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Why older homeowners are having a difficult time downsizing

You found your dream winter or vacation home in South Florida some years ago. You planned to live in it year-round once you retired. It's big, sprawling and great when all of the kids and grandkids are with you.

However, now you and your spouse are in your 70s, and it's just too much home to take care of. The sweeping staircases are harder to manage with your arthritis. You rarely use the pool, but it's expensive to maintain. You sold the boat you once had docked out back. Perhaps your spouse has passed away, and you're there alone. Your family only visits over the holidays and for a week or two in the summer.

If you're in this situation, you're by no means alone. Many baby boomers are finding that their beloved dream homes are just too much to take care of. However, these multimillion-dollar homes aren't always easy to sell. It's not just here in Florida. Popular retirement areas in Arizona and the Carolinas also have an abundance of these homes on the market for the same reason, and they're often difficult to sell.

Even younger people are increasingly drawn to smaller homes that are close to stores and schools rather than multistory houses on large tracts of land far from the center of town. Therefore, sellers often have to reduce the price if they need or want to move. In some cases, they end up selling the home for less than they spent to build it.

Of course, every situation is unique. You may be able to find the couple or family for whom your home is perfect. You may still be able to make a profit. A good real estate agent can give you the best possible chance of coming out ahead on the deal.

Real estate in Florida can be complicated -- particularly if you've retired here recently from another state and aren't familiar with our real estate laws. If you own waterfront property, you may face additional legal complications. If you have questions or concerns as you put your home on the market, it may be wise to consult with an experienced Florida real estate attorney. They can help you avoid unnecessary complications and expense.

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