Planning helps retired schoolteacher ease pain of downsizing

Cheryl Walters, 77, believes in the power of planning.

Four years ago, the retired schoolteacher attended a downsizing seminar led by The Steller Group, a Colorado-based full-service real estate team. While Walters wasn’t ready to leave her home yet, she knew she’d eventually need to do so: her 94-year-old husband Cliff has several health issues, and she doesn’t have children. So, she continued attending additional Steller seminars.

“I had the time and the inclination,” she says. “Steller changed my mind-set to help me look at downsizing as a process.”

Blair Bryant, a designated broker for Steller shared, “The three main factors a downsizer is facing are: what will I do with all my stuff, how do I get the house ready, and how do I time everything?”

In Walters’s case, she had anticipated that the move would happen after her husband passed. But Father Time had different plans.

“My husband is the Energizer Bunny, so as he became less capable of taking care of all the home maintenance, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it all on my own.”

So, they selected their next home at Carmel Oaks, a retirement community in Lakewood. In terms of making the move, she knew Steller could take it from there.

Ready to sell

In March of this year, Walters consulted Bryant on what services Steller would provide. After all, there was a lifetime’s worth of stuff that would not be going to Carmel Oaks.

The housing market was red-hot, interest rate hikes were on the horizon, and the house needed some improvements before it listed.

Bryant offered suggestions, and The Steller Group provided services to price and prepare her existing home for sale, including complimentary full-service staging and strategic improvements to increase salability, like new paint and exposing the home’s hardwood floors. Bryant also helped organize an estate sale for the couple’s belongings.

“He made it easier for me,” Walters says. “I didn’t have to research estate sale agents or movers. He gave me suggestions and we used them.”

The Steller Group also completed the home improvements and cleaned the house before putting the house on the market.

“I didn’t have to find people to do the work, it was all taken care of,” she says.

Easing the transition

Walters says that downsizing can be difficult but working with The Steller Group simplified the process.

Bryant says that is why the company holds its senior seminars.

“Downsizing is tough,” Bryant says. “But we provide a way to educate yourself and get in front of the emotion of the process.”

Walters agrees. “The idea of leaving your home freaks some people out.”

Attending The Steller Group seminars helped her start the downsizing process.

“It let me casually start planning and thinking about the things I never thought about,” she says. “For instance, if I couldn’t sell or give away items, I learned what I could do next.”

Bryant says being a planner like Walters pays off: “Setting a plan in place makes everything easier—after all who knows what tomorrow will bring?”

The news and editorial staffs of The Denver Post had no role in this post’s preparation.

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