This hour focuses on the major ways that senior homeowners can be taken advantage of through the process of selling their home. This final segment may surprise some listeners — one of the biggest sources of folks to take advantage of seniors are their own family members.
The family should be there, advocating and having a loved one’s best interests in mind, but that’s not always the case. Some of the worst offenses come from their own family. Suzanne is joined by Rebecca Bomann, CEO and founder of SASH Services, who provides some real examples and a couple of takeaways from this topic.
Click to learn more about Rebecca Bomann and SASH Services.
View Episode Transcript
*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Welcome to the answers for elders radio show. meet the trusted experts who will give you straight answers and we’ll help guide you on the path of later life care. Now here’s your host, founder, caregiver and CEO, Susanne Newman, and welcome back everyone to answers for elders radio network. In this final segment in our hour, and I am so thrilled to be having our consumer watch advocate for seniors in real estate, Rebecca Bowman, the CEO of staft services in here in the Washington state, and Rebecca Um, this has been really, really educational and for those of you that are just joining us, please check out the podcast because we’ve talked about a lot of different things. That is really important in advocating for your loved one, senior loved one, as well as how to make things go smoothly. So there’s no Gotcha moments in the in the world. So, Rebecca, I know that this is the biggest one of all. You warned me, but I have no idea what you’re gonna talk about, so go ahead and lay it on us. Okay, so we’ve been talking about, Um, some of the major sources of people who take advantage of seniors through the sale of their home. And we’ve talked about neighbors, we’ve talked about house flippers and investors, talked about real estate agents. But this last category might surprise a few of your listeners, and that is one of the biggest sources of folks who take advantage of seniors in their homesale are their own family members. And people go wait, what haven’t you been telling us all along that the family should be there, that the family is the advocate, that the family should be watching out for their senior loved one? And boy, Suzanne, we wish that all families had their senior loved one’s best interests in mind. They don’t, but they don’t. And unfortunately some of the worst offenses of taking advantage of senior homeowners in their home sale are from their very own family members. And so I want to go into a few examples and then at the end here we can do a couple takeaways from this topic. So what I’ve seen is a few a few examples. Is maybe mom or grandma let one of her adult children or grandchildren live in the house with her for the last five, fifteen, twenty years. They’ve had it rent free. It comes time for Grandma to get twenty four hour care, to get assisted living, she needs to move out and sell the home to pay for her care and they refused to leave and they forced her to have to get an eviction attorney to evict her own family who’s been living rent free in her home for twenty years, so that she can actually afford to pay for the care that she needs. I wish I could say this was unusual. It’s not unusual. It’s another one is sometimes that adult child or grandchild is so upset and resentful that the home is being sold because they don’t think it should be, that they’ll come back and damage it. They’ll break in, they’ll strip it of appliances or copper or other things like fixtures in the home that they want to sell. They actually uh, you know, bring down the value of grandma’s home or GRANDPA’s home or their parents home. Um, just retaliating because they’re upset that the home is being sold. It’s really awful to see this. Um sometimes what they’ll do is the family members will chase away real estate. So the senior is calling, you know, recommended real estate professionals to come and talk to them about what their home is worth, what they could sell it for, what what our next steps and the family will will literally pick up the phone and tell that real estate professional never come back again. And why is that, Suzanne? Why are they chasing them away? Because they want to inherit the house. Because they want to inherit the house. I met with a sweet, sweet man here in the Seattle area years ago whose house was falling in and the whole structure of the home was being held up by a tree trunk in his basement. They had literally brought a tree trunk in and it was supporting the center of the home and it was, of course buckling because it’s a tree trunk, and falling and he had holes in his ceiling. He wanted to sell, he found a place he wanted to move to and his daughter chased everyone away so that she could inherit the home. It’s really heartbreaking to see that. Another thing I’ve seen families do is have the their senior loved one gift the home to them or sell it to them for a reduced price because they they want it. Um they want the home, but in fact the senior needs all that money for their care they need to sell it for market value and if that senior tries to go on Medicaid in a few years, Medicaid will look back at those gifts and will say why did you give your house away when you could have used your home for paying for your care? So you can actually be disqualified from Medicaid because of these gifts. I’ll tell you a quick story. I helped some senior couple here in the Seattle area who were moving out of state and they were taken to the train station and and literally within an hour of them leading their home and going to the train station to take the train to their new home out of state, the entire family descended on their home and stripped it clean and we were going to sell the furniture on behalf of the senior, on behalf of the seniors to help them get a little bit of extra money. All the things that we were going to sell were gone by that single day. They swarmed the house and so they see it as like a, you know, a free for all. You know, everybody come and grab something quick before the home is sold. Um. Another situation that I saw is grandson’s living in the basement and Um, every time grandma needed groceries, the grandsons would say, grandma, we’ll go get the groceries for you, give us your debit card. She of course trusted them, gave them her debit card and they would take extra cash out every single time, draining her husband’s savings that he had left for her when he passed away. Um. And then her options were very limited when it was time for her to sell her home because she had no cash left. Um. Or last one I’ll mention is having their parents take out a loan on the home to assist them. Mom Or Dad, can you get a Helock on your home? Can you get a reverse mortgage on your home? Can you get money from the loan because I need it for x, Y or Z? Then when the senior goes to sell their home a few years later, or whenever later, there’s this there’s this giant mortgage on it, and so there really isn’t anything left for the senior to pay for their care. Um. I know that these are hard to hear, uh, and this doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen, which is why people need to be aware that seniors are vulnerable to their own family, whom they trust and love the most. You know, Rebecca, I have to say, Um, it happened in my own family and my brother talked to my mother into buying his house for him because he had to lean um on a job that he did, because he was a self employed contractor, and so he couldn’t get it, he couldn’t get his loan and then, Um, they fell behind in payments. Um they got a divorce. My mom Um it was the house was in her name. He stopped paying the payments. Um, he was like three months interrears. The bank was gonna possessed the House and so my mother, actually my brother ended up squatting and you talked about destroy the house. That’s exactly what he did and he um and he did horrible things to her, you know, as far as as UM basically, from that point Um, we finally had to get an attorney to get him out and Um, I had to get unfortunately, it got really bad and we which I’ve told this story before, but Um, so I hear you. And my mom because of that, it costs her thousands and thousands of dollars that she needed for her care and second of all, it cost her, in her mind, a relationship with her son because he would never talk to again. So he never had contact with her. So it was a horrible situation. It was terrible and my mom just did it out of the kindness of her heart, you know, but it was thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars that set my mom lost that. Luckily they were able to get the household and they were luckily, you know, able to do that, but it was very difficult and no one should, no one should have to go through that. Your mom lost in two ways. She lost money and a relationship. And you know, we’re we’re not trying to scare anyone with this, with this topic. We want to inform people that these things can happen. It’s really important to be eyes wide open to double check everything exactly. Be No verbal agreements. Everything should be in writing and there needs to be advocates and professionals who are involved that can make sure that things are happening rights. And I think the important part is, especially when there’s a death in the family, like say, Dad dies, a mom still in the house or whatever, this is kind of when family family kind of converges forward and they try to now figure out maybe dad was a patriarch. So there’s this balance of the family is changed and everybody’s trying to it’s like a power grab in and and I hate to put it that way, but I’ve seen it so many times that that is what happens and you know, we see it, you know, working with families all the time, and so that the role. I think. What we have about a minute and a half left. I’ve got the best advice that you. Thank you. Yeah, we want to do a quick couple takeaways for our listeners. Um, because you can be super proactive and you can prevent this. So number one, Um, nobody should be alone in the sale of their home period. No one should be alone, no one should be unrepresented, no one should be handling it by themselves. Have people around the senior loved one who have their best interests in mind. Number two, if if something sounds fishy, put the brakes on. If it sounds fishy people are doing a side deal or a contract over here or something, you know, put the brakes on. It’s okay to say no, it’s okay to say I have to think about it or let’s nothing with that. Yeah, let’s wait and get a couple of eyes on this right. Another one. Anyone who transacts real estate with seniors for the sale of their home should have nothing to hide. There should be nothing to hide if they’re working with your senior loved one and they’re a broker, they’re an investor, they’re a real estate agent, they’re a neighbor, they’re a friend. They’re a friend, they should be willing to show you all their paperwork, all the information. There should be no defensiveness about explaining what they’re gonna do and how they’re gonna do it. Also, everyone should have a power of attorney, because seniors who start to go into dementia and don’t have a power of attorney are super vulnerable because they don’t have someone to make those decisions for them. And last just quick, because this is our fourth group, if a senior doesn’t want their family involved, sometimes there’s a good reason for it, and maybe find out those reasons before you start making phone calls and bringing folks in. The senior might be really vulnerable to them. You know, this is really, really good advice and you know, thank you for letting me share my story, Rebecca, because it is touched my life. When the things you’re telling me it’s it’s so true and, Um, I would love to explore this a little bit further in a future segment. And and so, Rebecca, in the meantime, thank you so much for being on the program today. Thank you for having me, Suzanne. Can’t wait for the next one. And how do we reach you? At our website, sash services dot com or SASH REALTY DOT COM, and our toll free number, triple eight four sash. and to each and every one of you, have a under full week and remember one thing, be good to each other. We at answers for elders. Thank you for listening. 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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.
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