Different stages in your life also can affect the amount of living space you need. If you are in an empty nest stage or just want a change, downsizing might be your answer. Of course, downsizing has financial advantages but a smaller living space also means less upkeep, and lower monthly expenses overall.
Taxes can play a big part in this decision. Selling your bigger home will net you more income that can be taxed. According to the Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service (IRS), if you sell your principal residence for a profit, up to $250,000 of that capital gain can be excluded from tax. If you are a married couple who files jointly you could have up to $500,000 from the sale of your home that is not taxed. For example, there are exceptions if a homeowner has owned their home for several decades or if a homeowner lives in a neighborhood that has experienced a huge appreciation.
Before selling your current home check to see if you pass the ownership and use test from the IRS. For you to claim the maximum exclusion you must have owned your current house you are selling for at least two years and the house you are selling must be your primary residence for at least two out of the last five years. The two years counted towards residency do not have to be consecutive.
The IRS will make exceptions such as selling before owning a home for two years because of a job change, divorce, or natural disaster or what the IRS deems as an unforeseen circumstance. If the IRS decides you are eligible, then you will be able to prorate the exclusion.
You will need to determine the capital gains on the sale of your home. In order to do this, take the cost basis and subtract it from the selling price. Your cost basis includes the original purchase price, settlement fees, closing costs. The higher the cost basis the lower your potential tax liability will be.
If you are in the market to downsize, go through a local sales agent to both sell your current home and purchase your downsized home. A Realtor can help you with the right financial way to go when downsizing.