I live in a two-story home and my kids are gone. I have more space that I can use and am the owner of many items belonging to my children. There are stairs to the basement and to the second floor. The grass seems to keep growing and demands my presence behind the lawn mower. My wife and I have something in common with the home we have loved…we are both getting older and so is the home we love! Friends have been asking us when we will be downsizing and moving to another location. Our children and their kids love to come over and play with reckless abandon. This is the only home our grandchildren have ever known when visiting. Memories are everywhere as displayed by so many pictures on our wall. Does this sound familiar?
Our parents always told us that as we age time moves faster. That has been theorized by Einstein’s relativity of time. Most of you have had thoughts at one time or another about downsizing and moving from the home you have loved to a one level condo, apartment or senior community. Some of my boomer clients have even purchased a one level ranch single family home on a small lot. When feeling the winter cold and some arthritis, we all think about moving to a warm weather state with low taxes and blue skies. So many thoughts about finding a new location and smaller home pass between our ears and none of them are focused or concrete.
Procrastination is the norm for most of us mortals. Putting off change is natural to most of us. We fear moving from what we know to what we are not sure of. Would we like our new surroundings if we did move? What if we make a mistake and want to move back home? Will we fit in with our neighbors? Are we moving away from our loved ones? Will this move be affordable, or will it curtail the lifestyle we currently enjoy? These are just some of the questions we have when daydreaming about changing our address.
We all have a financial plan, a health plan of insurance but how many of us have a housing plan? Most of us wing it. We play it by ear. We wait for a sign that will let us know that it is time to move. So often that sign may come in the way of a health or financial setback. Moving at times of distress is the worst possible experience you can go through. It is already incredibly challenging to move from your long-time home let alone moving under dire circumstances or after the loss of a life partner.
My best advice is to do some reflection. Start with what is most important to your happiness and well-being. Do you just hate the winters and have dreamed of waking up to 80 degrees in January? Do you want to be closer to your children and grandchildren? Are you tired of walking up and down the stairs? Is the yard too big to maintain? What can you truly afford based on actual information as to your net worth?
Many of us are putting off a move thinking the real estate market is strong and will provide us with greater security in the future. The fact is that we have just experienced one of the longest housing recoveries with prices rising over the last 9 years. I believe that signs are pointing to a significant slowdown. We have seen a huge decrease in activity this month with four average price drops per each home for sale, across the country. That is four price changes in the negative. Time of year is one reason, but this slowdown is exceptional. The combination of higher interest rates and buyer uncertainty have contributed to this slowdown. The signs may be here so if you are timing the market the coming early spring may be the time to make the change.
Now that you have done some soul searching, the next step is to gather facts. Facts never lie. Investigate the cost of housing where you think you may want to go. Meet with a financial advisor to see what you can really afford per month as a housing payment. Talk to your family and trusted advisors. They may know you better than you think and can share their views and offer positive advice as to your current and future lifestyle demands. Remember to think at least five years ahead. Where do you think you will be financially as well as your physical demands? Have a Senior Real Estate Specialist stop out to help you prepare your home for a future sale. Take care of defects such as basement, roof, electrical and plumber. If paint and flooring are needed, do it now and enjoy the upgrades before selling. Know the value of your home so you can factually understand what you can afford to maintain your lifestyle after selling your home and moving to a new location.
The key to a successful life is knowing thyself. Take some time to really think about what makes you happy what changes can offer a continued positive lifestyle. If you have a partner, discuss your true feelings and what may be holding you back. So often we don’t listen with an open mind. We can color our emotions with fear rather than fact. That is normal. Change is tough but staying in a situation that does not match who you are today can be even more challenging. Being proactive as opposed to reactive can lead to many years of happiness and prosperity in so many ways. This is your life; take it seriously with full attention and the future can be as bright as you decide to make it!