downsizing

4 Tried and True Downsizing Tips for Your Next Move

Photo by Fraher Architects

For many people, the prospect of downsizing from a larger home to a smaller one can be quite the challenge. Sorting through possessions takes time. It can be emotionally taxing. It can be liberating.

We asked Houzz readers to share their best downsizing advice, and share they did. We gathered some of the best tips below.

Step 1: Get into the right mindset. Many acknowledged that shedding belongings can be stressful, and several had thoughts on the benefit of doing so. “Even if you’ve made careful measurements and found new homes for the furniture that clearly wasn’t going to fit in your new place, you may not realize until you move in that what you’ve brought just isn’t going to work,” writes Joanna Tovia of the Houzz Australia editorial team. The upside: “You have the perfect excuse to go shopping for new furniture,” Tovia says. Houzz reader Lynn B agrees: “Downsizing is a wonderful time to change to a more minimal style and change your style and interior colors.”

Keep in mind that you may have a few regrets when your sorting is through, advises Houzz reader connieay. “There will be some things that you wish you had kept, but the rewards of having less stuff will be worth it!”

By Erin Carlyle – See more Home Design Photos

Step 2: Decide what to get rid of. Often the most difficult part of downsizing is deciding what to let go of. “Holding on to our past, whether in the form of corporate work clothes or hefty grad school books, can be tempting because it feels comfortable,” writes Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill. She advises spending time gaining clarity on your vision and goals for the next few years. “What are you still holding on to that doesn’t mesh with that vision?” she asks.

In the kitchen, it’s wise to keep appliances that are multipurpose and frequently used, says Houzz reader Anthony Perez. “If you entertain at all, don’t scrimp on the table and chairs,” adds bonniedale22. Downsizing is also an opportunity to adopt a minimalist mindset with your wardrobe, according to Houzz reader andrealew, who recommends keeping on hand only enough clothes for a three-week vacation or, if you will be living in a place with seasons, three weeks per season. Some readers advised not burdening family members with discarded possessions, while others noted the wisdom of at least asking your family members if they would like any of the belongings before you toss them.

By Erin Carlyle – See more Home Design Photos

Step 3: Make the process as easy as possible for yourself. Given the mental work involved in deciding what to keep and what to pass along, you might as well take steps that will make the process easier for you. Having a place to sort through possessions is key, according to Houzz contributor Jeanne Taylor. “To keep your job organized, you might want to create as much empty space as possible,” she writes. “I recommend picking a category, perhaps holiday decor, and then pulling every item from that category out of hiding and placing it in the staging area.”

It can also be helpful to involve an organized friend, someone you can trust to help you decide what to keep and what to let go. For seniors who would be comforted by a sense of familiarity in their new surroundings, take a photo of the furniture layout and replicate it as best as possible in the new place, advises simplynancy. And on that note, taking photos of prized possessions, whether parts of a collection or simply something with a lot of memories, can make the letting go a little easier.

Houzz reader AJ advises something unexpected: waiting until after the move to see what won’t fit and getting rid of items then. “This is counter-intuitive and goes against everything you’re always taught, but I wish I had done it,” AJ says.

By Erin Carlyle – See more Home Design Photos

Step 4: Maintain a lifestyle of less stuff. “When you’re living in small quarters, excess items will stick out like a sore thumb,” notes Houzz writer Melissa Cowan. “Use smart solutions, such as underbed storage and built-in wardrobes,” she advises. And just because you’re downsizing doesn’t mean that there won’t be upkeep. “[A] smaller house does not mean less work,” Ann Haller writes. “It gets dirtier fast because you are using the same room over and over. Buy better quality furniture because it is the only thing you sit on.”

By Erin Carlyle – See more Home Design Photos

A final word: Go easy on yourself, and be proud that you’re tackling a downsize. It will take some effort, for sure, but you’ll get through it, with a reward of a lighter lifestyle on the other side.

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6 Surefire Signs It’s Time to Sell Your Home

By Angela Colley

time-to-sell

Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

Most people don’t plan on living in their first (or second or maybe even third) home forever, but knowing when the time is right to put that baby on the market can be tricky.

In fact, it can feel kind of like breaking up with a longtime boyfriend or girlfriend. Deep down, you knew you wouldn’t be with that person forever—but ending things can be way easier said than done.

Sometimes life changes force the issue: There’s little reason for self-doubt or trauma-level angst if you’re relocating to another state or you know your newborn twins won’t fit in your one-bedroom bungalow. But without a pressing reason staring you in the face, it can be hard to know when you’ve outgrown your home.

So how do you know when it’s the right time to let go?

1. You’re feeling cramped, and you can’t add on

Your family might not be growing, but that doesn’t mean your lifestyle still fits in your current house.

If you’ve started working from home, for example, or you’ve adopted an extended family of indoor cats—or maybe you’ve just never gotten over your dream of having a sewing room—your house might be too small.

But before you jump to conclusions, see if paring down your possessions works to free up some space. Another option might be to finish an attic or basement, add another room, or even add a whole story to your home. But, of course, that won’t work for everyone.

“If your property isn’t large enough or your municipality doesn’t allow it, moving to a bigger home may be your best option,” says Will Featherstone, founder of Featherstone & Co. of Keller Williams Excellence in Baltimore.

To decide which route to take, check your local building laws and get estimates from two or three contractors. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with your Realtor®. Sometimes adding on won’t increase the value of a home, and you don’t want to make big-time improvements that will bring only a small-time return on your investment.

2. You have too much space

On the other hand, perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed by vacant rooms and silence. (Hello, empty nesters!)

“In this case, it no longer makes sense to have, say, four bedrooms and a basement,” Featherstone says.

Saying goodbye to a family home can be difficult, but you should consider how feasible it is to stay. If yardwork and house upkeep are getting to be a little too much, or soaring utility bills are cramping your style, it might make more sense to move.

3. You’re over the neighborhood

Maybe you can no longer deal with the rigid rules of your homeowners association, or perhaps your neighbors turned their house into a rental for frat guys. Whatever the reason, neighborhood dynamics can change dramatically over time.

And sometimes, you can change. Maybe the 40-minute commute to work didn’t seem like such a big deal the first few years, but now you’re dreading it every day. Or your kids are getting older, which can be a big problem if you’re not in the right location.

“If you can’t afford a private school system, you are limited to one school for your children,” Featherstone says. “Moving may be a benefit to your child’s education.”

4. Remodeling won’t offer a return on your investment

Giving your kitchen or bathroom a face-lift can make your house feel like new again, which might be all you need to decide you want to stay put for years. But that doesn’t mean it’s a financially sound decision.

“Before making significant improvements, you should really study the neighborhood and know the highest price point of your neighborhood,” Featherstone says.

If your home is already similar in style and condition of some of the priciest homes in the neighborhood, remodeling might be a bad idea, and you should consider selling instead.

5. You can afford to sell

Sure, you’re going to make money when you actually sell your house, but as the adage goes, it takes money to make money. So seller beware: You probably won’t be sitting around and waiting for the dollars to roll in.

“Before you consider selling, you should have the funds available to prepare your home for sale,” Featherstone says.

Most sellers need to make some minor improvements such as painting, landscaping, or updating flooring to get a good price on their home. Those costs will come out of your pocket at first, so it’s a good idea to have a cushion before you start.

6. You’re ready to compete

If you’re living in a seller’s market, you might be enticed to offload your home before things cool off. But don’t forget—once you sell, you’ll probably be a buyer, too.

“If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but keep in mind the home you buy also will be more expensive,” Featherstone says.If you’re going to get out there, you should make sure you’re ready to compete.