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Home is full of memories, but it needs work

Heather Chilvers

Dear Heather,

My husband and I live in the three-bedroom home that we brought our family up in, and we love it but, there is so much maintenance required. We have to take care of the yard, paint the roof and walls; the pit really needs replacing so do some of the windows. It’s time to clean out and repair the water tank again.

We love our house but sometimes it all seems a bit too much to handle. What would you advise? — Overwhelmed

Dear Overwhelmed,

You are not alone. Many people feel this way once the family has grown and gone. It’s hard to let go of something that holds so many memories, however there has never been a better time to downsize.

We have some fabulous condominiums on the market, so there is a lot to choose from. Hassle-free, no maintenance (someone else takes care of that), instant friends and neighbours, amenities such as pools, tennis courts, large grounds, even a few with a beach or a dock!

It’s true that you may not get as much for your house as you would have at the peak of the market. Our in-house market intelligence shows that housing prices in Bermuda have dropped nearly 30 per cent since 2008.

However, the condo market has also dropped, in some cases as much as 50 per cent. So the lower values are not only relevant to your selling, but to your buying as well.

With recent good news, there has been renewed confidence and enthusiasm in Bermuda, and whilst a year ago some properties may not have sold or would have taken a very long time to sell, conditions are different now. We are seeing a demand in all segments of the market, with particular interest for stand-alone homes in the $800,000 — $1.7 million range. If priced correctly, these homes will sell within three to six months.

The recent hurricanes really drove home the amount of work and cost that is involved with maintaining a free-standing dwelling. For some, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We were getting phone calls from older citizens, who said, “That’s it, I’m not going through another storm in this house, it’s too big, the yard is too large for me to manage and what’s more I don’t even use half the rooms!”.

Downsizing makes a lot of sense financially. You will undoubtedly pay less land tax, less electricity, there will be less cleaning and yard work. You will also have more free time, and more liquid cash and more peace of mind. Imagine what you could do — travel, pursue your hobbies to your hearts delight and spend more time with loved ones (children and grandchildren) who live in various parts of the globe — all the time knowing there is plenty of money to fall back on, if managed wisely, should the need arise.

The good news is that there are plenty of condos to choose from. Condos currently make up about 45 per cent of our residential inventory.

Like a house, it is all about location, location, location. The best deals are to be had on units that have become a bit outdated and need some work.

Ironically enough, our younger “instant” generation who watch a lot of HGTV, do not always see the potential in a “tired unit”.

They want something new and shiny. But the real value is in the older condos, which are in a nice complex and, better still, you get to renovate and design it exactly the way you want it.

So go ahead, take the first step, invite your real estate agent to come and give you an idea of the value of your current home.

Selling and buying may not be the best option for you, perhaps selling and renting may be a better alternative, either way your agent can help you map out your way forward.

Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 25 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332 1793. All questions will be treated in confidence.