Downsizing: Four key factors to consider

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There are a variety of reasons that lead people to downsize their primary residence - family status, health, finances, relocation, etc. Whatever the reason, the process and implications have a lot of similarity from scenario to scenario, and the following themes and factors often apply.

Family consultation: In many cases, downsizing becomes a family decision ... or it often should be. Homes that have been in the family for decades are often hard to let go emotionally, and many times the decision to sell is harder for the "kids" than it is for the parent(s).

Assurance and confidence in the decision to sell comes easiest after a frank and open discussion of the pros and cons with family and friends, usually leading to the right decision when the time is right. Involving those who care the most is invariably a good way to start the process.

Research and plan next residence: Due to the high volume of downsizing taking place throughout the country, the demand can sometimes out-pace the supply of suitable residences that fit the needs and desires of the buyers.

It's not uncommon to encounter a waiting list, especially if the downsizing is into an assisted living facility with medical support nearby. It's prudent to start researching options early on, identifying what's available, where, and for what price.

And, it is equally important to get a good feel for how the market is going to react to the current residence, what the asking price should be, and what - if any - improvements may be needed to prepare the house for sale.

Furniture and belongings: Most people nicely fill up their homes up with belongings - treasures and otherwise. Every nook, cranny, closet, attic and garage has a tendency to accumulate items over the years.

It's important to allow time to sort, select, pack and move. This almost always requires the assistance of a professional packer, organizer or mover to get to the finish line.

It's a hard, arduous, and emotionally charged process, but then again it can be liberating, freeing, and rewarding.

Closing and occupancy: The age-old dilemma in real estate remains today: Sell first, or buy first? Most elect to sell first, and hope that there are enough suitable replacement properties available at the time their house sells.

But there can be some creative ways to bridge this problem, depending especially on the strength of the marketplace. Some downsizers find it most advantageous to lease the property back from their purchaser, allowing a few months to buy, pack and move without the pressure of a closing date.

Others might be more eager to move on, but nonetheless want the security of having their closing proceeds in the bank before making their final move out.

A post-closing occupancy strategy can be valuable in terms of reduced stress. There are a lot of ways to make the transition as smooth as possible, and it's worth exploring them with a professional real estate agent.

Every real estate transaction has the potential to be an exciting and emotional adventure. Giving consideration to these factors can help ensure that this transition ends up being more exciting than stressful, which is the way it should be.

Chip Collins is the broker-owner of Collins Group Realty chip@collinsgrouprealty.com or www.collinsgrouprealty.com

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