Downsizing? We show you how

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By Vicky Shaw

The housing market's spring selling season is underway - and for some, this may mean down-sizing from a family-sized property to a new smaller home that better suits their needs at this stage in life. This can feel like a massive change, of course, and moving is often a big upheaval. But with some careful consideration, downsizing can be a really positive experience, according to NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark in the UK.

"The most important thing to consider is that you 'right-size' and find a property which suits your lifestyle," says Mark Bentley, NAEA Propertymark president. "Moving to a smaller property also releases equity trapped in the property, gives you a home which is easier to manage and, depending on the location, it could mean better access to local amenities, which will improve your quality of life."

Considering downsizing soon? Here are some tips from NAEA Propertymark to help keep the process simple and cost-effective...

1. Be practical and ruthless

If you're moving to a smaller home, you'll need a big clear-out. Approach it as though you're having the ultimate spring clean, or a 'house detox'. Your loft, garage and kitchen are all rooms that tend to accumulate clutter, so they're a good place to start. If an item has too much sentimental value to part with it, but you have no room for it, perhaps offer it to a family member, or consider putting it into storage to give yourself a bit more time.

2. Get organised

Make a list of rooms you need to clear out, the other tasks you need to complete, and the timescale you need to do it in. Knowing what you have to do and the time you have for each task will make the move less stressful.

3. Establish how much room you have

Don't start throwing furniture out until you've established how much space you have in your new home, as it could be costly to replace it all. Equally, if you over-estimate the space, you'll find it difficult to fit everything in on moving day. Draw up a to-scale floor plan to see how your furniture will fit into each room.

4. Think about the additional costs

Although downsizing may mean lower day-to-day running costs, there are various one-off moving costs to consider. Factor in any estate agency fees, report costs, solicitors' fees and removals.

5. Ask your buyer before you throw it out

If you're considering getting rid of some items, ask your buyer if they may be interested in buying it. Made-to-measure items such as curtains may not fit in your new home - but your buyer may want them.

6. See who else wants your unwanted items

You could also try other ways of selling items, such as by placing them on online marketplaces or auctions. The money could go towards moving costs. Or, you could donate it your local charity shop or advertise it as 'free to a good home' so others can get use out of it.

7. Consider your new budget

Moving may mean your outgoings will change, and you'll have to budget slightly differently. Bills such as council tax, insurance and energy costs may change, and you may find you need to use transport more, or less, depending on the distance to local amenities.

8. Be clear when hiring movers

When you're researching the cost of hiring a moving company, be clear about what your requirements are and make sure you know what you're paying for. Whether you need help packing or if you're just looking for someone to move your stuff from A to B, professional movers can do as little or as much as you like. Alternatively, you can cut costs by roping in family or friends to help with the move. Not only can they help transferring items between the properties, but they can help with sorting through years of memories and personal items too.

9. Avoid splurging

Making a new home 'yours' is exciting, but try and hold off splurging on lots of new decorative items for the home. Until you know how you will live in a smaller space, it may not be a good idea to make any new purchases, in case they don't fit in.

10. Freshen up with low-cost improvements

A fresh lick of paint can give your new home a makeover at a relatively low cost. It may also be something you can do yourself, rather than hiring a professional.

Woman's Way