Posted in: Buying a home

Must-have features and resources for downsizing homebuyers

features to consider as you plan to downsize

Key insights

  • When it comes to planning for retirement, downsizers should look at more than just single-level living options.
  • As home prices continue to rise, some would-be downsizers may prefer to renovate their existing home. Programs are available to help with that.
  • Rising home values are great when you’re selling — but they mean your buying budget doesn’t stretch as far.

The youngest baby boomers are now in their late 50s and the mega-demographic continues to shape the American economy and the housing market. As boomers head into retirement, many remain unsure about their future housing.

Whether you’re planning to downsize in the next year or just want to learn more about what kind of features and resources exist for downsizers, here are insights you can use as you plan your second act.

Top features for downsizing homebuyers

For most downsizers, single-level living is at the top of the list. When you’re still in great shape, it may not seem like a huge deal to have your laundry setup in the basement or your bedroom on the second floor. But having to navigate steps several times a day eventually takes a toll on aching joints, so older homebuyers should look at ramblers or other one-level living options as they downsize.

Additionally, downsizers may want to consider these features:

  • Wider hallways that can accommodate walkers, wheelchairs or railings
  • An open floor plan
  • Carpet, rather than rugs (which tend to cause trip-ups)
  • At least one no-step entry into the house
  • Pull-down levers, rather than round doorknobs
  • A step-in shower, rather than a traditional bathtub
  • Pull-out kitchen drawers (rather than cabinets that make you bend and hunt)

Aging in place? Consider these modifications

If you’d prefer not to move from your current home, it’s smart to update your existing residence while you’re still feeling super-spry. It can be difficult to visualize your space completely reconfigured, but most homes can be updated to accommodate single-level living.

If you live in a rambler, you may have the simplest renovation plan of all. Make sure to move the laundry to the main floor, if it isn’t already — you can always convert a bedroom closet into a space for your washer and dryer, if another space isn’t immediately apparent.

If you live in a two-story with all the bedrooms on the top floor, you may have to get a bit more creative. Consider converting your traditional living room into a family room with a TV and repurposing the family room into your master bedroom. If your first floor only has a half bath, you’ll need to expand it to include showering capabilities and additional space.

Not sure you can afford to take on these renovations? In both Minnesota and Wisconsin, there are local programs that offer low-interest financing for homeowners who wish to improve the livability or efficiency of their homes.

Search loan programs in Minnesota.

Search loan programs in Wisconsin.

The affordability factor

Many would-be downsizers are surprised to see how much their home values have risen in the last decade. It’s welcome news as a seller, but it also means your buying budget may not go as far as you’d like.

By meeting with a REALTOR® early on, you can get a better understanding of how much your home could sell for in today’s market, as well as the properties and communities that may best suit you as a buyer.

Getting started

Whether you’re seeking solutions for yourself or your aging relatives, get in touch with Edina Realty or your agent today. We help downsizers make smart decisions each and every day, and we’d be honored to assist you.

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Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

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