If you’re considering moving into a smaller home, you may be eager to save money on mortgage payments and utilities. You might also be looking forward to spending less time and effort on interior and exterior home maintenance.

But before you begin packing up your belongings, here are a few things you might want to consider to help you choose the best one for the lifestyle you want.

1. Will this be your forever home?

Just because you’re downsizing, that does not mean you will only be considering a one-floor home. You could be looking at smaller homes with second floors, or lots of stairs.

You may still be in great health and shape, but as you age, steps often become the enemy, as climbing and descending a staircase causes pain in the back and legs. With that in mind, be realistic about the type of floor plan that best suits your future needs.

If you’re thinking this move will be your last and you’ll enjoy your retirement in this smaller space, you may want to look for a ranch, condo, or apartment that offers one-level living.

2. How much room will you need?

If you have children, even if they are in or out of college, that doesn’t mean they won’t be back to live with you at some point. Multi-generational living is on the rise. According to the Office of National Statistics, 32 percent of those in the 18 to 34 age range lived with their parents in 2017, compared with 25 percent in 1997. For men, that statistic is even higher at 37 percent. Though you may think your adult children have left the nest, they may boomerang their way back to you.

If you move to a popular destination, will you have frequent visitors? If so, do you want to open your home to them for a brief or extended stay?

These are just a couple of specific scenarios to get you thinking about the square footage you may need. If having room to accommodate adult children, grandkids, relatives, or friends is important to you, you may not want to scale back too substantially.

Of course, if you’re hoping to keep your home all to yourself, a significant downsizing should do the trick!

3. What are your storage options?

Keep in mind, if you’re downsizing, you will likely have to part with some belongings, so take an honest assessment of what you have and what of it you want to keep and bring with you.

Do you have heirloom furniture you’re not ready to part with, or large sporting equipment like jet skis or kayaks? If so, you’ll want to be sure that your next home offers a place for you to store these treasures. If it doesn’t, look into nearby storage facilities so you don’t have part with your prized possessions.

4. Will your pets be welcome?

Even if your goal is to go smaller, you’ll still want enough space to ensure your pets feel comfortable and safe.

If you have a cat or dog (or any other type of pet), you probably think of them as a four-legged family member. As you’re considering smaller spaces such as condos or apartments, make sure they’re pet-friendly. And, if your pet needs time in the great outdoors, make sure it’s allowed and that there is ample and desirable space to bring them outside.

5. Is there a sense of community?

Moving can be stressful — especially if you’re leaving behind friends, family, and neighbors you’ve known for years. Before putting down roots in a new locale, think about what your day-to-day life will be like without this close circle.

If you’re accustomed to an active social life, you’ll want to be sure your new enclave is brimming with opportunities to make new friends. Likewise, if you enjoy hobbies you’d prefer not to live without, do your due diligence so you can still enjoy the activities that bring you fulfillment.

6. What are your transportation options?

If part of your downsizing plan includes hanging up your car keys, you’ll want to explore your transportation options. From ride-sharing and community shuttles, to mass transit and air travel, know how easy or challenging it is to get around your potential new area before you move.

Taking the time to truly think about your preferences and what will make you most comfortable going forward can save you from the heartaches and headaches of having to move again.

Once you’ve made a list of must-haves, share them with your real estate agent so you’ll look at only those spaces that meet your criteria. This way your only regret will be that you didn’t downsize sooner.

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When you put your home on the market, you want it to attract buyers and sell quickly and for as much as possible. And, depending on the condition of your home, that might mean making some improvements before you list.

But home improvement projects don’t have to break the bank! A recent article from Bigger Projects outlined home improvement projects that can help you make a big impact on a small budget, including:

  • Paint the walls. In terms of impact, you won’t get more bang for your buck than painting. Fresh paint can completely transform the look and feel of your home, making it more inviting for potential buyers.
  • Upgrade your hardware. Replacing cabinet knobs and drawer pulls can breathe new life into a kitchen, making it look more modern, sophisticated, or classic (depending on the hardware you choose).
  • Fix your bathroom caulk. Bathroom caulk can get yellow and moldy over time. Removing stained caulk, cleaning with bleach and water, and adding new caulk will give your bathroom an overall cleaner look.

The Takeaway:

Bottom line? You don’t have to blow your budget in order to make noticeable improvements to your home—and those improvements can translate to major value when you put your home on the market.

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The temperatures may be dropping outside—but for house hunters, things are just about to start heating up.

recent analysis from realtor.com found that while most people believe spring to be the hottest season for homebuyers, house hunters are starting their search earlier in the year—and January has become one of the most active times of the year for potential buyers on the market for a new home.

20 out of the 100 largest metros in the US saw their highest number of listing views online in January 2019 (based on average monthly views per listing on realtor.com 2015 to 2019)—compared to just three in 2018. And according to the realtor.com team, this trend is poised to continue in January 2020.

“As shoppers modify their strategies for navigating a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier,” said realtor.com® Senior Economist George Ratiu in the analysis’ press release. “With housing inventory across the U.S. expected to reach record lows in 2020, we expect to see this trend continue into the new year.”

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about buying a home in 2020, don’t wait until spring to start your search—because as it turns out, January is the perfect season for house hunting! And, if you’re thinking about selling, it’s not a bad idea to get your house on the market before the actual Spring market.

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True or false…


When you’re selling a house, you should bake cookies before a showing or an open house.


I guess you could say the answer is a hard and fast “true” because, after all, it can’t hurt. Who doesn’t like the smell of freshly baked cookies?


But it’s also kind of false…


It isn’t like you can Betty Crocker your way to a sale, let alone at the highest price possible. Your entire house still needs to be appealing. A batch of cookies isn’t going to hide bad odors enough or divert people’s attention from a messy house that needs repairs.

If only it were that simple…

Picture (and smell) this — a buyer shows up to a house and the homeowner has:

  • Two dogs laying on the sofa (wet from being in the rain).
  • Five cats roaming around. They share one unclean litter box and use every piece of furniture as scratching posts.
  • A well-used ashtray in each room.
  • A teenage son who has a pile of gym clothes under his bed.
  • A freshly-baked batch of cookies on the table with a sign that says “Enjoy a warm cookie while enjoying our house!”

Think the buyer’s gonna want to grab a cookie, let alone buy the house?

Nope!

There’s more of a chance their son will figure out how to do his own laundry.

You’d think that’s far-fetched, but we real estate agents and our buyers actually walk into houses not too far from this reality.

The one smell that DOES sell…

Cookies won’t cut it. Nor will a cookie-scented candle. (Or any other candle scent for that matter.)

Pro tip: Some candles can actually turn a buyer off. Even if someone likes the smell of a particular candle, it may trigger curiosity about what the owner is trying to hide.

However, there is one smell that will help your house sell…


It’s called “CLEAN.”

But you can’t get it in a store, online, or from a late night TV infomercial. You can get the products that’ll get your house smelling clean from any of those places…

but there’s no substitute for a good, thorough cleaning to create an aroma that will appeal to any and all buyers.


Whether you do it on your own, or hire a professional cleaning service, giving your house a good deep cleaning before (and while) your house is on the market is one of the most important things you can do.


That doesn’t mean it should smell like ammonia or “Spring Breeze” cleaning solution. It should smell like NOTHING, actually.

Or at as close to it as possible.


Obviously there’s more to it than that


A clean (and clean smelling) house is a good start, but there’s more to think about when preparing your house for sale.


Lots of homeowners do very little to prepare their house for sale, yet they expect their house sell quickly and for top dollar.


On the other hand, some homeowners go bonkers and do way more than they have to, or even should, to prepare their house for sale. These folks end up spending more time or money than they’ll receive in return.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

There’s a fine line between not preparing your house enough… and preparing your house too much. Always seek a trusted real estate professional’s advice on preparing your house just the right amount.

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When you renovate your home, you want to get the most bang for your buck. Not only do you want to make your home a better place for you and your family to live, but you also want your renovations to add to your home’s resale value.


photo credit: Interior Designing Home


But what, exactly, are the features that will help your home sell faster?


photo credit: Muramur


According to recent data from Realtor.com (which analyzed more than 1 million single-family listings), the top three renovations that will help you sell your home quickly and at a prime price point? A chef’s or gourmet kitchen, a theater room, and a home gym. These renovation projects were named the “most profitable home features for sellers banking on quick sales.”


photo credit: The Connector House


Those three features were deemed the most profitable. But they weren’t the only renovations that helped homes fly off the market. Also included on the list of features that will help your home sell faster include a three-car garage (#4), solar panels (#5), a home office (#9), and an in-ground pool (#10).


photo credit: The Creative Exchange



    The Takeaway



    If you’re thinking about renovating and adding features to your home, you’re going to want to think about your return on investment and choose a renovation that’s going to help your home sell quickly and profitably.

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Will Hickey - Team Manager/ Realtor/ Broker
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