As a Realtor serving the suburbs of North Atlanta, I am confronted on a weekly basis with questions from potential home sellers; "when is the right time to downsize?" I never seem to have a firm or standard answer to that question so I pose it to many of you:
1. When the last of your kids has actually moved out (or at least you think they have)?
2. When the dog that has urinated all over the carpet has passed away?
3. When you have finally retired for good?
4. When your Grandchildren have learned to drive?
5. When all or most of your furniture is so thread-bare that Goodwill won't even take it?
6. How about when table-top phones, non-flat-screen TV's, and large Computer Moniters can no longer be donated.....they must all go to the local Landfill instead!!
7. When climbing the stairs may as well be Mount Rushmore?
8. When you are the last homeowner in the neighborhood WITHOUT children to escort on Halloween?
There is no "one" answer to that question, but I always make the point to those asking the question that it sometimes takes a lot longer to prepare for that "downsizing" than you think. I had one client that took over a year and a half to prepare and then after a week-long Estate Sale was still not ready. I had another client that took 3 years to mentally prepare and divide up her personal belongings to those remaining relatives! Yes, 3 years!!! I had yet another client that hauled out 6 truckloads of junk just from the basement!!!
It can sometimes be a sobering reminder that another stage in life has passed, especially for those more senior clients. I try to be a friend, an advisor, and many times a humorist to my clients who struggle during this transition. And above all, no one wants to hear that their home is dated, tired, and undesireable. Downsizing is an emotionally challenging time for a number of home-sellers. As a Realtor, I try to remember that no matter how difficult it may be to get that house ready for the next homeowner.