Ask McEnearney Jean Beatty

A good rule of thumb when it comes to downsizing is that it is better to do it before you really need to. You never want to be looking for a new home while you are in crisis mode. You want to look for your next home when you are calm and don’t feel pressured to do it immediately.

But how do you know that now is really the right time? I have a couple of simple questions that I use with my clients to determine whether they are ready to take the next step.

Does your house feel too big for you? If your house feels too big -- whether it’s because the kids are gone, the mortgage is putting a strain on your finances, or because it is just getting harder to clean -- it is probably too big. It is time to consider downsizing.

Are small tasks becoming burdensome? If you are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of all the little things that you need to do around the house, like taking the trash down to the end of the driveway or picking up sticks from your yard, it might be time to downsize.

Are you paying someone else for things you used to do yourself? If every month, you pay more and more to have people do the things that you used to do yourself, like mowing your lawn, cleaning your windows, or other routine home maintenance items, that is usually a good indicator that it is time to downsize.  

If you have had these, or other thoughts about your current house, it might be a good time to start thinking about and considering your options, even if you aren’t planning on selling for another couple of years. Reaching out to a great Realtor should be one of your first steps. A good agent will have multiple resources to help you prepare for the next stage of your life. She will help you do the prep work on your house, such as removing excess items and selling them, or advising you on potential areas to remodel that will improve the market value of your property. Then, when the time comes, the home selling process will be easier and a lot less stressful.

A good agent will not only help you move out of your current house, but she can also help you figure out where you want to go next. Perhaps it’s a smaller house closer in to where you work, a 55+ community, a detached home where you can age-in place, or a condo that does all of the maintenance work for you. There are options for you and your unique lifestyle needs.

At the end of the day, it is all about taking that first step and thinking about what you want from your future home. Downsizing is not something to be dreaded. Simplifying your life is always worth it in the end, and I would be happy to explore options with you.

Jean Beatty is a licensed real estate agent in VA, MD, and DC with McEnearney Associates Realtors® in McLean, VA. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today's complex market, contact Jean at 301-641-4149 or visit her website

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: or call 703.549.9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreMcEnearney

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