Homes accumulate many memories over the years, and with them come trinkets, sports equipment, blankets, clothes, papers, projects and much more. When your kids leave home and enter adulthood or you want to simplify your life, you can take the opportunity to downsize. Realtor Nicole Tingvall with John L. Scott recently sat down with WhatcomTalk to shed light on the benefits of downsizing and walk through the process for seniors in the Whatcom County community.
Tingvall uses his experience as an interior designer to inform his decisions as a real estate broker. “I have a background in interior design and I have a degree in that field,” says Tingvall. “I worked as an interior designer for retail furniture stores and then sold commercial furniture and textiles.”
While she loved space planning and helping clients maximize efficiency, she didn’t like covering five states and being on the road all the time, so she moved into real estate where she could represent customers at a hyper-local level.
After downsizing her own home, Tingvall realized she could help her clients lighten their load and make their lives easier.
“I went from 2,400 square feet to 600 square feet, and it was pretty tough,” says Tingvall. “I feel like a lot of older people getting ready for this next stage in life need an extra helping hand – I want to make sure I have the resources to help those who are reducing their workforce.”
Tingvall has a slogan: cut it and live it. “Many people want to minimize the amount of stuff they have later in life so they can free up their time to travel, enjoy entertainment, and visit family and friends,” she says.
After three years with a senior real estate specialist designation, Tingvall has noticed seniors are saving their lives and moving to areas like Cordata and Bellingham where they can be closer to clinics and healthcare facilities. “On the other hand, there are people who want to leave Whatcom County and move to Arizona or somewhere with a warmer climate,” says Tingvall. “I also help people sell their homes in the Bellingham area.”
Helping seniors downsize their homes presents its own nuances and challenges. “Usually adult children or even grandchildren help out, so there are a lot more people to communicate with in the process,” says Tingvall. Sometimes an elderly client has dementia or needs someone else to advocate for them. “It’s also about keeping in touch with their family in the process.”
Tingvall uses a series of simple tips to help customers find new homes as they move through the process of trimming their property. She is also currently helping her own parents organize and reduce their possessions. “Kids often don’t have space for their belongings, so finding a keepsake or two that you as an elder can pass on is a good idea,” says Tingvall. “Even making a digital scrapbook can help.”
The whole process can seem daunting, but Tingvall has tools to help every step go smoothly. She works with Suzanne Wright of Smooth transitions who comes to the house and helps people pack, get organized, figure out what items to donate and what to sell.
Tingvall then connects clients with an attorney, if they need to draft something giving their children power of attorney to handle a real estate transaction. “I help them line up their ducks,” she says. “If they go to a seniors’ residence, I introduce them to someone who can help them find the right place. If they need to downsize to a smaller house or condo, I can help preview the houses, so they don’t end up in 10 different properties.
Uniquely, Tingvall can also use its design experience to help maximize desirable conditions and avoid potential issues such as unsafe flooring and equipment with reduced accessibility.
When you reach the incredible milestone of your golden years, it’s imperative to be situated and ready to fully enjoy your life with the people you love. Turn to qualified real estate brokers like Nicole Tingvall and rest assured that your next home will be exactly what you need and everything you’ve wanted.