Making the Right Move – Part IV: Downsizing

  • Downsize your home

    Downsizers typically want less space but not fewer amenities.

    Primp for Sale – Clear out the clutter (this will help when you move). Add newer bedding and towels.  For higher priced homes, a professional stager can add more contemporary furnishings.  Staging services can vary in price but the median cost is approximately $675.  90% of selling agents and 81% of buying agents said staging increased the price buyers would pay.

  • Share the Walls – Townhouses and condos can get you a better deal. Their prices rose 3.1% in 2015 versus 7.2% growth among single family homes. They also require less up keep.  Just be wary of high homeowner’s fees and other surprise costs.  Ask the seller for the building’s financials and meeting minutes, look for red flags:  a history of assessments, problems raised by owners or reserves that look too small to cover planned work.
  • Rightsize Your Mortgage – with money from the sale of your home, you can afford a bigger down payment which improves your buying position against rival bids, and cuts your ongoing costs. With 30 year loans still below 4%, financial advisors consider it prudent to still have some housing debt even in retirement.  If you are still working, mortgage payments should top out at 28% of gross income.  If you are retired, aim closer to 15%.
  • Take on a face-lift – downsizers typically want less space but not fewer amenities. You will find houses in need of cosmetic upgrades.  Fixer discounts can range from 15% to 55% in several big U.S. cities.  So, even if you factor in remodeling costs – you will still come out ahead.  Remember to give Pacific Kitchens a call for a free in-home estimate on kitchen refacing!
  • Test Drive a New Locale – if you are thinking about a big change – a move to another city – don’t buy immediately. Sell first and rent something to make sure that it’s really the square footage you need.