Seniors & Aging: Downsizing tips and maximizing the value of your home

As the population ages, there has been an enormous trend in downsizing to smaller homes, condos or retirement residences. This winter has been particularly tough and as a result, we are seeing many people deciding that enough is enough. 

It’s not always easy to move out of the family home where so many memories were created. It’s only human nature to want to stay as long as possible.

However, being in the senior transition world, the most popular phrase I regularly hear is “I should have done this a couple of years ago”. Many factors such as mobility challenges; cognitive concerns; loneliness; safety; security; caregiver stress or simply the burden of home ownership can come into play.

For those considering making this transition, here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Downsizing Tips 

Start Early: It is never too soon to start getting rid of the unnecessary. We should go through our closets and cupboards twice a year to eradicate accumulation.

One Room at a Time: Start with the basement or guest room. Proceeding one room at a time will prevent chaos.

The 6 Month rule: What you haven’t used in 6 months is probably not a necessity. Think about extra bedding, cutlery and dishes.

Quality over quantity: Establish the amount of space in your new living quarters and stick to the quality items that mean the most. If you’re not sure what to keep, ask for an objective opinion from someone close to you.

Where Can It All Go? Sell what can be sold. Give heirlooms to family and friends and donate to charities. The last step is to simply throw it out.

Maximizing the Value of Your Home

Clean: A clean house translates into dollars. Buyers touch everything!

Neutralize: Neutral colours are very appealing to buyers. Depersonalising your home allows buyers to visualise their belongings in your house. Turn your home back into a house. Less is more.

Repair (Don’t Renovate): There is no need to renovate your house to sell it.  However good maintenance is crucial. A leaking roof is problematic and needs to be repaired. A foundation crack needs to be addressed. This is to prevent deterioration and a lower selling price. Yet, a new kitchen will not guarantee a higher selling price.

Curb Appeal: Mow the lawn, clean the front porch, front door, windows.  Nobody enjoys walking through spider webs before entering a house.

The 5 Senses: Appeal to the 5 senses of potential buyers:

Smell: Open the windows a few minutes prior to a showing. Let the fresh air in!

Sight: Open the blinds and curtains, wash the windows, turn on the lights.  We all love a bright home.

Touch: Clean all surfaces. Pay extra attention to counter tops, faucets, door handles, light switches.

Hearing: You may want to play soft music during the showing. Regrettably, the hockey game on TV is not recommended.

Taste: Finally, your broker may bring some drinks and bites for potential buyers on Open Houses. This adds to the ‘’Welcome to your New Home’’ experience.

Downsizing can be a challenging and emotional time. Yes, it can be daunting at times but try to embrace the process as you venture into this new life transition. Speak to friends and loved ones that have already done it. You would be amazed at how many people have a smile on their face when they talk about their new “home”.

Matt Del Vecchio is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA). He is the founder and president of Lianas, a company specializing in FREE retirement residence search and senior transition support. He is also the host of "Life Unrehearsed" which can be heard every Sunday on CJAD800 at 4pm.

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