CLARK: Down-Sizing

About 4.2 million retirees moved to a new home in 2014 (source: Merrill Lynch and Age Wave report). When surveyed, 64% of retirees expect to move at least once during retirement. Some seniors are overwhelmed, however, at the prospect of downsizing. They become stressed by deciding what to do with possessions that they have accrued over a life-time. Some view it as leaving life as they knew it and their neighbors. They find after they have de-cluttered their life, it very freeing.

The earlier this is done, the better it is for seniors. It is better physically, socially and financially. A large place to live becomes costly and increasingly demanding to support and maintain. Making the move provides a new beginning, reduces living expenses, means less house work, and results in a streamlined lifestyle. This life style may offer more amenities and more time to travel or pursue other interests.

What many don’t wish to think about is their health could unexpectedly change and downsizing will be required and not an option. Downsizing is also an opportunity to create a new life. It is very cathartic to give to relatives and charities items no longer used; and very helpful to for themselves to organize what is needed. Planning in advance – prior to listing an existing home reduces the stress. It takes time to sort through years of accumulated items.

Appraisers should be contacted to assess the value of antique furniture, silver, paintings and accessories. Many collectibles that were cherished in years past are not valued as highly today. There are some charities that will pick up donations. Unless antique furniture is in pristine condition, it may be difficult to find a consignment shop that will take them.

If you can, it may be best to buy a new home and slowly transition. Some seniors are able to give or sell their existing homes to their children. This option has so many benefits.

Some choose to move to senior destinations in i.e. Florida, Arizona, North and South Carolina and others choose to stay in their same communities, but in smaller homes. Change is good and it is also freeing to discard things having little value. Once many seniors find a new life, it becomes easier to discard items of their past and look forward to their new life.

In preparing to list an existing home may involve more than clearing and organizing items. Removing wall paper and painting the home in neutral shades will be of benefit. Wall-to-wall carpeting in living areas is no longer desired, especially if it has been there for some time. Homes market better if they appear fresh and light.

If the home hasn’t been updated in years, it might be best to streamline furnishings and give it an extensive cleaning. Keep in mind most buyers today are looking for renovated homes. Those considering projects heavily take into account work costs before they make an offer. A Realtor can assist in determining what needs to be done in getting the most for a home and whether doing work or even staging would be of benefit.

Mary Ann Clark is a realtor with Coldwell Banker at 177 West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be emailed to [email protected]

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