Are you still living in the house where you raised your kids? Does it feel a bit empty now that they’re grown and on their own? Has the thought crossed your mind that maybe a smaller house would be more suitable for you now? Many couples in your situation decide to move out of their family homes for financial and lifestyle reasons. As many as 33% of homeowners are contemplating selling their homes soon in order to scale down, according to a study by Edelman Berland. In the current seller’s market, it might be a good time to be thinking about buying a home that suits your life today.
Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, explains in his blog three potential financial advantages to downsizing:
- A smaller home means less space, but it also means less time, stress and money spent on upkeep.
- Let’s assume you save $500 a month on your mortgage payment. In 30 years, you could have an additional $1–1.6 million in the bank to get you through your golden years.
- Use the proceeds from selling your current home to pay cash for a smaller one. Just imagine what you could do with no mortgage holding you down! If you can’t pay cash, aim for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage and put at least 10–20% down on your new home. Apply the $500 you saved from downsizing to your new monthly payment. At 3% interest, you could pay off a $200,000 mortgage in less than 10.5 years, saving almost $16,000 in the process.
Realtor.com also addressed downsizing in an article. They suggest that you ask yourself some questions before deciding if downsizing is right for you and your family. Here are two of their questions followed by their answers (in italics) and some additional information that could help.
Q: What kind of lifestyle do I want after I downsize?
A: “For some folks, it’s a matter of living a simpler life focused on family. Some might want to cross off travel destinations on their bucket lists. Some might want a low-maintenance community with high-end upgrades and social events. Decide what you want to achieve from your move first, and you’ll be able to better narrow down your housing options.”
Comments: Many homeowners are taking the profits from the sales of their current homes and splitting it in order to put down payments on smaller homes in their current locations, as well as on vacation/retirement homes where they plan to live when they retire.
This allows them to lock in the home price and mortgage interest rate at today’s values which makes sense financially as both home prices and interest rates are projected to rise.
Q: Have I built up enough equity in my current home to make a profit?
A: “For most homeowners, the answer is yes. This is if they’ve held on to their properties long enough to have positive equity that will be sizable enough to put a large down payment on their next home.”
Comments: A study by Fannie Mae revealed that only 37% of Americans believe that they have significant equity (> 20%) in their current home. In actuality, CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 78.9% have greater than 20% equity. That equity could enable you to build the life you’ve always dreamt about.
If you are debating downsizing your home, now might be the best time to do it. If you have over 20% equity in your current home, you might be primed to save money on a smaller home enabling you to live the life you want today.