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Ask McEnearney: What Should Seniors Know About Moving During COVID-19?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Peter Crouch of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Peter at 703-244-4024 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Everywhere you turn, there are headlines about how devastating this virus has been to people over 60. Mostly in nursing homes, and, to a lesser degree, other “congregate” settings such as assisted living communities and some life care/life plan communities. It is true: statistically, that is where a huge proportion of infections and, sadly, deaths have occurred.

So, what should this age group (I have had my AARP card for over a decade) consider if it is time to downsize?

Answer: When people decide to downsize, it is very often because the home they have lived in for decades has become too big and expensive/time-consuming to maintain. They understand that moving to a smaller home frees them to a large degree from maintenance, and allows more time for travel, entertainment and other activities they may have been looking forward to in retirement.

Trips to see the grandkids, or that trip to the Islands that has been on their bucket list. I did it 3 years ago, and would do it today if I hadn’t.

None of that has changed. Life is continuing to happen. I have younger clients moving this month into the house where they will raise a family. And older folks moving to a condo where they will launch their next phase of life. There are just a few adjustments now.

Circle back to the virus itself. This is a virus that spreads from person-to-person via droplets from coughing, sneezing and simply breathing. Now look at nursing homes and some other senior living communities: they are caring communities where, by their nature, there is a great deal of very personal contact between residents and care-givers. It is hard to imagine a more conducive environment for the spread of COVID-19.

What does not make the headlines is that the vast majority of senior moves are to “privately owned” properties such as condominiums, or smaller single family homes with one level. They are not to congregate communities. These privately owned homes still offer all the benefits that downsizing affords in the first place. Plus, they offer the ability for the owner to react to outside circumstances such as COVID-19, just as they would have in their previous property.

So how do you accomplish a move these days? Logistically, moves during COVID-19 are happening with all the recommended precautions: we real estate brokers are handling purchases and sales mostly online using virtual tours, virtual contracts and virtual settlements.

While I have yet to meet a virtual de-clutterer or mover, these folks are all taking the steps necessary to protect clients of all ages. Social distancing, face masks and sanitizing wipes are the new normal, and respecting the wishes of clients is paramount.

We have a great corps of vetted vendors who can help clients through the “5 Steps to a Successful Downsize.” This includes de-cluttering, donating, discarding and the like. Plus, our Signature Service preparation of the house itself: painters, flooring contractors and most of the trades if needed.

As a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), I understand that moving gets tougher as we get older. And this virus adds an additional complication. But still, life continues to happen. The congregate communities will adjust and will continue to be a very viable option. For most older folks, however, condominiums and one-level houses were and are a great option. We can help you with that downsize, now or in the future. It is never too early to explore and to plan.

Pete Crouch has been a licensed Broker in Alexandria for over two decades. Pete also has a specialty in Mature Moves and he is a Board Member for At Home in Alexandria (AHA) Senior Village. He was the 2018 National Recipient of the “Outstanding Service Award” for work with Senior Communities. Text 703-244-4024 or email [email protected] for a copy of his Downsize Alexandria! Booklet about living more simply in Greater Alexandria.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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