Local real estate agents help seniors downsize into next chapter
Oregon's 65-and-older population is growing faster than the national average and increasing in all corners of the state, U.S. Census statistics show. To help meet the needs of those seniors, real estate agents Sheila Johnson and Mimi Webster have launched a new relocation service called Living Well.
"I have lived in the Lake Oswego community for 35-plus years and have been a realtor for 20," said Johnson. "Mimi is a licensed agent as well and brings 28 years of marketing experience and human resources skills to the table. We are both committed to our clients and their families to insure
that the transition to a new home is a well-manag-
ed and rewarding experience."
Johnson said the Living Well project was born from her experiences caring for her parents, who died in the same year. And then Pat, a neighbor whom she looked after, took a fall.
"She had no family," Johnson said. "So myself and another neighbor took Pat under our wing."
They looked after her, and when it was time, Johnson sold Pat's home and arranged for her next place of residency at Mary's Woods.
Over the years, Johnson said, she has helped about 15 clients sell their homes and then settle into senior living facilities.
"Many of their children live out of state," Johnson said. "So we arrange for everything — packers, organizers, elder care attorneys, whatever they need to make the transition easy for them. The whole Living Well business evolved from my experiences helping clients make that next move."
Webster spent her first career as a retail executive, working mainly with specialty clothing retailers Talbot's and Nordstrom. She brings soft skills such as leadership, teaching and customer service to the new business.
"The target market (in her retail career) was women ages 65 to 89," she said. "I taught the sales teams how to listen to seniors. You have to have great listening skills to understand that demographic and what they want, what clothes will make them happy."
The women say selling a home brings many important considerations. They naturally focus on providing the expected services — such as creating a competitive market analysis; establishing a fair market value and realistic time frame for selling; preparing the property for sale and marketing it; ensuring the buyer's financial ability; and following the transaction through escrow to a successful closing. But they also provide comprehensive move management by assessing the client and family's needs; orchestrating the calendar for downsizing; hiring specialists in organizing and packing and an estate sale planning team; creating a list of needed repairs, if necessary; hiring experienced movers; and helping line up legal services and financial planning referrals.
"We keep in touch with the children," Webster said. "We are the 'boots on the ground' team here, and broker the whole process."
Finding the right fit is just as important when moving into a senior facility as it is when moving into a first house.
"You have to find the right neighborhood," Johnson said. "Senior facilities have different personalities." She and Webster carefully assess clients' interests and needs to select facilities that are good matches.
"Real estate is all about relationships," Webster said.
"We are proven guides to assist those ready for the next chapter," Johnson added.
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