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5 Things Downsizing Seniors Need to Know (Especially Post-COVID-19)

Scaling back your belongings and preparing for a move is a big step. Especially in the midst of a global pandemic, downsizing can be a chore. From business closures to a troubled real estate market, there’s a lot to consider. Here are five things downsizing seniors need to know about.

Financing is Still a Possibility

Whether you’re still working or are on a fixed income, it’s still possible to get financing for your new place. SFGate explains that even with a fixed income you can qualify for a mortgage, if your finances are otherwise in order. With that in mind, it’s a good time to explore options like PennyMac loans. For example, seniors who are veterans may qualify for a VA loan. With a VA loan, you can often find better rates, and you can skip the down payment and private mortgage insurance.

Conventional loans can be a smart option as well, since they offer even lower rates. If you make a higher down payment on a conventional loan, you can also avoid mortgage insurance in your monthly payment.

Location is the Most Essential Factor

Choosing where you’ll live out your golden years is perhaps the most essential factor when downsizing. Investing some thought in where you’re headed next could save you stress later. Your location can also impact your financial situation in retirement.

Researching online can help you get a feel for pricing trends in your desired neighborhood. You want to live somewhere safe and affordable, which could mean a smaller property or fewer amenities, based on the location. But looking at the average selling price of homes can provide insight.

For example, homes in San Antonio have averaged $230,000 over the last month. Since San Antonio is an excellent home base for retirees, the relative affordability might put the city on your short list.

With COVID-19 precautions in place, starting your search online is even more important than usual. Plus, you may need to opt for virtual tours and other digital home buying steps. Reducing your risk of exposure is still crucial, even though many states are rolling out measures for reopening.

Seeing Homes Will Be Different

Before the coronavirus, it was often possible to see a dozen homes in one day, with your realtor taking the lead. But now, precautions to keep everyone healthy may wreak havoc on your home touring plans. For example, you might need to drive yourself to each property you want to see, rather than carpooling with your realtor.

Many sellers continue to stipulate virtual-only tours, which could block you from seeing the interior of a home you’re interested in. And when you do get in to view a home, you may need to wear shoe coverings, a mask, and carry hand sanitizer to use before and after.

Decluttering Can Be Therapeutic

Getting rid of your belongings might not sound like fun. But as you prepare to downsize, decluttering can help you feel optimistic about moving forward. Of course, with the coronavirus, donating past-loved items might not be the simplest part of downsizing. It might be worth calling around your area to see what locations are accepting donations, and what types of items they’ll take. On the upside, the more you pare down, the less you need to move.

The Moving Process May Be Tricky

When using cardboard boxes for your move, keep in mind the coronavirus can possibly live on such surfaces for at least 24 hours. Decontaminating before you unpack is one way to avoid exposure. But moving can be tricky in other ways, too.

​​Consumer Reports recommen​​ds taking additional precautions when having service people visit your home, whether for repairs, utility setup, or moving. That could mean calling ahead to schedule no-contact service or leaving the house while the workers are present. You may also want to clean your new place from top to bottom to ensure it’s sanitary as you unpack.

Preparing for your retirement move is a big deal and doing it during a pandemic can throw a wrench in the works. Fortunately, you can continue preparing to downsize and relocate as society begins to reopen. You just need to know what to expect and how to prepare.