Sell, Rent, or Keep: What Should You Do With Your Old House When Downsizing?

Many people choose to downsize to smaller houses when they get older. Once children have left the nest and moved to homes of their own, there’s no need to stay in a large house with empty bedrooms. Added to that, the natural decline in energy that tends to come with age can make maintaining a property tedious. 

Finally, many seniors simply prefer to focus their time and energy on the fun in their golden years. They’d rather see friends and family or travel the world than deal with chores like mowing the lawn. When transitioning to a smaller property, you have to decide what to do with your old house: sell it, rent it out, or keep it in the family. Explore your options below.

Sell the house

Maybe you plan to transition to an assisted living facility, or perhaps you want to move to another state to be closer to your grandkids. Whatever your motivation, if you are ready to cut ties with your house completely, selling makes sense. You can list your house on a platform like Zillow or if you want to unload it more quickly without the hassle, sell it to a real estate investor like Quick Fix Real Estate for cash.

Rent the house out

If you aren’t ready to sell your home or the market is simply not great in your area, you can rent out the property instead. This will give you a steady income that can help provide financial security after retirement—an issue that many Americans worry about. If you don’t want to leave your home, you can even do a “mini downsizing” in which you simply restrict yourself to a more limited space (say, one-bedroom) and rent out an extra room to a senior your age. Senior roommates are a fast-growing trend.

Keep the house in the family

Some individuals prefer to hang on to the old family home due to an emotional attachment or a desire to leave the property as an inheritance. If this is your plan, consider putting the real estate into a living trust and technically bequeathing it to your children now. This allows you to avoid the lengthy and costly probate process that comes with a will. Knowing that the property will remain in the family can also give you peace of mind.

Choosing the right option for you

There is no one right answer when deciding what to do with your home as you downsize. Everybody’s situation is different. There are financial aspects to consider as well as practical elements: Do you want to live alone and are you fit enough to do so? Will you have access to the necessary home modifications? (If not, you can buy and install some on your own; grab bars cost $7.89 each at Walmart, for example.) Would you prefer to be closer to friends and family? Are there certain criteria you won’t settle on, like access to a garden or an ability to keep a pet? These are the types of questions to ask yourself. 

Preparing for downsizing

Whichever of the above options you choose, you will have to trim down your belongings to prepare for a smaller space. Don’t force yourself to get rid of emotionally charged possessions. Instead, put them in storage until you decide what to do with them. Prices vary depending on size and location, so shop around before signing a contract. For instance, the average price of a 10×10 self-storage unit in Roanoke is $107.07, but you can rent it for as low as $74 if you research deals.

While downsizing can be a tedious task, doing the job yourself instead of hiring a professional service can save big bucks. Take the time to consider which of the above options you want to pursue, and then leave yourself a couple of months to prepare for the move. As you forge ahead, remind yourself of the positives of downsizing: A smaller property means more time to enjoy your life after retirement.

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