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A guide to downsizing your home

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There comes a time in life when the family home simply becomes too large and it is time to move to a smaller property.

A study from Prudential shows that 41% of over-55s plan to sell their current home, freeing up around £88,000 of cash per household. The process of downsizing is not a simple one, however, so we have put together this guide on what to consider when moving to a smaller house.

Consider the circumstances

There are many reason to downsize, with research finding that having too much space is the main driver, followed by the convenience of running a smaller home and accessing equity. Each of these will have a bearing on where you decide to move and which property you choose to move to.

Some houses with fewer bedrooms may actually be larger than your current home, so if too much space is the problem you will need to look for a compact property. 

If convenience is key, a brand new home will require little maintenance, and also come with a 10-year NHBC warranty or Premier Guarantee to provide peace of mind.

Be prepared to leave things behind

If you are moving to a smaller home then inevitably you will not be able to fill it with everything from your old house. A certain degree of ruthlessness will be required when saying goodbye to old furniture and ornaments, so take your time when choosing these to ensure it is not a decision you will regret.

If your new home is still relatively large it may have a garage, which can come in handy from a storage perspective and provide a means of keeping the items safe if you are still not sure what to do with them.

Be prepared for a quick move

If you decide to commit to downsizing, then bear in mind that your home may sell quickly. It may therefore be wise to settle on your new property before selling. Buying a brand new home can take away one aspect of the chain as you are not waiting for someone to sell, leaving you to focus on getting the best possible price for your current property and removing some hassle.

If your property does sell quickly, you may have to make the transition as quickly as possible. In this case, be prepared to cull furniture and other belongings. The process does not have to be stressful, however, as there are alternative means of moving that can remove the effort of packing, transportation and unpacking. In some cases, part-exchange is available, which can further ease the burden if you are struggling to sell.

The birds may return

All children will fly the nest at some point, but we are now in the age of the boomerang child, when many offspring return to their parents’ houses for a variety of reasons. Some could be back from university or travelling, others may be hoping to save money to buy, while some may have ended relationships or changed their life plans.

With a quarter of 20 to 30-year-olds returning to the family home at least once and 1 in 8 doing so on three occasions or more, it is wise to have a spare room in your new property to cover any eventuality, should your son or daughter turn up on the doorstep.

Location is key

So-called ‘last-time buyers’ investing for their retirement years will have a number of criteria on their wishlist, but the location of the house is likely to be number one. Retirees are likely to favour a more peaceful neighbourhood, albeit one with local amenities for leisure and recreation.

The proximity of facilities such as doctors’ surgeries, post offices, coffee shops and leisure centres should also be taken into account, while investigating the area beforehand could help you to assess how many residents are in a similar age bracket and therefore create the potential for new friendships to expand your social circle.