Downsizing: Walking the Walk

Home Comparison

As I mentioned in my last post, the second main reason for my 2 month writing hiatus is simply because I was too effing busy to write.  Why?  Because we’ve been making HUGE progress against our goals.  In the span of 2 months we made the decision to sell our home, rented a house almost half the size and are currently under contract to sell our previous home for a hefty profit.

Deciding to Sell

The concept of downsizing is relatively new to us but the more we thought about it the more it made sense.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we were already in the process of building a 3,725 square foot home when our project was put on hold.  Downsizing sounded great on paper but we wanted to be positive that it was the right move for our family.  We had talked about buying a fixer house and moving there for a year and renting our home.  We started looking at smaller homes and simultaneously calculating the benefits of renting out our current house but the numbers just weren’t adding up.

Then 2 weeks later our neighbors informed us they were listing their house for sale, one that was almost identical to ours but with a few less upgrades.  We took a look at their list price and realized we could make a hefty profit by just selling the house now.  The housing market in our area has really caught fire in the past few months and homes in the area were selling for 10-15% above list price.  We waited and watched and in the meantime we researched rental homes in the area.

Deciding to Rent

The decision to rent was an easy one.  Rental prices in our area have not caught up to the relative sale prices of homes (the same reason we decided to sell our own home vs. rent it out).  Renting is the perfect solution to our quandary: We can sell our current house and put the cash in an investment account to pull out later when we decide our long-term plan.  In the meantime we can rent a smaller house and see if a smaller space is livable.

One week into our rental search we stumbled upon a great home.  It was only a few miles away and it was 1,680 square feet (that’s right, the exact amount of space I predicted we would need to live comfortably).  It’s 3 bedrooms with a nice open living area and a large finished basement.  We met with the landlord and, despite 30 other applicants, he chose to rent the home to us because of a work connection I have.  We were so excited that we agreed to rent right away despite being weeks away from moving.

Selling our Home

We made the decision to go all out on staging our home so we moved our family to the rental home with only the spare furniture that we removed from the old house.  We repurposed an outdoor table as a dining table, our kids slept on air mattresses and we slept on the spare bed in our basement which doubled as the couch during the day.  We lived like this for 4 weeks while I spent evenings and weekends cleaning up the old house for the sale.

In the end, it was all worth it.  After paying for a complete overhaul of our front and back yard, cleaning and stretching the carpets, and patching holes and floor scratches we listed the house. We chose a list price that was a few thousand dollars higher than our neighbors across the street had just closed.  The house went up for sale on a Thursday and we set an offer review date for the following Tuesday.  By noon on Tuesday we had received a total of 7 offers on the home.  All of the offers waived contingencies for inspection and/or financing and almost all of them contained escalation clauses to outbid each other.  It took us less than 10 minutes to choose the buyer at a winning offer 5% above our list price and far and above our expectations.

The Verdict: Smaller Really is Better

The rest of our furniture finally arrived last week and we’re starting to settle in to the home.  The first 4 weeks had been stressful on us living in limbo and dealing with the anticipation of selling the house.  With all of that behind us we’ve finally found time to take stock of our surroundings and fall in love with our new home.  The neighborhood is very friendly and there are lots of young kids for our girls to play with.  The home is at the end of a cul-de-sac and offers much more opportunity for our girls to play outside and for us to interact with our neighbors.  Our master bedroom is more appropriately sized and feels more cozy than our previous home, the way I expect a master bedroom should feel.  The downstairs basement works perfectly as an oversized playroom for our girls and we’ve left the spare bed down there so that it can transition to a guest room when needed.  We can already tell that the house is essentially perfect for our needs with one small change – we’d love to have a separate small office  so that girls could each have their own bedrooms.

Look for an update in a few months once we finally get settled in the new house.

Have you opted to downsize?  I’d love to hear your story!

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