Downsizing your home

Large country house with a front garden

At first glance, moving to a smaller property might not make that much sense. You might have spent years trying to move up the property ladder, so why would you want to start to climb down it?

Why do people downsize their home?

A larger home is usually there to cater for a larger family. Once the children have grown up and moved out, staying in your existing home might not make financial sense. As well as the vacated rooms not being used, bigger homes are more expensive to insure and then there are maintenance costs to think about.

Moving to a smaller property can deliver a welcome cash injection in time for retirement. This might enable someone to financially assist a family member in their property hunt and also prove to be a cheaper way of life in the process. While it can seem like a win-win situation for all involved there are a number of factors you should take into account when considering the move.

What do I need to consider when downsizing?

Once you’ve weighed up the reasons why you want to downsize, you need to start thinking about the financial implications this will bring. These include:

  1. Space

    Moving to a smaller property means you have less space for your belongings. One option would be to sell or give away items you won’t use to avoid paying for storage and transportation fees. Parting with possessions, as well as moving itself, can be an emotional experience but the cash raised from it could potentially fund holidays or pay for other aspects of your move.

  2. Competition and costs

    Despite your good intentions, downscaling can pit you against first-timers buyers looking for similar-sized properties. As there are more people seeking their first home than those downsizing, this could delay your search for a new residence.

    There are also extra costs involved with buying a house to consider. While changes to stamp duty might work in your favour, there are other legal, transactional and surveyor fees to think about. It’s worth taking stock of these add-ons and budgeting for them well in advance.

  3. Long-term care

    If you’ve sold your house to move to a smaller property or different location, you should think about the costs of taking care of yourself as you grow older. Your pension will help but consider setting aside some money generated from your move, in case your circumstances suddenly change. It’s also worth thinking about practical aspects of your move: would a bungalow make more sense if you struggle with stairs? Are there suitable transport connections around you? Will you be near enough to hospitals and family members?

  4. Renting

    Downsizing doesn’t always have to mean actually selling your home. It could make financial sense to rent out your current property and move into a smaller place if you want to earn a little extra income. You may want to eventually pass down the property to a family member so this option could tick all boxes if that’s your aim.

  5. Tax

    If the value of your home has increased over the years, you may want to hold off on the celebrations. Ideas such as the ‘mansion tax’, have you yet to come to fruition. But, it’s definitely worth thinking about how much tax you might have to pay if you sell your home, and keeping track of changes to tax policy.

  6. Part-exchange

    If selling your house is proving to be difficult, you could explore the part-exchange route. It’s one way to get your hands on a new build home while side-stepping estate agent fees. It’s a good idea to contact property developers to see what you could get in exchange for your property.

  7. See a financial advisor

    Finally, if you’ve been at your current property for a while then the chances are that you might not have needed to discuss your finances for some time. Make sure you leave no stone unturned as moving house can be a stressful process, especially as you get older. Get independent financial advice to find out what your options are.

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