Tuesday, December 13, 2022 / by Cindy Bunch
Downsizing: Sometimes it’s a difficult decision and sometimes it’s a no-brainer when you’re past retirement age and decide to sell your home. Every homeowner has their own journey and unique situation as to why they want to sell their home.
It could be a logical next step to downsize from the home where you raised your family to something smaller and easier to maintain with lower monthly expenses. Or perhaps it’s a necessity due to a fixed income.
Whatever it looks like for you, here are 7 tips when it comes to downsizing. Our team has helped many families downsize, so these tips come from a lot of experience!
#1 Don’t Wait Too Long
Picture it: You’ve just put in your retirement at work and ran the numbers with your financial planner, so all the numbers look fine to stay in your current home. It may be a little tighter, financially, but you’ll still be comfortable on a fixed income, so you decide to stay where you are in the 2-story home where you raised your kids. Fast forward 15 years, your knees ache with each load of laundry you carry to the bedroom upstairs and your monthly healthcare costs are creeping up and eating into your savings more and more.
Moving is physically demanding and can be costly at any age. I’ve seen it often, when families wait until they NEED to move and it becomes a strain on the finances of a fixed income and on an aging body.
Do a little bit of planning and consider what life may look like 5, 10, or 15 years from now and consider if your home will still serve your needs or if you should get ahead of life’s changes.
#2 Consult a Financial Advisor
Work with your personal accountant or financial advisor to look at your goals, finances, and options. They’ll have the best advice regarding what is feasible for your next move because they can take into account your income from things like social security and retirement savings. They have the tools and resources to evaluate a budget so you can expect a sustainable cash flow for the rest of your life.
People continue to live longer and longer, so financial planning leading up to and after retirement is vital!
#3 Hire a Realtor
Next, find a Realtor who is experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to working with seniors and their unique selling needs. I have a certification as a Seniors Real Estate Specialist®. As a part of the National Association of REALTORS® family of designations, the this designation is conferred to REALTORS® who complete in-depth training in a wide variety of topics related to homebuyers and sellers over the age of 50, including:
Senior housing options—from active adult communities to aging in place
Downsizing and rightsizing
Using pensions, 401(k) accounts, and IRAs in real estate transactions.
#4 Declutter and Clean
Among the top ways to prepare your home to sell, decluttering and cleaning should be of the highest priority. Especially if you’ve lived in the home for a long time, belongings tend to fill every nook and cranny. Decluttering serves two purposes:
It helps you start the packing process and alleviates the stress of the sometimes rushed packing that occurs right before moving
It prepares your home for the best presentation to potential buyers. Buyers want to envision their stuff in the space, which can be hard to do if it’s over-filled with yours.
When downsizing, you’ll need to prepare by reducing furniture and possessions to fit a smaller space. Give yourself time, if able, to go through your belongings and sort them into categories: keep, sell or donate, and toss. You may be surprised by the size of the ‘toss’ pile you create. Some choose to rent a dumpster and it fills up quickly!
If the sell/donate pile is significant, you may want to host a garage sale or even organize an estate sale. There are a number of companies that can handle this sometimes daunting task.
#5 Make Repairs and Updates
Depending on how you want to sell your home, it’s likely a good idea to take care of any deferred maintenance and complete any projects not yet finished in order to get top-dollar on the sale of the property. Updating interiors to current design trends can also increase potential profits, but if that’s not feasible in your budget or timeline, just make sure everything is thoroughly cleaned for the best presentation.
#6 Hire Professionals to Pack and Move
If your budget allows, hiring professionals to take on all the packing and heavy lifting is a sure way to ease the process of moving. Just like you do when hiring any professional, do your research to find a company that is insured and well-reviewed.
#7 Make a Plan for Moving
There will be some logistics to figure out depending on when you close on your old home and when you can move into your new home. Where will you live if there is a period of time between selling and buying? Seek help from your family, friends, and realtor to determine a plan that makes the most sense for your situation.
Change is hard, but your preparation and the support of those around you will make this downsizing possible! You are definitely not alone in going into a new chapter in your life. Hopefully, this list of tips addressed your questions or concerns, but I would love to hear from you, so reach out to our team any time.