ParentCare » Vol. 33

ParentCare: There are options for downsizing seniors

By Peggy Patenaude, Realtor, Prudential, Howe & Doherty

Senior Couple Sitting Outside House With For Sale SignWith the retirement party behind you, perhaps you are now ready to head to a warmer climate in search of palm trees and sunshine, or maybe you are excited about playing more golf, eating lunch out with friends more frequently or spending more time with the family. No matter the reason, you are beginning to question whether or not it is time to downsize. How do you know? The answers are as varied as the people considering the question, but there are options for staying put if that is what you choose.

Start out by asking yourself a question: Are you comfortably able to afford your existing residence or are you knee-deep in debt? If you are struggling to pay the monthly bills, or would simply like more disposable cash at your fingertips, downsizing may be an option. It is not, however, the only option.

Another vehicle to consider is the reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage is the mirror image of a regular mortgage. It enables homeowners 62 and older to convert part of the equity in their homes into tax-free cash without having to sell the home, give up the title or take on a new monthly mortgage payment. The borrower retains the title of the home, and the reverse mortgage comes due at the time of the death of the borrower, when he or she permanently moves out or when the house is sold. If you love your home and have no desire to consider something smaller, this may be a good choice.

On the other hand, if upkeep and maintenance is getting difficult and taking up your free time, you may want to meet with a Realtor who specializes in downsizing. This person is an expert on what it takes to downsize effectively. He or she can speak with you about the myriad of options and can walk you through various scenarios.
A downsizing expert will be able to discuss what is currently on the market and help you to learn more about what’s out there. Ask yourself a few questions: Are you interested in a smaller home? A condo? An active adult community? Learning a bit about each of these will give you a clearer picture of what’s best for your personal taste and situation.

If you do choose to downsize, a Realtor will be with you every step of the way and will help you understand the best way to go about the process of culling your belongings and moving on to the next phase of your life.

Downsizing can be a chance to own a smaller home with the amenities you have always dreamed of for less money.

The point is: There are options. Whether it is a new loan vehicle, a refinance, credit counseling or downsizing, a Realtor can help you through the process until the day you walk through your new front door with extra cash in hand and a sense of peace.

Peggy Patenaude is a leader in real estate sales in Andover, an affluent suburb of Boston. She has won more than 58 awards since she began her career in 2002, including Top Sales Agent in Massachusetts for her nationwide company. In 2010, which was considered a challenging year in the real estate industry, Patenaude sold $18,500,000 in property. Peggy is the “go to” person when considering downsizing and has considerable experience guiding homeowners through the process of putting their home on the market to sell.

Advice for planning your move

By Kim McCarthy, owner, Generations on the Move, Inc.

bigstock_middle-aged_man_holding_stack__128480841If you’ve read the headlines lately, you will have noted that real estate sales are increasing and our overall population is aging. Both of these dynamics are important factors for those people who are looking to downsize. In total, there are approximately 79 million baby boomers in the U.S., and 25 percent of them are looking to downsize from their current residence to a smaller living situation. If you are in this situation, or if you have an older parent or relative that is in this situation, then please keep reading.

Let’s face it: Many people are looking to reduce the stress of maintaining their home and want to live in a home where they just lock the door and leave. However, figuring out how to deal with the overwhelming task of getting from Point A to Point B can be a challenge. Like most things in life, taking that first step and getting started can be the hardest part.

Since it probably has taken you a bit of time to decide that you want to move, it also makes sense to understand that it will also take some time to sort through all the details to make that transition happen. With this in mind, here are a few key tips and ideas for you to consider:

Moving takes time. Avoid the tendency to delay thinking about a future move. Going through some pre-planning with adequate lead time will greatly reduce stress and help ensure a successful move.

One of the hardest aspects of moving is sorting through all the things that you have long treasured, such as the kids’ school artwork, items passed down through the family, etc. In some instances, these items may hold a significant sentimental value, and in other cases, you may feel obligated to keep the item (but are not quite sure why). My advice is that if you aren’t sure about something, put it in a box with other “unsures” and leave it to look at later. Deal with the items you can decide on now, and over time, that box of “unsures” will be minimal.

Be realistic about the space you are going to have available. Everything you have in your “big” house will not fit into your “smaller” new home. Take pleasure in allowing your loved ones to choose the items they would like while sharing with you why it holds a special meaning for them. Most other items can be donated to charity or groups that could benefit greatly from your generosity. You will feel great about “paying it forward.”

The next step is looking at where you want to live. Fortunately, there are many wonderful options for you to consider. Active adult communities are popping up in many places, and most have terrific amenities such as swimming pools, exercise rooms, fitness classes, craft rooms and spaces for impromptu or planned social gatherings. In addition, several communities are geared toward having generous outdoor space designated for active lifestyles that include tennis, golf and walking/bicycling trails. The popularity of these communities is on the rise, so selecting where you would like to live is something that you will want to do early because you might find that there is a waiting list.

If all this seems like more than you want to handle on your own, don’t worry ~ there are professionals to help!

A Senior Move Manager (SMM) knows exactly what you are going through because he or she specializes in helping people 55-plus downsize every day. A SMM provides a flexible, concierge-level of service that helps to ensure a smooth transition from one living location to the next. A SMM often refers to himself or herself as that “extra pair of hands” or an “extra family member” that is available to help. Best of all, SMMs have the experience, network and resources to make your move a success. A SMM handles everything from your floor plan, helping you sort through years of memories and coordinating the movers to packing your belongings, changing your utilities and communicating with family (as needed). Best of all, when you first step into your new home on moving day, your entire home will be unpacked and ready for you to enjoy ~ no boxes to throw away, no pictures to hang, no beds to make ~ everything will be ready for you.
Whether you want to tackle the move on your own or hire a senior move manager to assist, I wish you much success!

Generations on the Move, Inc. was founded in 2007 to help people transition into a retirement lifestyle with ease. Generations on the Move, Inc. is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers ( and was recently awarded the Circle of Service Award. For more information, contact Generations on the Move, Inc. at (508) 210-0345 or

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