Downsizing Safely and Effectively in Your Senior Years
By Jim Smith, Realtor® ~
Are you thinking that now’s the time to leave your big-house life behind? If so, you’re in luck. Despite the pandemic, the real estate market is strong and interest rates are low, making it a great time to sell and buy. But you can’t go into the process blindly. Here are some tips to get you started on the right track.
First on your to-do list: Work with an experienced Realtor. Successful agents, in my opinion, are members of the Realtor association and have to abide by the Realtor Code of Ethics, but only half the licensed real estate agents are Realtors, because the dues cost about $500 a year. If an agent can’t afford those dues or doesn’t feel it’s important to support his industry, maybe he or she is not the best agent for you.
The right Realtor will know your area and will price your home correctly and help you find the right replacement home in a senior-friendly neighborhood. He or she can provide knowledgeable answers about local amenities, such as public transportation, fitness centers, and local senior facilities that will enrich your life.
If you prefer, as many seniors do, to move into a rental unit within a senior community, I have a colleague who can advise you on those communities and that process, so feel free to ask me. My contact info is below.
Your agent can also help you determine a budget. As a buyer, keep in mind that it’s a seller’s market, and having the right agent on your side can help get your foot in the door. If you’re moving locally, Golden Real Estate can also save you a bundle with our free moving truck and in-house movers.
You will want to take a look at your budget to determine what you can afford. Most lenders, including Chase, offer free affordability calculators. They allow you to input data, such as your home price, down payment, and monthly income and expenses. This helps you determine what you can afford.
Once you have an agent and a price range, it’s time to compare what you can afford with what you need, and then make adjustments to your list as necessary. Many seniors, according to Home Tips For Women, look for features which save you money, especially on utility costs. These, along with things like single-level living and wide doorways allow for greater mobility, an important consideration if you’ve already begun to experience mobility issues.
Something to keep in mind during the downsizing process is that moving into a smaller home will require downsizing your belongings as well. Once you have chosen your future home, you can evaluate the belongings in your current one. This is an emotional process which takes patience, and, ideally, you’ll have cooperation from your friends and family. It’s often best to give certain things to your children and grandchildren now so you’re not tight on space in your new home.
If you’re moving outside the metro area, choosing the right moving company is something that deserves special attention. Movers charge different prices, even for what appear to be the same services. Your moving company will factor everything from whether you need an entire truck to how far you’re moving, to the overall weight of your household goods into the price. Previous clients have given me feedback on their experiences which I’m happy to share with you.
Finally, make your move while you’re in good health and don’t wait until you have to move. And let yourself enjoy the process. Your retirement is a time of change and to feel all the excitement associated with it. Moving is not always easy, but the end result of downsizing can be more financial freedom and a better quality of life during your senior years.
Downsizing as a senior presents a significant lifestyle change, but it’s one to embrace. If you still have questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to me or another agent you trust.
Jim Smith is broker/owner of Golden Real Estate. Perhaps you’ve seen his weekly “Real Estate Today” column in the Denver Post. You can reach him at 303-525-1851 or at Jim@GoldenRealEstate.com.