How to Decide What to Do with Your Current Home When You’re Downsizing in Retirement

Downsizing is a choice many people decide to make during their retirement years. Maintaining a large home is time-consuming, exhausting, and often very expensive. However, before you downsize, you must first choose what to do with your current property.

Start with Research

The best way to decide the future of your home is to do a little digging into your local housing market, including price trends. You may find that the average home value in your area is significantly less than you want from a sale. However, the market could turn for the better and leave you out of pocket if you were to sell beforehand. So, to have peace of mind, check out the housing market’s health by seeing how much is being spent on construction, particularly residential, and how many homes are selling monthly.

Selling

You may have decided that your preferred course of action is to sell and use the proceeds toward a new home or a senior living option. If so, your next step is to hire an experienced real estate agent, preferably one familiar with your area. They will be able to help you get the best price possible, so you can avoid being saddled with a new mortgage; after all, a mortgage can drain your retirement income, especially dangerous if it’s fixed. Even worse, getting one can be more difficult, as you won’t have a traditional proof of income that lenders require. Given that, it’s important to get the most from your current property to steer clear of debt later on.

Renting

If you intend to sell or want to wait on committing, then consider renting out your property. By doing so, you can earn some extra income, but you’ll have to be prepared. In particular, you’ll require landlord insurance, a savings account for repairs and maintenance, as well as enough money to do background checks on tenants. Then again, you could hire a property manager to handle all this for you, but that costs a fee as well. Once you have that sorted, you can then decide how much rent you’ll charge. To do so, take the time of year and competition into account, as they could have an influence on your decision. Namely, if it’s the middle of winter or there are many rentals available in your area, it may be harder to let at a higher rate.

How to Prep for Tenants

After dealing with the basics, you’ll have to make the property ready for renting. At the least, that means anything that is broken, from the door handles to appliances, must be fixed or replaced. Afterward, you’ll need to get the house cleaned and smelling nice to avoid putting off tenants. You can find an affordable household cleaner at Target for under $5. If it seems similar to getting your home ready to sell, it is. Just like selling your home, the goal is to make your property attractive enough to create interest.

Giving to Family

Perhaps you want to give your home to your family, but you worry about the taxation. Thankfully, if you add your family to the deed and your property is valued at under $11.4 million, you and your relatives can both avoid paying a gift tax. Yes, you’ll still have to file the gift tax form — if it’s worth over $15,000 — but there will be nothing to pay. Unfortunately, that changes if your family decides to sell the property immediately. If that were to happen, then they would have to pay a steep capital gains tax on any profit made on the increased equity of the home.

Preparing to Move

Regardless of your decision, you’ll need to have a game plan for moving day. To say that moving is stressful would be an understatement, but with the right preparations, you can make the big day go more smoothly. Enlist the services of a moving company to transport your belongings for you. Though the average cost of moving services is $1,082, you can expect to pay an additional cost to have the company pack your things. Decide what’s most important to you when it comes to moving day, and take your budget into account.

There is a lot to consider before you downsize. Judge the market and determine if it’s wise to sell now. You want your experience to be a good one, not one you’ll regret later on.

After growing up surfing in Florida, Mike Shimkonis decided to give higher ground a try and settled in Colorado over 25 years ago, first in Vail, then moving to Telluride in 1993. Prior to working with Telluride Properties, he was a senior sales and marketing executive for the Vail and Telluride ski companies.