Join The Downsizing Conversation
I keep experiencing a sense of déjà vu lately. At least four or five times a week, I find myself in the middle of the same conversation with completely different people that I only seemingly randomly came into contact with. Coincidence? I think not. I don’t believe In coincidences anymore. Everything has meaning if you pay attention.
The scenario usually goes like this: A call comes in. The person on the line is thinking about selling a home. They have a few questions. They wonder if I can come over to take a look. They want to begin collecting information. They’d like to get recommendations on what they need to do to prepare. They aren’t ready to sell today. They’re just trying to get a handle on things. A better sense of what the big picture in real estate looks like. Where the market is and how much they might be able to sell for.
All of this is great of course. It’s what I do. How many hundreds of these calls and visits have I had over the years? How many thousands of people have I talked to who were at some critical point along the spectrum of change in their lives? Folks living in different homes. With different backgrounds. Histories. Different jobs. Incomes. Different interests. Very different lifestyles. And yet, there it is: The discussion that keeps coming back around these days with greater and greater frequency.
What invariably starts out as a simple real estate-related Q&A suddenly shifts toward broader concerns. More substantial goals. Bigger worries. Existential dilemmas. Philosophical questions. Quality of life considerations. It’s a collective voice. An echo rising from deep within the culture. A huge, silent dreaming that’s seeking expression. Looking around for other like-minded voices to engage with and learn from.
The caller is usually somewhere between 60 and 75 years old. They often have aging parents in their 80s or 90s. Maybe kids close to graduating college or already out in the world. They are bouncing retirement issues around. When and how to quit working? There’s a nascent desire to “move down” in scope. Simplify life. Get rid of all the useless stuff collecting in the garage. Thoughts about fewer stairs. Less yard and ongoing property maintenance. A strong urge to be debt free.
They have conflicting notions about whether it makes sense to stay here or move somewhere else that’s less expensive. A place with less traffic. Somewhere with a strong sense of community. Neighborhoods where you can walk. Meet other neighbors. Enjoy interesting cultural offerings. Outdoor activities. A life that’s more experience-based rather than stuff-based.
There are all kinds of unanswered questions floating in and out of the picture: How much of a nest egg is really necessary? What about future health issues? All the confusion about health insurance, long-term care insurance, family trusts? The vagaries of social security? The esoteric nature of financial planning? The lingering memory of our recent financial meltdown? And how ultimately, does all of it relate back to decisions involving our primary residences? Homes. The biggest assets most of us own, as well as the all-important physical, emotional, spiritual centering places in our lives
Sound familiar? Welcome to the club. With slight variations here and there, this is the core conversation that more and more people are having. Today 10,000 people in the US will turn 65. In another 5 to 7 years, that number will go way up. At the same time people are going to be living longer than their parents did. What does it all mean for life and for real estate in the future? You are invited to join the conversation. Stay tuned.