Downsizing. It’s about timing

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31st August 2021

The benefits of thinking ahead later in life

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 Sam Banfield, Branch Manager at Peter Ball & Co in Charlton Kings, about the different reasons for downsizing, its advantages, and the many ways in which Peter Ball & Co can help.

Why downsize?

Of course, there can be all sorts of circumstances and reasons to start thinking about downsizing. Often, it’s linked to retirement and the wish to release the equity in a property and become debt-free, or get a lump sum. ‘This money could go towards a more comfortable retirement, or give children a useful kick-start, perhaps helping with a deposit for a house,’ Sam explains.

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.

The released equity from a home could be used to purchase a second property, a buy-to-let that creates a new income, for example, or a holiday home in the UK or further afield. It could simply be about the desire for a change of lifestyle after finishing work: a move to the coast, perhaps.

Getting the timing right

Sam explains why it makes so much sense to think ahead: ‘I always tend to encourage people to downsize when they’re fit and healthy, so it’s not a forced scenario or a reluctant move. Do it when you can enjoy the new property.’

If a property 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 at play here 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,’ Sam adds.

Where next?

Being clear about your motivations to downsize and 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.

The advantages of downsizing add up

‘Downsizing is always going to be a compromise, you’re going to be coming to terms with something that’s smaller than you’ve had for a number of years,” explains Sam. “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

Peter Ball & Co is the starting point on what can be a long journey. Sam goes into what’s involved:

It’s definitely a fluid process. It starts with valuation, but it’s also about understanding someone’s circumstances and offering advice based on our experience. 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, then setting about finding the right property.

Here to help with the 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 and can also help with advice on what to do with the equity, where they could look to buy, and even purchasing an additional property that could earn an income.

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.

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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