How to be a happy downsizer

Every year a number of our clients sell homes they have lived in for more than 40 or 50 years. The reasons for such moves are varied, but they are often motivated by the need for less and more manageable space, the desire to move to a more convenient location, or to release equity, either for retirement or to help younger family members purchase their own homes. 

It can be an incredibly tough decision to leave a much-loved family home, so it's doubly important to ensure the process runs smoothly and without causing undue stress. Here are a few points to consider when making that all-important move. 

Releasing cash

If you're moving to release cash, perhaps to help children or grandchildren get on the property ladder, think carefully about how much you'll need for your new home, taking into account stamp duty and other moving costs, before deciding how much to give away. Downsizers typically save 70 per cent of the equity for themselves and give the remaining 30 per cent away.

Ditch the clutter

It’s amazing how much we can accumulate in five years, let alone a couple of decades, but you certainly can't take it all with you. Not only will a decluttered house photograph and view better, getting rid of unwanted items will help you plan your new space. So start early and do one room at a time to keep it manageable.

For the pieces you don’t want to keep or pass on to family or friends, an auction house can often be a straightforward option. 

Don't modernise

If you've lived in your property for 20 or 30 years, it may well be unmodernised. If this is the case, do nothing. Unmodernised properties are greatly sought-after by buyers looking to refurbish to their exact requirements. Just keep it clean and tidy. 

On the other hand, if it's a little tired, it may be worth a lick of paint here and there to refresh it or cover a particularly bold colour that may not be to other people’s tastes. Don’t waste effort and money replacing the bathroom or kitchen though, as the chances are a new buyer will do just the same when they move in anyway. 

Stay in town or move to the country?

There’s the perception that, at a certain age, those who live in cities move out to the country, but the reality is often quite different. Unless they are following family to the country, the majority of our downsizers remain in London, where they can continue to have easy access to restaurants, shops, the theatre and transport. 

In Richmond, around 80 per cent of our downsizers remain in the area and the remainder move further into town.  

Don’t over-do it

We often help buyers find larger homes after downsizing too dramatically and finding their property is too small for their needs. This might be because there is not sufficient room for children and grandchildren to come and stay, or simply because they are so used to larger rooms and having more space. 

Therefore, it's important to think very carefully about your requirements, both now and in the future.

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