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Homes accumulate many memories over the years, and along with them come trinkets, sports equipment, blankets, clothes, papers, projects, and so much more. When your kids leave the house and enter adulthood or you’d like to simplify your life, you can take the opportunity to downsize. Real Estate Broker Nicole Tingvall with John L. Scott recently sat down with WhatcomTalk to illuminate the benefits of downsizing and walk through the process for seniors in the Whatcom County community.

Tingvall uses her experience as an interior designer to help inform her decisions as a real estate broker. “My background is in interior design, and I have a degree in that subject,” says Tingvall. “I worked as an interior designer for retail furniture stores, and then I sold commercial furniture and textiles.”

Real Estate Broker Nicole Tingvall holds a Senior Real Estate Specialist designation, allowing her to expertly serve her senior clients. Photo courtesy John L. Scott

While she enjoyed space planning and helping clients maximize efficiency, she didn’t enjoy covering five states and being on the road all the time, so she transitioned into real estate where she could represent clients on a hyper-local level.

After downsizing her own home, Tingvall realized she could help her clients successfully lighten their load and make their lives easier.

“I downsized from 2,400 square feet to 600 square feet, and it was quite challenging,” says Tingvall. “I feel like a lot of seniors getting ready to take that next step in life need an extra helping hand — I want to make sure I have the resources to help those who are downsizing.”

Downsizing can be cathartic and streamline your life, allowing you to enjoy spending more time with your loved ones. Photo courtesy John L. Scott

Tingvall has a slogan: size it down and live it up. “A lot of people want to minimize the amount of stuff they have later in life so they can free up their time to travel and enjoy entertainment and visit family and friends,” she says.

After three years with a Senior Real Estate Specialist designation, Tingvall has noticed seniors economizing their lives and moving into areas like Cordata and Bellingham where they can be closer to healthcare clinics and facilities. “On the flip side, there are people who want to leave Whatcom County and move to Arizona or somewhere with a warmer climate,” says Tingvall. “I help people with selling their homes in the Bellingham area, as well.”

Assisting seniors with downsizing their homes presents its own unique nuances and challenges. “Usually, adult children or even grandchildren are helping out, so there are a lot more people to communicate with in the process,” Tingvall says. Sometimes a senior client has dementia, or they need someone else to advocate for them. “It’s about keeping in touch with their family, as well, in the process.”

Tingvall uses a series of easy tips to help clients find new homes while they move through the process of trimming their possessions. She’s also currently helping her own parents organize and whittle down possessions. “A lot of times, the kids don’t have space for their belongings, so finding one or two mementos that you, as a senior, can pass down is a good idea,” says Tingvall. “Even making a digital scrapbook can help.”

The entire process can seem daunting, but Tingvall has tools to help every step run smoothly. She works with Suzanne Wright of Smooth Transitions who comes to the home and helps people pack, get organized, figure out which 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 get their ducks in a row,” she says. “If they’re going into senior housing, I introduce them to someone who can help them find the right place. If they’re going to downsize in a smaller house or condo, I can help preview houses, so they aren’t running around to 10 different properties.”

Uniquely, Tingvall can also use her design background to help maximize desirable conditions and avoid potential issues like hazardous flooring and hardware with diminished accessibility.

When reaching the amazing milestone of your golden years, it’s imperative to be situated and ready to thoroughly enjoy your life with the people you love. Turn to qualified real estate brokers like Nicole Tingvall and rest assured your next home will be exactly what you need and everything you’ve wanted.


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