Down­siz­ing op­tions for sim­pler liv­ing

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Front Page -

1) De­fine your spend­ing lim­its. Ash­ley Richardson, a real es­tate agent who’s sold homes since 1993, says many cou­ples launch an elab­o­rate prop­erty search be­fore set­ting their spend­ing lim­its. But she urges would-be buy­ers to start by talk­ing to a rep­utable mort­gage lender.

“Price has got to come first, be­cause it dic­tates how much of your wish list is doable,” says Richardson, who’s af­fil­i­ated with the Res­i­den­tial Real Es­tate Coun­cil (

Of course, there are many na­tional len­ders seek­ing to sell their ser­vices via the in­ter­net. But Richardson says it’s usu­ally prefer­able for buy­ers to work with a lo­cal lender whom they can meet face-to-face.

Why is it eas­ier for cou­ples to reach con­sen­sus if they ob­tain mort­gage pre-ap­proval? Be­cause, as Richardson says, those who know their spend­ing lim­its are more re­al­is­tic, which makes com­pro­mise eas­ier.

“That way, nei­ther hus­band nor wife gets their heart set on a home that’s beyond their reach, sav­ing time and dis­agree­ments,” she says. 2) Se­lect the right neigh­bor­hood as your second step. Ob­vi­ously, pick­ing the right neigh­bor­hood is a per­sonal choice no real es­tate agent can make for you. For that rea­son, Richardson sug­gests you eval­u­ate sev­eral neigh­bor­hoods be­fore ask­ing an agent to zero in on list­ings in any area.

“You can save a lot of time by iden­ti­fy­ing your fa­vorite neigh­bor­hood early and then find­ing an agent who truly spe­cial­izes in that com­mu­nity,” Richardson says.

She rec­om­mends that cou­ples dis­cuss the neigh­bor­hood fea­tures most im­por­tant to them. They need to de­cide, for ex­am­ple, whether it’s more im­por­tant to live close to work or in an area with lots of pris­tine open space.

Though many buy­ers spend am­ple time com­par­ing neigh­bor­hoods through in­ter­net searches, Richardson rec­om­mends they also spend some week­end hours driv­ing through neigh­bor­hoods of in­ter­est and stop­ping by open houses. 3) Iden­tify lesser pri­or­i­ties you’re will­ing to trade off. Many cou­ples in their 30s and 40s with young chil­dren are anx­ious to move up from a small starter home to a place with more bed­rooms and bath­rooms. They typ­i­cally find it easy to agree on their space needs.

But beyond these ba­sics, cou­ples ar­gue about other im­por­tant prop­erty fea­tures. For ex­am­ple, is it more im­por­tant to buy a place with a large lot or one with a two-car garage?

Be­cause few cou­ples can af­ford a home with ev­ery fea­ture they want, Richardson en­cour­ages part­ners to give each other a writ­ten list of pri­or­i­ties. That way both par­ties will prob­a­bly get more of what they want.

4) Con­sider the redo of a home that doesn’t quite meet all your wishes.

Su­san Graves, a vet­eran real es­tate bro­ker, rec­om­mends that cou­ples who can’t now af­ford a place with all the fea­tures they both want look for one that could be up­dated to meet their top pri­or­i­ties.

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