A guide to selling when downsizing

Why people downsize

There are myriad reasons why people want to move to a property that’s smaller than their existing home.

These include:

Children have grown up

This is probably the most common reason why people look to reduce the size of their home. Their children have grown up and flown the nest, and so the space left behind is starting to feel too big.

Family ties

Some downsize as part of a move to be nearer family.

A new lease of life

We’ve seen dozens of customers significantly lift their quality of life this way. Downsizing can free up funds for once-in-a-lifetime travels, hobbies, treating the family and more. Equally, a smaller place means doing far less in the way of maintenance, cleaning and upkeep.

More for your money

Downsizing doesn’t have to mean taking a step down the property ladder – far from it. If you can manage with less space, you can often get more for your money. A luxury town-centre apartment, for instance, can frequently cost much less than a large family home.

Move to your dream location

By reducing square feet of living space, you can buy in your dream area, whether that’s by the coast, out of town or at some other favourite spot.

Bereavement, divorce and separation

Sadly, these are key reasons behind many plans to move to a smaller property. The loss of a partner or spouse can often trigger a need for change, while downsizing can reduce outgoings, plus smaller homes are often easier to manage.

It’s another unfortunate fact of life that divorce and separation are other deciding factors. In these situations, you need experience, sensitivity and expertise from the estate agent involved in the transaction.

(See our separate guide to selling following a divorce or separation.)

Four things to consider

You don’t need us to tell you that changing where and how live are big decisions, with a huge amount to take into account. Here are the five most common things that we would urge you to ponder.  

1 – Be happy with your decision

Many people have told us they felt anxious and even a little guilty about downsizing. Some feared the change and perceived loss of status. Others felt most worried about leaving behind a cherished family home in which they’d lived for years or even decades, and the associated memories.

Of course, you can take the memories with you. But we tell people they should only move when they feel entirely happy with doing so, and are truly ready to make the move.

2 – Think and plan ahead

What’s your vision for your future, and where do your priorities lie? Do you want a coastal home and seaside walks? Or are you desperate to see more of your grandkids or other family members? Or is the most important thing to have the security of money in the bank in case you need it?

Whatever your goals, any decisions you take now must be made with the aim of meeting them.

Planning a move is time-consuming and needs extensive budgeting. So there’s a vast amount to sort out. Once you’ve decided to sell, begin chipping away at all the different things you need to do – start by looking at the checklist at the end of this guide.

3 – Start early

Make life easier for yourself well ahead of moving day. Declutter as soon as you can; get your legal paperwork in order in advance and think about the effect a move will have on your finances.

4 – Moving forwards

The right estate agent can make all the difference between success and failure when it comes to moving on to a fresh chapter in your life. We always advise contacting three agents for a valuation (sometimes also called a market appraisal). Make sure they back up any valuation with comparable evidence. Go with your gut instinct and the agent you feel you can work with – make sure they have supported their valuation with a clear plan of how they will realise that for you.

(And, as a final word of caution, budget agents often provide a cheap yet less than cheerful service.)

We answer your questions

Is now the right time to move?

Of course, only you will know this for certain. It’s worth discussing your plans with friends and family and getting their opinions. We can also provide a data-driven overview of the local property market, giving you a clear understanding of what’s happening.

What taxes do I need to pay when moving?

If the place you’re selling is your primary residence, no capital gains tax applies. Depending on the property you’re purchasing, you’ll probably be liable for Stamp Duty. We’d gladly advise on thresholds for this duty, and can also, at your request, put you in touch with tax advisors.

We/I want a quick sale. Are cash-buying companies trustworthy?

We’d be reluctant to criticise any of our colleagues in that sector of the home-sale industry. However, we can confidently predict you’d get more for your home by selling through an estate agent.

How will you ensure our sale progresses from an offer to completion?

Great question! A large percentage of sales fall through for any number of reasons, but one of the biggest is poor sales progression and a lack of ongoing communication from the selling agent.

When it comes to selling properties, our experience shows you can never communicate too much when keeping everyone in the picture.


We/I need to make a particular sum from our home sale to fund the future. How will you help us to achieve that?

The figure you have in mind needs to be realistic and achievable. While no estate agent can guarantee your home will sell for a certain amount, there are four fundamental factors involved in the process which influence the amount achieved. These are:

1) Location: i.e. Where the property is plus local amenities, services and environment.

2) Presentation: What condition is the property currently in and how could it be improved if necessary?

3) Agent: This is the critical choice you’ll make when selling your home. Instructing an experienced agent with a good track record can often leave you with thousands of pounds more in your pocket due to a successful sale.

4) Strategy: Any agent can promise a premium price. It’s far more beneficial for you to understand how your agent will achieve the best possible price. We have a clear process and strategy in place for selling homes just like yours.


Your moving home checklist

Below is a handy checklist to help you prepare in advance of a sale

  • Once you are sure you want to move, call in three estate agents for valuations. Remember, seek evidence for any sale prices they provide.
  • Don’t just choose the agent with the highest valuation or cheapest fee. This is invariably a false economy.
  • You’ll need to instruct a conveyancing solicitor to handle the legalities of your sale.
  • So, you’ve instructed the agents and solicitors you feel are most capable and who you are comfortable with. What next? Well, as you’ll be moving to a smaller space, start getting rid of any furniture and other things you won’t have room for. Charity shops, home clearance, and auction houses can help with a major clear-out.
  • Get ahead with packing. Even though you may not have a moving date yet, it’s always worthwhile boxing up those items you don’t use much. This will make your life a little easier as moving day starts to draw closer.
  • When you’ve accepted an offer and agreed a completion date, get three separate quotes from different removal companies. Look for ones that come recommended and which are fully insured.
  • Start finishing the food in your freezer ahead of moving day.
  • Remember to let your bank, utility companies, insurance providers and others know of your change of address, and arrange to have your mail redirected.
  • Start getting quotes for insurance on your new property starting from the date you’re set to complete your move.
  • The day before the move, create an essentials box with any items you might need quickly when you move in. Kettles, cups, tea and coffee, for example, always come in handy.
  • On the day of the move, take any very important items or documents with you, such as medicines, passports, wallet/purse, keys, and glasses.

Contact us today if you have any questions at all about anything to do with this guide:

Bexhill Branch

12 Sackville Road
East Sussex
TN39 3JL

01424 224700

Eastbourne Branch

35 Cornfield Road
East Sussex
BN21 4QG

01323 723500

Hastings Branch

60 – 61 Robertson Street
East Sussex
TN34 1HY

01424 722122