Looking to Downsize?

The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.

Selling the family home can sometimes be an emotional experience for adult children as well as for parents. Your family home may be the only home that your kids have ever lived in, so seeing it sold can be difficult.

Make sure to speak to your family about your plans, prior to selling. Share your thoughts with them, and find out if they have any questions or concerns.

Getting rid of furniture, clothing, artwork or other bits and pieces that you’ve collected over the years can be a difficult and sometimes emotional process. The simpler your possessions are when you move, the better.  Our advice for de-cluttering is below:

  • Keep a few items for sentimental value or family importance
  • Be ruthless when considering less important and less significant items. Focus on what you’ll need and use on a regular basis in your new home and get rid of everything else.  If you haven't used an item for six months, you're less likely to use it again. Using this rule, it's normally easy to find unnecessary clothing, old books, garden tools, toys and kitchen appliances
  • To help reduce your clutter, you can offer family members and friends any items you no longer need.  Alternatively, you can hold a garage sale.  This will help you get rid of items and raise some money at the same time
  • Go through old paperwork and get rid of any files you no longer need. Keep only the information that should be kept for statutory / tax record reasons

It’s always a good idea to find a buyer for your current home before committing to purchase another.

  • With your current property sold, you’ll know exactly how much money you’ll have available to spend on your next property.  If you are downsizing, you can then work out how much you'd like to spend on your new home, and how much cash the downsizing will free up to support your lifestyle.
  • If you buy a new property first, you may find yourself in the position of having to make mortgage repayments on two houses at the same time.  If your first home doesn’t sell quickly, or for the price you expected, you might put yourself under unnecessary financial strain.

If you have the financial means, consider keeping your first property as a rental and using the income to help finance your next home. Talk to a financial advisor or mortgage broker for any financial advice needed.

  • Financial Benefits – Depending on where your new, smaller property is located, downsizing can dramatically reduce your mortgage costs. Smaller homes also cost less to run, freeing up cash flow.
  • Savings – By saving money on mortgage payments and running costs, you can significantly increase your retirement savings, giving you a larger nest egg when the time comes to retire.
  • Travel – Downsizing will give you more financial freedom, allowing you to travel more often.  Downsizing will provide you with a modest home base to return to in between trips, with less home maintenance than before.
  • Cheaper Utilities – A smaller home will use less electricity, gas, heating and cooling.  This will save you dollars that you can use for fun activities.
  • Freedom – By downsizing you’ll give yourself more freedom and flexibility to revisit the activities and hobbies that may have been sacrificed when you were busy looking after a larger house, garden and your children.
  • Lower Maintenance Costs – If you’re looking for a really low-maintenance home, an apartment or townhouse could be ideal.
  • Peace of Mind - Less clutter and less debt will lead to a clearer state of mind and give you the opportunity to enjoy a simplified home and lifestyle.

Downsizing offers considerable benefits, and should be considered. Your local First National Real Estate agent can provide further downsizing guidance and advice.

Moving to a smaller house after years of family living is a big step. It’s important to do your research. Make a list of all the things you want in your new home and see how this balances with your financial situation. Some things to consider are:

  • Location of family and friends – Do you want to stay close to your family or friends, or are you happy to move to a more remote location?
  • Interests and hobbies – Can your interests and hobbies still be achieved at your new location?  Are there particular amenities you want to be close to?
  • Transport – Will you be relying on public transport, or will you get around by private vehicle?  Public transport is not available in all rural areas.
  • Shops – Will your new location have the shops and supermarkets you want?
  • Services – What other services do you think you’ll need in your new location?  Make sure your new property is close to libraries, medical facilities, sports clubs, RSAs or other facilities you need.

Use the internet to search for suitable home locations. Once you know the sort of lifestyle you want, narrow down the available options to achieve it:

  • City living - Townhouses or apartments closer to the Central Business District (CBD) will be smaller, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the energy of the inner city. Moving from the suburbs to the city can provide you with access to museums, restaurants, shopping centres and theatres, right outside your door.
  • Rural living - With your children now living away from home, you may decide to take the opportunity to move out of the city completely. A small home in the countryside can offer a slower pace of life.  New Zealand’s compact size means you don’t have to venture far from major urban centres to get the benefits of rural living.
  • Gated-community - While generally popular overseas in high-crime areas, gated communities are becoming more common in New Zealand.  This is largely due to the private facilities they offer to residents. With amenities like swimming pools, fitness centres, sports clubs, golf courses, marina and beach access, and water sports, living in your new home can feel like a holiday.

Talk to First National Real Estate for help with selling your existing home, and buying your new downsized accommodation.

Downsizing your home raises lots of questions. Here are a few downsizing tips:

  • Even though they’ve moved out, you’ll probably still want to be involved in your children’s lives. Make sure your new home is handy to where they live, along with the locations of other family and friends.
  • You may not have the kids cluttering up your home anymore, but you’ll still need enough storage space for yourselves. Make sure that your prospective new home has enough room or you could find yourself missing the family house more than you thought.
  • Apartment living has common entry and access points such as parking bays, corridors and lifts that you may not be used to. It may take time to adjust from living in a residential house to living in closer proximity to your neighbours.
  • Apartment blocks have body corporate rules and monthly fees. Make sure you review these thoroughly before purchasing your dream downsized apartment.
  • Consider having an extra room in your property that can be used as a study, reading room or bedroom, when friends, guests, and children visit.

Once you’ve made the decision to downsize your home, you can look forward to life changes with significant benefits.  First National Real Estate is with you every step of the way.  Contact one of our real estate agents today to start your new property journey.

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