A new chapter

Aging. It comes to us all. Time marches relentlessly on and life changes. Chapters end and new chapters begin.

The good news and take it from someone who has recently retired from full time practice, is that it’s a lot less scary than it might seem in the abstract. For many, although we appreciate not all, it is in fact a time of opportunity and adventure. It is a time of re-evaluation and can be the catalyst for change. Change, as we all know, is challenging but when it comes to moving and very possibly downsizing it really needn’t be frightening.

Recently we’ve taken a few larger family homes to market.

The reasons for the sales have been varied but in a few one of the main reasons for selling has been because the owners have decided to downsize. For some the catalyst has been the end of formal schooling and that come autumn the kids will be headed off to university. For others it’s that their brood has now all permanently flown the nest.

It could however equally well have been as has been the case in past sales, that the homeowners have finally decided to grasp the opportunity to pursue their dream of retiring to a quaint country cottage.

For others still the sale of a family home is down to anno domini and advancing years which mean the imposing staircase and the large gardens are now more a source of pain than of pleasure.

In recent months, as I have said, we’ve spoken to an increasing number of clients who are beginning to think of downsizing.

I guess it’s a sign of the passing years and the many years I practised law on a full-time basis (just shy of forty years since you ask) that as a practice we now have clients whom I helped buy their first homes who themselves are now getting to a stage in their lives where they’re starting to think of retirement.

In the latter years of my time at the coal face and prior to Laura and Stacey taking the reins there were, I admit, days when I longed to hear just once more those words I had often heard as a callow faced youth thirty five years prior; “Aw son, are ye naw awfy young tae be a solicitor?”

Take the plunge

So if this all touches a nerve and you are now indeed beginning to think about life’s later chapters and of downsizing, what are the things you might want to consider?

First of all when you contemplating downsizing it’s definitely worth taking the time to go over your options. If you haven’t sold for a while then it is worth taking advice from family and friends who might have done likewise recently.

Also, whilst speaking with us is recommended and we can provide a free valuation of your home plus give you lots of free advice, speaking to your family and children is our top recommendation.

It’s not unusual for there to be mixed emotions especially if your current home is the only one your children ever knew growing up.

If, after discussions and soul searching, a downsize is seen as the right decision and you decide to go to market, remember what attracted you to your current home in the first place. Whilst it may no longer be ideally suited to your needs the chances are potential purchasers will be looking for the exact same things you did back when you bought it. Are you close to certain schools, a good public transport network and/or commuter links? Was the proximity of local amenities, parks, shopping etc. important to you back when you purchased? The fact is that those very same things will most likely feature prominently on the wish lists of your buyers’?

Get ready for your close-up

No-one knows your property like you do it nearly always makes sense to use this information when marketing your home. Be sure to highlight loved features and facets of your home to your selling agents (us!) in order that the sales team can accentuate the benefits these features will bring to potential buyers.

If you feel there’s something that’s a great selling point let your selling agent know and try to have it captured on film or in your schedule photography if possible.

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words and lifestyle shots are much more common nowadays and do help create the right image of your home, so be sure to accentuate the positive.

Next, since you’re going to be moving to a smaller property it’s a great time to get stuck in and to indulge in some de-cluttering. Tackle one by one the recently acquired spare rooms which now house beds (potentially still with teddies!), a desk, the ironing board, exercise bike and four months’ worth of loo rolls.

Joking apart, it’s a worthwhile exercise as a de-cluttered home allows viewers to see the full extent and potential of the space available and allows them to visualise themselves and their family in their new property.

A word of warning here though, allow plenty of time as you’ll inevitably lose hours looking through boxes of old photos and wistfully looking back at piles of treasured fridge-art.

Try also to finish any quick little DIY jobs you’ve been putting off and give the place a good deep clean prior to marketing. We’re always happy to give a few pointers which we would do at the free pre-sale valuation appointment and we can advise also what little jobs to prioritise in order to turn a likely category 2 on your home report into a category 1.

Through our Lettings Department we have great relationships with a number of tried and tested tradespeople including cleaners, roofers, joiners and gardeners and who are always thankful of some additional work, so if you do need a hand in getting ready to come to market, please just ask.

If you have any garden at all try to use this to your advantage, especially at this time of year and when we’re enjoying a good spell of weather. Anyone looking for a family home will appreciate some nice outside space.

As I’ve said before a new patio set, some cushions, some nicely planted pots and a lantern or two can really help define a great “wee eat-ooterie” and it does help sell your home.

It’s also worth considering a financial check-up at this time and of course this is another area where we can help. Via the small network of trusted IFA’s we work with we can arrange a free financial health check if you would find that useful.

Chances are you’ll have little, or no mortgage left and will be paying less for your new place than you sell for. What are you plans for the surplus? Do you need to top up pension pots? Do you need regular income or longer term growth? Do you need a new and updated will or perhaps a Power of Attorney?

For those of you who are looking to help grown-up children get on the property ladder, this can also be discussed now too.

We’ve helped many clients close one chapter and start the next. Because we now live longer, healthier and more active lives well into our seventies and beyond, life’s autumn years can be a blast and we’d love to help get it started.

Dance like no one’s watching

Let me finish on a positive and hopeful note and one that quite nicely illustrates the generational differences between those of us now in the 60+ age group when compared to our parents’ and grandparents’ generation.

Last month my wife and I met up with friends, both of whom are a year or two older than us. Still into their music just as much as we all were back in the Seventies and Eighties, one of our friends said something that for me epitomised the whole idea of new chapters beginning in retirement and how we differ so much from previous generations of retirees and soon-to-be retirees.

Our friend told us she was so excited to be accompanying her daughter and granddaughter to see the Taylor Swift Eras Tour at Murrayfield.

Her plan, she told us, and which we now know to have been successfully implemented, was to travel to Murrayfield using both her Seniors’ Rail Card and concessionary bus pass. She further confided that she only had two concerns; would there be plenty of clean loos close by and how would her hip replacement and her tinnitus be the next day!! Says it all really doesn’t it?

So whatever the reason, if you’re beginning to think about downsizing please give us a call. As we say, we’d love to help and if the reason is to grow old disgracefully then so much the better!

A new chapter

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