A guide: the upsides to downsizing


A little like ‘checkmate’ for property owners, downsizing can often be the last, and most important move that many of us make. And getting it right takes time, insight and the support of an experienced estate agency.

Whether it’s about releasing equity, moving closer to loved ones, or living out the coastal dream, we look at what drives us to downsize – and the practical tips to help get you there.

Almost half of the 65+ age group in our most recent Housing Futures survey told us that their ideal next home is a bungalow – a typically sought-after housing type for those making the downsizing move. For many, this represents the first property sale – and purchase – for decades. At Strutt & Parker, we’re here with you every step of the way, with support on everything from financial planning to packing.

Many of our clients who are downsizing haven’t moved for 20 or 30 years and naturally, the process can seem daunting. But often there’s no need to rush. “When we first meet a client who is considering downsizing, we do a lot of listening,” says Simon Roberts, Head of South & East Regional Agency (and our resident authority on downsizing). “That way, we get to know their very personal stories and understand what will work for them.” After all, there’s a reason Simon affectionately refers to himself and his colleagues as ‘property therapists’!

Life’s next chapter

Location. Local amenities. Property size. Energy efficiency. At Strutt & Parker, our clients’ top three reasons for downsizing are often about:

  1. Lifestyle changes
  2. Equity release
  3. Practical necessity

“Covid has been an accelerator in many respects, making some people realise that they want or need a change”, says Simon. And while the housing market varies across the country, there’s a notable move towards smaller, urban, community-orientated homes for those downsizing – close enough to pop to a local coffee shop or train station, for example.

But that’s not all that’s shifting. Some individuals are looking ahead, buying and renting out their downsizer property until they’re ready to make the move. Others are releasing equity to buy a smaller UK property and a second home abroad. After all, winter in coastal Spain or southern Italy has an understandable appeal.

The cost-of-living crisis is also having an impact, with some homeowners downsizing earlier than originally planned to cut down on bills. For those currently living in a not-so energy efficient property, a modern home's energy and cost efficiencies can certainly be enticing.

A true downsizing story

Downsizing doesn’t only involve decreasing your square footage. Often, it can encourage homeowners to adapt their lifestyle – and mindset too.

We started working with one client who was sadly navigating the loss of her partner. We kept in touch and then, when she was ready to downsize, we found her a modern apartment. “It was perfect – within walking distance to local amenities and with a balcony so she still had her own little patch of the outdoors. It’s a cliché, but it really was a new lease of life for her,” remembers Simon.

As well as guiding on the practical processes, we also connected her with someone who could help re-imagine her interiors and furnish the new home. “It really helped her to embrace the change,” explains Simon. This empathetic approach goes far beyond simply viewings and handing over keys – supporting our clients as they move to the next stage of their lives is a key part of the estate agent’s role.

But of course, this is just one story. And not everybody is looking for a complete lifestyle change when they downsize. As agents, our role is to help each individual buyer make the best possible decisions for their personal circumstances.

Top tips

From décor updates to decluttering, there are lots of things to consider before making the big move:

1. Leave yourself time: There’s nothing more stressful than a ticking clock or a looming deadline. Once you’ve decided to move, if you can, give yourself time to breathe – and think about where you want to go.

2. Include your family: Downsizing affects the whole family, especially when a childhood home is sold. At Strutt & Parker, we often sit down with our clients’ children and grandchildren, supporting everyone involved.

3. Visualise your new lifestyle: Keep picturing the size – and style – of the home you’re moving to. Gently begin decluttering and sorting possessions, little and often. It can help to prepare your property for sale – and prepare you for emotionally letting go.

4. Speak to an advisor: If reducing inheritance tax liability motivates your move, we’d recommend speaking to either your, or one of our, trusted advisors. It helps to get your ducks – and finances – in a row.

5. Get your home buyer ready: If you’re considering renovations to help sell a property, think lighter, brighter and fresher. But don’t overdo it. Sometimes movers are looking for a home they can put their stamp on, so a blank canvas can be a big plus point.

For more advice on preparing your house for sale, read our practical guide and moving home to-do list – or call in to your local branch, either in-person or drop us a message here.

To find out more about those in the same boat as you, read our Client Stories: the joy of downsizing here.

You may also like...