Moving on: selling your family home

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

In our fast-paced modern world, today's homeowners tend to sell up and move on to bigger and better things every five years or so. However, this hasn't always been the case and many older homeowners have lived in the same property for decades. Families have been raised and memories have been made and as such taking a decision to move into a smaller home once the family has left the nest can be fraught with emotion.

Michael Pashley, Harcourts Blue Circle, says that he has found that by the time elderly clients decide to sell, it's generally because they have little choice and are forced to move. "It might be that they can no longer climb stairs and need a one-level home, they feel it is necessary to move into a more secure environment or their financial situation has changed and they have to sell to put money away. They are naturally concerned about changing their way of life that they have had for so many years. They are also concerned whether they will be able to settle in a new environment, but for the majority it’s no longer an option to be able to stay on, but rather a forced move."

The big question is when should an elderly homeowner start looking towards downsizing and moving in to a home that is, in a sense, more age-appropriate?

It was recently reported that the average age that British owners sell the family home and move into something smaller is 64. However, Louise Varga Pam Golding Properties area manager Stellenbosch and Somerset West, says this makes sense as the older the seller is, the more emotional the decision will be. Emotions aside, there are other good reasons as to why the decision regarding the sale of a family home should be taken sooner rather than later by those who want to enjoy their retirement years to the full.

"A couple in their 60s would be more likely to move to a place they might enjoy, for example from Stellenbosch to Mosselbaai and look forward to a new and happy retirement. They don't want to spend all their 'new' free time on maintenance - looking after big gardens and pools and the other things associated with a big home."

She says that older couples on the other hand (those aged from 75 years up) will rarely move towns mainly because they want to stay close to the same friends, the same doctor, attend the same church and shop at the same shops.

Obviously the decision to downsize is a personal one and it isn't something that should be taken lightly. That said, those who are intent on a relaxed retirement and don't want the burden that goes with maintaining a larger property are more receptive to leaving the family home.

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