I am fortunate enough to have helped a lot a Canberra home owners go through the process of selling their residence and downsizing (including my parents).

This is a major life decision and can be a time of stress. However, it can also be a great opportunity to find new freedoms and enter an exciting phase of your life.

Here are just a few points I have come across in helping people with the process.


Downsizing into a small home can often lead to freeing up equity to use for travelling, changing your lifestyle or adding to your super. However, this is not always the case.

Often I see the big four bedroom house in the suburbs, which may be a little dated, fetch the same price as the shiny new, two bedroom apartment or townhouse in a highly sort after area, next to the coffee shops.

This is where ego often gets in the way. I hear “My lovely big family house is worth more than that”. Don’t forget you are buying lifestyle. If all us aging baby boomers want to live in a particular location with the “sort after lifestyle” then the laws of supply and demand say you will pay more for the property.

You need to stay focused on what you are trying to achieve. You are looking for a change of lifestyle. Don’t let your ego get in the way.

As part of the 2014-2015 budget the ACT Government announced that it would change the stamp duty concession scheme to help home owners over the age of 60 to move into housing more suitable to their needs. Those eligible will be able to pay stamp duty at a concessional rate.

Details of eligibility and the thresholds can be viewed at the following web sites:




Land appreciates, houses depreciate.

We all know how much work goes into the maintenance of a house and the upkeep of a garden. There comes a time when we can’t, or don’t wish to keep up that effort.

The sad reality is that houses lose their value faster than we think when the maintenance is not kept up. I often see a once magnificent home in sad need of a little TLC. As a result, the prospective buyer will be turned off or they will factor it into the price they offer. The original owner still sees their treasured family home as it was 10 years ago and not the condition it is now.

This comes into the “when to move” discussion as well.

When to make the move

Don’t leave the decision until it’s too late. Make the decision while it is still your decision to make.

Make sure you choose your lifestyle for your later years and how you might cope as your circumstances change.

Choosing your home

Do you really need the 4 bedrooms? Is it just in case all the grandchildren come to stay at once?  Can you get away with 3 bedrooms and the third bedroom doubling as a study that can be used as a spill over guest room?

There are a few obvious things to consider when choosing the downsized home. Things such as internal steps and two storeys are an obvious turn off.

Good building blocks in Territory Core Zones are expensive. To make a project viable for a builder they have to fit as many units on the block as possible. This often means going to a second storey.

If you choose your floor plan wisely, you can have the main living areas and master bedroom/ensuite downstairs. The guest bedroom/carers room and study can be upstairs. As you age you may not need to use the upstairs as much. Cleaning can be organised with the one of the agencies that helps seniors in this area.

Then there are also the usual items such as no lip on the shower or even wheel chair access to the shower at some later date. Grab rails etc. can also be added at a later date. There are organisations that will help with this.

The Government actively encourages “aging in place”, particularly in appropriate accommodation. Information is available through the Department of Human Services’ Home and Community Care.


De-clutter for a smaller home.

That’s a whole other discussion for another time.

About The Author

Peter Morrell

Peter is based in McGrath’s Woden office in the ACT and specialises in the areas of Woden and Weston Creek. His in-depth knowledge of the area’s many benefits and outstanding growth records gives him an unparalleled understanding of the local demographic and property market.

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