Is it time to downsize to a smaller home?

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Scaling Back Westchester Homes have always been expensive.  They are expensive to buy and expensive to maintain.   Taxes are high here and any home that is less than an hour to midtown Manhattan by Metro-North is going to be expensive.   As I say to buyers, who think the housing recession means that they can buy a palace for pennies – there is no free lunch.    But for  those would-be sellers  who have been hunkering down – hoping that the housing recession would pass and the market would roar back to 2006 levels – it may be time to consider downsizing.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a couple of prospective sellers come to me with the question – should I consider downsizing?

For Many the Westchester housing market has made quite a recovery:

If you are lucky enough to live in one the more affluent areas of our county – you may be very much in luck.  Prices have been recouping much of their lost ground.  We aren’t back to 2006 levels – but  these markets are sturdy and very resistant to recession.

Meanwhile,  while prices have recovered the cost of living in these communities is quite high.  So for those for whom living on a fixed income or those whose job has been downsized or are unemployed, now might be a good time to consider a move.  The condo and cooperative markets have seen a major adjustment over the past year.  So, on the buying side you can get a great deal and on the selling side, you will still do well.

Other communities are flat or still trending down:

For those not fortunate enough to live in a community where prices are recouping lost ground, the issue is more complex.   For people who want to downsize from a house to something more modest – you will find that your home is worth a whole lot less than you would like.  You may need to make upgrades to your property in order for it to sell.  So all of this has to be calculated against the cost of living and the lifestyle changes in order to come up with a solution that makes sense for you.  On the bright side, the condo and coop market has gone down significantly over the past year, so if you are downsizing from a house to a condo you will do better this year than in previous years.

There is no right or wrong answer:

This is not a one-size-fits-all situation.  The answers will be as different as  each client’s lifestyle and tolerance for risk.    I will say that if you are waking up in a cold sweat every night wondering how you will pay your bills, that the time has probably come to move on – no matter how painful the decision may be.  If you have lost a job and it looks as though you will be unemployed for some time to come, then again, a move is likely to be in order.  If you see your overhead soaring with no end in sight – it might be time to downsize before it gets beyond you.  If things are going well, but you are worried about a falling knife – unless you are in one of those municipalities that is going up in value,  I don’t know that downsizing  makes sense.   Prices appear to be bouncing a long the bottom in many communities – and prices are more likely to rise than fall over the next five years.   But for those who have a high overhead – I’m not expecting the market to boom over that period – so selling and downsizing may well be the better decision.


Bottom Line – You need to crunch the numbers:

Look at where you might go after you sell and take a careful look at what the cost of living will be in your new home.  Think mortgage, taxes, maintenance fees (if you are buying a condo) energy costs, parking fees, transportation to work.  Put all the numbers together and compare it to what you’ve got now.  Open your mind to several locations and homes and crunch the numbers for each of them.  Different living situations can have dramatically different costs.  Some homes may cost more but have a much lower overhead.  Your real estate agent can help you think through the different scenarios.

© 2011 Ruthmarie G. Hicks – – All rights reserved.



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