Finding the perfect time to downsize isn’t simple. If you’ve recently retired, your new lifestyle takes some time for adjustment. For the current 72 million baby boomers, downsizing decisions must consider lifestyle goals and budget, among other factors.
Growth in home values has been continuous since 2012 through today. Importantly, interest rates remain near historic lows, widening your pool of buyers and allowing you to benefit on mortgage costs.
You have many options, such as one-level homes, 55-plus communities, renting, tiny houses, a houseboat or an RV. You may choose to move to another country as an Ex-Pat, ensuring you can still collect your Social Security benefits.
Your top criteria should be lifestyle goals and the life amenities you want to have accessible. Shared amenities in community living may include tennis courts, walking trails, golfing, pools, clubhouse and fitness activities. Will you need RV parking or garage space for motorcycles, boats or other large items? You may also want to consider supplementing your income with a home that is rental-friendly while you’re on the road.
Family connections are a looming aspect of moving. How will a new home affect your kids and grandkids regarding overnight visits? Will you pass the holiday hosting baton onward to your children? If you relocate, will you travel and plan to visit them?
Downsizing can be a big chore after a lifetime of accumulation. One reason to start downsizing early is to give yourself time to reminisce. There’s a reason you’ve saved things all these years, even if you haven’t looked at it for a long time. Now you have the time and a reason to enjoy it again.
Planning to sort items is like eating an elephant — one bite at a time! Allow twice as much time as you suspect you will need. Set a schedule for your new “job.” Get a supply of boxes, packing materials and labels for this process. Begin by eliminating the items you will no longer need.
Toss old or worn household goods, tools, clothing. If you feel overwhelmed, consider hiring a local estate specialist to assist you in sorting, selling and donating. Label possessions you plan to keep and when done, schedule a weekend for family to select unmarked items they would like to inherit early. Set a firm deadline for items to be picked up. If they linger, add them to the sell or donate piles.
Avoid an “undecided” pile, which slows your progress and causes excess stress and waffling. A good rule is to handle each item only once, taking the time to give each piece your attention, then make your final decision to place it in one of your categories: keep, sell, toss or donate.
Often, collectibles are the most difficult to release, but the space they occupy may determine if they stay or go, as well as potential value. If no one is interested in the entire collection, you could offer one item of each collection to family members and sell or donate the rest.
Making the best real estate decision to downsize includes being prepared to move smoothly and getting into the market at the right point in time.
Nancy Philbrick has been in Real Estate for more than 35 years. She is a Seniors Specialist and local Estate Sale Consultant, with Berkshire Hathaway Verani Realty in Bedford.