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Seniors Real Estate: Preparing to buy or sell a home in 2023

Tips for Tri-Valley seniors ready to jump into a fast, high-tech real estate market
David Stark.

A fast, competitive and high-tech world awaits seniors who are buying or selling homes in Pleasanton.

If a few decades have passed since someone was in a real estate transaction, they should be prepared for more people and more technology in the process.

"There's going to be less sitting down at a table and having a conversation over the paperwork as a lot of that now is done online, through text messaging and email," said Tracey Esling, 2023 treasurer of Bay East Association of Realtors.

Esling, a Tri-Valley resident and Realtor, said seniors preparing to sell their homes should be ready for their head and their heart to spin.

"It can be tedious for a senior as a lot of times they're moving out of a home that they've lived in for many years, and with that comes a lot of emotion and a lot of stress," Esling said. "The contracts are long, they're tedious, there's inspection processes, there's photos to be taken, and somebody could show up with a drone and do an overview of your home."

"Buying a home 30 years ago for one price and selling that home now at a price that's three times what they bought it for, that's a lot for somebody to grab onto," Esling said. "It's challenging in the respect that if you get multiple offers, you're having to look at all of those offers and digest them and pick an offer."

Esling said that Pleasanton's popularity with homebuyers means seniors selling their homes should be ready for lots of interest. "The number of offers that are going to come through are going to be very different," Esling said.

For seniors considering buying a home in Pleasanton, Esling said, "That is a very challenging experience, if you go back and look at what they paid for a home 30 years ago and what they're going to pay for a home now. Those numbers are very different."

Esling said senior buyers entering the market may be surprised by the competition for the few homes that are for sale. "The biggest problem you have is the price of homes. Buyers need to have a significant down payment; they need to just wrap their minds around high prices and competition," Esling said.

For seniors on a fixed income, securing purchase financing may be a challenge.

Esling said, "Be prepared to move quickly and make sure all your money is where it needs to be. Have a lender in place. Also be prepared for the scrutiny that comes if you are on a limited income. A lender is going to look into everything and again that process is very different than it was 30 years ago."

Since so much of a real estate transaction is conducted electronically, Esling suggested senior buyers be wary of anything that seems odd or unusual.

"Ask any questions and be careful with the emails that you get. If you're uncomfortable with something that you get in an email concerning money or signing documents, always reach out to your real estate agent, the title company or your lender," Esling said.

Downsizing early in the process of buying a home can make the process easier. "They may be going from a home with a large yard to a townhome and that's a very different lifestyle," Esling said.

Asked when a senior homebuyer should start downsizing, Esling said, "Immediately. You are going to need to get rid of things and you need to do that prior to moving. If you're moving everything out of a home that you've lived in for a number of years into a different home, most things aren't going to fit the decor. So, you need to start downsizing immediately. You need to have somebody in place that knows who to contact to haul stuff away."

Esling offered a final tip for seniors either buying or selling: "Have a support team. Your real estate agent, any family members that are close to you, and maybe some really good friends."

Editor's note: David Stark is chief public affairs and communications officer for the Bay East Association of Realtors, based in Pleasanton.

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