By Michael Longsdon
For many seniors, there comes a time when the expense and upkeep of a big home no longer seem realistic. All of your kids have moved out, and suddenly, your multi-bedroom house feels excessively large and empty. Plus, it may be difficult to keep up with mortgage payments if you’re expecting a lower income during retirement. Whether downsizing is a financial necessity or an emotional decision, here’s how to tackle the process without getting overwhelmed.
Do Online Research
Before you start looking at houses in person, narrow down your options by doing some research online. Search the local housing market on sites such as Redfin to get a feel for house prices in your desired area. For example, homes in Seattle, Washington have sold for an average of $685,000during the past month. Explore listings in your preferred size range and location so you can come up with a realistic budget for your new home.
Think far ahead as you look at homes, considering the possibility that the needs of you and your spouse may change over time. One-story homes can be much more accessible for you and your friends down the line. You should also take time to research the neighborhood and pay attention to the house’s proximity to grocery stores, leisure centers, and public transportation.
Plan for Your Storage Needs
If you’re moving to an apartment or condo, you may not have the attic, basement, or even the closet space that you’re used to. Look for a nearby for an affordable self-storage unit so you aren’t left crowding boxes and furniture into your new home. Some simple online research can help you find the best deals in your area. In the last 180 days, for instance, self-storage units in Seattle, Washington cost an average of $88.45 per month.
Go Through Your Possessions Methodically
One of the hardest parts about downsizing is getting rid of things you’ve had for decades. Apartment Guide recommends looking at pictures of clutter-free rooms in magazines for inspiration before starting your own purge. This will mentally prepare you for getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need cluttering up your new, smaller space.
As you declutter, go room by room and sort items into no more than five piles: keep, donate, sell, gift, and throw away. Don’t be afraid to let go of things that are useful but not particularly necessary in your own life. Likewise, don’t keep things out of obligation or feelings of guilt. While you’re cutting the clutter, keep a floor plan of your new home nearby so you can plan out your rooms and ensure your furniture will fit. If you’re worried about accurately measuring your space, you can hire a professional to help you out.
Pack Like a Pro
Protect your items during your move and make them easier to unpack later by trying out some expert packing tips. For example, socks make great padding for glasses and mugs, while oven mitts are perfect for transporting knives a little more safely. Secure entire desk drawers and kitchen storage trays with plastic wrap for much faster unpacking later. Also, keep your clothing on hangers and simply slip a garbage bag over them for protection. Remember to pack an essentials box of everything you need during your first day and night in your new house.
Follow a Moving Checklist
There is a lot to remember to do before moving day. For example, you need to update your mailing address with the post office, find a new doctor, and transfer your utilities. Follow a moving checklist (or hire a senior move manager for around $316 per day) to avoid forgetting important tasks. One of your moving tasks should involve researching moving companies at least two months before your move. This gives you plenty of time to find the help you need within your budget. Learn about how to spot rogue moving companies so you can avoid being scammed, especially if you’re moving long distance.
Moving is exhausting for anyone. But moving into a smaller home can be especially emotional as you say goodbye to personal objects that have surrounded you for much of your life. For this reason, it’s important to take things slow while you sort through your possessions and search for the perfect place to spend your golden years.
Mr. Longsdon provides advice to seniors on downsizing and aging in place and can discuss concerns like tackling home accessibility modifications, how to find a great contractor, the benefits of aging in place, and more.
Yard sale season has arrived! Many people shy away from the idea of having a yard sale, but do you truly need that broken-down accordion or the 80’s-styled prom dress? A yard sale is a great way to get out with the old and make room for the new. Here are some tips to help make your yard sale a success…
1. If you haven’t used it in more than a year you most likely won’t use it in the next year. Sell it.
2. Get the community involved. Contact your neighbors and coordinate having one large neighborhood sale on the same day. This will give consumers a greater incentive to come.
- Helpful Hint: Have each participating household pitch in a few bucks for directional signs or an advertisement in the local paper.
3. Get your whole family involved. Set up a lemonade stand or have a small bake sale for your kids to run.
4. Promote yourself through your favorite social networking site … for free.
- Create a Facebook event page and invite all your friends
- Tweet about it. Create a fun Twitter hashtag and offer a prize to those who Tweet about your sale.
- Get on Instagram. Whatever old knick-knacks you may uncover are sure to be a hit for somebody, and creating a storyline for your many time-worn giveaways can add to the appeal and interest.
5. Offer an incentive. Give away a free grab-bag to your tenth customer.
6. Price slightly higher than you’re willing to sell that way, there is room for negotiation.
7. After your sale is over, do not, I repeat, DO NOT put the leftovers back in your house, garage, or storage. Immediately donate them to your local thrift store, so there is no chance of procrastination or keeping things you do not need.
We would love to hear your tips when it comes to yard sale success!
According to two recent surveys that took industry watchers by surprise, many family homeowners are putting frugality aside and upsizing to new houses that average as large as 2,480 square feet (an increase of as much as 13 percent from the year before), and sometimes exceed 3,500 square feet in size.
Meanwhile, millions of baby boomer homeowners are rushing to downsize—with some 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 saying they’re planning to make a move within the next five years.
It’s a tale of two very different segments of the population making dramatic shifts in their living accommodations to find the housing solutions that best suit their needs: one upsizing while the other downsizes.
With so many baby boomers now nearing retirement age (8,000 Americans turn 65 every day), it should come as no surprise that the number of prospective “downsizers” exceed the number of “upsizers” by three to one. With their children gone, these aging homeowners are interested in reducing the amount of house they need to care for, and are eager to bulk up their retirement savings with any home-sale profits.
As for why many families are choosing to upsize so substantially after years of downsizing or staying put, experts point to the extremely low interest rates and discounted home prices available today, and theorize that many families now feel confident enough about the economy to move out of homes they outgrew years ago.
If you’re considering upsizing or downsizing, here are some facts to consider:
How such a move can impact your life
The most common benefits of downsizing:
- Lower mortgage payments
- Lower tax bills
- Lower utility bills
- Less maintenance (and lower maintenance expenses)
- More time/money for travel, hobbies, etc.
- More money to put toward retirement, debts, etc. (the profits from selling your current home)
The most common benefits of upsizing
- More living space
- More storage space
- More yard/garden space
- More room for entertaining/hosting friends and family
- Upsizing will likely increase your living expenses, so it’s important to factor into any financial forecasts
- Downsizing will require that you make some hard choices about what belongings will need to be stored or sold
Other impacts to consider:
- The loss of good neighbors
- Lifestyle changes (walking, neighborhood shopping, etc.)
- The effect on your work commute
- Public transit options
Buy first, or sell first?
Homeowners considering this transition almost always have the same initial question: “Should I buy the new home now, or wait and sell my current place first?” The answer is dependent on your personal circumstances. However, experts generally recommend selling first.
Selling your current home before buying a new one could mean you have to move to temporary quarters for some period of time—or rush to buy a new home. That could prove stressful and upsetting. However, if you instead buy first, you could be stuck with two mortgages, plus double property tax and insurance payments, which could quickly add up to lasting financial troubles.
If you need to sell in order to qualify for a loan, there’s no choice: You’ll have to sell first.
You could make the purchase of the new house contingent on selling your current home. However, this approach can put you in a weak bargaining position with the seller (if you can even find a seller willing to seriously consider a contingency offer). Plus, you may be forced to accept a low-ball offer for your current house in order to sell it in time to meet the contingency agreement timing.
The truth is, most home sales tend to take longer than the owners imagine, so it’s almost always best to finalize the sale, and do whatever is necessary to reap the biggest profit, before embarking on the purchase of your new home.
When to make the transition
Ideally, when you’re selling your home, you want to wait until the demand from potential buyers is high (to maximize your selling price). But in this case, because you’re also buying, you’ll also want to take advantage of any discounted interest rates and reduced home prices (both of which will fade away as the demand for homes grows).
How will you know when the timing is right to both sell and buy? Ask an industry expert: your real estate agent. As someone who has their finger on the pulse of the housing market every day, they can help you evaluate the current market and try to predict what changes could be coming in the near future.
Even if you’ve been through it before, the act of upsizing or downsizing can be complex. For tips, as well as answers to any questions, contact a Windermere agent any time.
Many of us dream of getting a better job. But when a promotion or new job opportunity comes with a request to relocate, the result can be very disruptive to your home life. There’s a lot to consider when making this kind of move, such as do you have a home to sell? Are you planning to rent or buy when you relocate? Is your employer covering some of the costs of your relocation? Should you hire a moving company or handle the move yourself? Following is an overview of some of the most important factors you should take into consideration when relocating.
Assessing the situation
The idea of moving to a new area and into a new job can be very exciting, but you’ll want to assess the situation carefully:
- Do your best to make sure the job is a good fit, the boss is a good personality match (and plans to stay long-term), and that you’ll be comfortable in your new role for at least three years.
- Meet with a human resources manager to make sure you understand all the details of the relocation package.
- Thoroughly research your destination to ensure it’s a good fit for your entire family, and that there are other potential employers in the area in the event your new job doesn’t work out.
- Use one of the online cost-of-living calculators to determine if there’s a significant difference between what you pay now (for rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, gas, insurance, and more) and what you can expect to pay in the new location.
- If your spouse works or is planning to enter the workforce, he or she should apply for jobs in the area to test the employment conditions.
- Ask your real estate agent to perform a detailed market analysis to estimate the value of your current home.
- If you live in an apartment, review your lease carefully to determine if you are facing any penalties for moving out.
Renting versus buying
Once you have made the decision to relocate it’s time to consider your housing options—not only where you live and what type of home you want to live in, but whether to rent or buy.
Financially speaking, it makes more sense to buy today than to rent in most markets. According to the latest research on the subject, it costs 15 percent less to own a home than to rent an apartment in the current economy. That said, renting may be a better option if:
- You can’t decide where you want to live.
- You don’t qualify for a home loan.
- You need to keep your current home and can’t afford a second home.
- You’re moving to an area where home prices are extremely high (e.g., New York City, San Francisco, Orange County).
- You’re not yet certain whether you’ll want to stay long-term in the new location.
Moving your belongings
Fewer and fewer companies are offering to pay employee moving costs today, which means it may be up to you to arrange for one of the following options:
- Hire out the entire process (the moving company does all the packing, loading, driving, and unloading). Expect to pay between $6,000 to $8,000, on average.
- You pack all the boxes while the moving company does all the loading, driving and unloading. Expect to pay between $3,500 and $5,500, on average.
- You rent a truck and do all the packing/unpacking and driving. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000, on average.
Making the move easier
Relocating can be exhilarating, but also extremely stressful—especially if you have school-age children or teens. Here are four tips to make the process easier:
- Get everyone in the family talking about their feelings and concerns. And make sure you’re doing as much listening as talking.
- If you have children, include them in the planning and packing work to make them feel more involved. You may want to hold a going-away party for your children, to show that the move is worth celebrating.
- If you have pets, ask your veterinarian, your moving company, and your airline (if you’ll be flying) to provide you with information, tips and any regulations.
- To protect yourself from identity theft, only work with trustworthy moving companies; submit a change-of-address form to the post office about two weeks before your move; consider moving financial records and other personal files yourself.
Last year, the overwhelming majority of people (77 percent) who decided to move for work reported they were happy and had no regrets.