Some thing that many retirees consider is downsizing from their current home, which they likely have a lot of equity in, to a smaller, less expensive, home, town home or condominium. But is this a good idea? Is it wise to downsize?
Many people consider selling their large family homes, which they have a lot of equity in as part of their retirement plans. When you are ready to downsize it’s important to think about where you will be moving to and which type of home to want to buy for retirement. Many retirees choose to move into condos. As a retired person living in a condo has many advantages that allow them to be worry-free such as no lawn care, snow removal, the availability of a fitness center and pool in some cases and also having the ability to travel at a moments notice since you have less responsibilities centered around your home.
After a decade of record breaking house prices in the greater Toronto area this is an appealing direction that many are moving towards there are endless possibilities. You could even choose to have a cabin near a lake or ocean in a more rural location, no more commute, less maintenance and beautiful quiet surroundings.
One problem with downsizing however is that it may it always work out the way that you would think that it would. In many cases home owners walk away with less money that they had anticipated. For example if you are downsizing from a $400K home to a $300K home there will be little left after real estate and legal fees.
This doesn’t mean that downsizing can’t work for you, if you do it right you can walk away with a nice nest egg that will allow you to do the things that you dreamed of such as traveling.
Be Honest About It
Why are you planning to sell your large family home? Financial reasons? Practical reasons? Have your kids moved away? Is your house just too big? Do you want to move closer to your grandchildren? Do you enjoy travel and it is unnecessary? – these are all good reasons to consider downsizing.
Assess Your Needs
How will you live your daily life? Should you consider a bungalow? Is the convienience of a condo appealing to your needs? Take a look at the activities that you currently participate in and those that you wish to participate in and go from there. Taking a look at what you need will help you determine what you do.
Location, location, location
Decide where it is that you actually want to live. What would you like your retirement to look like? Do you want to be in a rural or urban area? Do you want to be closer to your family? Do you want to downsize to a smaller home or condominium?
Smaller does not always equal cheaper
Depending on where you are moving to you may find that monthly expenses are higher than you currently pay. These trade offs can be difficult to quantify, for example if you are moving into an urban condo with many amenities you might find the condo fees can be very high.
Price it Out
If you are considering downsizing make sure that you have realistic expectations. The truth is that most people will walk away with less than they anticipated.
For example: Let’s say you are moving from a $600,000 home to a $400,000 condo. You would think you’d be left with a whopping $200,000 for your retirement. Then you factor in real estate commissions of $30,000, $2,500 in legal fees, $3,000 in land transfer tax, moving fees of $2,500 and outstanding property taxes of roughly $1,500.
Now subtract any outstanding mortgage you have on your property and factor in any new furniture you may need for your now smaller environment. You may find that your downsizing has left you with a modest $50,000-$80,000.
To get a better understanding of what you can expect real estate agents can be very helpful.
Make a Plan
Financial advisers are excellent people to consult when you are putting together a plan for downsizing your home. They will help you draw up a financial plan that will outline many potential scenarios that can help you meet your retirement goals.