How To Help Downsizing Clients

There are many reasons why homeowners may choose to move to a smaller home. Often times, children leave home and the family simply doesn’t need as many bedrooms or as much square footage. Sometimes people become tired of caring for big homes or large lots. In other cases, financial difficulties, divorce or the death of a spouse may be the catalyst for the move.

Whatever the reason, downsizing clients often require some special considerations from their real estate professional. Here are some things to keep in mind when your clients are downsizing:

Be prepared that the transaction may have an emotional component for your clients. In fact, you may be required to deal with a full range of emotions, including sadness, nostalgia, excitement, happiness, trepidation and relief, depending on the reasons for downsizing. You can help by being sensitive to your clients’ feelings and realizing that this may be more than a business transaction for them. Be patient and give them room to express their feelings and work through emotions if needed.
Sellers may need additional time to organize their move and purge belongings that won’t fit into their smaller new home. Early in the transaction, ask what their plans are and if they will need time to hold an estate sale or garage sale before they vacate the property. Work with them to determine a realistic timeframe for packing and moving. Having this information before contract negotiations start will be helpful to you, and will help create realistic expectations for them.
If sellers have owned the property for many years, clutter could be a potential problem for showings, as well as for vacating the home. If so, give them ample time before listing the property for cleaning and purging, or recommend the services of a professional home stager to help prepare the house.
If your clients have furniture, artwork or mirrors that they don’t plan to use in their new home, find out if they would consider conveying the items with the property. Ask them to assign a value to each item so that you can have that information for contract negotiations. Be sure to let potential buyers know what items are available to convey.
To help clients find a satisfactory new property, ask them questions that go beyond how many bedrooms and bathrooms they want. Find out what they like best about their former home that could be replicated in their new, smaller place. Ask about any lifestyle changes they may plan to make after the move. For example, a pending retirement may mean more time for recreation and hobbies that could influence the type of new home they desire. Besides the home purchase price, ask what they expect to pay in property taxes, utility expenses and maintenance costs. It’s also helpful to know what architectural and decorative elements they like most about the home they are leaving, so you can get a sense of the style of home they would enjoy.
If you sense that your clients are reluctant or conflicted about leaving a long-time or beloved home, frame one of the listing photos or have a copy made of the listing video to present as a closing gift.
Consider adding an HSASM Home Warranty to the transaction. It provides valuable budget protection from unexpected breakdown expenses of covered home system components and appliances. This may be especially beneficial for clients who are on a fixed income and who may be worried about expenses due to home malfunctions, or for clients who just don’t want to deal with the hassles of finding qualified repair help. For more information, visit or call 1-800-367-1448.