Is downsizing on the horizon?

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31st August 2021

It’s about timing as much as size of property

There’s a point, often later in life, when people see a crossroads ahead and start thinking about downsizing the home they live in. We talked to Mark Ayres, Branch Manager at Alexander & Co in Winslow, about the different reasons for downsizing, its advantages, and the many ways in which Alexander & Co can help.

Why downsize?

Of course, there can be all sorts of circumstances behind downsizing. Mark explains the value of understanding them: ‘It’s good to know what people’s motivations are for moving from the outset, and what their aspirations are in terms of their next property. Where do they see themselves in five years’ time, in ten years’ time?’

Often, the move is linked to retirement and the wish to release the equity in a property and become debt free or get a lump sum. The money could go towards a more comfortable retirement, or give children a useful kick-start, perhaps helping with the deposit for a house.

For some, a house and garden may feel too big to manage and maintain, especially if health is an issue, and not as much space is needed now that children aren’t there. A bungalow might be a welcome relief from going up and down stairs all the time.

It could be about affordability, as one person in the couple may have stopped working and so income is reduced. It might be that you want to follow family to a new location and downsize at the same time as being closer to grandchildren, for example, or it could simply be about the desire for a change of lifestyle after finishing work, a move to the coast, perhaps.

Mark says: ‘A lot of people don’t even think about the option of buying an additional property with the released equity. The first thing they usually think of is paying off their mortgage, but why not consider buying another property that will earn you an income? We can provide and discuss the variety of options.’

Getting the timing right

It makes sense to think ahead and to downsize when you’re fit and healthy, not when it’s a forced scenario or a reluctant move. That way, you can enjoy the new property. If your home starts to become a burden, it can quite quickly become neglected and dilapidated, making it difficult to achieve as much as you would otherwise when it comes to selling. There’s an emotional aspect to it all too: when there’s a well-loved family home of 20 or 30 years being sold, people want to sell to a young family who will breathe fresh life into it.

Where next?

Being clear about the priorities for your next property is a good place to start. A wish-list should involve some compromise, so that the search isn’t so narrow that you never get anything through from the estate agent. For example, how close do you want to be to the family you’re moving nearer to? Could you extend the distance to a short journey away, rather than in exactly the same area?

A move to something smaller often means a bungalow. Living on one level can be a refreshing change, giving you a stronger connection with your outside space and contributing to a happy lifestyle.

A little flexibility is needed. Mark explains: ‘People do get attached to material possessions, but they’re just not going to get all their furniture into the property they’re downsizing to. The focus needs to stay on how the move will help them get more out of life. People do come to understand this and realise they might have to sell their favourite sofa!’

The advantages of downsizing add up

Downsizing is always going to be a compromise, but there are a number of advantages…

– living costs will be cut considerably

– reduced council tax bill

– smaller heating bills

– less cleaning

– less maintenance/DIY jobs

– smaller garden to look after

– easier access to more amenities if leaving a rural location

– just one vehicle may be needed to get around, another saving

Putting you in the best position

Alexander & Co is the starting point on what can be a long journey. It’s a fluid process which starts with valuation. Some people ask for a valuation of their property so they can get a better idea of the budget they have for their move; the demand for their property; and how long it could potentially take to sell. Bungalows don’t come onto the market very often, so it’s important to have your property on the market first: then you’re in the best position to start looking. You don’t want to have your heart set on a property when it’s just not achievable.

Some people embarking on downsizing actually split the process in two: selling their family home first and getting the money in bank, then living in temporary accommodation or moving in with family, and then setting about finding the right property.

Here to help with the downsizing decision

Downsizing almost always involves a chain and is rarely a straight path. We’re here to advise and assure every step of the way and help make sure you get what you need out of your downsizing decision. Many people looking to downsize may not have sold and bought a property for 20 years, so our understanding, advice and process management are vitally important. We help people take that leap of faith to put their family home on the market.

Mark sums up: ‘People get an estate agent in to give them a valuation of their home, but we can help in so many other ways: how they could use the equity that will be released from their home; where they could look to buy, and even how to go about planning to extend their property to make it more attractive to potential buyers. We can guide people once we get all the information. Do they see themselves moving just once more, or twice? We can help you come to an informed decision and suggest some new ideas too.’

5 things to think about when downsizing

  1. Be realistic with values and figures, and do all your budgeting calculations.
  2. Get started with a valuation. You could even get the photos and floor plans done to help with some discreet marketing before your property goes online.
  3. Don’t get too far ahead with viewing other properties until you’re able to proceed as a buyer. Some market research is fine, though!
  4. If you’re moving to a new area, make sure you visit it at different times. Take a walk around the streets and get a good feel for the place.
  5. Be open minded about what you’re looking for, it’ll really help. Make a list of what you can and can’t compromise on.

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