The Kids Are Gone! Is it Time to Downsize?

When your family is growing, you want more space. But you’ve passed the point of peak growth and your family is shrinking – or at least moving a little farther away. That opens up opportunities to move to places like Northern Nevada, where you can find more space, enjoy the outdoors, moderate climate, and good taxes.

“A lot of my buyers are coming from California,” said Peggy O’Neill, Dickson Realty agent who focuses on finding the perfect home for retirees. “Sometimes they’re downsizing, sometimes there moving from state to state. They might have a 2,600 square foot house in California and that’s about the largest we have in Del Webb for seniors.”

Peggy primarily works the Dell Webb and Sommerset areas, helping people who are 55 and over, or about to turn 55, find a place to live. She said many buyers aren’t quite downsizing, but are looking for a place to nest and even sometimes want a bigger yard.

Here are some other factors retirees might be looking for:

Finding a community is key

Retirees and seniors want a community they can plug into, Peggy said.

“They want to find people that are of the same values,” she added. “They have the same ideas of community and places where they can play golf, pickleball, tennis, billiards, workout, line dancing, etc.”

People want neighbors who can watch their house when they travel, keep in touch, help out around the house, walk each other’s dogs, play sports, and visit with. Peggy said during an open house or walkthrough, potential buyers should explore around the neighborhood, talk to neighbors, go to the community center and ask the current residents what the area is like.

“Get an agent that knows the market and the neighborhood,” Peggy said. “A senior agent needs to know the properties, how to market, what the sales seasons cycle looks like and how to give advice around those cycles.”

Are the kids coming back?

How often, and are the children being fruitful and multiplying? If they’re settling far and wide, and considering adding partners and children to their lives, you may want to reserve a bedroom or two to preserve your own sanity when they come visit.

If you want your adult children near you, think about the size of the neighborhood, such as Sommerset, where you can live in the senior community while they live up the hill a bit. Or perhaps count out the senior-only communities if you want them even closer.

“I miss having kids in the neighborhood,” Peggy said about living in the Del Webb community. “But I like that my neighbor will call me up if my garage door is open.”

How much do you love or hate the maintenance of your home?

If yard work and gardening are great pleasures for you, it will be hard to leave them behind, especially if you’ve spent years cultivating them.

Peggy said she helped a rancher settle into a senior community and while he was used to hundreds of acres, he was happy with his three-quarter to full acre lot where he could still manage the land…scape.

Or do you feel nothing but relief at the prospect of a small patio, maybe a little container herb garden, and nothing to do but take an occasional broom to it? Make sure you tell your real estate agent so they can find the right combination for you.

Can you afford to keep your larger home?

Now that the kids are gone, can you justify the expenses of heating and cooling a larger home? Or if your master suite is downstairs, could you turn the heat and air off upstairs when no one’s home? Are those bills easy enough to pay, or would you rather have the extra money for travel or to pursue other hobbies?

Is your home part of your retirement plan?

Some parents choose larger homes in their younger years, with the intention of downsizing and using the profit to help fund retirement. Before you make that decision, know your capital gains tax rules. Right now, married couples can exclude up to $500,000 of profit on their taxes, while singles can exclude $250,000. You may also use some of the profit from your larger home to buy a smaller one. Consult with a qualified professional to find out what this would mean for you, and decide if your home plays a part in your retirement.

“A good 75% of my homeowners are cash buyers,” Peggy said. “The ones who don’t use cash, often want to stay liquid and spend their money elsewhere. They’ll set up a bank account that automatically pays their payment.”

Is your home appropriate for you now?

Maybe you’re working from home more often and would prefer a dedicated home office space, or maybe you’ve started hosting large gatherings and prefer an open kitchen, so you can chat while you cook. If your bedroom is upstairs, would you prefer a downstairs bedroom if you become less mobile as you grow older? Take note of which rooms you use regularly and imagine if there are some you could do without. Should you move, or just remodel?

Peggy said some people will keep a home in two cities to chase the best climate.

“Some of the buyers own two properties in Palm Springs, North Carolina or even Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Las Vegas folks like to beat the heat in the summer by coming up to Reno then escaping the snow in the winter,” she added.

Where would you move?

Consider whether you want to settle near your current home or go farther afield, maybe to be closer to grandchildren, your own parents, or other relatives. Explore real estate options before you make the leap to a smaller home.

Your home is full of memories, most of them good ones, we hope, but building memories in a new, more manageable home could be the key to your happiness. Don’t be shy about considering downsizing and do look at all your options!

Visit our agent page to help you find the best person to guide you through your retirement purchase or sale.