Why Some Older Adults Are Rethinking Whether To Downsize

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By Randy Mazella, next avenue

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Years ago, Tracy Beckerman moved with her husband from New York City to the suburbs of New Jersey to raise their two children. But when the babies grew up and left the nest, her husband urged her to return to the city.

“He’s a musician and works in the city,” Beckerman says. “For years we dreamed of having the discretionary income to go back, rent an apartment, and attend all the great restaurants, concerts and shows in town.”

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So, he sold his family home and downgraded to a small apartment on the 43rd floor of a high tower. At first, city life was everything they expected. And then the pandemic hit and public health officials advised people to avoid public places.

“I used to feel like a prisoner in the apartment,” Beckerman says. “We lived in a 57-floor building and I used to panic when we took the elevator and not everyone was masked. After all the years we talked about how much fun it would be, I found out the negatives of living in a big The aspect was not anticipated. The city and I certainly did not anticipate living there in a pandemic. If we had known what was going to happen, I would never have sold my house.”

Empty Nestor and Downsizing Many people buy homes when their children are young because they want more space and perhaps a yard. So when those kids become adults and move out, it makes sense to downsize to a smaller house.

“Maintaining large, older homes can be challenging and expensive,” says Amanda Pendleton of Zillow Home Trends. “Let’s say your retirement plans include a lot of travel. It’s hard to lock down and leave a large, old house for months without worrying about potential problems like pipe freezing or overgrown landscaping during the winter.”

Anyway, the fewer people living in your home, the smaller the house should be. “No matter how big your home is, older adults only wind up using a small portion of their space, perhaps five hundred square feet, daily,” says Matt PaxtonA mini and cleaning expert and host of “The Heritage List with Matt Paxton.”

Long-time homeowners may notice that the value of their home has increased significantly, giving them a profit opportunity if they sell in the current market. “They can use these equity gains and have a larger nest egg for retirement, travel or buying a smaller home that may have more desirable features or be in a more desirable location,” Pendleton explains.

The COVID pandemic has upset the equation

However, the COVID-19 pandemic, now in its third year, has prompted people 50 and over like Beckerman to reevaluate their next chapter.

The common reasons why babies move or shrink in size have become less compelling as they get older. For example:

less space needed, “Zillow” Research About three million young adults moved back home during the early months of the pandemic,” Pendleton says. “This may have delayed plans for some formerly empty nesters who suddenly had a full home again.” Slowly returning to normalcy, many people are no longer sure whether they want to downsize given the uncertainty of life.

easy movement, While Beckerman’s husband continues to work in the city, many others have lost their jobs and can live that way. This eliminates traffic from the equation as to whether to stay or sell. “The ability to work remotely has allowed some older workers to move to a more affordable location or downsize,” Pendleton explains. “Those housing savings have helped him retire earlier than expected.”

lifestyle changes, The pandemic forced people to examine their lives, their interests, and redefine what is important to them. For example, if you have spent the past few years apart from loved ones, you may feel that it is time to move closer to friends and family. Or maybe you thought your next move was in an apartment like the Beckerman did, but now wonder if a large building would feel confined or you’d miss out on having a yard of your own.

“Even before the pandemic, there were empty nest declines,” says Jessica Lutz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights for the National Association of Realtors. “Instead, many[people]want to maintain square footage so that they still have room for their adult children to stay for the holidays. They are trading in more affordable neighborhoods or smaller cities for comparable sizes that Good for retirees. They are also selling off old homes in favor of new, turnkey properties.”

Jody Halstead, 51, of Ankeny, Iowa, thought she’d cut down on size, but is now considering staying so she has room for her adult children.

“Given the job and cost of living, I wonder if my (current) teen will be able to move out,” she explains. “It might be better for us to have our own bigger house and turn the basement into an apartment space when they can pay the rent.”

Paxton’s mother-in-law, Cecilia, decides to sell her house and use the money for the trip. But she wasn’t sure where she wanted to go, until Paxton suggested that she live with a blended family of six boys under the age of 14 and one 16-year-old girl. He built a small apartment at the back of his house with an entrance.

“After the pandemic, she wanted to be close to her grandchildren,” Paxton says of her mother-in-law. “This option gives her closeness to family as well as independence, and she can use the equity from the sale of her home to travel.”

As for Beckerman, she and her husband wound up moving out of town and buying a lake house in New Jersey. Instead of resizing as an empty nest, they resized from the home they raised their children to.

“I was sad when we sold the house to our family; it was the final goodbye to my time as a full-time mom,” says Beckerman, who writes comic books about life in the suburb. “I thought the city would be like living a fantasy, but ultimately it just wasn’t right for us.

“Instead, we found this house that needed a lot of work[and]it turned out that restoring the house just needed a lift at this point in my life,” she says. “A larger home means we can entertain and host our adult children and their spouses; I look forward to hosting my daughter’s rehearsal dinner at home later this year.”

Here’s How To Prepare, Even If You’re Still Not SureIf you think you want to move forward in the next two to five years (even if you’re not sure where you want to go), you can do the following to get ready:

Keep your finances in order. Take steps to boost your credit score if necessary and understand how much home you can afford, Pendleton says. This is especially important if you plan to live on a fixed income in retirement and will need a mortgage on your next home.

Clean it little by little. Start small, one drawer at a time. “It took fifty years to accumulate all this stuff, so it’s going to take more than a weekend to clean up,” advises Paxton. Also, don’t look at your home as a storage unit. “It’s time to ask your adult kids to pick up their stuff and purge old art projects and Legos that you’ve kept for thirty years,” he says.

Pay attention to the real estate market. “Keep an eye on new listings in your neighborhood to see how much they’re selling for, especially homes that may be considered comparable to yours,” says Pendleton. Also, research real estate in areas where you might be considering buying a new home.

Consider cost versus value on home improvements. Homes need to be well maintained but may not need upgrades like remodeling kitchens. “Improvements such as refinishing hardwood floors or painting usually result in a good price-to-price ratio,” Lutz says. “But other projects such as putting in a pool may give you pleasure but may not increase the value of your home at the time of selling.” Before making any major investments, consult a local realtor.

Think about your future needs. “Older Americans are healthier. They are living longer and want to enjoy their golden years,” Pendleton says. Consider things like climate, being close to family, and accessibility (such as a first-floor primary bedroom or minimal stairs) when moving into a new home.

Credit: www.forbes.com /

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