Around 87% of seniors prefer to age in place in lieu of living in a retirement home or similar housing, according to AARP. But with aging comes the inevitable downsizing. Kids grow up and move away, freeing up more square footage than you want to dust and clean. Your housing needs change dramatically once you’re an empty nester, and buying a home once you hit 60 is different than when you were looking for a starter home before you had kids or when your family was young.
Doing Your Own Legwork
When buying a home at any stage in life, it helps to do your own research prior to looking at available options. For example, research can help you better understand the market, including the average listing price of homes in the area. This is important information to know when you start researching homes that fall within your price range.
One of the most important considerations for seniors looking to buy a home is accessibility. You may be perfectly mobile now, but mobility needs can change in an instant as you age. Buying a home that you can stay in if and when your needs change is a wiser investment than buying a home that you might have to leave if unforeseen circumstances crop up. For instance, nearly half of all homes have stairs inside, which might be okay now, but 20 years from now, will you still want to or be able to make that trek?
Now may be the time to look into a townhome or similar property that offers the distinct advantage of minimal upkeep. In some areas, the homeowners association handles mowing the land, maintaining roofs, and so forth, reducing the need for maintenance.
Another way to simplify the upkeep of a home is through home warranty insurance. But you may be asking yourself “Are home warranties worth it?” The truth is that major home system repairs can be very costly—replacing an A/C unit can cost close to $5,000. A home warranty can reduce your expenses while covering several common repair needs, such as electric, plumbing, and HVAC. Make sure you check home warranty ratings to ensure you’re getting the best coverage for your money.
The location of your new home can be one of its biggest selling points. Seniors (and their families) may feel most comfortable with homes that are close to medical care, shopping, and restaurants.
A home previously lived in by a senior or built for the convenience of seniors may be a safe bet. According to This Old House, features such as walk-in bathtubs and bathrooms with grab bars, good lighting, slip-resistant floors, and lever-style doorknobs are all things to consider when looking for homes. A ramp walk-up that can accommodate a wheelchair is another good feature to look for when shopping for a senior home.
Financial Options and Challenges
If you’re selling your current home and using the proceeds to buy your new home, then financing is not an issue for you. However, if you need financing, there are senior loan programs out there, including asset depletion loans and reverse mortgage loans, that may be beneficial for you in your situation. Asset depletion loans are based on qualifying assets such as certificates of deposit, 401(k) accounts, and money market accounts. Reverse mortgages (home equity conversion mortgages) allow the borrower to access the equity they have built up in their homes.
Don’t let age get in the way of owning a home. With careful planning and the help of trusted real estate professionals like Winkelmann Properties, you too can find the home of your dreams. Start planning today so you can begin the next chapter of your life tomorrow.
Are you looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington, VA area? Contact Winkelmann Properties today! (703) 850-5223.