Just the thought of moving can send even the most prepared nomad into a full panic attack. Most of the stress stems from the "fear of the unknown"--especially if their last move was 25+ years ago! For "Downsizers," include the issue of moving from a large home to a significantly smaller home and this unknown evil lurks behind questions such as:
- Will my next home fit the furniture I have?
- How much time will I have to find another home?
- When and how will I get rid of my extra stuff?
Having worked with many Empty Nesters and Downsizers in my real estate career, my best advice is to pre-plan every step of the moving process. Most of the questions and concerns can be addressed or answered prior to going to market. An experienced real estate agent should be able to put a plan in place outlining every step. This should also include an estimated timeline to help facilitate each transaction--the sale and the purchase.
Here are 8 questions I have found to be the most helpful for everyone to discuss BEFORE going to market. Like a diagnostic flowchart, the answer to each question will then guide the next step to the process:
1. Will the proceeds from the sale of your current home be necessary in order to purchase (or rent) your next home?
2. Before your current home is sold, will you have money available to enter into a contract as a downpayment for your next home? Keep in mind, that 10% is typcial for the Fairfield County Connecticut market and may differ in other areas of the country.
3. Do you know specifically the community/town/state in which you would like to move?
4. What furniture pieces and/or rooms are you anticipating moving to your next home? Keep in mind that large pieces such as dining room sets may not fit in the next home.
5. How will you be relinquishing furniture and other items that will either not fit in your next home or that you don't anticipate taking with you? This question will lead to when the best time is to begin the purging process.
6. Are there any selling or purchasing restrictions that need to be considered? This could include showing restrictions for their current home, special requirements for their next home, etc.
7. Will any family members or friends be helping you in any stage of this process?
And the most important question of all:
8. What is your biggest fear in moving ahead to selling your current home and downsizing to another?
In many cases, this question offers only a personal answer. Maybe it's the fear of leaving a home that they have been in for 25+ years. Maybe it's a fear of parting with personal items. Maybe it's a fear of leaving a community that they can no longer afford. What is most important about this question is that it will allow both parties to openly discuss how to minimize the fear.
Becoming an Empty Nester is an exciting new chapter of life. When it makes sense to downsize to a smaller home, the process can be significantly less stressful if there is good guidance, open discussion and a well thought out plan in place. Pre-planning to downsize begins the first step of the process!