When Bigger is Not Better …There’s Downsizing

downsizingThese days no matter where you go or whom you meet – everybody is doing it! Down-sizing, that is. Basically anyone aged 50+ (baby-boomers, “about to be” empty-nesters, active adults, etc.) is getting rid of tons of stuff in anticipation of the big move! Here in Westchester, on any weekend, you will find numerous tag sales held by individuals who have lots of stuff to sell and copious stories to tell about that stuff. Over the past few months, I have spent many Saturdays, just roaming through Westchester, visiting tag sales and talking with people 50-plus, like myself. Here is what I have come to realize.

In many cases, the move is not imminent. Perhaps it will happen in 3 or 4 years; while in other cases, the house has been sold and the couple needs to move ASAP.

But no matter what the time frame, in each and every case, this down-sizing move has turned out to be quite different than any other move that anyone in our peer group has undertaken.

Throughout our highly mobile lives, our moves were upward– or forward-looking. We were making career changes. Our families and our incomes were increasing (or sometimes decreasing). Quite often, our egos were growing a bit, too. We were anticipating the future.  What would it bring? We had little patience for the present and none for the past. When referring to various “things”, how often did we say: “just throw it in a box, we’ll deal with it later”? But, oftentimes, “later” never came and the contents of those boxes – both material and subconscious — sat hidden in plain sight for years.

However, the down-sizing move is totally different. It forces us to look backward… to take a moment to savor our past.  It is the time to take full measure of our lives: our hopes and dreams; what we have achieved or not achieved.  Did we do what we set out to do or did we veer off-course to explore something seemingly more interesting or just to smell the roses?

Downsizing is the time when we open every real and unreal box to peruse the contents. “Do you remember this?” “Surely, you haven’t forgotten that, have you?” “No, I have not forgotten. I just put it aside for a while.”

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Vicki Jimpson-Fludd is a licensed NYS Real Estate Salesperson  offering a free workshop entitled “Selling Your House in 3 Easy Sessions” where panels of experts discuss what homeowners want – and need – to know.
November 1, 8, and 15

The Marmaduke Forster House at 415 Bedford Avenue in Pleasantville will be the location.
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[/blockquote]Sometimes it takes us weeks, if not months or years, to explore each box and to savor every moment. That is ok.  It is our time to be totally self-indulgent. It is our time to reflect on bittersweet memories of times past or simply take a moment to laugh out loud or just smile a knowing smile.

There is no need to rush. We have time now. We can take as long as we want. After all, the decision to down-size and leave this place we call home has been a long time in coming. It was not a decision that we made lightly or on the spur of the moment.

There are so many things to consider when down-sizing. Where will we go after the house is sold? Should we buy again, or rent? What will we do with the rest of our lives? How will we live once we get “there”?  Which of our treasures will we no longer need or want? Can we pass them on to loved ones who will cherish them as we do? Can we sell or donate the stuff we no longer have a use for?  Can we finally lay those other “emotional” treasures, memories or baggage to rest? Can we simply let them go?

With so many questions to be answered and so much work to be done, it most certainly is an ideal time to procrastinate for days, months or even years. But can we afford to? No, we need a plan of action and we must stick to it. Procrastinating can be a sign that we are overwhelmed and unable to control our own lives.

  • If the physical job of down-sizing is too much for you, hire movers to wrap or do the heavy work of moving boxes or furniture or throwing out the trash. Most local movers have the right equipment to make the moving process easier, and with movers taking care of most of the hard work you can be left to supervise and ensure everything goes as planned.
  • Are you ready to let go and move on? Be honest with yourself. After all, your home is the place where the most meaningful scenes of your life played out. Why wouldn’t you be reluctant to leave? If you are reluctant, then you need to be honest with yourself. If you’re not honest, you could end up squandering your financial resources.
  • Make sure you have a good – and trusted – real estate attorney and financial planner on your side.
  • Your home is wherever you and your memories are. Your house is just the physical structure that surrounds your home. No one will pay for your memories there. That said, what is the first step in a successful sales process?
  • Understanding that you are selling your house – not your home.

While this article is a bit philosophical in tone, in future articles, I will discuss the practical aspects of making your house market-ready for a quicker sale at a higher percentage of the asking price, determining what your house is really worth and what happens during the sales process. As I roam through Westchester and lower Putnam, I will tell you what I have learned from other 50-plus-year olds (people like you and me) as well as what various experts have to say.

Vicki Jimpson-Fludd is a licensed NYS Real Estate Salesperson. She is located in the Briarcliff Manor office of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty.

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