If you really need to downsize, my advice is go for it
More and more people seem to be asking, "When is the best time to downsize?" Generally, it has always been considered better to move to a smaller property when prices are on the increase, for the simple reason that the price differential works in your favour.
However, is it really that important to try to maximise the benefit to its absolute limit?
The fact remains that the best time to move home is always when it suits you. The practical issues should always outweigh the financial ones. For instance, why should you continue to rattle around in a place that's too big for your needs, with all the extra work involved, just in the hope of achieving a slightly higher sale price in a year or two's time?
Besides, plenty of people are trading down at the moment – so much so, in fact, that recent figures suggest that demand for smaller properties from downsizers is actually fuelling something of a jump in asking prices. According to figures I saw recently, the average asking price (across the UK, but not yet here in East Yorkshire) is now, allegedly, £235,741 – up from £229,429 in January, and just £2,115 shy of the post- financial crisis record set in February 2008.
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And apparently, it is "property old hands" who are fuelling that increase, with 71 per cent of people who intend to sell this year being over the age of 45. Indeed, the most active are those in the 55 to 64 age bracket, who make up 30 per cent of the total.
Of course, aside from simply wanting a smaller place that is easier to maintain and heat, many people are choosing to trade down in order to help fund their retirement. And why not? After all, we're all living longer, and all the much-publicised pressure on pensions makes downsizing the obvious alternative – far preferable, in my view, to any of the superficially tempting equity release schemes that are being touted around at the moment.
Also, by the very nature of things, many downsizers are cash buyers – which puts them in the strongest possible negotiating position.
But even where that is not the case, many older homeowners with large amounts of equity are benefiting from the extremely low rates currently being offered by lenders, thanks to the Government's Funding for Lending scheme.
So, my advice is: if you need to downsize, just go for it.