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Paul Bennett, Director

In the first week of December 2020, The Times ran an article about the new rule of three when it comes to downsizing from a large property to something more bijou. The mantra à la mode refers to what happens after you sell a family home in London: buy a pied-à-terre in the city; skim off 10 per cent to help the children with a deposit of their own; then head to the countryside with what’s left.


The rules imply that London residents are simply not ready to break all ties with the capital city but they do acknowledge that changing priorities means a change of property. If you’re about to embark on the downsizing process yourself, Behr & Butchoff has some timely advice to make the transition as stress-free as possible:-


  • Make a list: although this sounds rudimentary, making a list of what needs to be done and by when will help focus the mind. We can help you ensure your list is detailed and chronologically accurate, so you always feel in control.

  • Re-familairise yourself with the moving process:  if you’re selling a longstanding family home, you may need a refresher on how property is bought and sold today. The Behr & Butchoff team can talk you through aspects such as the current stamp duty rates (including the tax to be paid on a second home purchase), the need for an EPC certificate, and the digitalization of the marketing and transactional process.

  • Recycle or refuse: the whole point of downsizing is to move to a smaller dwelling, so square footage will dictate how much you can take with you and what to leave behind if you’re also retaining a presence in London. Start the decluttering process early, earmarking furniture and unwanted items for recycling to reduce what goes to landfill. If this idea makes your blood run cold, you may consider storage options or gifting items to loved ones.

  • Go digital: while preparing to downsize you may be taken aback by how much paperwork you have accumulated. While it’s essential to keep some documents – such as identification, anything relating to tax and income, and deeds – switch to digital bank statements and bills to prevent piles of paper forming in the future. 

  • Research your onwards purchases: if you intend to retain a property in London but also plan to buy a second home in the countryside, think about how you will travel between the two locations – rail connections are just as important as road. When relocating to a more rural spot, don’t forget to look into broadband and mobile phone coverage, whether the property is on the ‘mains’ gas and sewage network, and what amenities are within walking distance.

Ready to downsize?

If you require a no-obligation appraisal for your home, would like advice about helping your children get on the property ladder or would like a list of pied-à-terre pads in and around St John’s Wood, contact the Behr & Butchoff team today.