Is it time to downsize? 11 questions to ask yourselfFebruary 1, 2017
The big house has had a lot of memories. But it’s not the same when you’re down to one or two people in a large space. Is it time to sell and downsize? Ask yourself these questions to determine whether it’s time to sell and downsize.
How much do I want to downsize?
Downsizing is relative. The word may make you think you’re going from a 3,500-square-foot home to a 400-square-foot tiny house. You might just be trading 5 bedrooms for 3. Or a single-family home to a condo. The first thing you need to consider is just how far down you’re comfortable going.
What features will I miss about this big house?
Love that mudroom or enclosed laundry room? You might not find that kind of feature in a much smaller place. Three-car garage? Unlikely in smaller homes. On the flip side, are you really using that third garage for a car or as a place to store stuff you’re not using?
What’s my motivation for holding on to a big house?
There are some underlying factors that keep people in big spaces long after they “need” them. Lifestyle choices and perceptions of wealth can hold you in a place a bit too big to manage. Can you overcome the status shift?
How will my life’s activities be affected?
Perhaps you’re an avid golfer and your house is part of a country club or gated community that would be hard to give up. Or you’re into boating and you like keeping it on your property. Could you still golf or go fishing if you’re in a smaller place, even a condo. Sure. You’ll just have to take associated costs (e.g. paying non-club fees, boat storage, etc.) into account.
What is this house costing me?
The operating costs of a bigger house will cost you more than a smaller one. Utilities, water, yard care, cleaning, maintenance, etc. become exponentially bigger with more square footage. Property taxes could also decrease, depending on where you relocate.
What’s the cost of downsizing?
Not only do you need to pay for the move, you’ll probably have to pay to get rid of stuff. Old appliances and electronics need specific disposal methods. Got a ton of garbage? That will cost you extra pickup fees if you don’t start decluttering over time. More than just a garbage pickup? A trip to the dump or a pickup by the junk man will also cost a fee. Another cost to consider is furniture – will your existing furniture fit into a smaller space? If you have to buy new furniture because you 18-foot couch won’t fit, that’s a cost to consider.
Can I take care of this house by myself?
This is a pretty big motivation for downsizing. Square footage, hard-to-reach surfaces and high-maintenance finishes can add to the cost of professional cleaning. Is that a bill you want to pay? What about home maintenance like mowing the lawn?
Will I get enough equity out of my home?
The big plus of selling to downsize is that you should have more equity to put toward that next place, maybe enough to buy something smaller in cash. It’s wise to use a real estate agent, but commissions take a big chunk out of your profit, so consider using a flat fee brokerage to save thousands vs. the listing commission.
What dreams could I fulfill by downsizing?
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to live downtown. It wasn’t the best option with kids, but now you’re free to enjoy all the city has to offer. Maybe you’d really like to see the world – a lower cost of living at home can free up travel dollars.
Will I be caring for others?
If you have Millennial kids with student loan debt, consider if there’s a possibility they may fly back to the nest to save money. Any discounted rent you charge them could work in your favor. Likewise, if you have aging parents that you’d rather have with you than in a facility, you may need space for them; you may still find yourself moving in this case to a ranch style or a home with a mother-in-law suite/apartment.
Do I need assistance with day-to-day life?
This is a hard one. You’ve stayed in your home well into retirement and been independent. Now some health issues are making life on your own difficult. You could take that equity from your home and get yourself into a community or facility that will improve your quality of life.
BY SUSHA ROBERTS
Ready to sell and downsize? Redefy can save you thousands of precious equity for more important things — like a European tour and downtown date nights.