Is it time to downsize?

Sometimes our friends, clients, and colleagues send us articles and information that is just too good not to share with you! That happened to us today, when Tom Keating of Keating Law, PLC:  Business and Estate Planning and Advocacy sent this advice and information about downsizing your home. With his permission, we are reprinting it here; links will direct you to the source material. Thank you again, Tom!

Downsizing can help make retirement easier

For many of your clients, their homes are filled with memories of raising a family. It’s also where they figured to spend their retirement years together. But with the children grown and starting families of their own, your clients are on their own now.

The house was paid off years ago, and maybe it’s even your clients’ biggest asset. But do they really need all that space? The kids’ old bedrooms upstairs are never used, and your clients seem to live more and more of their lives on the ground floor.

Maybe it’s time to downsize?

No time like the present

Although letting go of a home in which a client has lived 30 years or more can be difficult emotionally, the financial benefits can be substantial, according to The Wall Street Journal . The advantages might seem small at first, but accumulating over time, they’ll likely extend the life of your clients’ nest egg, allowing them to enjoy retirement without worrying so much about finances.

Forbes echoes those sentiments, saying a large house in a good school district – with corresponding high taxes – was great when the children were going to school, but it makes no financial sense now. Americans, Forbes says, have been home rich but financially poor because of all that capital – all that non-productive capital – tied up in their homes.

And that home costs money. There’s regular maintenance and upkeep your client can’t neglect, heating and cooling costs, landscaping … the list goes on and on. With a home, the WSJ says, that list of expenses is hidden. Moving into a condo or rental unit can be less expensive because your client will know what the costs are going to be upfront; association, maintenance and other fees are built in.

Options abound

The housing market has slowly started to recover from the crash in 2008 and has shown gains in some areas, but there’s no way to predict if that will continue. Waiting for the market to keep going up could leave your client waiting, period.

Besides, CNNMoney reports, there are many ways to downsize and save money to make retirement more enjoyable.

Move into a smaller house. With the money your client make by selling a paid-off home, he can buy a smaller one in cash and stick that extra money into his retirement nest egg. And a smaller home will be cheaper to heat and maintain.

Move out of town. Although only 10 percent of retirees pull up stakes and head out, it can be a prudent move, especially if your client lives in an expensive city. The savings gained in lower property taxes alone can make this an attractive choice. And with email, social networking sites and good old telephone calls, it’s easy to keep in touch with relatives several states away.

Read the fine print. If your client is considering moving into a retirement condo or gated community, she should beware of the fees that can add up. Without doing due diligence, she might end up paying more than she can afford. Finding one that fits into her budget and makes her comfortable is key.

CNNMoney’s final suggestion is one that appeals to clients that don’t want to leave friends and neighbors and want to keep a place where the kids (and grandkids) are always welcome:

Invest in staying put. Clients can make the improvements the house needs while they’re still working. Replace inefficient appliances with energy-saving models, install double- or triple-pane windows, and upgrade the heating and cooling system.

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