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    COVID-19 Questions: Is It Safe to Downsize Now

    Retirement often means downsizing to a smaller home. But, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on real estate and threaten the health of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, is now really the time to make a move? If you are a senior looking to downsize your lifestyle, that might be a tough question to answer.

    COVID and Its Effect on the Senior Housing Market

    There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the way seniors view downsizing. Forbes senior contributor Joseph Coughlin asserts that while it’s still too early to understand the full impact, many seniors today may change where they choose to retire. Before the pandemic, it would not be unusual for a senior to move out of the suburbs and into the city, where they could access transportation and amenities, such as a grocery store and entertainment. Now, it is possible that older Americans will favor the areas between the city and the suburbs.

    Something else that has changed in light of COVID-19 is that many people are less than enthusiastic about visiting a prospective new home. This can make it a bit more difficult if you have a house to sell and need the equity to finance a downsized move. The good news is that a few common-sense tactics can help you safely list your home for both you and your visitors. Make sure your agent knows to utilize virtual tours, stage each room to showcase its best features, and make it abundantly clear that the property has been cleaned and sanitized. This way, you will be ready for showings when the time comes.

    Buying Safety

    On the opposite end of the selling spectrum is buying. And that poses another set of challenges, including figuring out how to keep yourself from coming into contact with the virus, which is particularly important if you have a compromised immune system. Your best bet here is to research available properties carefully and have a deeper discussion with your agent before planning an in-person showing. You can also keep hand sanitizer and a cloth face-covering handy when looking at homes with your agent.

    Practical and Money Matters

    Despite the importance of keeping yourself safe, there are also practical matters to contend with during a downsize. One of these is determining which type of living arrangement is best for you. The US News and World Report notes that there are several different options for seniors, including house sharing, independent and assisted living centers, and subsidized housing.

    Next is deciding how to handle the physical act of moving. To reduce your chances of coming into contact with an infected surface, it’s usually best to hire movers depending on your needs and then invest in a cleaning service to clean and disinfect your new home once you get moved. Each of these is an added expense, and the moving company can charge based on anything from the day of the week and how far you’re moving to how fast you need your personal belongings there. A cleaning company is similarly difficult to estimate but will likely be based on the size of the property and how extensive the cleanup. One way to reduce your moving expenses is to get rid of unnecessary belongings. You might, for example, sell or donate the furniture from your formal dining room if your new place will only have an eat-in kitchen.

    If you’re moving with a pet, you’ll have to take that into consideration as well. If possible, try to leave your pet with a family member or friend. If that’s not an option, most pet boarding facilities are still open during the pandemic. Some pet owners also choose to give their pet a CBD treat during the move to relieve their anxiety.

    This pandemic is unprecedented, and it’s caused a great deal of concern in the real estate markets. But if you need to move, there are ways to do so without increasing your risk. Utilizing virtual walk-throughs and sanitation when buying and selling is a great start, but you also need to pay attention to things like how you’ll move and where you’d like to spend your retirement.

    Information presented by Andrea Needham.

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