#TuesdayTips – what to think about when downsizing

Posted 5 April 2016 by Helen Christie

Whether the children have flown the nest, or you’re looking to free up equity, thousands of homeowners are looking to downsize this year.

A recent study has shown that one in three homeowners over 55 are considering downsizing right now.

Living in a four-bedroom family home with a large garden is the dream when raising children, but naturally it won’t suit everyone’s needs as you get older. Edward Church, head of Strutt & Parker in Kent has put together some tips for what you need to know about downsizing in today’s market.

Get the numbers right 

Find out how much is your property worth, and decide how much do you want to spend on your next home. Do your research using property search sites and get at least three agent valuations on your current property to make sure you sell at a price that you’re comfortable with. The highest valuation isn’t always the right one.

Also, remember to factor in the additional costs such as tax, legal and estate agency fees, as well as a contingency spend to ensure there are no financial surprises. This may be one of the largest financial decisions of your life, but remember to look forward to the potential savings it can bring too, including reduced living expenses and more financial freedom.

It is OK to be emotional

Selling the family home where the walls echo with the sound of children playing and memories of family meals around the table will inevitably be tough. We all know houses are more than just bricks and mortar - hence our British obsession with them - so saying goodbye can feel like a huge sense of loss. Keep in mind the practical trade-offs and try to look forward to a new exciting chapter in your life. Successful downsizers usually feel liberated from the tyranny of household chores, upkeep, big heating bills and large gardens.

If downsizing doesn’t work, try ‘my-sizing’

On the tails of traditional downsizers is a new trend in ‘my-sizers’; those moving to a house of similar value but driven instead by a change in location, land, size or style of home. Often referred to as right-sizing, this won’t be the usual move to a smaller house with less land. This is a common move for those in an ‘in-between’ life stage where some of the older kids have left home, and perhaps there has been a job change.

Consider re-mortgaging

Some downsizers use the opportunity to lower their mortgage payments on their new home by putting down a bigger deposit. Seek professional advice from a broker to ensure you get the most competitive rates - many can find the cost associated with the process outweighs their potential saving. Be aware that lenders require a far more detailed breakdown of an applicant’s spending habits than ever before, from grocery bills to care home fees. Make sure you are in the best position possible before you apply.

Where to invest your equity

When you downsize, it’s likely you’ll end up with a large cash sum. Leaving it in the bank may not generate much return as interest rates are still at an all-time low, so have a look for other options for investment, such as the stock market, corporate bonds, equity income funds, cash ISAs or a stocks and shares ISA. Further property investment through buy-to-let, looking at short term yield return and longer term capital growth through re-sale, is popular.

 

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