You’ve lived in a big home for many years and raised your amazing kids in a nice neighborhood with great schools. But now that they’ve moved out and started their own lives, perhaps it’s time for a change. Do you really need all those extra bedrooms? The large game room? A living room and a den? It might be time to consider moving to a smaller home.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up all your space. There are plenty of smaller homes with a guest room and a yard for the grandchildren to play in. You can still have a lovely home without all the stuff that’s not being used in your current home and save a little money in anticipation of your retirement. 

A smaller home will save you money and stress in several ways:

  1. Utilities — Smaller homes are cheaper to heat and cool. It’s easier to prevent drafts when there are fewer windows and doors, too. 
  2. HOA fees — If you live in a neighborhood that requires you to make payments to an HOA, consider moving to an area without one. You won’t have to shell out money to an organization that may not be much help to you.  
  3. Property taxes — The smaller your home, the lower your taxes, depending on the area. Put that extra savings into your travel-the-world fund and hit the road.  
  4. Homeowner’s insurance — If your insurance company has to pay out less if your home is damaged, you’ll pay lower premiums.  
  5. Maintenance — With fewer items to break, comes fewer things to maintain. That means less money shelled out, as well as less of your time.  
  6. Less need of things — If you have a smaller house, you’re less likely to buy things to put in it. You don’t need an extra couch if you don’t have an extra den.  
  7. Less debt — If you have enough equity in your home, you might be able to sell it and buy a smaller house outright. If not, you’ll likely still reduce your monthly payments, making it easier to pay off. When you’re retired, owning your home outright will save you a lot of stress. 
  8. Mental freedom — Having a smaller home with less stuff in it will help you relax. Not being bogged down by stuff is its own reward.  
  9. Easier to clean — Smaller spaces mean less dirt and dust. Cleaning four bathrooms is a lot harder than one or two. Even if you hire a professional to clean for you, having less space will save you money because it will take less time to get the job done.  
  10. Better for the environment — A smaller home will have a smaller carbon footprint. You’ll use fewer utilities, which means burning less fossil fuels.  
  11. No room for storage — Do your kids still keep boxes of stuff in your basement or garage? If you have less space, they’ll have to find another place for it or be forced to downsize, too. It’s a good lesson for them and freeing for you. (Also, they’ll be less likely to move back home.)

Selling your home

Before you put your home on the market, consider what updates you need to do to get the best resale value. Do you need to paint? Update the kitchen? Get new floors? There are lots of things you can do to sell it faster and for more money. Ask your real estate agent what works best in your market. 

Smaller updates are often better. Painting or resurfacing your kitchen cabinets is going to get more return on your investment than a full kitchen remodel. Updating the bathrooms will help, but gutting them and starting over won’t likely get much return. Touch up peeling and dirty paint, and add some flowers to the yard to give your home some curb appeal.

You’ll find that a smaller new home will give you more peace and happiness than having a behemoth of a house. You’ll have more money and time to spend doing what you love.

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Very few of us have the knowledge and experience necessary to navigate the real estate market on our own. That’s why we have professional real estate agents to help guide the way. The right agent depends on your needs — each one tends to find a niche in which they become an expert, whether that niche be a particular age demographic, location, commercial properties versus residential, or any one of the thousand variations on the market out there.

Agents are great because they act as a buffer for both home buyers and sellers. For those looking to buy, an agent can narrow down the best options available so you don’t waste your valuable time touring properties that cannot fit your needs. People selling their homes have the peace of mind that comes with a third party organizing home views, helping with staging, and attracting only those who are serious about buying. 

Before hiring an agent, home sellers and buyers can prepare for their adventures in real estate a few different ways. 

Home Sellers: Have Your Home Inspected

Before putting a home on the market, home sellers need to know as much as possible about their house’s structural integrity. Getting a home inspection from an independent contractor can catch issues so they can be addressed and corrected beforehand. Fortunately, these home inspections are pretty affordable. The costs of your repairs, however, can vary. When it comes to doing major renovation projects, wait until you’ve consulted your agent to determine if they are worth the cost or if they are better left as something to address when negotiating prices with buyers. 

Home Buyers: Visit Open Houses in Potential Neighborhoods

In the real estate game, knowledge is power. An easy way to learn about the market is to block off Sundays to meander around potential neighborhoods and visit open houses. Attending these events helps inform you about what kind of properties are available, which neighborhoods have the best amenities, and how much a typical seller is asking for their house. Once you know what is out there, you can make a better decision regarding what it is you want in a home. 

Home Sellers: Start the Decluttering Process

According to realtor Rona Fischman, the three things home sellers can do to make their realtor’s job easier are to “be organized, have paperwork and calendar ready, and make a commitment to declutter the house.” Decluttering your property and getting rid of excess decor and furniture has various benefits. The less stuff a home contains, the better it looks to potential buyers. 

A minimalist decor makes a home look cleaner while allowing the person to imagine how they might personalize it. Furthermore, clearing out junk now can help highlight those little things that need repair such as scuffed baseboards, dirty ceilings, and chipped paint. If you have trouble with the idea of getting rid of your possessions altogether, consider renting a storage unit where you can hold things all boxed up until you are ready to move. 

Home Buyers: Talk to Lenders for Pre-Qualification

Mortgage pre-qualification is like a soft audition before applying for a loan. It’s not as in-depth as a pre-approval, but you are provided with a good starting point regarding how much home you can afford. To pre-qualify, provide your bank with a snapshot of your overall finances — your debt, your income, and the total value of your current assets. Your lender can then give you an idea of the size of mortgage you will likely receive. Since pre-qualification does not include a thorough analysis of your credit report or any highly sensitive information, you can generally do this over the phone or online. 

A real estate agent helps both home buyers and sellers navigate the market, but they can’t do it all. No matter what you are looking for, you can prepare yourself and your home before hiring a professional. From having your home inspected for potential renovations to checking your finances with a lender, these simple steps can make your adventures in real estate easier and more enjoyable overall.

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If you’re thinking of selling your home, you’re likely considering what kind of changes to make before putting it on the market. What will buyers want? Should you remodel the kitchen, add a second story, or install a fancy new shower? In order to get the best price for your home, careful consideration of your market’s viability is important.

The people who will know the most about your area’s market are real estate agents. Real estate agents are selling homes in your area every day, so they know exactly what buyers want. Then take a look around your house. How out of date is it? You may not care about trends in home design, but your buyers will. That doesn’t mean you have to do a complete makeover, but making it look like it’s been updated in the last 20 years is a good idea.

Next, look around your neighborhood. If you live in an inexpensive neighborhood with small, basic homes, you don’t want to spend $50,000 on a kitchen remodel because there’s no way you’ll get that money back. But if the homes in your neighborhood are worth $500,000, the $50,000 kitchen remodel might make sense.

If your home needs more basic repairs, you should do those first. If your home has a leaky roof, it will not sell except to bargain hunters who are looking to flip it. That’s fine if you want to sell it as quickly as possible, but the sale will be at a lower price. When considering whether to repair your roof, call a reputable roofer and get an estimate on how much it will cost. If the roof isn’t that old, you might be able to repair it without investing in a full replacement. Other basic repairs may include your heating and air conditioning units, water heater (if it’s really old), siding, and foundation. 

For cosmetic purposes, it’s true that the kitchen and bathrooms are the most important parts of the house for buyers. But a huge remodel with a lot of extras isn’t likely to recoup your investment. You’re more likely to get your money back if you do a basic update of the kitchen or bathroom, unless they’re in really bad shape to the point where the home won’t sell without repairing them. Resurface or paint your cabinets and update cabinet hardware instead of replacing all the cabinets. Install a modern kitchen faucet or updated sink and remove formica countertops for a more durable alternative.

There are many updates you can make yourself, including painting walls and trim. You can change dated light fixtures for more modern options at a reasonable price. Brass and gold-tone fixtures evoke a 1970s feel, which most buyers don’t want. Touch up outdoor trim to make it look newer and do a little landscaping to give your home some curb appeal. Consider replacing your front door or giving it a new paint job. First impressions are important to home buyers, so make sure your home is ready. 

When you put your home on the market, make it as clutter free as possible and remove all items that are personal to you. Your buyers want to imagine themselves living in your home, and your items get in the way of that. Replace light bulbs with brighter ones and open blinds and curtains. The more light, the better.

If you plan to stay in your home for a little while longer, go ahead and do the project you will enjoy most. Whatever home improvement projects you want to complete, do your homework and hire reputable professionals. Nobody wants to buy a home that was remodeled poorly. Then sit back and wait for your home to sell.

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