Pros and cons of downsizing

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Q. My sister is thinking of downsizing her home when she retires next year. I think she shouldn’t rush into it. What does she need to think of before she does something she will regret?
— Unsure

A. Planning for retirement should include an analysis of expenses, and for most people, a home is a large line item on the budget.

That’s part of the reason downsizing is considered by many who reach the retirement milestone. And if they’ve become empty nesters when children move out, some want to eliminate the required maintenance and upkeep that a larger home may require, said Gerard Papetti, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.

Your sister should consider many questions before making the decision, Papetti said.

She should ask herself if she will be comfortable in a smaller dwelling.

She should also consider if she engages in certain hobbies that may not be practical in a smaller home or townhome.

Then there are the finanicals, Papetti said.

Is her home location and value marketable to obtain her desired asking price? And will the net sales proceeds allow her to purchase the desired smaller home and provide additional capital for retirement?

That’s because adding capital to one’s retirement nest egg is a primary benefit from downsizing, Papetti said.

“Many times your existing home has been improved and designed based upon your preferences,” Papetti said. “Will the new smaller home need modifications or improvements that will use some or all of the potential excess proceeds which is usually a primary benefit from downsizing?”

If your sister plans to downsize to a condo or townhome, while that will eliminating certain maintenance and upkeep items such as landscaping and snow plowing associated with a home, she needs to be sure that having limited privacy will be acceptable to her, Papetti said.

And if she’s considering a condo or townhome, it’s important she understand the monthly maintenance and homeowner association charges and the historical increases, Papetti said. She also needs to know there’s always a the possibility of an assessment in the future, so she needs to learn more about the association and its plans.

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This post was first published in June 2016.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.