Weighing up the pros and cons to downsizing

News > Market & Opinion - 05 Jul 2019

There can be no doubt that the current state of our economy is putting pressure on many South African consumers. According to the FNB Estate Agents Survey for Q1 2019, 15.9% of sellers attributed their reason for selling to downscaling due to financial pressure.

“When it comes to financial stress, downsizing is often a forced decision that homeowners reluctantly make to keep up with the rising costs of living. However, as tough as it might be, homeowners stand a much better chance of recouping their losses and bolstering their financial position if they sell before they start falling behind on their bond repayments,” explains Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Understanding that this is not always an easy decision to make, Goslett offers his insights into some of the pros and cons of making this decision:

Con: Hidden Costs

“Homeowners need to be prepared for the unexpected costs involved in a sale before they make this decision. Before going ahead with the sale, subtract commission fees, bond registration, and cancellation fees, as well as advanced payments of municipal accounts from your selling price for a realistic view on what you will get out of the sale of your current property. Doing this calculation can help you determine whether the profit from the sale will be enough to cover as many of your other debts as you initially hoped it would.”

Pro: Lower Monthly Instalments  

“The true saving in downsizing is not necessarily the profit from the sale, but what homeowners stand to save on their monthly home loan repayments. You might not get as much out of the sale, but you will have more disposable income in your budget each month to help you pay off or avoid getting into other debt.”

Pro & Con: Less Space

“Another important factor is the space you stand to lose when downsizing. Apart from the adjustment, you will need to make when living in a smaller space, you might also need to factor in purchasing new furniture that will fit into the tighter living quarters – bearing in mind that you can sell your existing furniture to recoup some of these costs. However, having a smaller space also means that your electricity and water bills are likely to be much lower. If you had a large garden, you will also save on the costs of garden maintenance.”

“Whatever you decide, I would recommend that you make this decision sooner rather than later. If you are facing financial pressure, it is always better to take a proactive approach than to sit back and hope that the situation will improve by itself over time. If you need help deciding whether downsizing is right for you, I would recommend that you speak to your financial advisor and visit our website to find a real estate professional who can give you an accurate market valuation of your home,” Goslett concludes.

buyers property market
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