Selling your Home and Downsizing


Consider Everything Before Selling and Downsizing


  • Choose the right type of home from:

◊     Units, apartments, courtyard homes, terrace houses, villas or townhouses

◊     ‘Shop Top Housing’

◊     ‘Seniors Housing” (over 55′s) 

  • Exploring a property’s development potential – a special case
  • Steps to buying


As seniors look to the future, it’s relevant and important to consider whether the home you’re living in suits your needs, and whether it should be sold.


It may have been a long time since you sold and bought a house, and there are many new changes in the process. As always, we highly recommend talking first with a senior real estate specialist who will help you consider the following factors and more. 


First you must ask: can you afford to do this? To work this out, you need to have a reasonable idea of what your home will sell for and what it will cost to buy your next home in an area where you want to live.


You also need to take into account the costs of buying and selling, such as stamp duty, legal costs, real estate agents, and marketing costs, auctioneers, and furniture removalist charges, etc. There may also be ongoing costs in the new home, let alone the costs you may be anticipating for your own personal care in the future.


Evaluate your preferences

Become clear on what you like and what you don’t like about your current home. It could be anything from just the way the home feels now, to the fact that stairs are becoming a nuisance.


Perhaps you like the proximity of your neighbours, but hate the increasing traffic noise? Maybe it’s hard to get around in the bathroom, but as you look at things you realise that putting in a grab-bar here and there may solve the problem.


Take your time with this. You do not want to make a decision that causes you to forget something that is really important to you. This next step should be an improvement!


Choose the right type of home

For your next home you will likely be choosing something smaller, and you might choose something entirely different; whether it’s a unit/apartment, townhouse, courtyard home or villa, or even a portable home.  


When considering a different type of home, be sure to look at the following:

  • Security of tenure (can you live there as long as you want to?);
  • Ease of maintenance;
  • Whether you can make alterations;
  • Access to a garden;
  • Balancing privacy and company;
  • What, if any, security is there?
  • Transportation;
  • Access to social opportunities and other resources;
  • Do you like the home?


Units, Apartments, courtyard homes, terrace houses, villas or townhouses

These are a viable option for many seniors. They generally offer as much security of tenure as a detached house, but have smaller yards and lower upkeep costs, while still giving you privacy in courtyards, balconies and perhaps a garden.


You will have the advantage of some additional security, and perhaps all you really need to do is to make some minor modifications to the home in preparation for the future, like installing handlebars in critical locations and making sure the hallways are wide enough to accommodate someone walking with a cane or in a wheelchair. Frankly, just evaluate this new home as you evaluated the home you just sold, making sure you know the answers to the questions you asked yourself before.


The titles for some of these units may be different, and you will want to understand the term ‘strata title’. This title is a certificate of title for a lot and in a share of common property. Your advisor will assist you in reviewing the ‘strata scheme’ to ensure that you will own what you think you will own.


“Shop Top” Housing is a unit, or apartment, above ground floor commercial premises or retail stores. These units may have separate title, or Strata Title. Click here for more information on Strata Titles. 


“Seniors Housing” or more Commonly Known as “Over 55’s” is for both seniors and those with disabilities. 

Under State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004, seniors are defined as people aged 55 or more. People with a disability are defined as people of any age.


Under this policy, only those aged 55 and over, or people with a disability, and their carers,  can occupy this type of development. 


With either of these choices, there may be common property such as stairways, service yards and garden areas. If there is a Strata Title situation, then there is a body corporate that controls the administration and funding of this common property, and usually means that fees are levied against all residents. If you’re considering purchasing this type of housing, your advisor will help you to understand your rights and obligations.


We suggest you look at the minutes of their meetings, and meet some of the people who comprise this management team first. (Of course these are people you want to feel comfortable with!)


Exploring a property’s development potential – a special case

As you consider the possibility of selling your property, do your research about any development potential your property may have for future development to maximise your end sale price.


Depending on the permissible uses as dictated by your local council’s zoning and development controls, we suggest you speak to a town planning consultant, or architect, who can advise what sort of development you can undertake, estimate the highest and best development option, and whether the project is worth pursuing financially, as it just may be that your home makes the whole property more valuable as it is.


If you’re especially adventurous, it might be worth asking adjoining neighbours if they want to amalgamate their property with yours if they too are considering selling. Of course, you will need to do plenty of research on this option first and go into it with your eyes wide open.


Steps to buying

Once you have decided on the type of home you want, the main steps involved in buying a property include:

  • Looking at a variety of homes in the type you have chosen;
  • Expressing an interest in a property;
  • Paying a holding deposit (usually only a small amount);
  • Applying for a loan or bridging finance (you need this because you’re purchasing a home before you have sold your existing home);
  • Obtaining building and pest inspection reports;
  • Paying the deposit;
  • Exchanging contracts;
  • Undertaking final checks during the cooling-off period;
  • Making the settlement on the property;


Some of these steps must also be carried out in relation to the house you are selling. Make no mistake, this is a very complex process and most people choose to get expert help, whether buying via private treaty or buying via auction. Of course, no one can decide for you what you like and what you don’t like, but an expert can help you make sure mistakes are not made, and you get the most for your money and the best for your future.


If you receive a pension from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), there are special rules about how the money from the sale of your home will be treated. Your senior real estate specialist will help you every step of the way, including referring you to professionals who can help you evaluate issues such as the possible effect on pensions.

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