What Downsizers Need to Know Before They Buy

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By Buyers Domain Principal Buyer’s Agent, Nick Viner

With age comes change and there is no bigger change than deciding to sell the family home and move to a smaller, more manageable property.

For many downsizers, the process can be emotional and even confusing, especially for those who haven’t been part of the buying and selling process for many decades.

However, downsizing also presents an exciting opportunity for a fresh start, and a lifestyle revamp. Without some of the ongoing maintenance and expenses of a larger house and garden, you have more time and money to do the things you enjoy, whether that is play golf, travel, or spend time with the grandchildren.

For Sydney downsizers looking to buy, the current market presents many opportunities and more balanced pricing, after many years of heated property prices.

Another incentive is that from July this year, the government will allow those over the age of 65 to make a non-concessional contribution of $300,000 from the sale of their homes into their superannuation.

The most popular types of property among retirees/downsizers tend to be either ground floor garden apartments, often in an older-style or art deco block, or a newer luxury apartment with lift access. Single-level Federation houses and semi-detached homes are also popular options, especially for those financially secure enough to pay someone else to mow the lawn or clean the gutters.

Many downsizers are keen to move in from the outer suburbs to be closer to their children and grandchildren, who may have relocated to a suburb like Marrickville, Balmain, Summer Hill and Leichardt around 10 to 15 years earlier when these areas experienced a previous round of gentrification.

Recent Buyers Domain Purchase: Perfect Milsons Point Apartment for Downsizing Couple: A Case Study

Recently I have seen a very strong trend of downsizers relocating from the outer suburbs to the Lower North Shore, Eastern Suburbs and Inner West. Living up to 5–7 kilometres from the CBD, offers a great urban lifestyle as well as handy access to other important facilities such as medical centres, shops and public transport. That was certainly the case for a couple I was able to assist earlier this year.

Mike and Jennie were moving to Sydney from Hong Kong, and wanted to downsize to an apartment that offered close proximity to everything Sydney city had to offer.

Within two months, I secured a fabulous off-market apartment at Milsons Point, and was able to negotiate a great price. It was a perfect fit for the downsizers, ticking all the “ease and convenience” boxes including lift access, proximity to Kirribilli shops, harbourside parks and Milsons Point train station only 200 metres away for handy access to the CBD. Secure basement parking, a separate storage area and ducted air conditioning were additional benefits.

As you can see from the photo above it also boasted spectacular Harbour Bridge views from a generously sized terrace, and Mike and Jennie are thrilled with their new easy living apartment.

Top Tips for Downsizers

Once you have made the decision to downsize, there are some important things you need to know and do to make the experience easier:

  1. Take your time to look around: There is a shortage of medium-density properties in the inner city that are suitable for downsizers so you need to be prepared to put in some time visiting the suburbs that appeal, and going to open inspections. If mobility is an issue for you then consider using a buyer’s agent, who can provide you with a shortlist of properties that meet your criteria.
  2. Think about your current AND future needs: Most people understand that both internal and external stairs may be an issue in the future, but there are many other considerations, i.e. proximity of the bedroom to the bathroom, sufficient security, and air-conditioning/heating options. Having a reasonably sized living space or courtyard for entertaining family and friends, and extra bedrooms for the grandchildren to stay overnight may also be considerations.
  3. Proximity to facilities: Consider what is important to you – not only for your practical needs but also for your social network and lifestyle preferences, e.g. proximity to shops, a medical centre, public transport, walking tracks or the local pool or bowls club. Maybe you want to be somewhere that has great restaurants or an area that is handy to entertainment or sporting venues.
  4. Listen to others – even your children: After selling your property, you may be cashed up and ready to buy, but it’s important to listen to others who may have more recently experienced the buying and selling process. You don’t want to be too spontaneous and overpay, or buy a property that will be unsuitable for you in another 10 years.
  5. Consider furry companions: Many downsizers are widowed or divorced, and like having a small dog or cat for company. If you are looking at strata buildings, it is worth checking the bylaws, which may only allow cats, or have restrictions on a dog’s size. It’s also important to consider a property’s proximity to parks, off-leash areas and pet-friendly cafes.
  6. Measure your furniture: Avoid disappointments and make sure everything you want to keep fits in a place you are considering. You don’t want to find out after you buy that your prized dining table doesn’t fit through the front door. You also need to think about how much storage space there is, and how much of your possessions and furniture you are prepared to cull.

When you feel it is the right time to downsize, it’s best to have a discussion with real estate agents and a buyer’s agent before you put your house on the market. They will give you a better understanding of how much of a budget you will have after the sale of your house, and therefore where and what type of property you will be able to buy.

If you thinking about downsizing, Nick Viner can help you find a suitable property that fits your needs both now and in the future. Contact Nick on 0405 134 645.

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