As a full-time Realtor helping clients find their perfect home, in 2015 I began to ponder what the next perfect home would be for my wife and me.

Our conversations turned to thoughts of downsizing. Now in our 70s, we determined we should create a 10-year transition plan.

Since 1988, we have lived in a 2,300-square-foot house in a gated community. We decided that moving to a condo would simplify home ownership, maintenance concerns, and give us a “lock and go” lifestyle.

To prepare for this major step, we began renovations and upgrades during 2015 and into 2016. These included a new roof, HVAC system, exterior painting, new deck and expanded patio with firepit.

We had upgraded our kitchen and baths prior to 2015, but we continued updates by installing new appliances and new flooring.

Possibly the most unusual change was improving our street appeal by redesigning our 1982 home into an attractive cottage by expanding and lengthening the front porch, replacing the front door, and adding columns and a tin roof overhang.

We also updated our garage with a new door, columns and overhang to continue the cottage feel and look. In 2020, we added a new driveway.

We planned to enjoy our updated home with little or no maintenance for 10 years.

I’ve learned in my 29-year experience as a full-time Realtor, when home buyers are evaluating the purchase of a home, they take into consideration street appeal as well as the overall condition of the structure. Buyers, however, start questioning a home that has not had significant updates or mechanical improvements in the past 10 years. They know that when major repairs will be needed, the cost of correcting them will be high, and renovations will be inconvenient as well, due to the time needed to accomplish these tasks.

On the other hand, when many of the structural improvements are already completed – and the more recently, the better – they foresee very little expense.

I have seen similar homes to ours in age and location sell for a minimum of $160 per square foot not updated, to an increased value of $238 per square foot, or 30-35% more, due specifically to updating. Additionally, homes that have been updated sell faster.

We knew it was time to speed up our 10-year plan.

We knew we wanted to remain on Hilton Head Island, where I have lived for 50 years and Gail for 35 years, so I began searching for condos. I found what we determined to be the best value for living in a condo – The Seabrook of Hilton Head.

We found The Seabrook offered many living options, from efficiency to one- and two-bedroom condos, plus many services, including lunch or dinner daily, and some of the nicest neighbors that anyone could ask for.

I will say, the most significant part of this was downsizing from our home. Though our home was 2,300 square feet, the portion that we actually “lived in” every day was more like 1,700 square feet.

We were able to purchase a right-sized apartment and put money into savings while simplifying life. We will enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle and live only 8/10 of a mile from the beach!

If you need help implementing your own 10-year plan, let me know. I might be able to help you shorten the timeframe and find the perfect home for you.

Realtor Andy Twisdale is a 50-year resident of Hilton Head Island.