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How to Downsize in Vancouver’s Red Hot Real Estate Market

Written By Brooke TakharDate 28 Aug. 2016

With all the conversation surrounding the current state of BC’s real estate market, we thought it would be interesting to dive into the finer details of one family’s current transition. Cindy Stocker’s mom, Ann Sutherland, was gracious enough to share her story and provide some valuable tips and advice for how to downsize now, or later down the road.

Recently retired Ann Sutherland is the veteran of 20 plus moves around the Lower Mainland. (More impressive – other than this year’s move she packed and moved everything without the help of any movers. We bow down, Ann!)

Last year her and her husband found themselves in a spot many retirees can relate to – wanting to downsize from their current Vancouver space in a “red hot” real estate market.

To their chagrin “what we could afford a year ago was unattainable this spring, despite our wide range of targeted areas. These areas included Port Moody, New Westminster, White Rock, and even the Sunshine Coast [Gibsons/Sechelt].”

After becoming acquainted with a variety of new neighbourhoods and creating a list of criteria (amenities, easy access to family, friends and favoured activities), one year after they started searching they finally found a new home in Walnut Grove. While it wasn’t in their ideal location (west of the Port Mann Bridge) they are still close enough to their grandchildren and the city, and they are excited about the outdoor extracurricular opportunities Walnut Grove has to offer.

After so many moves in the past, Ann thought this round of packing would be a breeze, but then the reality set in. “With twenty-one years of living in one location you become totally oblivious to all that you tend to accumulate. It gets stashed here, there and everywhere. So much is kept for sentimental reasons or with thought that it might be needed in the future. Does one really need six sets of dishes?”

(I think we can all relate to that stash of boxes in our home that hasn’t been cracked open in years.)

The amount of paperwork they had held onto was also an unhappy surprise. “Before the age of computers you were told to keep an original copy of every piece of paper you got or generated, along with a spare copy, should it be needed. That is a hard concept to shake when you are in your 70’s & 80’s. Over the past two months we have shredded pay stubs and invoices dating as far back as the 1960’s!”

“Knowing when to throw something out is an art we must learn and perfect!”

Downsizing in Vancouver 1 - Urban Presentations Home Staging

(Pre-move)

IMG_0Downsizing in Vancouver 2 - Urban Presentations Home Staging

(Almost ready!)

As Ann and her husband pack their final few boxes (the moving trucks arrive September 7 – this time she is letting the pro’s handle it) we knew she would have some amazing tips for anyone out there just about to start this transition.

 

ANN’S DOWNSIZING TIPS

PLAN & ORGANIZE

  • Plan Ahead – start well in advance [3 months to 1 year ahead]
  • Measure – know what you have to work with – size & balance matter
  • Create Space Plans for Existing Location – include furniture [to scale if possible]
  • Create Space Plans of New Location – include furniture [to scale if possible]
  • Prepare Checklists – write down what you need to do & check off as you complete them
  • Determine Move Needs – plan all aspects of the move including notifications [i.e. changes of address]
  • Determine Packing Needs – invest in good packing materials if you are doing the packing
  • Purge & “Pack as You Go” – pre-pack & label items when and where possible

ASSESS WHAT YOU HAVE – DETERMINE WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT

Create a Rating System!

a. Essential Items – items you need & can’t live without – be decisive

b. “Maybe” Items – items that can be borrowed or easily replaced if required later – be ruthless

c. Items to Discard [Charities] & Pass On [Bequeath Early] – be generous

d. Cull & Pare Down – dispose of duplicate items & items that don’t fit your new home

DETERMINE WHAT IS ESSENTIAL & KEEP ONLY WHAT YOU NEED – LEAVE SPACE TO BREATHE

  • How Much Stuff is “Enough”? – don’t overcrowd & clutter your new home
  • Use New Space as Your Guide – keep only what fits well into your new layout
  • Think Multi-Purpose/Multi-Functional – efficient use of items – target items that are dual purpose

EDITING STRATEGICALLY – LET GO OF WHATEVER YOU DON’T NEED

  • Donate for Re-Use – Family [bequeath early] or Charities [help others]
  • Sell Items of Value No Longer Needed – off-sets move costs
  • Recycle – paper shredder for the single worse space offender
  • Label & Color-Code – organize what moves
  • Take Photos of Sentimental Items Discarded – requires less space while still saving memories

ENJOY & TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR WELL PLANNED NEW HOME!

Excellent advice all-around! Thanks so much Ann!

If you have any more tips for downsizing feel free to add them on our Facebook Page.

As always, if you’re looking to stage your home for a quick sale, please get in touch.