Skip To Content

Downsizing | How to Get Started and Factors to Consider

Downsizing?  Here are 5 Key Factors to Consider…

There are any variety of reasons that lead people to downsize their primary residence – family status, health, finances, relocation, etc. Whatever the reason, the process and implications have a lot of similarity from scenario to scenario, and the following themes and factors often apply to the owner during this important time of transition.

Family Consultation | In many cases, downsizing becomes a family decision…or it often should be. Homes that have been in the family for decades are often hard to let go of emotionally, and many times the decision to sell is harder for the “kids” than it is for the parent(s). But the opposite can just as easily be true, whereby the “kids” feel it is time to downsize, while the time to say goodbye to the house comes hardest for the parent(s). Assurance and confidence in the decision to sell comes easiest after a frank and open discussion with family and friends, usually leading to the right decision when the time is right.

Research/Plan for Next Residence |  Due to the high volume of downsizing taking place throughout the country, the demand can sometimes out-pace the supply of suitable residences that fit the needs, desire, size, location, quality, etc. of what downsizing-buyers are seeking.  It’s not uncommon to encounter a waiting list, especially if the downsizing is into assisted care (or semi-assisted care) facility where the best of both worlds exists for certain buyers who require medical support nearby.  It’s prudent to start researching options throughout the real estate market early on, identifying what’s available, where, and for what price. Filling in this “blank” establishes peace of mind.  It is equally important to get a good feel/opinion for how the market is going to react to the current residence, what the asking price should be, and what, if any, improvements may be needed to prepare the house for sale.

Weighing Out Pros and Cons | Downsizing can be one of the biggest, and most challenging, housing decisions someone made.  It can be equally exciting and scary, and almost always emotional.   Therefore, it should be a step taken with some careful thought and exploration of what’s important, recognizing that the “perfect scenario” most likely does not exist.  Lifestyle, climate, proximity to family/caretakers, maintenance requirements, etc., are all common aspects to consider.  The goal is to minimize stress, and hopefully increase quality of life. Keeping an open mind about all realistic possibilities can do wonders in the process. What might have been an absolute “no” a couple years ago might now feel right, so don’t be quick to rule options out too early in the decision making process.

Furniture and Belongings | Most people nicely “fill up” their homes up with belongings and treasures. It’s hugely important to allow yourself (or your family) time to sort, select, pack and move. This almost always requires the assistance of a professional packer, organizer and/or mover to get to the finish line.  The next step is determining what to do with the items that didn’t make the “keep” list.  This is a challenging process, but then again it can be liberating, and rewarding to have others enjoy the things that have been meaningful for so long.

Closing/Occupancy | The age-old dilemma in real estate remains today:  sell first or buy first? Most elect to sell first and hope that there are enough suitable replacement properties available at the time that their house sells.  There can be some creative ways to bridge this important problem, depending especially on the strength of the marketplace where the selling and buying will take place.   Some “downsizers” find it most advantageous to lease the property back from their purchaser, allowing a couple months to solidify a new residence, pack and move without the pressure of a closing date on their home sale. Others may be more eager to “get a move on,” but nonetheless, they want the security of having their closing proceeds in the bank before making their final move out.  In these instances, a brief but important post-closing occupancy strategy can be worth its weight in gold in terms of reduced stress.  There are a lot of ways to make the transition as smooth as possible, and it’s worth exploring all of them with a real estate professional.

Every real estate transaction has the potential to be an exciting and emotional adventure – especially when it involves downsizing – so it’s important to come up with a game plan forged with plenty of thought and preparation. Given consideration to these factors, among many others, can help ensure that this time of transition results in being more exciting than stressful, which is the way it should be!

Please let us know if we can be of help in the planning and preparation of this process. We are here to serve as a valuable resource to you and your family during this time of transition.