Upgrade Your Lifestyle
~ by Scott Pickard
Downsizing. To homeowners of a certain age, the word evokes all kinds of understandable emotions — and questions.
Are we ready? Is this a good time? Can we afford to?
Not to mention: What’ll we do with all of this stuff?
The generation of baby boomers who’ve spent most of their adult lives raising their families in dream homes across the South Shore is gradually coming to grips with a new reality: that, as their kids grow up and leave home for college and lives of their own, the once much-sought-after lifetime dream home has simply become too big and too much of a burden.
“It often takes homeowners a while to recognize that their new empty nest is more house than they now need,” says George Jamieson, founder and President of Capital Residential Real Estate in Norwell. “Although the feelings and emotions about downsizing are the same today as they were 20 years ago, today’s economic factors weigh much more heavily in the decision-making process. The recession and subsequent downturn in the housing market have ‘empty nesters’ understandably worried about maximizing their home’s value and whether this is the right time to downsize.”
In Jamieson’s view — one that’s been sharpened by two decades in the business — life is too short for empty-nesters who may be considering downsizing to wait. “If the next chapter in your life is to travel the world, play championship golf in warmer climates or be closer to your children and grandchildren, then timing the real estate market should not be a priority,” he says. “It’s true that the market hasn’t improved quickly enough for some people whose home represents a significant part of their retirement nest egg, but every year that people delay downsizing costs them in terms of not being able to create new memories doing what they envision in a home that better fits their current lifestyle.”
Jamieson, who has a degree in business and leadership from Northeastern University and is a graduate of the Realtor Institute, counsels his clients with the same acumen and optimism that guided him when he founded Capital Residential four years ago during the early stages of the economic recession. “At the time, the country was on the verge of what some were calling a ‘financial doomsday,’ but I made a decision to leave a larger brokerage firm and put my faith in myself and my years of learning and listening, knowing that I could provide clients with a new approach, a strategic perspective and, ultimately, real tangible value. It was the best and worst of times to open a new business, but so far, it has paid off.”
Jamieson fully understands the psychological factors that come into play when clients are considering downsizing, and he is both empathetic and pragmatic. “No question, these are difficult decisions, and they’re not just financial ones. People need support and guidance,” he says. “They have an understandable attachment to their home and their possessions, and it can be a complicated process to help them through it, so we offer resources – like a consultant who can help with the mechanics of downsizing” [also known as de-cluttering] “to help ease the worries associated with such a major life decision.”
Whether his clients are empty-nesters or not, Jamieson and his Capital Residential associates pride themselves on individualized, value-added service. For example, clients looking to sell their home receive a certified home appraisal conducted by an independent appraiser, allowing them to see how a potential bank would value their home and giving them a more secure sense of their home’s true worth. Capital Residential also creates and implements a comprehensive marketing strategy for each property to make it stand out in an often-crowded inventory of available homes. “Real estate marketing today is much more sophisticated and technologically-driven, which means going above and beyond to make each of our properties truly stand out,” Jamieson says, explaining that his services include having each client’s home professionally photographed as well as using high-definition video to create a powerful on-line presence that, in his words, “will make buyers want your home before they ever walk in the door.”
For the potential empty-nester sellers who are facing the prospect of downsizing with a combination of fear and loathing, Jamieson offers some clear-headed advice. “Downsizing now makes great sense,” he says. “The worst of the real estate market lows are behind us, and I tell clients that they need to remember that demand is always consistent for quality homes in great communities, which is what we have here on the South Shore. I encourage them to forget about what their house may have been worth in 2005 and instead focus on what their money can buy today — whether here on the South Shore, on Cape Cod, or throughout the country. Chances are they’ll be surprised at how good a deal they can get on a new, smaller home.”
Those new homes might be condominiums in urban settings (like Boston) or along the South Shore’s picturesque coastline or even on the Cape, one-level homes in age 55-and-over communities, or just smaller ranch-style homes that allow for easier, hassle-free living. “There are good deals out there,” Jamieson says, adding that, “The overall trend in newer construction is actually toward downsizing as builders have moved away from the oversized ‘McMansion’ mentality and toward smaller, more efficient living spaces.”
Remember, too, that downsizing translates into lower real estate taxes, utility costs, and annual home maintenance expenses. Combine that with mortgage rates that continue to be at remarkable and historic lows, and the prospect of downsizing may have just become more appealing.
Spring is traditionally a time for new beginnings. If a new, downsized beginning is in your future, Capital Residential is ready to help.
GEORGE JAMIESON ~ BROKER/OWNER, REALTOR®, GRI
429A Washington Street
(Route 53 next to Garden Craft)
Norwell, MA 02061