Downsizing – Preparing for your independence days

More and more is being written about downsizing, putting time-consuming yard work in the past and simplifying our lives as America’s population matures.

According to a 2014 U.S. Census Bureau’s report, “The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060”: “The baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011 and are now driving growth at the older ages of the population. By 2029, when all of the baby boomers will be 65 years and over, more than 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65.”

For many, the ability to spend weekends with our grandchildren or traveling – versus weeding flowerbeds or performing maintenance on our homes – is increasingly appealing as we consider the available time to do things we love. As many are retired or retiring soon, we find that our options on housing are diverse, allowing us to relocate out of town, in town or even within the same neighborhood into a single-level home.

The commonality is that, as one age, the home should address the desire for a carefree life and freedom to enjoy – without paying for unused square footage, including heating/ cooling and maintenance, and spending too much time on repairs.

Ages 55 to 65 is a good period to re-evaluate housing to assure the home you are in will meet your lifestyle needs for the next 20 years.

Should the dwelling be one level, or at least have a master bedroom with full bath on the first floor? Should it be close to everything that makes you happy? And, if you plan to remain in your current home, are there safety issues that must be addressed to protect you and your future?

Whether staying put or seeking a new home and downsizing for the “golden years,” safety is the foremost concern. Automated lights are increasingly common in new-construction houses and easily installable in existing homes. These are not only efficient but help you see when going from room to room. Motion-sensor exterior lighting, for use from dusk to dawn, is one of the smartest safety features available for outdoors.

Other no-nonsense features to consider for “aging in place,” whether purchasing or retrofitting, are grab bars, walk-in tubs, non-slip flooring, and levered door handles or keyless entry systems. No-maintenance leaf guards on gutters are a good exterior consideration.

That being said, a Senior Real Estate Professional is a great resource to help you with decisions about your potential move (or stay).

A Realtor with the SRES designation has special training in assessing your particular needs, whether it means staying in place by upgrading safety and comfort features or taking the necessary steps to move to a more manageable property. The SRES has built a network of “goto” people to help along the way, including contractors, financial advisers, and attorneys, and has relationships with local senior communities and in-home care companies as well.

Preparing now is the smart move to make for your future enjoyment, safety and the “independence days” that come with downsizing.

Cindy Caskey, CRS, ABR, SRES, SFR, MRP, e-PRO, is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty in Virginia Beach and a member of the Hampton Roads Realtors Association. Realtors are real estate agents who adhere to a strict code of ethics and work to protect and preserve private property rights; learn more at www.isyouragentone. com. For more on HRRA, go to Contact Caskey at cindy@cindycaskey. com or 757-642-1001.