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Your Ultimate Guide To Downsizing: Tips, Benefits Snd More


Your Ultimate Guide To DownsizingOne day, you might wake up to realize that your house is just too big. The kids have flown the coop, and you don’t throw quite as many raucous dinner parties as you once did. As you tour the various unused rooms and hear your echo down the long hallway, you might think to yourself: Why all this space? 

People downsize for various reasons. Some do it to save money in retirement. Others take the plunge to procure a house that better suits their changing needs. And some people just do it for a much-needed change of scenery. 

If you’re contemplating downsizing, this is your ultimate guide. Below, we tackle the definition, benefits, and potential downsides of downsizing. Then, we offer a succinct list of tips for pulling off the transition. 

What Is Downsizing? 

Let’s begin with the fundamentals. As the term appears in real estate circles (its meaning in business is entirely different), downsizing refers to the move from a large residence to a smaller residence. Downsizers are often retired and looking to swap the big family home for a more manageable, affordable property. But this isn’t always the case; some people downsize strictly to save money, such as young people on a variable mortgage currently battling against rate hikes. 

The process involves two distinct transactions: selling the larger home, and buying a smaller one. As we detail below, the aid of a skilled realtor is therefore paramount to the process. 

Why Downsize Your Home? 

Downsizing has several potential benefits. Most people make the change to save a little money, either through a reduced mortgage (if you haven’t paid off your house in full) or reduced property taxes (if you own your house outright). In either case, sellers also benefit from the difference in cost between the two properties – which can be a lovely additional nest egg for retirement. And they often pay less for utilities too. 

Another reason to downsize might be a reduction in upkeep. Rather than tend to an overgrown backyard, various rooms to tidy and appliances to maintain, a downsizer can set their sights on something more manageable – a townhouse with a patch of green space, or a unit in a housing complex with a groundskeeper, for example. 

Finally, some older adults downsize to meet their changing physical and emotional needs. They swap a multi-level home with a steep staircase for a single-story home or condo. They optimize their new location to remove trip hazards, high-up cabinets and other potential issues. And they find a spot within a community of like-minded individuals around their own age. 

How to Pull it Off Effectively and Smoothly

Let’s be clear about something at the outset: while downsizing has broad benefits, it can also be challenging. Remember, you’re engaging in two separate transactions. You’re also faced with the intimidating task of editing your belongings to fit within a smaller layout. 

To pull it off effectively and smoothly, it pays to be proactive, organized and well-represented. Here are a few ways to mitigate the more difficult aspects of a downsizing transition. 

Finding a Great Realtor

Finding a quality realtor is essential to any real estate transaction. But it becomes doubly important during the downsizing process. Essentially, you’re trying to maximize the value you receive as a seller, and minimize the cost you pay as a buyer. To do that, you need to find a skilled negotiator who intimately understands the market, and works in line with your downsizing goals. 

Realtors with the best real estate services know how to manage both sides of the coin. Whether you’re in a seller’s, buyer’s or balanced market, they can ensure that you get the maximum possible asking price for your old home. Then, they can turn around and ferret out the best possible deal o n a smaller new home. Moreover, they manage the overlapping complexities of buying and selling at the same time. 

Home Hunting for the Next Chapter

As mentioned above, some downsizers take the plunge to better align their home with changing physical and social needs. With the help of a quality selling agent, list your needs and wants for the next chapter. If you plan on making this a permanent home to age in place, consider accessible properties close to amenities. And if socializing is important to you, talk to your realtor about neighborhoods with similar age demographics and/or communities oriented toward retirees (if you’re downsizing in retirement). 

Organizing Your Belongings

How do you fit a large home’s worth of stuff into a significantly smaller square footage? You do it with a little organization and a lot of mettle. 

Ideally before your listing agent stages your home, you will want to organize your belongings into four categories: keep, sell, donate and discard. The last two are relatively simple to deal with, requiring a couple of short trips to the dump and donation center. As for the belongings bound for sale, you have a few options; you can sell them at consignment stores, auctions, or through private sales over an online marketplace. With any luck, the chunk of change you receive from selling unneeded furniture items and excess appliances can cover your real estate legal and land transfer expenses. 

As for the belongings marked “keep,” chat with your realtor about a plan of action. In the interest of staging a modern home, your realtor might recommend shifting most things to storage. But if you have a few tasteful Mid-Century Modern items in your possession, they can probably stay!

Establishing Your New Space

You’ve reached the endpoint of a long journey. And, with a new set of keys in your hand, you’re ready to start the next chapter in your perfectly sized new home. The only thing left to do is establish the new space. Giving thought to unobstructed sightlines and flow, unpack your belongings slowly and methodically, setting everything up in a way that makes aesthetic and practical sense. If you want, you can coordinate with a move management company and/or home organizer to facilitate the process. In any case, you should establish something that’s undeniably you. Whereas your old home bore the baggage of several years of use, this new space is a blank slate. 

Hopefully, these tips and explanations help as you start the process of downsizing. For help with the complex, emotional side of leaving the family home, consider this AARP resource on the topic

Jacob Lindsey

Jacob is a home remodeling guru having worked over 15 years in construction in Reno, NV, mainly focused on home renovations. He likes taking ideas from his clients and making them a reality.

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