Downsizing simply means selling a larger property and moving to a smaller one.

Sounds simple, right? But it can be stressful. Timing your move and being prepared are the key to a successful and hassle-free downsize.
Here are 10 things to consider if you are planning on downsizing to a smaller property on Sydney’s Upper North Shore.

1. Downsizers aren’t always retirees.

People of all ages choose to downsize for all different reasons, but one thing is for sure: downsizers are a huge force in today’s real estate market.

The preconception most of us have of downsizers are that they are empty nesters of retirement age or older. While it’s true that this demographic makes up a large proportion of downsizers in our market, we are seeing downsizers across all age brackets choosing to downsize. Over the last few years we’ve seen an increase in young couples and families with children choosing to downsize for lifestyle reasons. Reducing home maintenance and freeing up more time and money for other things are just some of the things they’re looking for.

2. Buy first or sell first?

The order you make your move is a dilemma for many buyers – not just downsizers. But as downsizers often have a lot of capital tied up in the family home that they’re looking to release by selling, it’s important they time their move to maximise their chances of making, rather than losing, money on the sale.

So should downsizers buy first or sell first? There is no simple answer to this question. Ultimately, it depends on your circumstances and the way the property market is moving. With the market rising rapidly at the start of 2021, many downsizers are choosing to buy first before prices rise any further, and sell later.

3. What will you downsize to?

A 2020 study by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), found that 50% of Australians who were over the age of 55 were open to downsizing. The main obstacle they faced was finding the right kind of housing to downsize into that matched their needs and preferences.

So it’s important to clarify upfront the area and type of property you’re looking to buy, and find out what is on the market. Find out more about what downsizers are looking for in this article.

4. There is more choice than ever before

That said, while competition might be strong, Sydney’s Upper North Shore has more choice now than ever before when it comes to downsizing. The recent influx of apartments and villas, combined with more over-55s developments has made downsizing in our area far easier than it used to be. A ComSec report found that while Australia has the second largest homes in the world, the size of an average house had shrunk over 2018-2019, while the size of the average Australian apartment actually grew by 3.2% to 128.8 square metres. Plus, the number of apartments available has rapidly grown across the country, with apartments accounting for 41% of new homes being built in 2019, compared to 28% in 2011.

5. Narrow down your criteria

Not all downsizers have the same property checklist so it’s important to narrow down what is important to your property search. Some want an apartment, others a smaller house. Some want to lose the garden and retain the indoor space, others are looking for a smaller crash pad as they plan to spend more time at a second home outside the city. The AHURI study found that 67% of downsizers wanted fewer bedrooms and 60% wanted a smaller garden. Create a checklist of what you’re looking for. You may find some inspiration and ideas in the property you already have by thinking about the way you live. But try not to recreate or replicate your existing home – after all, it’s usually a lifestyle change to a smaller property that you’re after.

6. Be prepared to compromise

Once you have your checklist of criteria like how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, ask yourself what is negotiable? Like any property purchase, downsizing will inevitably require some compromise. The perfect property that ticks every single box rarely exists. Maybe the gorgeous North facing 3 bedroom apartment only comes with one car space. Maybe the garden villa walking distance from the shops that you fall in love with only has 2 rather than 3 bedrooms. Maybe you’re buying on a bus route, rather than a train line.

7. Understand the market

Before you rush to get the “For Sale” sign board up, make sure you do some research on the current market in your area. Go online to discover recent sold prices for comparable properties in your suburb. Invite a few local real estate agents around to hear their thoughts on the market value of your home, how they would sell it, and how they would market it. They can also advise you if there any changes you need to make in order to sell? It really pays to get a free market appraisal.

8. Prepare psychologically and emotionally

Downsizing from the family home, full of memories, can be psychologically and emotionally overwhelming. Be kind to yourself. Once you’ve made the decision to sell, it can help to imagine that the home is no longer yours, particularly if you’re styling it for sale. But take your time. Don’t rush it.

9. Declutter and organise your property for sale

Downsizing to a smaller space typically means you need to let go of some possessions. The process of decluttering and organising your existing property for sale can take some time, particularly if you’ve lived there a long time. Start early, and involve friends or family to help you.

10. Ask the experts

Downsizing can be a wonderful lifestyle move, and also free up capital to spend on other things. However, it’s a great idea to talk over your plans with friends and family to clarify it’s the right decision for you. You should also consult your financial adviser, and any other trusted professionals like a solicitor if you’re considering buying into a retirement complex, as these purchases are often quite different to buying a normal property.

For an expert valuation of your property, call our team today.

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