Author: Ron Tinsley
I got a call from a couple in their late 50’s wanting to see a home in South Eugene. I arrived early to get the house open and watched as they approached the house. I said to myself, “Looking for a 1600 to 1800 square foot home; single-level with a low maintenance yard.” During the tour, I asked, “What exactly are you looking for?” They repeated, almost verbatim, what I had predicted.
No – I’m not psychic, I just know that there is a tremendous number of baby boomers who, after seeing their last child off to college, realize that the 3500 square foot, 3 story home just means more bathrooms to clean, more stairs to climb and more lawn to mow. Statistics show that somewhere around 35 – 40% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 65 are planning to move within the next 5 years.
There are many benefits to downsizing, some of which include:
- Less maintenance and fewer household tasks equal more free time.
- Lower or no mortgage payments: you may be able to sell your present home and pay cash for your smaller home – or at least have lower loan payments.
- Lower taxes: smaller home and a smaller lot generally mean lower taxes.
- Lower utility bills equals more money in your pocket.
- With the sale of your larger home and the purchase of a smaller, more economical home – you should have more money to put towards your retirement savings or children’s education.
- More sustainable lifestyle: sell to a family who needs the larger space and inhabit the smaller space you need.
There are a myriad of decisions to make:
Guest room(s). You might think that once the kids are gone – they are gone. But, if life throws them a curve ball, it’s comforting for them to know that there’s a place for them to land. This same room can double as a guest room or office.
Single Level or 2 Story? It’s worth the effort to seek out single story homes if at all possible, if not – at least try to find something that has the master bedroom, bath and laundry on the main level.
Mobility. With maturity comes physical limitations. If this is the home you want to retire in, research proximity to shopping, restaurants and access to medical facilities. You can find a home’s walking score by going to www.walkscore.com.
Sell before you buy, or buy before you sell? Making an offer contingent upon the sale of your present home puts you at a disadvantage if there are competing offers. Many sellers will balk at accepting your offer unless you already have an accepted offer on your present home. At the very least, they will want to know that your home is priced competitively.
Also – most real estate agents will tell you that vacant, staged homes are much easier to sell. It’s easier for a buyer to imagine themselves living in the house when your “stuff” is not there. Vacant homes are more convenient for realtors to show as they can easily include your home in scheduled or un-scheduled tours.
Timing: As someone who works in the industry and has their finger on the cycles, a realtor is going to be able to help you evaluate when to make the transistion. If you need a referral to a knowledgeable Realtor in your area, feel free to call or email me, and I would be glad to connect you with a good Realtor©.
How do you fit 3500 square feet worth of stuff into 1800 square feet? You don’t! So what to do?
Take a walk through your home with a critical eye. If you haven’t used something in the last year, ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” Come up with a list of things that you don’t need. Larger items can be sold on Craigslist or Ebay, for the remaining items, a garage sale is a perfect way to reduce your possessions, and at the same time advertise your home for sale. Have your agent produce flyers for you to hand out at your garage sale.
As with anything, planning is the key to success. Approach downsizing in a pragmatic manner and your transition will be easier and less stressful.
If you would like to connect with a Realtor© in your area, please feel free to contact me at Ron@RonTinsleyRealtor.com