Real estate proves the real deal
Kim Webb took stock of her life at 58.
She'd just lost her mother, Barbara Mulder, and suddenly her house was too big and her working days too long.
“I felt a driving urge to change,” she said. “My job was just too much — too many hours, too much pressure. I also wanted to own something that would bring me enough money to retire on if I left Bermuda.”
She'd swapped real estate for marketing only five years ago; at the time, the industry couldn't provide the income she needed as a single mother.
“During 2000-2008 the market was overheated due to smaller inventory, easy access to mortgage money and a heightened demand which caused prices to inflate,” said Ms Webb, an agent with 25 years' experience. “Once the housing bubble burst in the US and other parts of the world, Bermuda was negatively affected.
“I was offered a job at the Fairmont and decided to move from real estate and go into the hotel field in order to make ends meet on a day-to-day basis. It was wonderful and I really did love it but it was time to return to my first love, real estate, after I lost my mom.”
She returned to her former employer, Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty, in June. She then put her home on the market.
“I priced my family property at its appraised value [and] I made sure that it was perfect for showing and depersonalised it. I had an above-price offer within days.
“While I was prepping the old homestead, I started my search for the perfect place to downsize. My agent — yes, I used an agent even though I held my licence — spent many hours showing me multiple places. There was certain criteria that I was determined to stick by: it had to be on one level, no steps; two bedrooms and two bathrooms; a nice exterior area, one that would be good for my dog, and [there had to] be an area to entertain. It also had to be priced so that I had money left over to buffer my retirement.”
Ms Webb soon found her dream home. She's now using that experience to help other baby boomers live “a better quality of life”.
“I think I would like to target a niche market — people in the same situation as I am, people who have homes but don't need all the space they have, people who are looking to downsize,” she said. “It is a wonderfully liberating thing to go through; purging your life of unnecessary things and scaling back. Bermuda is building again, it is coming back.
“We are seeing an increase in confidence in the market. Younger families can afford to buy houses to grow into and people like me can buy places they can retire in.
“I am planning to leave Bermuda in the future, to rent out my apartment and retire to a country where I can afford to live without working. I would encourage anyone who is in my age bracket, and in similar circumstances, to do the same. It will change your life in so many ways.
“As boomers reach retirement they will experience a lot of pressure to downsize, not only to reduce their costs but also to cash out some of the equity in their homes to cover their living expenses.
“The truth is that I have never felt lighter or more alive. I don't miss the things that I left behind nearly as much as I thought I would and I appreciate my new-found freedom on every level.”