Once upon a time, a big home with a large yard and lots of floor space was a symbol of success. Today many people are finding that ‘living it large’ doesn’t have anything to do with square footage. Empty-nesters, those looking to simplify their lives (and possibly their finances), and people looking to create an experiences not ‘stuff’ based existence all feel the draw of downsizing to a condo.
Knowing When It’s Time to Size Down
As Jamie Sarner says after years of expertise:
Downsizing is something that most people spend a lot of time thinking about before they actually take the leap.
Reminders of the time or cost seasonally, for snow shovelling, lawn care, or general upkeep of a home can be a huge factor for many people in making the decision to downsize.
Other people face financial changes including retiring, taking on a job that brings in less money, paying for post-secondary education or wanting to use the money from the sale of their home towards helping their child put a down payment on a home of their own. Whatever the reason most clients usually ponder the thought of downsizing for quite some time before they actually move forward.
Taking a pause to really think through this decision is a really important part of the process. Often this monumental move can take an emotional toll, as downsizing is a big adjustment especially when people face leaving the place where they have raised their family.
Connecting with an Agent
Generally by the time someone reaches out to a real estate agent to downsize to a condo, they’ve already made a decision and are looking to do their homework as to what their options are along with the next steps in the process. As Jamie says:
As agents, we make sure to get a clear picture of what the person is trying to achieve, and what’s on their must-have list in terms of budget, location, size, and whether it’s the want for an easier lifestyle or something that would fall into the category of a smaller home.
Getting Ready to Sell
Most people who have decided to trim down their living quarters are already in the headspace to begin to clear out the clutter. By donating, recycling, and getting rid of items that haven’t been used in ages, people are able to both prepare for moving into a smaller space, and improve the overall aesthetics of their home to entice buyers.
The longer someone has lived in their home, the more stuff they’ve accumulated. This also means a longer lead time is needed before putting a house up for sale or attempting a move. It can be quite a lengthy process to purge old items, however most people who are looking to make this move are ready to let these items go and begin the steps towards their move, with the process making them better able to handle the stresses of their move. There are many online resources and most have printable checklists to help keep you on track and motivated each day from smaller lists to bigger ones.
As for furnishing your new space, a lot of people find this a fun way to indulge in a new décor, whereas others who are on a strict budget or want to keep some pieces of their old home will really hone in on ensuring that their favourite pieces will fit into their new home.
Downsizing to Move On Up
While there may be a lot of hesitation during the thinking through the process, most clients are really happy with their move to a condo, and even regret not making the change sooner,
says Jamie. For some, there is an unwarranted fear of not having a lot of space. Many condos have party rooms, gyms, a concierge, better walkability, and other important add-ons that increase the enjoyment people get out of their space. Others who are less sure of a condo move may find it helpful to sell their home first and rent a condo in their prospective neighbourhood before committing to a purchase.
Many enjoy the fact that their only real financial obligation for the condo is maintenance fees and taxes. One thing to consider during a move to a condo is that you become a part of a community. This means that you personally don’t have control over when the condo board decides to make an expenditure. Another factor is rules and regulations that don’t exist within a house do in a condo, and while this sense of community can be a real pro for some people, others find it restrictive.
Timing is Everything
Finances will often dictate the timing of the sale of a home and the purchase of another. Jamie says:
People with larger, more expensive homes (over four to five million dollars), or with their purchasing power tied into the sale of their house, will opt to sell before making a purchase. Others who have more of a financial safety net available like to know where they’re going to be moving, and have something known to look forward to when their house hits the market.
Exploring Your Options
Researching new neighbourhoods can be a lot of fun. Talk to friends and acquaintances who have made the move themselves, to find out what areas they liked. Some people find it helpful to spend a weekend at a friend’s home, a hotel, or other space near their possible neighbourhood to get a better feel for it. One of the big changes that people note in terms of condo living compared to the house is the convenience factor: condos are often located more centrally, with more conveniences in the surrounding area including shopping, restaurants, and more, which can be a big draw.
So if you’re sitting on that picket fence, maybe it’s time to hop off, contact a realtor and look into your options. There may be a spectacular view in your future.