Four Tips to Navigate the Process of Downsizing Your Home

One of the beautiful things about real estate is the way our needs change and evolve over time. Think back to your first apartment or home and you may wonder now how you lived with little furniture or belongings. Or perhaps you look around now and see a house designed to handle several children or even grandchildren and have the opposite thought: how did you seem to acquire this many possessions and space?

Though community and neighborhoods are vital to mental health and stability is nice, sometimes the idea of downsizing your living quarters can be the right decision to transition to the next stage of your life. Of course, downsizing can be tough to navigate without a strong partner that knows not only the real estate market, but also the best process for selecting the home that will fit your new needs.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve been helping home buyers find their perfect space and location. Take a look at some of my best tips below and then give me a call at (336) 575-7249. Let’s sit down together and make a plan for finding the perfect size home in just the right location for your needs.

1. Consider Off-Site Storage

Many times a family decides to hold onto living space that is too large simply because of sentimental connections and family heirlooms that wouldn’t fit into a smaller location. While maintaining history and memories is important, those items are usually destined for distribution to relatives or future generations. You CAN have the best of both worlds through looking at off-site climate-controlled storage locations. Lease a space and slowly begin to move items there over perhaps a 6-8 month period. Slowing down the process will allow you to truly consider what you need on a daily/regular basis and what can live in storage comfortably. Chances are you already have things stored in attics, garages, and basements that are easy decisions to shift off-site. Using this method also allows you to consider whether an item warrants storage or could be better put to use as a tax-write off donation to a local charity. The bonus in this process is that your living space clears up the clutter and your current home is easier to show and present to potential buyers!

2. Think About Shared Costs and Decisions of Many Smaller Homes

If you have been living in a larger traditional home and are looking to downsize, chances are you are likely to consider patio or cluster homes, townhomes, or even condominiums in the mix of options. While these types of communities come with great advantages, there is the added layer of shared community costs and decisions that can make long-time homeowners cringe. For example, most of these communities have Homeowners Associations that require monthly dues to maintain common grounds or certain aspects of buildings. While this cuts down on the work and cost to you individually, you also lose some of the personal expression and control that comes with a traditional home and yard, especially if you have been living outside of city limits. Spend some time thinking through how much you value these types of shared decisions and how you would handle decisions that might not align with your exact preferences. While these types of arrangements are perfect for some folks, others find them too constricting and might be better off eliminating these types of properties from their search process.

3. Know Your Savings

From adjustments in mortgage payments to lower utility bills, downsizing can make pure financial sense, especially if you look at savings over a longer period of time. It can be hard to estimate exactly how much money you’ll save, but the Boston College Retirement Center offers a handy online tool to help you estimate savings. Click on over to to easily see the impact of moving on your finances. Then explore other tools and tips on the site to help put the financial side of your decision in perspective.

4. Balance Your Transactions to Your Best Advantage

There are many options available to you as you work to sell your current home and purchase your next. Beyond moving some possessions to storage, the bigger question of a real estate purchase has to eventually come into play. Before you get started, decide what the ideal situation might be and work to structure your search and sale to align as closely as possible. To get you started thinking, here are three common options available in dealing with two large transactions:

Sell Your Current Home First

If you don’t mind living in temporary quarters after selling your home, putting your home on the market and getting a sale closed before working to buy a new property can put you in an enviable negotiating position on all fronts. This decision comes at the cost of having to move your things twice, unless you utilize pod storage units, but it takes the pressure off of you to sell before you are truly happy with an offer. It also makes you flush with cash while searching for your next home, allowing a stronger negotiating position regarding what you truly bring to the table.

Buy on Contingency

This kind of offer can work both ways, you can either make the sale of your home contingent on being able to find another home for yourself or make the purchase of a home contingent on being able to sell your current home within a time period. These types of arrangements can become quite thorny if the other party lacks flexibility or the desire to work with your situation. It takes away some of the negotiating power you might have if you don’t have a contingency clause in place. You are asking another party to wait on the unknown, in good faith that the transaction will go through, that can come at the cost of price or other terms in the contract.

Buy Your New Home First

If you can swing the finances, buying a new home first allows you the flexibility to move out of your current space at your convenience and truly stage the property for showing and selling. Of course, this is an expensive option because you now own two pieces of real estate. It is also an option which can increase the stress of the entire situation. You are not only in the process of settling into your new home, but must also deal with the efforts to sell your last home at the same time. Carefully consider if this option is truly the best choice for your situation.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when considering downsizing your current home to better fit your space and maintenance needs. It’s a step worth the time and energy to take, but it will be much easier if you have a strong partner to help guide you along the way. Give me a call at (336) 575-7249 to tap into my over 25 years of real estate experience and expertise. Together, we can find your next home and make the process as easy as possible.

Posted on February 4, 2016 at 10:50 am
Ellen Dudley | Category: Blog | Tagged ,

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