One of my favorite customers began our meeting with the following words, “We love the cozy three bedroom home you sold us where we raised our four children, the youngest of whom recently left for college. At the moment we are essentially empty nesters, but here is the plan. We want to buy a bigger home!”
Of course I was surprised. She then elaborated that “our two eldest children have recently married and one couple is expecting. You know that we are an especially close-knit family and want our kids to spend time together comfortably and enjoy this amazing new chapter. We really would love more space for future grandchildren, future newlyweds and even not so new newlyweds!”
It took some time but we found a large property where this 5,000 sq. ft. homestead would be built. Months later I stopped by to see the house in progress and midway through our tour she made the most incredible comment. I had casually suggested that the first floor ensuite guest bedroom might one day become the master suite, thus giving my clients a home with one floor living. She replied that she and her husband would most likely not be living in this house for more than 10 -15 years. At present she felt her four children were beginning to establish themselves with new jobs and young children but looking 10 to 15 years down the road, life would be very different. Her grown children would have bought their own homes and established their own social circles. The grandkids would have their own friends and playdates and probably not want to come to the homestead so often. Even the family gatherings would most likely move to one of her kids’ homes—then it would be time to close down the grandparent hotel.
It is now 10 years since that home was built and I am waiting for the call to sell. I surely sense that there are more and more of us paring down. The family dynamic changes and thoughts of selling the family home are increasing. Anecdotally speaking, many of my past clients seem to be in “downsizing” mode as spring is approaching.Their concerns are varied but I wanted to highlight a few of the most common issues regarding the “art” of downsizing.
The biggest concern to tackle, whether you know it or not, is what to do with all that stuff you have collected in your basement, garage and closets over the last decades. Old trophies from second place little league seasons, sentimental dresses that will never be worn again, your child’s favorite plaything (that still has their DNA embedded deep inside) and, of course, the unopened three-peat bar and bat mitzvah gifts that you just never got around to dealing with. The two extreme answers for how to deal with this are a dumpster or the Vietnam Vets, which usually solves a large part of the problem. But like all important things in life, planning plus a little hard work will get the job done. I have consoled many homeowners as they slowly go through the closets and decide the fate of each item: to my daughter, to the dumpster, to Pick Purple…
The entire endeavor of downsizing encompasses much psychological and, of course, much logistical work. Whether you are going cross country or to a smaller house around the corner, the process is the same! Stay tuned for the second chapter…
Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V and N Group LLC located at 1401 Palisade Ave in Teaneck. [email protected] 201 826 8809.