you could use the services of a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®). This certified specialist has unique training and experience in helping home buyers and sellers in your situation, and will help you every step of the way. Moreover, SRES® Realtors can draw on a large network of other professionals, and can recommend financial advisors, contractors to fix major issues with the house, estate liquidators, and even movers.

Another expert you can consult is a representative of the National Association of Specialty & Senior Move Managers®. No matter where your loved one is moving to, a NASMM® senior move manager can help you throughout the process with tips and resources that can help reduce stress and even save money. 

Make the move

Regardless of whether your parents are downsizing and moving into a 55+ community, moving in with you or other family, or moving into an assisted living community, the process of helping them sell their house can be complex. We hope the national and local resources we've pointed you toward can help you successfully sell your parents' house in Sacramento.


Please note that mention of local Sacramento businesses and non-profit organizations does not imply an endorsement by Seniorly.

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written by:
Stephen Anderson

Stephen Anderson

Stephen has been a digital marketing, sales, and operations leader. A strategist at heart, he has built high performing solutions for brands large and small across challenging industries such as Insurance, Travel, and Personal Finance. As Seniorly's Chief Strategy Officer, Stephen draws on this experience to help families and senior living communities connect with the best possible outcomes. Originally from the north east, Stephen enjoys playing on the mountains and beaches of California with his wife, son and daughter.

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