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We would like to downsize but are afraid we won’t be able to find a new home. What should we do?

Property Clinic: Should we put our home on the market before we find a new property?

My husband and I are empty nesters looking towards retirement in the near future. We have a lovely large family home but we are getting tired of the maintenance and want to find something easier to manage. When we’ve looked at what is for sale, we don’t see many properties that would suit our needs. We are worried about putting our house on the market and having it sell before we are able to find something that would suit our needs in our area. How should we begin the process of downsizing? Should we put our home on the market now or should we wait until we have found a property?

Deciding to downsize your home is undoubtedly a significant decision and one that will resonate with many individuals and couples. To make this transition as smooth as possible I would recommend you consider the following steps:

1. Financial preparedness: It is prudent to list your current home for sale before actively searching for a downsized property. This strategic choice places you in a more financially stable position. You gain a clear understanding of the funds available from the sale of your current home, which will then be ready to invest in your new property. Furthermore, it conveys to potential sellers that you are a serious and financially secure buyer when you make an offer.

2. Enhanced negotiating power: When your current home is sold or in the process of being sold, you wield more negotiating power when it comes to making an offer on your downsized property. Sellers are typically more inclined to consider offers from buyers who have their finances in order and are prepared to proceed promptly.


3. Reduced stress: Waiting until you’ve found a suitable downsized property before selling your current home can be a stressful experience. It may lead to hurried decisions or heightened pressure. Opting to sell your current home first allows you the luxury of time to explore the market and find the perfect property without the added stress of juggling two transactions simultaneously.

4. Increased flexibility: With your home on the market, you can incorporate a contingency clause into your purchase offers. This clause allows you the time you need to find your new home without rushing the process. It provides a valuable degree of flexibility and peace of mind during your search.

Here’s a practical step-by-step approach to guide you:

1. Consult an estate agent: Begin your downsizing journey by contacting your local estate agent. You can find a list of estate agents who are chartered members of the SCSI on its website. An estate agent can assist you in determining the market value of your current home, evaluating market conditions and providing valuable insights into your available options.

2. Define your ideal home: Decide on your preferred location, desired size, amenities and any specific features you deem important. Your estate agent will use this information to customise their search for suitable properties.

3. Financial planning: Consult a financial adviser to assess your budget, explore potential mortgage options if there are any, and comprehensively understand the financial implications associated with selling your current home.

4. List your current home: Work in tandem with your estate agent to prepare and list your present home for sale. This initial step will not only help you gauge buyer interest but also ensure you have the necessary funds for your forthcoming downsized property.

5. Commence the search: Simultaneously, be proactive and seek out a potential downsizer property. Your estate agent will guide you through the buying process once the perfect property emerges.

6. Transaction co-ordination: Once you’ve accepted an offer on your current home and located your ideal downsized property, your estate agent will assist you in co-ordinating both transactions.

Majella Galvin is an estate agent and chartered member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

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