Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rightsizing Your East Bay Home

Money can't buy you love... but setting aside financial stress can bring you happiness. The economic downturn has added stress to many Bay Area pocketbooks. But, for many it has also granted new perspective. There seems to be a paradigm shift in the East Bay market away from "keeping up with the Joneses" and toward "seeking a simpler life." Michael Jansen of Small Living Journal writes the following:
Downsizing is a common discussion point among those seeking a simpler life. Learning to live with less and reducing your impact and dependence on your surroundings can bring you more peace, freedom, and happiness. Many people seem to have chosen lives so complicated and costly that their surroundings actually provide more of a burden than a benefit. For these folks downsizing will be the direction they will travel if they desire a simpler life. Finding the balance between too much and too little is rightsizing.
The East Bay holds some wonderful "simple life" advantages. Known for the Berkeley Bungalow, the area has an eclectic supply of "rightsized" homes. Our climate and local offerings also contribute to this quality of life equation. The idea of shopping for the evening's meal can be a great adventure in an area with ample access to farmer's markets, fresh bread and specialty cheese and meat markets. Buyer's location preferences have shifted toward such urban amenities. A big Bay view has always been valued, but now often takes a second place to a high Walk Score. Our Bay Area lifestyle gives rightsizers reason to rejoice!

If rightsizing appeals to you, your new home search starts with one basic question: What is important to you? Often a determination of what is important is achieved by the process of elimination. Start with the dream and then whittle it down to the necessities:
  1. Write down everything you every imagined a home could be. Then, prioritize that list. The things you need for health and safety get the highest points. Things that make a positive impact in your daily life are next. Bells and whistles fall to the bottom.
  2. Next, analyze your prioritized list against your life goals. Ask yourself questions that are meaningful to the life you want, such as: Would one less bedroom allow you to travel more? Could you live with less yard if it meant you could walk to work or BART? Adjust your list accordingly.
  3. Finally, take your list to your Realtor. Talk to your Realtor to see if the sacrifices are worthwhile. In some instances, downsizing may put you into a more competitive price bracket and your sacrifices may not buy you the desired benefits. Conversely, you may not have to give up any space to "downsize." You may find that accepting some disadvantage in the location (BART or busy street for example) may allow you to keep your square footage requirements high while you lessen the expense. See one rightsizing example at www.1116KeyRoute.com.
Your Realtor can also help you calculate the costs of moving. A purely lateral move (neither upsizing nor downsizing) may cost as much as 10% of your home's value through costs associated with the transaction. To realize a financial benefit , your new home will have to cost 90% less than your current home's worth. Your Realtor can give you an indication of your current home's value to use as a starting point. Looking at the available inventory in a lower price point will give you further education. Let us help you to live the life you have always wanted. Your dream house should be about YOUR dreams.

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