What Buyers Should Look for When Downsizing
Use these pointers to make a smooth transition into a smaller space.
People downsize for a lot of reasons: they retire, get divorced, want to save money or just get tired of maintaining a big space. No matter what’s spurred your decision, here’s how to make a smooth transition:
Location, Location, Location
Even if you don’t have kids (or they’ve already flown the nest), location is still key because the house is an asset. So check out the school district, the taxes, proximity to public transportation, major highways, shopping and dining as you would for any other property.
Consider All Costs
Town homes and condos are attractive if you don’t want to deal with maintenance, but remember to keep the entire cost, including homeowners association fees, in mind. “Associations come at a price, and, like taxes, the price increases fairly frequently,” says Janice B. Leis, associate broker for Prudential Fox & Roach in Philadelphia and Prudential Florida WCI Realty in South Florida. You could get hit with assessment fees when the building undertakes a big renovation project, too.
Ask for association meeting minutes. They’ll give you an idea of how association fees have changed over the last few years, and whether or not any big ticket items are on the planning board.
If you’re moving to a smaller space for retirement, think far ahead when looking at potential homes, preferably at homes all on one level. “If it must be a multi-level home, then one with the master suite on the ground floor,” says Molly Shomer, head coach of The Eldercare Team. “This eliminates the need to go up stairs.” The house should have at least one entrance on ground level, and a bathroom that’s either handicap accessible or can be made that way. “As we get older, even if we are in great condition and able to live without any of these conveniences, our friends and visitors may not be so lucky,” says Shomer. “An accessible home works better for everyone.”
Fit Your Stuff to the Space -- and Vice Versa
Start preparing for your move by measuring your furniture to see if it fits, both physically and to the scale of your new home. “Large homes can easily accommodate oversized furnishing, but a smaller space will feel cramped and stuffy,” says Monica Ricci, founder of Atlanta-based Catalyst Organizing Solutions. If you’ve got big pieces, sell them through consignment and use the money toward buying smaller stuff that won’t overwhelm your new square footage.
“If you’re decreasing your space by 50 percent, make it a goal to de-clutter and let go of half your stuff, too,” says Ricci. If you haven’t touched it in two years, it goes. Ditch anything you have in duplicate, and if the kids live elsewhere, tell them it’s time to take their stuff with them, or it goes in the dumpster. Hold a yard sale or donate what you don’t need (and make sure you get donations receipts for tax time).
If you’re not sure how you’ll do in a smaller space, Leis suggests renting for a year or two to see how you like living in cozy quarters. “It is much more costly to make a mistake,” she says.
Real Estate Survival Guide: Buyer's Checklist
Refer to this 10-step checklist to get you through the homebuying process.
Look Out for Foggy or Nonfunctioning Windows
Foggy windows can be a big problem, so keep your eyes open when home buying.
Provide Easy Access For Showings
Opening up beyond the open house.
How to Make an Offer for a House
Making an offer on a house isn't a total roll of the dice. There are some basic steps you and your Realtor can take to arrive at a price range and other terms that make sense.
Managing Buyer's Remorse
I've heard it said that the last day either Buyer or Seller is truly happy with the price and terms of the transaction is the day the offer is accepted. I would say that's the last moment either side is happy. Here's how to prevent "Buyer's remorse".
Disclosure Law: Your Buyer Can Handle the Truth
If you're selling your home, it's important to fess up about its flaws. Here's why.
Consider Buyers’ Motivations When Making an Offer
Put yourself in a position of strength in multiple offer situations.
Buyers: What to Do When Your Loan Falls Through During Escrow
Number one tip: Don't freak out. Real estate expert Tara-Nicholle Nelson walks you through the next steps to take.
Buyers: What to Do When You Lose Your Job While In Escrow
You're in the middle of buying a home when the dreaded pink slip arrives. Find out how one couple handled the unwelcome turn of events.
Buyers: What to Do When Your Realtor Quits You—or Just Quits
Ditched by your Realtor in the 11th hour? Here's what a smart homebuyer should do.
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