7 Step Guide to Downsizing Your Property for Seniors

The decision to downsize as you get older can be one fraught with emotion.

On one hand, your home feels empty now the kids have gone and cleaning and maintenance have become more difficult. On the other, the home is full of memories and relocation can seem distressing.

There are considerable benefits to downsizing, especially if you are retired and relying on superannuation for cost of living expenses. Energy bills and maintenance should be much lower. You may also decide to move closer to loved ones, either to get some help from them to spoil the grandchildren in the way only grandparents can.

Once you have decided to downsize, there are a few considerations you need to make. We have listed a seven-step guide to downsizing, to get you started:

1. Location

Where are you planning to move to? Do you want to stay in the area or move somewhere else, such as closer to family or friends, or a tree change or sea change or even an overseas change?

2. What is your financial situation?

If you are retired, you need to consider your financial position. If you are relying on a pension or superannuation, the proceeds from a sale would be helpful for your ongoing cost of living. If you are mortgage free and in a position to purchase elsewhere, perhaps consider renting out the family home for additional income.

When considering your current and future income, it is advisable to seek out advice of a professional and impartial financial adviser, who can inform you of any tax implications or other considerations. (Often retirement villages and assisted living facilities have guidelines around owning other properties.

3. What kind of property do you want?

Do you want a small freestanding home (consider the maintenance required), a townhouse for a sense of community, an over 55s community to meet like-minded friends or assisted living, where you may need the security of knowing there’s help if you need it.

Consider any health issues you may have now, which are likely to deteriorate over time, as well as your mobility requirements. 30 steps up to a hilltop residence with a stunning beach view might not be practical if you need a cane or have a bad back.

4. Get a valuation of your current property

Don’t rely on friends telling you the massive sums they made on their house sale, without doing your research. You can look at recent sold prices on leading property portals such as realestate.com.au or domain.com.au or purchase a valuation report from RPData or similar. You can also get real estate agents or professional valuers to give you an indication (you are not locked into selling with any agents by doing this).

5. Declutter

No doubt, the task of clearing out years’ worth of memories in your home can be a daunting one. However, if you are downsizing, the reality is it can’t all come with you. Decluttering is a necessary step in the process of making your home look its best for sale/rental.

If you have bulky sentimental items, photograph them for memories, but consider passing them on to a family member who will treasure them as much as you did. Offer as much as possible to family members and loved ones. Sell valuable possessions on the internet or antique shops. Give away serviceable items that can’t be sold to charity.

6. Decide how you are going to sell

Consider how you will sell your home. Will you list it with an agent? It is worth asking them about their commissions, as listing with an agent can take around 3 percent of the sale price in commissions out of your pocket and into theirs. Often they also charge you for marketing. On a $600,000 home, this could be as much as $20,000. That amount could really make a positive impact on your lifestyle over time.

It is not difficult to sell your own home, and buyMyplace offers fixed price packages from complete DIY sales to fully supported, including photography and marketing and even negotiation if required. Best of all, you don’t pay a percentage in commission. The price is fixed, regardless of your home’s value.

7. Start Looking for your new home

Now you have all your ducks in a row when it comes to downsizing – a neat decluttered home, and an idea of what you want in your new property, you can get excited and start searching for your new place. If you are moving to a whole new area, or even to a very different style of home to your current place, be sure to look at recent sales in your chosen area, or even purchase a suburb profile from RPData.

A suburb profile will indicate current average property prices, and will also provide demographic information such as the age and interests of people in the area which will ensure you are moving to an area of like-minded people.