The Upside of Downsizing

In April this year, 90-year-old property investor, Nora Salter, sold the four-bedroom Annandale terrace that she bought for $235,000 in 1990, for almost $2 million – a staggering $256,000 over its reserve. According to Domain, the median price of houses in Sydney has exceeded $900,000 for the first time ever. Homes that were selling for $2 million two years ago, are now cracking the $3 million mark and clearance rates are creeping towards 90 per cent for the first time. Melbourne and Canberra have also been experiencing record sales, thrilling auctioneers and delighting vendors left, right and centre. There’s no denying that if you’re thinking of downsizing, now’s a smart time to do it. Sky-high sales mean there’s the potential for impressive profits; plenty of change left over to enjoy, once you downsize, and perhaps even more rewarding than the money: a welcome lifestyle change.

 

In April this year, 90-year-old property investor, Nora Salter, sold the four-bedroom Annandale terrace that she bought for $235,000 in 1990, for almost $2 million – a staggering $256,000 over its reserve. According to Domain, the median price of houses in Sydney has exceeded $900,000 for the first time ever. Homes that were selling for $2 million two years ago, are now cracking the $3 million mark and clearance rates are creeping towards 90 per cent for the first time. Melbourne and Canberra have also been experiencing record sales, thrilling auctioneers and delighting vendors left, right and centre. There’s no denying that if you’re thinking of downsizing, now’s a smart time to do it. Sky-high sales mean there’s the potential for impressive profits; plenty of change left over to enjoy, once you downsize, and perhaps even more rewarding than the money: a welcome lifestyle change.

For Lyn Hosking, moving into The Links at Waterford just over a year ago was the perfect solution to her regular jet-setting, that sees her away from her home for up to four months of the year. “I manage tours for some travel agents, mainly seniors cruises and some specialised ones too. It’s all organised ahead of time, then I go and escort everyone. It’s my retirement job,” she says. “In a couple of months I’m off to Amsterdam, St Petersburg and around the Baltics for three weeks, then to Paris for a few days. After that I have a ten-day break in Paris and London to meet my daughter who’s flying over from America, before meeting a seniors group and taking them on a cruise down the coast to Iceland. It’s so good knowing that when I have to go away I can just walk out the door and everything will be looked after. It’s a great feeling of security.” 

She’s not the only one. While downsizing isn't for everyone, baby boomers are certainly taking advantage of the current market. A survey by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute has revealed that 43% of Aussies aged 50 – 59 have either moved location or downsized in the years leading up to their retirement – a huge shift from the 3% reported in early 2000. 

“Once the kids move out, the family home just becomes too big for many people. If there is only one or two of you, what do you need four bedrooms for? Downsizing offers freedom – there’s less maintenance required in a small apartment, and you’re able to lock up and leave without a worry in the world when you go on holidays. It’s a much easier lifestyle,” says director of Home Property Agents, Gabi Somlai. 

“I’ve found that especially in the lower, upper and middle North Shore of Sydney, the kids are growing up and moving away or going travelling. A lot of their parents are selling up and moving to be closer to their friends on the other side of the bridge. The market is so hot at the moment that people are selling their homes for much higher prices that they’d get ordinarily and making considerable profit. Sydney is definitely experiencing the full effect of the boom at the moment. Melbourne and Brisbane are starting to cool, but Sydney may continue in this way for another 12 – 18 months.”  

For Lyn, the most rewarding aspect of living in the village has absolutely nothing to do with money. “I’m often away for at least three weeks at a time on tours, but even to be able to go off in a caravan for a few weeks or visit my daughter in the US, and leave my place without having to worry about anything is great,” she says. “But more than that, we all get on so well here. You have to allow half an hour to get to the rubbish bin because you have so many conversations along the way. And if you’re unwell there’s always someone knocking on your door with soup or something. It’s a real feeling of community. Moving here was the best thing I’ve ever done.”