Downsizing in Retirement: Releasing the Golden Egg from Your Empty Nest

As homeowners approach retirement, many will be mortgage-free and residing in a property that was purchased a few decades previously as the perfect family home. However, as children fly the nest, many couples will identify with the feeling of ‘rattling around an empty home’. Whether you have considered downsizing as a means to access the equity in your home or simply to achieve a more manageable property, we take a look at the benefits of downsizing as well as the financial rewards.

Downsizing: Doing It For The Right Reasons

Before you make the decision to downsize, it is important to consider all the reasons for doing so and not just the money you could free up.

Downsizing a home can mean losing more than just a property and there are other factors that you should consider about a change in location, including:

  • Lifestyle
  • Social circle
  • Local amenities
  • Neighbours
  • Friends and Family

Before you even put your house on the market, you need to do your research for a suitable alternative. Always take the time to do this thoroughly and look at an area through the eyes of a permanent resident and not as a visitor or tourist. Good attractions may be fun to spend time exploring but will also attract lots of other visitors

Consider all the important aspects of day-to-day living such as access to shops, doctors, pharmacies and libraries. Think about local transport and socialising as well as how far you are from friends and family.

downsizing in retirement

Consider all the essential aspects of your lifestyle before downsizing and be prepared to have to compromise on some aspects. Image via PxHere.

Certainly, it is worth remembering that your new locale will need to meet your changing needs in older age and your considerations may be very different from those of your last property search. For these reasons, it is a good idea to use the services of a specialist property search agent or, at very least, have someone else give you their opinion on your plans.

Looking Forward to the Change

Once you have found a suitable new location and have started looking for a new home, it is only natural to consider what you are leaving behind. If you have lived in the same house and location for a long period then adjusting to a new area can be daunting.

Successful downsizing requires a positive outlook and you should consider this next stage as an adventure.

Downsizing: The Golden Egg

In the 1980s the average house price in the UK was around £40,000 but over the last three decades this has risen to £210,000 representing an increase of 425%. The truth is that investing in property will have realised a significant return over the term of your mortgage with the average detached family home in this area being worth a staggering £630,000.

golden egg downsizing retirement

For some people, downsizing is a means to releasing equity tied up in the home. Image via Pixabay.

Of course, in real terms, this sum will need to go towards purchasing a smaller property so what can your money buy you in the same area?

Area Semi-Detached House (Ave.) Terraced House (Ave.)
Bracknell £379,352 £291,906
Reading £378,414 £299,023
Wokingham £399,809 £312,388


And, what about in other parts of the UK? According to the Prudential’s ‘Quality of Retirement Index’, these are the top ten best places to retire in the UK along with indicative house prices:

Area Detached House Semi-Detached Terraced
Dorset £430,275 £280,966 £226,553
Herefordshire £334,940 £216,266 £161,724
West Sussex £548,589 £355,172 £284,902
Devon £376,025 £254,551 £203,940
Isle of Wight £307,497 £212,219 £168,219
East Sussex £446,718 £292,359 £233,000
Rutland £395,748 £244,984 £211,331
Dyfed £224,394 £134,173 £120,085
Norfolk £310,418 £207,160 £172,098
Surrey £798,953 £460,477 £368,885

With the exception of Surrey, your money here in the Wokingham, Bracknell and Reading area would go a long way in any of these areas.

bungalow retirement downsizing

A rural bungalow might seem charming now but consider all those essential thinks like shops, health care and public transport. Image via Geograph.

However, you should factor in all of the costs of moving as doing so can be an expensive business. Downsizing will involve the following:

  • Estate agents selling fees
  • Legal costs for buying and selling
  • Removal costs
  • Stamp duty

The average cost of moving in the UK is £12,000.

Lastly, if you are simply considering downsizing as a way to access money that is tied up in your home then there may be other solutions that do not require you to sell the family home. Discussing your needs with a reputable financial advisor can provide you with several options which you may not have considered.

Don’t forget to read our guide on decluttering before downsizing and selling your furniture at auction.

Based in Wokingham, Property Assistant is a family-run estate agency specialising in managing downsizing for clients looking to start a new adventure in their retirement. We also offer a range of other managed solutions including relocations, property search services and lettings.

To discuss your plans for retirement, contact us today on 0118 912 2370.

Featured image via PxHere.

Things to Consider Before Downsizing

There are many reasons people may consider downsizing their home. From the obvious shrinkage of a family home with children flying the nest to a change in financial circumstances, downsizing can sometimes be viewed by many people as a negative prospect.

We wanted to take a look at some of the things to consider before taking the steps to downsize your home as well as any options you might not have considered.

Why Downsize?

The most common reason for downsizing is after children have left the family home leaving parents with extra space they no longer need and with plenty of equity available to release. Whilst sitting on this equity does no harm, many parents decide to downsize to liquidate this sizeable asset to offer greater opportunities for both themselves and their family. This could be to realise dreams of travelling in retirement, buying expensive one-off items for leisure such as a motor home, boat or car or even to help their children to afford deposits for their own homes.

downsizing in retirement

Downsizing in retirement can release equity to fund big changes in lifestyle. Image via Flickr.

Other families may be forced into downsizing as a result of change in personal circumstances; divorce, a reduction in household income or a change in priorities can all lead to the decision to downsize your home.

Whatever your reasons, the important thing to remember is to focus on the positive aspects of a downsize. A smaller home may mean less room but it also comes with less overheads; a smaller garden will require less maintenance and think of what the extra cash is allowing you to do.

What Are Your Options for Downsizing?

If you are considering downsizing as a way of tackling a disparity in your finances then it is worth talking to a financial adviser before you make the decision to sell your home. Changes in circumstances that may be temporary could be relieved with payment holidays on your mortgage or even a remortgage at lower rates. There is nothing to lose in taking some advice in this respect and it won’t cost you anything to find out your options.

downsizing your home

Downsizing could save you money but make sure you do a budget to find out your options. Image via Senior Living.

Things to Consider Before Downsizing

Whether you are downsizing because you no longer need a large family home or to reduce overheads, choosing your next property can be a daunting prospect. There is plenty to consider:

  • Location – whilst your family home may have been in an area dictated by work, retirees have more options about where they want to live. Now might be the time to consider a home by the sea, a move to the West Country or even a property abroad. If grown up children have relocated to another area then there may be a natural instinct to move closer. Those moving as a result of diminished income may need to factor in commuting to an existing job from a new area. Good transport links and changes to your routine could even make this quicker for you. Using fast rail links instead of driving might be a good option. Considering a new location to set up a home is full of uncertainty and it is important to fully research any new area prior to moving.
  • Size – downsizing doesn’t always mean a change in the space you have. Families downsizing as a result of a diminished income could maintain a similar size property by simply changing the area they live in. A semi-detached home in Wokingham may cost an average of £420,000 whereas a similar house in Theale would cost around £305,000. A relocation to Coventry could see this fall to just £195,000. If you are downsizing because you no longer need the space then it doesn’t mean you have to swap a large home for a ‘shoebox’.
  • None Negotiables – downsizing your home will always result in compromises being made…to some degree. In order to ensure that your next home is suitable for your needs, you should make a list of the things that you absolutely must have from your next property. Prioritise each of these requirements such that you have a list of those things that are none-negotiable and others that would be on a ‘wish-list’. You may not be able to do without a garden, one spare bedroom and being within 20 miles of your old postcode whilst things like a garage, being within walking distance of a supermarket and having period features might be areas where you are willing to make a compromise.

Making the Best Choice for the Long Term

Whilst downsizing may seem the best choice for the immediate future, you should consider whether a move to a smaller home is right for you in the long term. Moving home brings its own expenses, stresses and considerations so, whilst you can do it again, it is best to choose a home that will meet your long-term needs.

Whilst, we are not suggesting a downsize from your five-bedroom family home into a one bedroom retirement apartment, it is worth finding the right home that offers flexibility as your needs change.

The decision to downsize can be a difficult one and finding the right replacement is an essential part of reducing the wrench this can have on families. At Property Assistant, we’ve worked with plenty of families going through the process of downsizing their home and believe we can offer practical solutions to suit your list of demands. For more information about how we can help you with your downsizing needs, contact us today on 0118 912 2370.


7 Top Tips for Decluttering Your Home

Whether you are deciding to sell or downsize your property or just fancy a spring clean, decluttering your home can be a useful way to organise your belongings and regain some all-important space.

In this guide, we give you some practical tips to help make the mammoth task of decluttering your home an easily achievable job.

Save the Ikea trip until after you’ve sorted things out

Once you get the urge to tidy it can be tempting to go out and buy storage to help you deal with it all. Whilst this may be necessary, it can just end up being an act of procrastination that leaves the worst part until last. In our experience, buying storage first simply means having somewhere tidier to store your junk.

When you decide to declutter, begin by sorting your belongings out This way, you only have to buy storage for what you are keeping instead of just moving unwanted items around.

using storage to create space

Only buy storage once you know what you are going to be storing. Image credit Michael Lehet via Flickr.

Clear one room and separate everything into discrete piles

Having a clear space to work in will help you to stay focused; standing in a room full of junk can be a daunting task and can quickly get on top of you. To keep the momentum, it’s important to be organised. We’d recommend keeping things simple and having just three piles to sort into:

  • Things to keep
  • Things to bin
  • Things to recycle/donate to charity

You may well find that you have another few piles depending on what your aims are but these could include:

  • Things to store
  • Things to fix
  • Things to sell

If you stick to the first three categories to start with then you will find a ‘second pass’ easier when you have more time.

declutter your home

Clutter makes your home seem smaller and can put potential buyers off. Image credit Unnar Ymlr Bjornsson via Flickr.

Be ruthless when decluttering your home

It’s easier for us to say this than it is to act upon when faced with a room full of memories. Nobody is suggesting that you bin family treasures whether its an antique heirloom or your daughter’s first shoes. What we are saying is to be honest and, if you haven’t worn something in five years then it’s unlikely you’ll wear it again. Is your loft a dumping ground for broken PC’s and furniture? If you moved a picture frame into a cupboard because you didn’t like it then why are you keeping it? Being sentimental about objects is natural but hanging onto some things when you don’t have the space can be detrimental. Just remember, if you’ve enjoyed something but it no longer fits in your life, donating to charity or using Freecycle is an excellent way of giving it a new lease of life.

Set achievable goals and focus on one area at a time

Don’t set out to completely de-clutter your home in one day; you will end up with all of your rooms being in a mess and, what seems to be, an insurmountable task the following day. Recognise that you have a limited time window, whether that’s a day, a morning or a whole weekend, and choose one space at a time to work on; the garage, the loft, the spare bedroom.

Get a sense of completion

When you’ve finished one room it may be tempting to leave that pile destined for the charity shop until you have attempted another room; maybe you want to save your run to the tip until the car is full. Don’t. When you finish a room, finish the job and clear everything you intend to get rid of. Not only will you get a sense of satisfaction that the job is finished but you also won’t be tempted to ‘rescue’ something from one of your piles.

Clean lines, clean living

If you are decluttering your home in order to sell , then one of your aims will be to present your property in its best light. A declutter helps to enhance the space available and to make it easier to tidy quickly when you have a last-minute viewing. Decluttering your home will also help when you come to moving day and, as importantly, when you unpack in your new home. To get the best out of the job and to really maximise space, keep surfaces clear of clutter. You don’t have to put all your ornaments away but less is more to making the space look bigger and tidier.

tips for decluttering your home

Clearing a room can make it seem much bigger and more welcoming. Image credit Paul Dennis via Flickr.

NOW, you can add the storage

Once you know what you are keeping you will have a better idea about what kind and amount of storage you need. Unless you are storing decorative or functional items like books then choose a storage solution that hides away the clutter; cupboards, drawers or fabric coverings will all help conceal assorted odds and ends.

If you are decluttering your home for a downsize or to maximise the impact of your home ready for sale, then we’d love to be part of your property hunt. Property Assistant are specialist agents in the Thames Valley offering a unique service for home buyers and sellers. Call us today on 0118 912 2370 to find out just what makes us so different.

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Downsizing? 12 Top tips when selling furniture at auction

Thinking of downsizing and need to declutter?

When you make the decision to downsize a lot of people are tempted to store their furniture in the belief that either the downsize will be temporary or that family members may well want those sofas, beds and tables in the future. However, with the average cost of storing one room full of your possessions costing in excess of £1500 each year, you may decide to liquidate your assets and realise their cash potential instead.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to do this is by auction house.

Though you are not always guaranteed the best price this way, if you are looking to sell furniture in bulk and want to do so with the least amount of hassle, then local auctions are definitely a good choice.

downsizing storage furniture

Need to get rid of some furniture before downsizing? Storage can be expensive. Image credit Darren Moloney via Flickr.

Decide what may be best sold via a specialist auction or buyer

Whilst not all of us may be fortunate enough to have a Renoir in our personal collection you may well be looking to sell an item which would realise more if it were sold in a specialist sale. Antique furniture or unusual items may not reach the best price if you were to put them in a general sale.

Clear, clean and cleanse

Before you invite an auctioneer to view your sale goods, it’s a good idea to clear and clean the furniture you are looking to offload. If there are any repairs due then now is the best time to do it so you can maximise your profits on sale day; however, there is no need to have that coffee table French polished if you are going for a general sale. Be reasonable with how much time, effort and money you spend doing this but just consider how appealing your items are in their current state.

“Dibs”… Offering first refusal to family and friends

Before you commit anything to an auction house it’s always a good idea to ask family (and friends) if they would like anything. Make it clear if you would like money in return before they know what’s on offer.  You just might find that one of the items you intend selling has been coveted by a family friend for years. Though you might get more at auction (or not), the idea that a treasured piece might go to a familiar face is a nice idea for some.

A word of caution. If you are unsure of the value of an item ,then do a little research beforehand; if you are downsizing for financial reasons then you will want to maximise your returns.

Contact a local auction house

There are several auction houses in the Thames Valley area and most will be only too happy to send a representative to your home to view the pieces you want to sell. Some only deal in fine furniture and antiques whilst others run regular general sales. Make sure you check before arranging an appointment to save wasting their (and your) time. Most auction houses prefer it if you have a list already written down with some particulars as well as digital photographs. This can help with a valuation and save time.

Find out the commission rates charged by the auction houses

Auction houses make their money by charging a commission on the sale price of the goods that sell; usually this is charged to both the buyers and the sellers and can be anywhere from 10-20%. Many auction houses will also charge a fee per lot for their cataloguing; this is usually around £5. Check whether the fees include or exclude VAT so there are no surprises on your final bill.

To save cataloguing fees, consider mixed lots

As each lot usually has a cataloguing fee, if you are selling a lot of items then you may want to consider putting similar items into a mixed lot.

Find out how much transport fees are

Auction houses are well used to transporting sale items to and from their premises and usually offer a good price to get your furniture to the sale room. However, make sure that the price is agreed up front and that you have a plan in place for the retrieval of any unsold items after the sale day.

Set reserves at a sensible level for items of a particular value

The auction house will provide you with an estimate for the value of the goods you wish to sell but the nature of auctions is that the guide price could well not be reached just as easily as you could achieve double the estimate. Whilst this can be the most exciting part of an auction, it doesn’t feel too good to be on the wrong side when a treasured dining set is sold for a pittance. Select those pieces that you would hate to see go for less than the lower end of their estimate and set a reserve with the auction house. Bear in mind that the auctioneer can ignore the reserve at his discretion and there is usually a fee when setting a reserve.

downsizing selling furniture auction

Deciding to sell your furniture via an auction house can make downsizing simpler. Image credit Elvert Barnes via Flickr.

Electrical items

If you are selling anything electrical such as lamps, stereo equipment etc. then you should be aware that most auction houses will charge a standard fee to have the item tested. This is usually around £5 per item.

Dig out the paperwork

If you are selling any item for which you have any provenance, then it is a good idea to dig this out. Items with receipts, warranties or historical provenance can fetch more than if catalogued without.

Check you are insured

Once your items are collected they will generally no longer be covered by your own home contents insurance so make sure that your furniture is covered in transit and whilst on the premises at the auction house. Things like fire and theft would be rare indeed but accidental damage during removal or on viewing days can (and does) happen.

auction house downsizing insurance

Make sure your property is insured once it’s left your premises. Image credit Sunset Removals via Flickr.

Enjoy the show

If it isn’t going to be painful to watch then make sure you go along on the day to watch the auction. If you’ve never been to one before then it can be an electric experience; just don’t get carried away and come home with more things than you’ve gotten rid of…you are downsizing, remember.

When you’ve made the decision to downsize your home, whether you are looking for an agent with integrity to sell your home or one with excellent local knowledge to help you find your next property you can trust Property Assistant to be with you at every step of the way. Contact us on 0118 912 2370 to see how we can make downsizing as easy as possible.