You’ve built your house into a home through years of hard work. While you still have lovely memories, it’s possible that your life has changed and you’re asking yourself “Now that the kids are grown, do I really want to deal with the upkeep of a large home?”
In other words, you’re considering downsizing. “Many who went into large homes did so 20 - 30 years ago, and their lifestyles have since changed. When they bought their homes, they had a plan, like choosing a house with a large yard they looked forward to maintaining or they chose an area with good schools for their children to enjoy. As time goes by and their priorities change, they find that the upkeep is too cumbersome and it’s time to find something more in line with their current lifestyle,” said Linda MacDonald of Keller William Realty Signature Properties, a Senior Real Estate Specialist who has worked extensively with the senior population to buy and sell their homes across Massachusetts, including in 55 and older communities.
In Linda’s experience, the following five questions will help you decide if downsizing is the right move for you:
Do you need or want increased cash flow?
If you’ve recently retired or are thinking about retirement, downsizing may be an option to increase the amount of money in your budget without requiring you to go back to work. Moving from a home with a large mortgage or a lot of equity to a smaller home could give you some extra cash for everything from everyday bills to extravagant vacations.
Are the repairs worth it?
One of the factors that may push you to downsize is the need for repairs. Linda suggests really considering the investment into the house. Is this where you want to be in the next five to 10 years?
A leaky roof that has seen its fair share of New England winters, or a kitchen that has held family meals for 20 years but needs new counters might not be worth updating or replacing. Instead, you may consider moving into a brand new space that doesn’t have the same maintenance requirements.
If you’re thinking about downsizing, take stock of why and how the change will factor into your everyday life. Understanding what is driving your decision will help you in determining your downsizing strategy, whether that means moving into a smaller home, an in-law apartment or a 55-and-older community.
Some questions to consider:
Are the market conditions right?
Thinking about the housing market may encourage you to downsize sooner, or wait. It’s important to consider the equity and worth of your home, versus what is currently available on the market.
“It’s currently a seller’s market, where there is low inventory and high demand. That might be great for someone thinking about downsizing - you may be able to sell your house at a higher rate because of the market - but it also means you’re likely to buy a new house at a high price,” Linda said.
Single family or a community?
This comes down entirely to personal preference. For some, the social connection found in 55 and older communities is an important reason why they’ve decided to downsize. Others are not interested in that type of community, simply opting for a smaller single-family home. If you’re looking for something brand new, you’re more likely to find that in a community-style residence as opposed to a new, small single-family home.
There is no cookie cutter approach to downsizing. It truly depends on your goals and situation. At Rockland Trust, we have worked with homeowners at all stages of life and would love to help you reach your financial goals. Check out our Learning Center for other helpful articles about homeownership and successfully managing your finances.
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