Is this your year to downsize?
A conversation with three local real estate professionals
Downsizing has long been a factor in the real estate market on Cape Cod and the Islands, where retirees may choose to trade large houses for smaller homes, leave yard work behind by opting for condominium living, or cede that family vacation house to the younger generation. Today’s current strong seller’s market may be increasing the trend.
Lori Fanning-Smith, president and principal broker of Pine Acres Real Estate in Chatham, sees downsizing on many levels. Older year-round residents are looking to move to smaller houses or condos, and vacation homeowners are also downsizing. “There are people who have large summer homes and are kind of ready to pass the torch to the next generation,” she says.
Downsizing is “a natural thing on the Cape because there are so many retirees,” notes Matina Heisler, of Real Estate Associates in North Falmouth. She sees a lot of retirees moving here from off-Cape, and downsizing in the process, and “empty nesters” who live here and now want smaller homes.
“Of course, downsizing is always relative to where you’re coming from,” she says, smiling as she relates a query she recently received from an older woman who said she was looking to downsize. It turned out the woman’s current home was about 6,000 square feet. “She was looking to downsize to 3,500 square feet.”
Her advice to potential downsizers is to do some research and planning. Since families tend to get together over the holidays, this is a good time to have conversations. “The market is good, and it’s a prime time to talk to family, really assess how many times did people come over the year, and how many guest rooms do they really need.”
It may be that they still need guest rooms, but not a big yard. “Sometimes downsizing isn’t about the square footage, it’s about the upkeep,” Heisler notes. In that case, a roomy condominium may be the answer.
Bernie Klotz, of Kinlin Grover BK Real Estate in Centerville, says first floor living is a primary objective for many downsizers. “They feel the need to either be all on one floor or have a master bedroom on the main floor.”
A real estate professional can help on both ends, said Klotz, who works with a number of downsizers. “Almost 50 percent of the transactions I have now involve downsizing,” he says.
Lori Fanning-Smith tells potential downsizers to keep an open mind. “You give up some things but you gain more time to travel and do other things outside the house,” she says. “I haven’t had anyone be sad about it.”
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