In all my time as a REALTOR®, I have had clients on all ends of the spectrum of home ownership. I have precious first-time home buyers, fantastic folks expanding their family and expanding their homes, retiring couples downsizing to the perfect single story. It is always an emotional journey no matter what phase of life one is in. This month, I find myself not only the REALTOR® but the client in my very own adventure in downsizing.
Downsizing is the act of moving from a larger home to a smaller one. I believe it is the most difficult home buying experience to go through financially, physically and mentally. I do think it is worth it in the end. The best way to go through the experience is to be well-prepared.
In most real estate markets, smaller single-story homes sell for more money per square foot than the larger homes. This is the biggest objection I hear from my clients that downsize. “We would love to sell our big house but we don't know where we would go. We can't afford the smaller homes.” The true way to look at this is that you may pay relatively more than you want for the smaller home, you will see the savings in reduced taxes, reduced utilities, reduced home maintenance, and upkeep. My best advice is to focus on the end-game which is getting into a more manageable space.
I am going through the downsize activities right now. I am not “old” but I sure am not as physically capable as I was 20 years ago. I spent a few hours going up and down a ladder re-staining my stair banister and could barely get out of bed the next morning. It can be frustrating. My best advice is to give yourself more time than you think is necessary to get your home ready to sell and to hire professionals where possible.
This one is the toughest. As we are going through our home, I am packing away the memories. I found a stack of all the drawings my daughter did in elementary school. I just broke down and cried! That sweet little girl who used to draw her pretend mermaid family and give them all names is now headed out the door to college. Another task I have to complete next week is painting my garage wall where I marked the kid's heights as they grew. Sniff sniff. My best advice is to let it go – let go of the feelings, let go of the tears. A good cry is quite cathartic. Then after a good cry, let go of the “stuff” that has no place to settle in the new home. The gauge I use for packing up is this:
- Does it bring me joy?
- Is it something I want my kids to have to sift through when I am gone?
- Is there a place for it in the new home?
If I can't answer yes to any of these questions then I have to let it go. Donating items will bless others. Selling items will buy my dinner. Trashing items will bring a release of the materialism I've held on to all these years.
Where to go for help?
If you have been toying with the idea of downsizing, give me a call. I will put my project management skills to good use by creating a details plan on what all you need to do to get ready to make the move.
If you are curious to see what type of housing is out there for you, check out my sister website I have designed just for people looking into smaller housing or housing for the 55 and over.