Downsizing to a smaller property is a significant trend amongst older people. Long gone is the tradition of living out our twilight years in the family home, nowadays we’re all facing various financial burdens that demand some big decisions. It can make absolute sense to downsize. Empty nesters find themselves rattling around a house that is bigger than they need, expensive to run for just one or two people. Others may be having to face the knowledge that their home is no longer suitable as they get older – stairs may become hard to negotiate, the garden too big to manage, the location no longer convenient.
Still others may simply want to release equity to use for other purposes – to supplement their regular income, pay for holidays, settle loans or pay off the mortgage, help pay their children’s university fees and so on.
Downsizing from a property that has appreciated in value over time to something smaller and more manageable ensures that you still own an asset, which provides a sense of financial security, but become cash-rich at the same time.
Tips for successful downsizing
If you’ve lived in your home for a long time, chances are downsizing could be both an emotional wrench and a logistical challenge. So we’ve put together a few tips to help make the process easier:
• If you’re planning to relocate, research the area to which you’re planning to move. What are the public transport services like? Are there shops nearby? Are there leisure facilities or clubs where you might meet new friends? Does the area feel safe? And will the property and location still suit you if your health fails or you can no longer drive – thoughts that none of us want to have, but do you really want to contemplate the possibility of having to move again if you have become frail?
• Make sure you do your sums! Buying and selling is not cheap, so make sure you factor in all the associated costs – agents’ fees, legal fees, stamp duty, building survey, removals costs.
• Give yourself plenty of time to go through everything you’ve accumulated over the years. Many will be easy to discard and it will simply be a practical exercise to complete, others will hold precious memories. Don’t rush to get rid of those items that mean something to you, think long and hard before getting rid of personal treasures.
• Think about the space that you’re moving to and how your furniture will fit in. It will help you make decisions about what you do or don’t keep.
• Many items that you no longer need or want can be sold, donated or recycled. You could also consider passing on things to family members. Don’t put this off! It’s pointless paying a removals company to transport loads of stuff that you don’t really need. Things that are in good condition could be sold on eBay or Gumtree, or you could spend a few weekends at local car boot sales. Charity shops will take most things, and some will happily accept large items of furniture and may well offer a collection service.
• It can be more difficult to get rid of electronic equipment because of health and safety risks and many charities cannot accept them. If you can’t sell the spare television you no longer need then check your local council’s recycling services and take it to your nearest recycling centre.
• And finally, don’t forget to organise a survey on the property you’re buying. If one of your main objectives is to release finances, the last thing you’ll want is to move in and discover a catalogue of impending disasters that threaten to eat into your nest egg. A full structural survey is an investment for the future and will help you make a well informed decision that could end up saving you money – whether you discover too many issues to justify going through with the purchase or are able to negotiate a better deal with the vendor. And if you’re planning any building work once you’re in your new property we can also help with party wall advice and project management!
If you’re in the process of downsizing why not give home-approved a call to arrange a survey on the property you’re buying? Call us on 0800 980 3113 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.