The Sentimental Money Pit

any of you reading this blog are referred to as the “sandwich” generation. You’re caught between being a parent and caring for your parent or grandparents. What should you do with your parents’ or grandparents’ home once they move into a nursing home, assisted living facility or pass away? The short answer is…separate emotion from business. Weigh your options carefully, but remember that the clock is ticking. The selling season began in April and screeches to a halt at the first sign of snow.

If your elders are in a nursing home or assisted living residence, the chances of them returning home are slim. If they return, can they walk up and down the stairs or is the floor plan making the home a virtual prison? Do Mom and Dad have the energy to cut the lawn and clean the home, or is this a burden transferred to you? Is the house vacant? Are you depending on relatives, neighbors or friends to watch it because your parents haven’t lived in it for months?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you should strongly consider selling the home. Keeping it means incurring costs. Property taxes, insurance and utilities are hard costs that could be reallocated to help with your elders’ health care expenses.

Some people want to keep the home and wait for the market to recover. Well, the market has declined the last two years. You may be waiting a long time to see a full recovery. You will be spending money with no guarantee of a return on the investment. Selling the home will save time and reduce your stress because you can focus your energy on caring for your loved one instead of managing two homes.

Your parents may be ill, but coherent and reluctant to sell their home. Consider assembling a team comprised of a gerontologist, social worker and an experienced realtor to explain the benefits of selling to your parents. Selling a home is a big decision. Making the right decision can be difficult when you’re experiencing significant stress or grieving.


Many people whose parents have passed away hold on to the home because they are unable to let go emotionally. It’s like letting go of Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandfather all over again. You may want to keep the home because of memories from childhood. You may even want to keep it in the family because it’s a part of your parents’ legacy.

However, each month the home is vacant it costs money to maintain and it is vulnerable to deterioration and break-ins. Selling the home also has other benefits including giving another family the opportunity to love your parents’ house and raise their family. Selling the home also helps prevent neighborhood blight and reduces the likelihood of the home being targeted by vandals.

You can keep the memories of holiday meals, while freeing yourself from the stress of managing an empty house.

Renting the home may be an option, however being a Landlord can require significant time and effort. If you choose this route, screen your prospective tenants very well. And remember, many cities require your rental property be licensed and inspected-more costs. The property taxes will also increase because it is a non-homestead residence. I recommend hiring a property manager to help you with converting your childhood home into a rental property.

Deciding to sell isn’t easy, but it may be the best option if finances are tight. Letting go doesn’t mean you are a failure. It doesn’t mean you love your parents or grandparents any less. And, it doesn’t mean that you will lose your childhood memories. You can take photos of each room of the house and make a scrap book. Then consider selling the home to gain financial and emotional freedom.

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