Article written by Jim Vogel
Downsizing in retirement is a decision that’s as emotional for seniors as it is practical. When you decide where to move, you’re left with another big decision: to sell or keep your old home. If you find yourself facing this decision, consult with a real estate specialist for guidance; they can also assist you with selling your home if you choose to go this route. You’ll also want to take a good look at your budget, the practical matters involved, and the emotional aspects of this move.
Set Your Budget
Some seniors have to sell their home to afford moving, but for others, you may be able to downsize without selling. If you’re considering this approach and you plan on buying a new home, the first thing to do is to calculate how much home you can afford. The general rule is to account for your down payment, along with your income and regular expenses, to come up with a budget that keeps you from spending too much.
If you have enough in savings to make a down payment on an affordable home (including as-is properties, which have their own unique set of pros and cons) without selling first, one option is to wait to sell and rent out your home to tenants when you move. Even when you can afford this option, make sure you’re aware of the impact this will have on your future and everyday life (both positive and negative) to decide if it’s what you should do.
Your Retirement Goals
Start by asking yourself two key questions: What are your goals for downsizing, and what are your retirement goals? Saving money, improving your quality of life, and ditching the responsibility of maintaining a home are just a few of the reasons why seniors downsize. All of these reasons work hand in hand, because fewer expenses and obligations to your home free you up for more leisure time.
All of these goals also factor into whether you can or should turn your home into a rental. For example, if you’re relocating when you downsize, you probably don’t want the headache of maintaining the home from a distance (unless you can pay a local property management company to handle it). Even if you stay local, you may not want to spend the time or money it takes to be a landlord.
On the other hand, if you aren’t afraid to put forth the effort, renting your home may actually make your retirement goals easier to reach. As long as the numbers work out so that your rental income covers expenses, having a rental property is a great investment that generates extra income now while your home continues to gain value over the years.
Another key consideration is what your future holds. US News recommends asking yourself whether you might move again or if your new home is where you anticipate aging. In either circumstance, seniors should have a plan to pay for long-term care, whether that means moving to assisted living, a nursing home, or hiring in-home care. The time when you require that kind of care may be years away, but it should still factor into your decision.
You don’t want to let emotional factors cloud your judgement in a way that keeps you from making the best decision, but it doesn’t do any good to pretend that emotional issues aren’t involved, too. Besides considering how you feel about selling your family home, ask yourself if you’re ready to downsize your possessions. You may have to do this regardless, but if you keep the home as a rental, one option is to rent it furnished.
Another thing to think about is how your estate will be handled. Mass Mutual explains how real estate adds a level of complication to estate planning, and selling a property beforehand can help avoid this being a problem for your loved ones to sort out.
As you can probably guess, you have to consider all of these factors as a whole before deciding on the best move forward. Of course, having your budget fall short is an obvious deal breaker, but otherwise, you have to look at the big picture. Making a move at this stage in life can be scary, but it’s also a change that holds major potential.
If you’re selling your house during your downsize and want it to look fantastic when you start marketing it, then reach out to Designed to Sell Homestaging by filling out the form on our website or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org