Time to Downsize: Selling the Family Home

downsizing the family home

Not my house, but you get the idea.

The arc of the American Dream: go to school, graduate, get a job, work hard so you can buy a house, pay the mortgage for years and years while you raise your children, retire and realize the house is too big or you want to live somewhere else, sell the house and buy your dream retirement home. Time to downsize.

I didn’t exactly do it in that order. It wasn’t on purpose, but that’s how it turned out. When I retired, I had already bought my dream retirement home. And I thought I would sell the house I had raised my children in and pay off both that mortgage and the one on my new house. That was the plan. Then the housing bubble burst. Naturally, that was exactly when I was retiring. So my farmhouse in rural California lost two-thirds of its value before I could even get it ready to sell.

Two mortgages, one pension. Not a formula for financial success. And definitely NOT downsizing!

I lived with that situation for seven-and-a-half years. At first, I rented to a couple who were supposed to be leasing to buy. I made that deal with them right before the market disaster. They had a house to sell before they could buy mine. Well, of course, that didn’t happen. My whole plan fell apart. How was I going to downsize now?

The putative buyers moved out eventually, and my daughter and her hubby moved in. I was happy to help, especially when he lost his job. The only problem is that it’s too easy to make rent the last priority when you’re unemployed and it’s Mom who is landlord.

I finally ran out of patience as well as money and decided to at least find out if the house was worth more than I owed on it. And that’s where I lucked out. I really didn’t want to have to move back into the house in order to oversee repairs, but I thought I would have to. Then, a friend who had sold real estate in the past told me that a realtor would take care of that for me as part of the deal to sell the house. Who knew?

The very first realtor I called was Nichole. She was such a godsend! She interviewed contractors to clean up the yard, fix the deck, mow the field and all the other things that needed to be done before the house could be sold. She even helped my daughter declutter the house so it could be shown. I had no idea a realtor would do all that. She certainly earned her commission.

The house is in escrow now and due to close in a couple of weeks (knocking on my wooden desk, here). I can’t believe it. I never even had to go down there. I’m so grateful to Nichole that I think she may be tired of hearing, “thank you.”

And, lest you think I’m hardhearted, my daughter and family have moved into an apartment in a seaside town, within walking distance of the beach! It’s a better place for them, more walkable and more fun for my granddaughter. I’m happy; they’re happy. Win/win.

Are you in the mood to downsize? Have you sold your family home, or are you planning to? Please share your experiences. Inquiring minds and all that.

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