Downsizing your home can be a stressful process, especially if you live in an area where it’s difficult to sell right now. It can also be an emotionally taxing one. That’s why we put together these downsizing tips for seniors.
We’ll help you get ahold of what you need to consider and give you actionable tips for how to master the empowering and positive process of downsizing your home.
1. Research Today’s Real Estate Market
To get some expert insight into the process of downsizing as a senior, we interviewed the #1 real estate agent in Queens, NY Amber Faruqi. Faruqi argues that you “should look into the market really thoroughly before they decide to put [your home] on the market.”
So what does that mean for you?
As soon as you even have the impulse to consider downsizing, research the market as thoroughly as possible before you do anything else. Get crystal clarity regarding the value of the home you’re selling and the value of the one you’d like to buy.
Also keep in mind that the value of what you’re buying may include perks you never would have even considered 30 years ago.
2. Think About How Much Upkeep You Want
According to Faruqi, “A lot of downsizers bought their homes for $400,000 17 years ago, 15 years ago, and they didn’t have any payments. But now their payments are going to go up for a smaller space. And monthly payments are going to go up because they have maintenance and management fees.”
Here’s what to do: Take advantage of the fact that buildings management covers as much as it does now. Sure, it costs money, but retiring means you want a building that will do the work for you! This is why you’re retiring in the first place!
Just keep in mind that there is a lot of variation in monthly fees. A top real estate agent is your best resource to help you find the building that’s right for you.
3. Think About The Location
“Any time I see people 60, 70, or over, retiring, they’re moving to Florida or the Carolinas,” Amber claims.
In New York and other big cities, downsizing is synonymous with leaving the big city. Why? When you live in a big city, you likely don’t have much space to begin with. It doesn’t make sense to downsize to an even smaller space. So in big cities like New York, “downsizing” means moving to a space of relatively the same size but in different locations with much more benefits.
This happens logistically too because retirees have a hard time qualifying to buy an apartment because they’re unemployed. It’s unfortunate that this makes the moving process more difficult because it’s the whole purpose of being retired! This makes seniors leave town instead. All in all, you get more bang for your buck, the moving process was easier, and you’re in a beautiful, relaxing location.
Here’s what to do: Plan knowing the market you’re moving into—not so much the one you’re leaving. Whether you’re leaving town or not, moving into a co-op or buying, you still need enough cash ready to make an offer simultaneously on the property you’re moving to. If you need the money from closing on your current property in order to make a downpayment, then you’re not ready to downsize quite yet!
As Amber says, “They need to know if they have enough cash to be able to make an offer simultaneously on the other property because if they don’t and they need the money from this closing, it can be tricky.”
4. Declutter as Much as You Can
Decluttering can feel like a big undertaking, but with a little organization you can master it.
Here’s what to do: Preserving memories is most certainly important, and moving is a great opportunity to keep the belongings that mean the most to you.
In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo preaches to only keep the things that truly, deeply, completely spark joy. If you put something in the “maybe” pile, then it’s a definite “no.” Opening space in your physical life opens headspace and heartspace for the things that matter most.
Nostalgia is certainly important and it serves a purpose. So instead of holding onto objects that are no longer serving you, try doing one symbolic gesture to remember the house you’re leaving. A few ideas are:
Create a special video tour of the house or an album of moving images. Photos don’t always capture the feeling of being there. Creating a video featuring your family moving through the house and pointing out the pieces of it they cherish, the memories they had in that room, that coffee table they never stopped walking into—that’s something you can take with you no matter where you go.
Amber told us, “For one lady, we bought her moving images of the house and we got her family to send pictures of them in the house and created a collage for them. Once they know they have something they’ll take with them.”
Make sure the house goes to a nice family. It’s amazing how this act of goodwill can create such a strong sense of peace and love for this big shift in your life.
Amber confirms, “Another thing we get a lot is: ‘can you make sure it’s a really nice family coming in because we made such good memories here, we don’t want to give it to just anyone.’”
Downsize with the Right Mindset and Work With the Right Real Estate Agent
Downsizing doesn’t have to be any different from any other positive change in your life. The best way to empower yourself in this new shift in your life is to work with a real estate agent who understands your biggest concerns and needs in your move.
A top real estate agent will be your biggest advocate to help you find the right place to settle down.