Downsizing Your Home

Dated: 02/22/2018

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All parents dream of their children growing up into adults they can be proud of.  The obvious signal that kids have reached adulthood is when they move out of the family home.  When this happens, many parents find themselves in a house that is too big, which often plays on their emotional sentiment, reminding them that their children are no longer children.  Those feelings of aging and empty nests don’t have to last.

Benefits of Downsizing

It can be difficult for both parents and children to see the family home sold, especially if it has been in the family for more than one generation, but many folks are figuring out that downsizing offers a number of benefits. Not only does it create an opportunity for the parents to adjust their lifestyle to one that is more focused on them, but it can provide additional funds to support travel, retirement plans, or even college funds for the grandchildren.  Moving can also create a disruption to the emotional cycle known as empty nest syndrome, not to mention reducing the care and upkeep that is required for an oversized property. 

In addition to potentially making money on the sale of their home, parents might find an opportunity to dramatically reduce living expenses.  Finding a smaller home, be it a house, condo, apartment, or even RV can potentially reduce recurring costs such as utilities, HOA fees, property taxes, and insurance costs. This is also an opportunity to focus on the type of community where you might like to retire, which can ensure you are around like-minded people or a place you enjoy and can help you maintain a healthy & active lifestyle. Downsizing while you are still working and in good health is never a bad idea. 

Selling the Family Home

Once you have made the decision to move, start by asking your children who might have the means or desire if they’re interested in the home.  If they want to keep it in the family, this can save you work in preparing the home for sale, but could create a few extra headaches during the transaction. 

Once a purchase by a family member is ruled out, focus on necessary repairs and updating outdated decor. Start by asking a Realtor what is currently appealing to buyers in your area, and see if your Realtor can advise you on everything from paint colors to appliance upgrades to help you get the highest possible price for your home.  Also, consider hiring a professional to complete tasks such as painting or any remodeling that may need to be done.  This will help you avoid a trip down memory lane that could slow your efforts and could stall them altogether.  Don’t forget to devote some time to adding to your homes curb appeal.  If you do run into any emotional hang-ups, consider having your kids assist you so the experience can create a new memory for all of you.    

Regardless of how long you have lived in your home or how long it’s been since your children have moved out, realizing that it is time to move on can be challenging.  Focus on the positive reasons for downsizing, whether it is a change of scenery to curb the feelings of having an empty nest, enhancing your financial freedom, reducing your cleaning or maintenance requirements, or preparing for your retirement.  Keeping why you are moving at the front of your mind can help you when sentimentality creeps in while you are preparing your home to go on the market.  Remember, your needs are most important since your children have grown into adulthood.


Credits: Seth Murphy, Michael Jory

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Michael Jory

I grew up on the Monterey Peninsula, about 5 hours drive from Reno. I moved to San Diego in 1990 to begin my career in the golf business. While in San Diego, I worked at Torrey Pines, Balboa Park and ....

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