KeyInvest recently hosted a workshop at some of our villages, for retirees looking to gain some advice on the process of downsizing. Four industry experts from the fields of interior design, real estate, auctioneering and retirement villages were on hand to explain how to make what might seem a daunting process, so much easier.

On preparing your home for sale

David Brookman of Turner Real Estate offered the following advice on preparing the family home for sale:

  1. Remove the clutter – removing items that aren’t essential for selling the house will make the property neater and rooms look bigger. If you’ve seen “The Block”, you would have noticed that they focus on one room at a time for their challenges. This is how you should approach preparing your home for sale. Focus on each room making it look it’s very best and as spacious as possible. Aim to leave a lot of open space and remove any unnecessary furniture.
  2. Patch and Paint walls – repair cracks and major scuffs.  People notice them.
  3. Give the property a good clean – make sure it is generally clean but also clean dirty vents, remove sneaky cobwebs and anything else that could make potential buyers think the property wasn’t well maintained.
  4. Maintenance –  we hear lots of comments mumbled under people’s breath at inspections about the smallest things – cracked power points, broken heating ducts, loose door handles etc. Make a list of the little things and fix them.
  5. Door handles – replacing door handles can make a big difference to the impression a house leaves on prospective buyers.
  6. Garden – planting some flowers can be a cost-effective strategy for adding some colour to a property.
  7. Consider having it staged – having your property staged for the sale is a great way to present your property at its very best without buying new furniture and artwork etc..
  8. Towels – if you’re still living in your property while it’s being sold, you may want to invest in some ‘show’ towels.
  9. Light and air – open curtains and blinds to let as much natural light in as possible.   Put lights on where you don’t get natural light. It’s a good idea to make sure you have plenty of air fresheners and aides to make your house smell nice. Try to avoid cooking any foods with a strong smell and make sure you stay on top of any pet odours throughout the sale campaign.

On using an auctioneer

Independent auctioneer AJ Colman believes auctioneers can be very useful to downsizers and recommends using an auctioneer who has experience in helping retirees transition to retirement living.  Auctioneers can help by:

  1. Identifying items of value and suitability to be sold by auction – sometimes things that are deemed to be of value aren’t worth as much as the owners thought whilst other things, especially valuable furniture, ornaments and jewelry can be very valuable without the owners realising it.
  2. Auctioneers can organise the consignment and delivery of items to the appropriate estate auctions specialist (auction house) and will even allocate a team to pack the contents of homes and sheds, organise donations and remove rubbish.
  3. In as little as fourteen days from first contact, forty years of family life can be packed up, sorted out and a house made ready for sale/rental. This efficient timeframe minimises the time families deal with the arduous task of separating sentiment from estate valuables.

On finding the right retirement village

Andrew Meinel, General Manager of Client Services at KeyInvest offered the following advice to retirees considering a retirement living arrangement in a village or similar:

Check if the facility is governed by the Retirement Villages Act. Some facilities are governed by other acts which do not afford the same protection to retirees.

  1. Take time to understand your contract. There is usually a sizeable cooling-off period attached to any contract. Take the time to talk to family, lawyers and financial advisers to get advice.  Don’t be pressured into signing before you are entirely comfortable and familiar with the contents of the contract.
  2. Most retirement villages offer a ‘loan licence’ contract which sees you purchase a right to live in the house for life on an interest-free loan to the operator.  There should be no stamp duty.
  3. Make sure you understand what is paid for by the monthly maintenance fee as each village can differ.  This monthly charge can cover a significant portion of your living costs including maintenance of your home and garden.
  4. Understand the ‘exit fee’ which is called the ‘deferred management fee.’  There is usually no or little cost attached to moving into a home in a retirement village but there is usually a charge involved when you leave i.e. a percentage fee of the sale price to the next buyer. This should not be more than 25 to 35% and allows the operator to invest back into the village.ideally. There will also usually be a refurbishment fee (usually to replace carpet and a fresh coat of paint).

On styling your new home

Gayle Keen of Interiors By Design offers the following advice for decorating a new home, especially on a budget:

  1. Colours – keep walls and furniture as neutral as possible from a colour perspective (white or cream are always the best choices) so that lounge cushions, throw-overs, towels and ornaments can provide the colour ‘accents’ to a home. Items like accent cushions and towels are cheap to buy and you can rotate colour schemes with the season very cost effectively, making you feel like your home has had a make-over.
  2. Less is more – once you have downsized, try to keep your house as free of clutter as possible. It makes the house look more stylish and is easier to clean.
  3. Windows – go for quality fittings that will last 20 years and that are neutral in colour so that you don’t get sick of them too easily.