A big house can seem appealing, but it’s possible your home is too big. If you have several spare bedrooms or spaces you never use, you may be inclined to fill that space with stuff. However, this can leave you feeling frazzled and out of control of your space.
Moving to a smaller house can reduce clutter and improve organization, not to mention save you money in the long run. If your house is bigger than you need it to be, you’re probably paying more than you need to in mortgage, insurance, taxes, and energy bills. However, downsizing, like any property-related decision, can come with some pitfalls. Here are a few common mistakes you should avoid when finding the right size home for you.
Ignoring Your Actual Needs
Knowing that your current house is wrong isn’t the same as knowing what house will be right for your needs. It’s very easy for downsizing homeowners to get caught up in trying to find the lowest price and neglect the things they actually require. A great price point won’t matter if you wind up needing to move immediately because the house wasn’t the right fit for your family.
So, take a serious look at what kind of space is right for you. Do you have children who all need their own rooms, or would sharing be an option? Do you need an in-home office or playroom? Could you make these kinds of spaces multi-functional depending on when they’re needed, or do they need to be dedicated single-use rooms?
Be honest with yourself about what you need out of a space and what kind of compromises you’re willing to make; otherwise, you could end up regretting the choice you make.
Under-Valuing Your Current Space
If you’ve paid off (or mostly paid off) your current home, you’re in a great spot to find a new house. However, don’t make the mistake of underestimating your home’s value just because you’re not still paying it off. Your home was purchased as a living space and an investment. Now that you’re no longer planning to live there, it’s time to get a return on that investment.
Take a good look at what similar houses in your area sell for and consider getting a home appraisal to get a firm sense of what the house is worth. You might be surprised to find what kind of list price you can reasonably ask for.
Over-Valuing Your Current Stuff
Downsizing isn’t just about reducing your home’s square footage — it’s also about reducing how much stuff fills up that space. If you have three couches split between your living room, game room, and fully finished basement, and you’re moving to a house that just has a living room, you’re going to need to get rid of at least one couch — probably two.
Go through your clothes, furniture, and décor with a minimalist attitude. Organize items into “need” and “want” categories, and then move forward from there. You don’t have to get rid of everything that isn’t a need, but be honest with yourself. Get rid of anything you’re holding onto just because you already have it.
Making Market Assumptions
When it comes to picking a new house, don’t let assumptions about the housing market guide your decisions. Do proper research into what kinds of homes sell and at what price points.
Don’t just focus on the list price, as negotiations can make this deceiving. In Long Beach, for example, houses typically sell for around 0.7 percent less than the listed sale price. In other places, most house listings are ultimately negotiated to be less expensive at final sale. Researching the market will prepare you for either possibility.
Downsizing is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s important to consider the idea fully before you commit to anything. If you do decide to downsize, however, avoiding these mistakes will make the transition much smoother for all involved.
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