Down­siz­ing dilem­mas

Pro­fes­sional prop­erty finder David Lewis dis­cusses some of the ques­tions that need to be ad­dressed when con­sid­er­ing down­siz­ing from a fam­ily home to some­thing more man­age­able

Cheshire Life - - Promotion -

Af­ter many years of liv­ing in a fam­ily home surrounded by mem­o­ries and a fa­mil­iar struc­ture, the de­ci­sion to move to a more man­age­able prop­erty can be a tough one and some­thing that many choose to put off un­til life forces a de­ci­sion. Many re­tirees con­tinue to bat­tle-on main­tain­ing a large gar­den and car­ing for an over­sized house, whilst know­ing in their hearts that they ought to move to a smaller and eas­ier abode.

So, what are the ques­tions one should ask when toy­ing with the idea of down­siz­ing?

When is the right time to down­size?

The an­swer to this is uniquely per­sonal. Ob­vi­ous cat­a­lysts are when a part­ner dies, health fails or fam­ily set­tles far away. How­ever, there are more sub­tle clues that when spot­ted can pro­vide a good in­di­ca­tion that it is time to con­sider mov­ing to eas­ier premises. These might in­clude when you re­alise that you spend all your time in one or two rooms leav­ing the rest empty for most of the year, or when a pre­vi­ously well-man­i­cured gar­den be­comes over­grown be­cause the main­te­nance is too oner­ous. Oth­ers re­alise it is time to move when they catch them­selves turn­ing down of­fers of hol­i­days or fam­ily vis­its be­cause they can’t spare the time away from home. Or maybe you spend all win­ter in three jumpers and a hat be­cause heat­ing your home is so ex­pen­sive?

It is hugely ad­mirable to ‘bat-on’ and if your love for your home out­weighs the neg­a­tives then leave this ar­ti­cle and move onto the next page. How­ever, if you re­ally should be con­sid­er­ing down­siz­ing and fear of the un­known or a re­luc­tance to face the chal­lenge of sell­ing and buy­ing is putting you off then please be re­as­sured that help is at hand.

What op­tions are avail­able for sell­ers?

Once the de­ci­sion to move has been made, one of the ini­tial ques­tions to con­sider is what to do with the ex­ist­ing home.

Af­ter liv­ing in the same home for maybe decades, the idea of en­ter­ing the hous­ing mar­ket, hav­ing pho­tos of your per­sonal spa­ces plas­tered on the in­ter­net and buy­ers crawl­ing round can be par­tic­u­larly un­ap­petis­ing for many.

One op­tion is to sell ‘off-mar­ket’ where a se­lect few tar­geted, fully pro­ceed­able buy­ers are in­tro­duced to the prop­erty on a dis­creet ba­sis and the re­sult­ing sale can be trans­acted in a low key and calm man­ner - and nor­mally at a pace that suits your needs. A good lo­cal es­tate agent should be able to ad­vise on this ap­proach. Choose a firm with a good rep­u­ta­tion, ideally with a na­tional reach (to at­tract buy­ers from out­side the area) and cor­rect ac­cred­i­ta­tions with The Prop­erty Om­buds­man.

Com­mon buy­ing chal­lenges to think about

When choos­ing the type of house suit­able for your next move, the chal­lenge for many of the older gen­er­a­tion is to find some­where that is smaller and eas­ier to main­tain (fit to lock up and go) but still big enough to ac­com­mo­date the fur­ni­ture that has filled a larger house and, per­haps vis­it­ing fam­ily and grand­chil­dren. Many still want a gar­den, but with­out a huge main­te­nance load and a peace­ful lo­ca­tion within easy reach, pos­si­bly walk­ing dis­tance, of shops, restau­rants and so­cial groups. Think­ing longer term, many also like to con­sider if they can no longer drive or need more reg­u­lar ac­cess to med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties. No doubt about it, there is a lot to con­sider.

There is a grow­ing trend for developers to of­fer over 55’s apart­ment blocks, pur­pose built to ac­com­mo­date the needs of older res­i­dents with some of­fer­ing on-call care ser­vices, so­cial events, main­tained gardens, com­mu­nal ar­eas etc. The ap­peal of these are clear but buy­ers need to be care­ful when as­sess­ing the pric­ing of these homes as many will have (some­times hefty) an­nual ser­vice charges, ad­di­tional charges for park­ing and clev­erly worded le­gal clauses. In­deed, buy­ers need to be fully aware of what is and is not in­cluded in the ask­ing price.

Other buy­ing op­tions in­clude town­houses and vil­lage homes. Once again, buy­ers need to give care­ful thought to whether these are suit­able long term op­tions as your needs and mo­bil­ity changes.

The prop­erty mar­ket, no mat­ter which lo­ca­tion or prop­erty type you are con­sid­er­ing, is for­ever chang­ing for even the most weath­ered of prop­erty buy­ers and sell­ers the com­plex­i­ties can be over­whelm­ing; hav­ing a trusted ad­vi­sor act­ing on your be­half and able to of­fer ob­jec­tive ad­vice can lift the pres­sure at a time of great change.

David Lewis GARRINGTON

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