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Aging Family Members and How to Deal with their Real Estate


A Guest Post by frequent contributor Sean Cooper.


It’s an honour to speak to the Canadian Personal Finance Blog audience once again. I was speaking with your fearless leader Big Cajun Man trying to come up with a good topic to discuss on the blog when we both realized that we’re dealing with similar life situations. Big Cajun Man is dealing with his mother (who is 90) in a house that she will NOT leave, while I’m dealing with my father who is almost 70 in a house he will NOT leave.

Dealing with an aging family member is never easy. The last thing they want to do is lose their freedom by leaving the family home. But if the family home no longer works for them, some tough decisions need to be made.

Without further ado, let’s look at aging family member and how to deal with their real estate.

My Father’s Story

Five years ago my dad found out he had Parkinson’s disease. This changed our family’s life forever. Suddenly tasks that used to be simple for my father like making a cup of coffee were no longer easy. On some days when his back acts up, it’s even tough for him to get out of bed.

My father lives in a two story home. The stairs pose a big challenge for him most days. He finds it tough to go up and down the stairs without falling. Luckily there’s a restroom on the main floor and upstairs, so my father doesn’t have to go up the stairs as much, but he still has to use the stairs at least a few times a day and doesn’t always have a family member to help him.

Despite the challenges, similar to Big Cajun Man’s mother, my father refuses to downsize. We’re not asking him to move to a long-term care facility; we just think life would be a lot easier if he moved to a condo or even a bungalow with everything on the same floor. We’ve planted the bug in his ear, but so far he isn’t open to the idea of moving.

My father doesn’t want to move because he likes the street he lives on and his neighbourhood. He also sees downsizing as one step closer to losing his freedom. My grandfather passed away at 62 years old, so for my dad losing his freedom is really scary.

Making It Work

Rather than nag my father and pressure him to move, my family is trying our best to support his decision. Instead of moving out, my youngest sister has stayed at home to help my father out. Likewise, my older sister and I stop by the house as often as we can to check in on my dad and run errands for him. We’ll also mow the lawn and shovel the sidewalk and driveway of snow during the wintertime.

When I bought my house, an important factor was being close to my mother and father so I could help them out in their old age. Fortunately, I’m a 15 minute walk away from both of them. This makes it easy to check in on them and make sure they’re ok.

When the Time Comes

There will likely come a time when my father has to leave the family home. I’m not sure when that will be, but it’s a time my siblings and I want to make as simple and stress-free as possible.

My older sister is a real estate agent, so selling the family home won’t be a big deal. She can list my father’s home and stage it so that it sells for top dollar.

The toughest part will be convincing my father to downsize. Perhaps he will come to the realization on his own. If not, most of my friends are facing similar situations. Instead of pressuring my dad, I’ll tell him about how much better my friend’s parent’s life is since downsizing.

If push comes to shove there will be a time when my father has to downsize, but I’d much prefer the carrot over the stick approach. I’d like to exhaust the carrot approach before even considering the stick approach. That being said, you have to be ready to have the tough conversations if needed.


About the Author

Sean Cooper
Mr Cooper

Sean Cooper is the bestselling author of the book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. An in-demand Personal Finance Journalist, Money Coach and Speaker, his articles and blogs have been featured in publications such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Financial Post and MoneySense. Connect with Sean on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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Downsizing: Another Money Maker for Real Estate Agents

All this talk of downsizing (selling a house that seems too large for you to move into a smaller sized house) seems to be yet another great money-making idea for the Real Estate world. Will you be happier downsizing? Richer ?

Real estate agents are attempting to dislodge folks out of paid off houses. Folks do this so they can “capitalize on the value of the house” and have “more liquid assets”. While this seems better than the reverse mortgages being offered, is it ?

Front Door of My House

Is My Current House an Easy Sell? Nope, it is a “fixer upper’s dream”

The difference between your existing house and your new house seems to be obviously your “net gain” on the deal until you throw in some of the costs nobody likes talking about:

  1. The real estate fees for selling your house. Yes, you can try to sell that yourself, and save that money, but will you be able to sell to someone who doesn’t have their own agent? You can ask for a lower rate, remember that answer is always no, unless you ask.
  2. All of the associated costs to prepare your house to sell it, which can be a fair amount of cash as well. Some agents include that in their fees, but repairs could mean another big chunk of money. You can try to sell it as a Fixer Upper’s Dream, but that is going to knock the price down (a great deal).
  3. The cost of moving, given you are older, you are much less likely to find a bunch of friends who want to help you pack and move for Beer and Pizza, and the cost of a U-Haul Rental? Even if you promise not to move your rock collection.
  4. Land transfer taxes, no one likes talking about that one.
  5. Storage? I really hope not. Some folks might not do a “purge” of their stuff and then end up paying to store their valuables?

If your house is paid off, the question to think about at your new house is are the delta costs of your utilities at your current house and your new house going to be significant? Folks in Ottawa who live in Ottawa, that move to a more rural setting, find out that Hydro One charges in the country are actually much higher.

Is This Really For You ?

If you live in a 3000 sq foot mansion, and are thinking about traveling a great deal, downsizing sounds like a better idea, but is it really going to save you money? If an agent calls you, maybe you can sit down and have them go through all of the costs?

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