In the first 10 minutes of a meeting, your client says:

“Tyler finally left for school and we’re turning his room into a gym. We don’t know what to do with all this extra space now that the kids are out of the house!”

At that moment

  • Congratulate your clients. If you don’t know what their son is studying and where, find out so you know for next time.
  • Offer to send them some financial literacy resources they can share with their son. The federal government has a database of information at and there is a section for students. also has resources at

Later in the meeting

  • Ask if they have considered downsizing now that they have an empty house. Help them figure out what their new needs are, and whether a smaller home would better suit their lifestyle.
  • Find out whether their empty nest is permanent or if the kids are likely to move back home.
  • While looking at their finances, suggest ways in which the proceeds from selling or partitioning their existing home could be redirected (e.g. paying off debt, investing, giving their children cash gifts or buying rental property).
  • Share information about the real estate market to inform them about whether it’s a good time to sell and re-buy or rent.

Before your next meeting

  • Send them budgeting and financial resources for their son.

At your next meeting

  • If they want to downsize, talk about timelines and where they would redirect the proceeds.
  • Refer them to professionals (realtors, lawyers and property inspectors). See “How to avoid bad third-party referrals” for what happens if a referral goes awry.