In this episode of Connecting the Community, Chris Zayid talks to Deborah Falzon, Real Estate Downsizing and Relocation Expert from Keller Williams Realty, about the benefits of downsizing for seniors, things to consider when downsizing, and the right time to make the downsizing decision.
To know more, watch the episode above or read the edited transcript below.
Chris: Welcome to our show! We have a special guest today – Deborah Falzon is from Keller Williams and is going to give us some great senior advice and tips, especially when it comes down to your home. you know but
Deborah, tell us a little bit of your background and how you got into the real estate industry?
Deborah: Chris thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here. I’ve been listing and selling homes in the area since 2002. Born and raised in West Bloomfield, graduate of West Bloomfield High School, a long time ago. Got into the business just one week in the middle of winter. I knew a girlfriend, she said, “Deborah, have you ever thought about getting into real estate?” And I’m like, umm no! I was running a plumbing company, I was busy, had no desire to change companies.
And she said, well you know I’m thinking about going to real estate school and then two days later my brother said the same thing and I’m like, oh, that’s kind of weird. I believe that God sends us signs and so the following Monday I was signed up for Namir George’s class and loving it ever since.
Chris: That’s great! As you said, you love what you do which is really important. I know a lot of people that we try to connect with and a lot of groups that we work, and I could tell they are passionate about people. And I could tell too that you took a liking to us here at Affinity, because of the passion that you had for seniors. I felt like we had that connection right away.
So, going into an Assisted Living is a big decision, but also there’s a lot of great planning that you can do way ahead of time to be able to make that transition smooth.
I learned that from you through our time in the Senior Compass Group as a resource and I think it’ll be really great for family members to be able to hear this podcast show. If you have parents who have been living in their house forever, it’s just that these decisions to be able to leave their home is huge, one of the biggest decisions that they will have to make. So, that’s where we want to zero in.
What are the first steps someone should take when considering downsizing?
Deborah: Typically, most people that are downsizing have lived in their homes. My clients that I run across have lived in their homes for many many years and you know things tend to accumulate. Depending on where you want to downsize to, if you want to go to an Independent Living Community apartment, I do have Denise who’s part of our Senior Compass Group, a professional organizer. She’ll go into your apartment, draw out a floor plan and measure the apartment and then come back to the house and work side by side with the client, saying, okay, well, this is the space you have. It’s a little overwhelming to go from three, four thousand square feet to a thousand square feet and over time we’ve just accumulated so many possessions. Once Denise helps you through the organizing process and you’ve decided what’s going and what’s not going, my next suggestion is bring the family in. Let them take their cherished memories and things that are in your home that they’ll hold on to forever and pass that down to their kids.
Marina owns Blue Moon Estate Sales. She’ll come in and they do just such a fantastic job. They’ve done estate sales for my own personal family, and they come in, they set everything up beautifully and they get you top dollar for what’s left over.
Chris: Can you explain what exactly is Estate Sales? What’s the purpose of it?
Deborah: It just helps you liquidate your home assets and get some money out of it. Instead of making the big donation to Salvation Army, they’ll help you get what you can out of your personal items that are not going with you.
Chris: And advertise it too so the public knows they can always come at this point in time. It’s an event scheduled.
Deborah: And they have a following. Blue Moon has been, I believe Marina is third generation with this company. They have a huge following. We have a historical fireman Howell that had three generations of accumulated possessions and they were able to set everything up. So, it made sense. When you shop, you like organization, not chaos to shop in, and put the things up front that they knew. We had over two dozen deer mounts, and they sold them all.
And then they advertise all over online, they take photos of all the things and it draws the people in, and has a really nice sale.
Chris: Sounds like a lot of value.
What would you say are the current world conditions that are affecting the Real Estate market in your opinion?
Deborah: Well, we’re towards the end of October 2022 and the first half of this year was chaos and pandemonium. It was the strongest seller’s market I’ve ever seen. Eight buyers for every house, offering well over asking and doing appraisal guarantees. What an appraisal guarantee means is that if it appraises for a certain dollar amount that’s less than the contract price, they’ll bring the cash to closing.
Since probably mid-June we’ve shifted back to a more balanced market which is nice for both sides. The sellers are still getting nice offers, but the buyers are actually having a chance to get a home, because when you’re competing with eight other people, it’s tough. And the buyers who are getting frustrated and fatigued, now it’s just a little more smooth and nice for everybody.
Chris: That was a really good update of where we are right now. If you had to say right now, what would be the unique considerations for everyone – to sell now or wait?
Deborah: So, fall and winter, the inventory is a lot lower because people want to wait for spring. But the issue with spring is now you’re going to be out there with all your competition. So, I think that your likelihood to sell quicker and easier would be in the Fall, in Winter market, because you have a lot less competition to deal with.
Chris: What do you need to do for an existing home prior to selling in today’s market?
Deborah: First and foremost – curb appeal. Because if they drive by the house and you don’t have Curb Appeal, they’re going to keep on driving. So, make sure that your lawn looks great, all your beds look nice, stand back, and take a look at your front door. Over time our front doors get beaten up because they’re used so much. Maybe it needs a coat of paint, maybe it needs some new hardware. Pitch that mat that’s been out there for you know 20 years and get yourself a fresh new welcome mat and maybe put something on the porch, seasonal item, like right now put some mums out. Pops of color make people smile; flowers make people smile. Just make sure that your curb appeal is there.
The next part of staging is your entry. When you walk into your foyer what does it look like? Are there shoes and coats and all that stuff? That’s their very first impression of what the rest of the house is going to look like. Next is the kitchen. Kitchens sell houses! Most people are thinking, well, I’m not spending money redoing a kitchen. When I come in and do staging, I have tips and tricks to take an older kitchen and make it look a little bit newer. Same with bathrooms. Bathrooms are a huge selling feature. Again, go out to Marshalls and get yourself some fluffy white towels. Think like Boutique Hotel. Same within your bedrooms. If you have white duvets, use those. If not, put like a white sheet on the bed and make your bed linens. It makes the room look brighter and airier and it just shows better.
Chris: I know that the right presentation matters. I’m assuming that a lot of seniors are not really into doing all that kind of stuff. How do you handle that? It could be a generational switch for them, but if you come in and start fluffing up their house and they really have no desire to but you’re like, I got talk to him about this if they really want to sell this home. Do you come across scenarios like that where it’s like you don’t want to do anything but have to convince mom and dad that it’s really important?
Deborah: So, I’m not opposed to bringing in my own linens for my house and making beds for photography. I will bring in my own towels, so you don’t have to buy anything. But I come from a philosophy ‘help me help you.’ I’m trying to get you the maximum amount for your home. If you just say, Deborah, don’t touch anything, that’s fine too. But I’m just trying to help you get the most for your home as possible.
Chris: Yeah, makes sense. That’s why they hire an agent.
The timeline – a lot of people ask when should I do it – to list my home or to sell my home or moving? So, let’s just start out with when is the best timeline for listing your home versus selling and also moving.
Deborah: Well, it kind of looks like this. So there’s a listing presentation, we look at the market, we come up with the number and then once everybody’s on board with that we’ve got some paperwork and then I bring my photographers in, I stage, then they shoot, and then I like to launch a property late Thursday, early Friday, because what happens is, depending on the property, the weekends are crazy and a lot of times I have to tell my sellers that they’re going to have to leave for the weekend and then by the end of the weekend there’s a contract.
For every appointment, you have to leave. If you have back-to-back appointments and maybe like a 20-minute gap, you just don’t want to go home and then, oh I gotta go again! you might as well just go.
Chris: Say the benefits of downsizing before it is absolutely necessary.
Deborah: A lot of my seniors are living in those big Colonials and the bathing areas are upstairs, so it’s contending with a full flight of stairs, and something could happen. A lot of these independent living communities are fun. They’ve got so many things going on and I know a lot of my seniors that go to an Independence Village or an American house, love it, because there’s always people around and things to do.
Chris: How does an agent typically help with this process? What tips can you give for seniors considering downsizing say in the next six months to one year?
Deborah: Downsizing doesn’t even have to be in a senior living community. It could be a ranch home, a condo. There’s 55 and 55 plus communities, kind of like think Villages of Florida, there’s a Dow Web Community going in Milford which is pretty exciting.
Chris: What is that? I’m not sure.
Deborah: Dow Web is a really nice Senior Living Community, kind of when you like think Villages, like Golf Courses, pools, all the amenities and stuff.
Chris: You don’t have to be on disability or chronic conditions to be able to move in these communities, but when it comes down to when you do sell your home, I think it could put you in a financial position to be able to also live the rest of your life worry free and use those funds towards living in a fun, safer environment and I’m thinking don’t wait for you to be disabled to make the decision or your parents to be disabled. They should live their best life now. They could do that at the home too, but there’s decisions to make too, to have help at the home and live their best life and continue to still live in an environment that they want.
What are the signs you would say for seniors and their family members when they will begin to notice, indications that a loved one would benefit from living in a smaller environment such as a condo?
Deborah: One of the key things is the house isn’t clean like it used to be. You notice that it’s a little more challenging for them to do those things. Personally, the whole reason why I became a senior real estate specialist is because I walked this journey with my mother, and she was extremely independent, did not want to listen to me because she was an independent woman. But I tried to encourage her to go to Independence Village. She was unable to drive anymore so she was very isolated and she felt very lonely, even though she had myself and my adult children and my husband and my brother. It’s not the same, she didn’t have those friendships. Long story short, she had to go to rehab, and she was in rehab for six weeks and she blossomed there because there was a lot of community things going on. They had bands that would come in, they had book clubs, everybody was dining together. That’s when I convinced her, let’s move out of the condo and let’s move over to Independence Village and she absolutely loved it.
Chris: She loved it, and she was happy and you were able to go there and visit her too.
Deborah: I had dinner with the ladies, at Independence Village they set her up with these five ladies so that her dinner companions were the same people every night. These ladies were just like her, very dynamic, successful in their careers and I loved going to dinner with them, because I would just sit back and listen to their stories, and it was really cool.
Chris: Any advice you would give or an inspiration to our seniors out there based on your experience and all the years you’ve been in the real estate industry?
Deborah: Just communicate with each other and just be there for each other and love each other and it all works out.
Chris: Thank you Debra for sharing your expertise and your insight into a niche market in the senior care industry in in the real estate world.
Thank you for joining us at our show and we will talk to you soon.
Deborah: Alright Chris! Thank you.