Home-buying tips for seniors looking to downsize

Ecohome June 27, 2018, 2:16 p.m.
Elmer George

Learn how to trim down your possessions and find the home that suits you.

Elmer George is dedicated to providing seniors with the necessary information to enjoy an improved quality of life as they go through later life transitions and challenges.  Visit his blog here. 

More and more seniors are buying homes now as the downsizing trend is in full effect. If you’re on the fence about relocating to a new home and dread the thought of house hunting, packing, and moving, you should know that the process is much easier now than it was when you were searching for the perfect house for your growing family. These three home-buying tips will help you make sure you get the house you want and the easier move you need.

1. Start preparing to downsize now

Just because you know other seniors are downsizing and moving doesn’t mean you need to rush into anything. But you should begin preparing to downsize now so that you can move more easily when you do find the right house. If you’re not sure where to begin, try taking a critical look at your belongings and start decluttering. You may not realize just how much stuff you have until you think about packing each item into boxes for your move; then, you’ll be more than ready to start sorting and deciding what to keep and what to sell, donate, give to loved ones, or throw away.

Decluttering is an important first step towards purchasing a home, because the more furniture, clothing, and belongings you have, the more space you’ll need. You’ll be defeating the purpose of downsizing if you don’t downsize your possessions but expect to move into a smaller house. Go room by room and be honest with yourself when determining what to keep and what to get rid of. It’s okay to keep a few sentimental items, but don’t be afraid to give your son his collection of baseball cards or to give your handmade quilts to family members and keep your favorite one.

It’s also a smart idea to have a yard sale after you declutter. People will purchase just about anything, and they love a good bargain, so price items fairly but be prepared to negotiate with buyers. Make your items easy to see and display them on tables with your most valuable items front and center. The yard sale will give you some extra cash, and it can save some space in a landfill because you’re selling your items instead of putting them by the curb. Keep in mind that you can donate remaining unsold items; many organizations and charities will pick up leftover boxes from your home after a yard sale.

Image via Redfin

2. Know what you want and need in a new home

Once you come to terms with leaving your home and parting with some items during the decluttering phase, it’s time to start house hunting. This should be the fun part, because it’s exciting to visit potential homes and imagine yourself living there. But if you go into the house-hunting phase without knowing what you need and want in a new home, you can quickly become overwhelmed.

Begin by taking stock of your remaining furniture and possessions. After decluttering, you’ll have a more accurate picture of the amount of space you need in a new home. You’ll be able to narrow your house search by considering finished square footage. Then, think about how you live. If you love to entertain, look for houses with adequately sized kitchens and open floor plans. On the other hand, if you hate to cook, look for a house with a small kitchen.

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3. Know your long-term needs

While considering the features of a home and determining if it’s the right home for you, consider the long-term. Does the home have modifications that will make it easier for you to age in place? For example, does it have a walk-in tub or shower? You should also look for homes that are a single-story, have wide doorways to accommodate a walker, and have lower cabinets and countertops. If these home modifications don’t exist in your ideal potential home, invite a contractor in to discuss the costs of modifying the home before you make an offer on it.

Moving into a new, smaller home doesn’t have to be a strain on your mental health. By planning ahead with your downsizing and decluttering and getting a good idea of what your wants and long-term needs are in a home, you’ll be on your way to enjoying your golden years with more time on your hands for the fun stuff. Good luck!

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