How to Beat Downsizers Syndrome

When you know you need to downsize, but delay it for years because the process is overwhelming, you are suffering from Downsizers Syndrome. What if you could get a complete downsizing plan in just three hours?

Scenario 1—The Empty Nest: The kids have grown and moved out, you stayed behind in The Family House for a little too long, but can’t bear leaving the memories behind. After all, it was the backdrop for holidays, proms, laughter, game nights, and gatherings with family who are no longer with us. Maybe you’ve brought your newborns here. It’s home. And the kids remind you of that every time you mention selling it.

But, it’s just too much space. Too much work. It’s time. It’s been time. For a decade.

Scenario 2—The Holiday House: You actually upsized after the kids moved out, bought The Holiday House—the place where everyone was supposed to gather during the holidays, to create new memories with new in-laws and grandbabies (fingers crossed)! All of them. Under one roof. You outfitted each guest room with a TV, fresh bedding and matching towels.

After a few years of the kids splitting the holidays with the other sets of in-laws, you now close the doors and vents of an entire floor for 363 days of the year, to keep energy bills low. Meanwhile, you still maintain, clean, insure and pay taxes for this cavernous Holiday House, then live in only four rooms.

Scenario 3—The Enticement House: Maybe you bought The Enticement House—the house on the lake, complete with boat and every floatation device known to mankind. It has a second kitchen, two decks, furniture for party weekends, and the visiting kids and grandkids have used—and enjoyed—it well.

But now, the grandkids are entrenched in sports, so you’re driving to their games if you want to see anyone. Meanwhile, it’s no longer funny that you have the best glutes in the family because the stairs are killing your knees.

Scenario 4—Home on the Range: Maybe you grew tired of the homes associations and neighbors and bought The Land. Over the years you’ve given names to the deer, turkey, a fox family, and the single cougar that share The Land with you. The quiet sunset evenings with wine, the dew-cooled mornings with coffee, the quiet nights where you hear the family of barred owls caterwauling to each other…it’s been your bliss.

The weekends devoted to the riding mower, the leaking septic tank, the constant battle with local varmints for the harvest from your vegetable garden, the a**hole neighbor’s dog attacking the chickens…not-so-much on the bliss side. And if you have a barn, God help you because it’s probably full.

Scenario 5—The Family Home: You’ve lived here for decades, surrounded by neighbors, routines, and memories. The house is paid off, so there’s no urgency to sell and move. Maybe your spouse has developed a health issue and a change will soon be unavoidable. Or, maybe your spouse has passed, and you find yourself in limbo, somewhere between adjusted and unsettled. The kids want you to move to a place where they won’t worry about you, but the idea of going through the stuff and making countless decisions fills you with dread.

Still, it feels like you should get out while the gettin’s good, settle in to the new place—decorate it and maybe buy a few new pieces of furniture. You can enjoy the cash from the sale of your home, travel, play more golf, meet new people.

Each of these scenarios was supposed to be The Last Stop. We forget that our bodies give out faster than our minds. As Bette Davis said, “Old age sure ain’t for sissies.”

The Great Offload: You haven’t offloaded anything in the past few decades. Now? You need to pare down to less than one-third of your belongings. How on earth do you make those decisions, especially when there are so many “unknowns?”

What to do with the sentimental items? You’re surrounded by years of memories and accumulated stuff. The kids fall into two camps: In the first camp are kids who want the family treasures, but don’t have the space for anything. Not yet. Will you pay to ship it to them? Or, will you move it into storage then pay to store it, possibly for years?

In the second camp are kids who don’t want anything. They keep saying, “Toss it all!” But, some of this stuff has been in the family for a century. You can’t just throw it away; but, what to do with it all? The process of getting everything into the right hands will take forever.

What will you want for the next home? You need the proceeds of this house to buy the next house. You haven’t found the next house, so will you need to move twice, first into storage and an apartment? How expensive is that going to be?

Plus, how do you decide what furniture to keep for a place you haven’t yet purchased?

Is an estate sale the best option? If the family ransacks the good stuff, will there be enough to justify an estate sale? What about the timing? Can the estate sale happen in the short pocket of time between getting a contract and the home’s closing date? What if the home doesn’t sell in time? If you bypass an estate sale, you’re back to square one: how to best get rid of everything without just throwing it away? If you sell it yourself, do you want strangers coming to your home?

Whose got the time and energy to do this? The thought of sorting, tossing, donating, selling, and hauling up from the basement has filled you with anxiety for years. “Help” from friends or the kids looks more like impatience and annoyance.

How deep to go with updating before it’s a waste of money? You want top dollar for your home, but you haven’t updated for years. Where to start? You know you need to make some changes and install new carpet, but won’t you need to move everything out first? What, and then move it back in? Seriously?

Decisions, decisions. What are you going to do with the wood shop and tools, or the sewing and crafts room, or the hobby car and its parts, or the collection of furniture you want to restore and sell?

What you’re wanting is a peek into the future, and this is my superpower: knowing the questions to ask, so that decision-making is a cinch, and the process is far less complicated.

My goal is to find that sweet spot: minimum expense for maximum return.

One Couple’s Story: I helped a couple wanting to downsize from their Enticement Home: a very full, three-story lake home. After a couple hours of working together, they had a plan and a timeline. They knew exactly what they were keeping, where everything else was going, and how to best use the short amount of time between now and the day photos would be taken.

Later, their real estate agent thanked me, saying, “You saved me from weeks of showing them totally inadequate homes that they were going to reject, because they ultimately needed more space.”

I helped equip them to make decisions. They knew how to cut deeper, if necessary, because the “unknowns” were resolved. They had clarity and a plan, which was the true gift of our work together.

Our Consultation: With zero judgement, I know the questions to ask that will streamline the process, and greatly reduce the costs and stressors of downsizing, or “right-sizing.” Our work includes (1) a unique way of getting clarity, (2) breaking down the blocks that have made it difficult to make progress up to this point, (3) specific steps to take and the order to take them, and (4) a timeline.  

The Goal: To transition from this home to your next home with as much money in your pocket as possible, while minimizing mistakes and maximizing resources.

For your Great Offload, I show you how to let go in a way that is so perfect in its simplicity, you might weep in relief (it’s happened!).

Don’t wait until you’re in a position that forces you to make hasty decisions that you may regret, and cost you far more.

Whether you have three months or three weeks to pull this off, give me a call and let’s get started!

Do a little pre-appointment brainstorming with yourself and download my FREE Dreamsheet: What your 80-year-old-self wants you to know.

Copyright © 2022 by Cynthia Gentry Black, Home Staging by Cynthia, LLC in Kansas City.
All rights reserved. No portion may be shared, reused or republished in any format without express written consent of the author.

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