Real Talk: A Grammatical Approach to Downsizing!


By Diane Murphy

Working with seniors in their housing transitions for the last 20 years has led me to conclude that one of the best “formulas” for success entails a three-part process: from gerunds to verbs to nouns! Initially, that may sound a little too academic, but my clients have agreed that this is a successful triage process and one that will bring the most desired goal to anyone in the housing search, whether it be your first purchase or your last. 

The first step involves gerunds: verbs acting as nouns. This involves: listening, educating, realizing, evaluating, assessing and finding. It is always my goal to listen to my clients: I need to hear their story and their wishes and goals. But in order to fulfill those desires, educating is the medium: how much can you afford, what are the best financial plans, what am I now lacking or what do I want to leave behind in terms of the daily activities I now engage in; for instance, too much space, too many stairs, too much maintenance, lack of support services, too many expenses, too much isolation. Here one is realizing that the current residence does not meet your needs, is no longer where you heart is and discovering how you can again fall in love with another place. Evaluating one’s current needs and what genetic and health factors may influence my health requirements for the next 10 years. Will you need assistance that family or friends cannot provide? Assessing that support for the foreseeable future is very important. What if something unexpected happens? None of us has a crystal ball but we can learn a great deal about ourselves and ways to improve our chances of living life as fully as possible during this journey. Finally, finding the right match for professional services. My own journey through this “gerund” phase occurred as my dad was taken from us suddenly over 20 years ago. These are the stages I walked with my mother as she transitioned from the home, she and may father built and lived in for over 50 years. 

Today you have a plethora of options, plans and services as we find ourselves in an era of the Silver Tsunami as our lifespans increase. The final 1/3 of our lives can become a kaleidoscope of choices! 

The second stage is the actual verb list. This is the to do list whether it is simple de-cluttering, cleaning, painting and staging or more substantial repairs and renovations. There is a complete array of actions one can take with our help and guidance and a complete circle of professionals can make this preparation the most cost effective and your current home market ready for the highest yield in the shortest amount of time. We share current market data with you; we study the most effective ways to market your home based upon your time frame, financial capabilities and personal wishes. Furthermore, there are ways to introduce your home to the buying public besides Coming Soon and Bright MLS exposure. We provide you with the latest comparable information to compare not just size, condition and amenities but also incentives that previous sellers may have offered that the public record does not convey. The timing of a listing is also critical to its success, so each window of opportunity is discussed in detail! 

The final grammatical part of this effort moves from gerunds to verbs to nouns. These are words like fulfillment, safety, happiness, simplicity, socialization, services…the list goes on, but they are the words that best describe what your heart wants and your body needs in this home; this is a “heart” stage because most people in their earlier years made housing choices based upon jobs, marriage, education or geography. In those days, there was more pressure from without as you grew, achieved and matured. Now there is a greater desire to react from the heart and achieve those goals which will complete you as a person in ways that you simply could not do before. Most clients, at this stage, realize that their current home has served them well for many years, but it is no longer where their heart is or maybe where their mind and body can best operate. 

In many ways, this journey is about finding much more than your next home. It is about discovering who you are still meant to be and how best your residence can help you accomplish that goal. Consider this 3-part process an amazing opportunity to create anew and fashion the noun, the entity, you want to be! 

The writer is an associate broker with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.