Moving is a stressful experience at the best of times, and downsizing after living in the same house for decades can seem like an insurmountable task, but with a few phone calls and a little bit of effort, the process can be relatively pain-free.
“The first call should be to a realtor who specializes in (the neighbourhood) and specializes in downsizing,” says Cassie Kangas, a realtor with DFH Real Estate and a lifetime resident of Oak Bay. She’s been selling homes in the community for eight years, and says that the general rule of moving every seven years doesn’t apply here.
“It’s much longer,” she says. “I went to elementary school with kids whose parents are still living in Oak Bay. We’re looking at 35 and 40 years for some people.”
After such a long time, she says, it’s important that no surprises crop up when the house goes on the market.
“I definitely recommend doing a pre-inspection,” says Kangas. Dealing with old oil tanks in the yard or anything that would make the house unliveable – like a roof in need of replacement – is a must, but renovations aren’t always necessary.
“It’s usually not worth putting any money into the house, unless it’s something that needs to be done that would impede the sale of the home,” she says. “It’s more realistic to just price the home where it needs to be, reflecting any work it might need.”
Tearing out walls or replacing the kitchen might be a bit much, but a coat of paint and a professional’s eye can do wonders to interest buyers, says Brenda Russell, realtor with Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty. Russell has been licensed for 24 years, and has seen what a little bit of staging can do.
“Doing a colour consultation or even just changing a few pieces of furniture around…I always encourage even an hour’s consultation,” she says. “It doesn’t cost very much, and when you bring a professional in, then you’ve got a ‘wow’ experience.”
Russell adds that while professional help can be invaluable, to remember that every house is individual, and no house is going to be perfect.
“Every home is different. Your neighbour’s isn’t the same as yours,” she says. “Even a brand new house isn’t perfect, so there’s always going to be something to look at.”
Both Kangas and Russell agree that the important thing is to take the process one step at a time, and not be afraid to call in help if needed.
“It’s about gently getting started, and gently working through the process,” says Kangas.