Planned communities, patio homes and reverse mortgages serve needs of seniors
Most people don’t buy a house in their 20s or 30s and expect to remain in that home until retirement and beyond. Housing needs and wants change with kids, jobs and hobbies. There is no one perfect housing situation that works for everyone in their later years, either, but there are plenty of options, especially here in the Grand Valley, which has cultivated its appeal to older citizens.
The Village at Country Creek in Fruita is the only new home development in the valley that was built specifically for those 55 and older. Although some of the first few homes are single-family, most of the homes are attached duplexes. Builder John Moir began the development 15 years ago and is still finishing out the neighborhood, with four new homes currently available for sale. Only one of the homes is finished and the rest are in the framing stages, waiting for prospective buyers to choose finishes.
“Neighbors take care of each other,” said Bonnie Walker with Sandstone Realty, the listing agent for the development. The development has a community center and the majority of residents in the Village at Country Creek participate in neighborhood gatherings like potlucks, card games, block parties or pool table challenges.
While most of the residents are retired, some continue to work. While most of the residents enjoy the sense of community, some stick to themselves. All of the residents enjoy the lack of required maintenance — the HOA takes care of yard work, snow removal and exterior maintenance of the patio homes. Because the neighborhood was started 15 years ago, there are also existing homes for sale.
At the opposite end of the valley, Picture Ranch in Clifton also offers retirement living in a manufactured home park. Residents own their homes and take care of their own yards, although most of the yards are smaller than a typical lot.
“Some people keep to themselves, others appreciate the social opportunities,” said Meg Fritts, the community manager. The neighborhood has a clubhouse and regularly scheduled gatherings for residents who want to participate. Although many residents are retired, some are still working.
On Orchard Mesa, Conquest Homes and a partner purchased the remaining 71 lots at Mesa Estates, a patio home development that was started in 2007 by Davidson Homes. Mesa Estates is not designated as a retirement community, but does offer maintenance-free living in a single story, which has made it a popular choice for some retirees.
“We just had our first homeowners meeting,” said Pat Tucker with Conquest. “Everybody was thrilled with our plans.”
Darren Caldwell with Conquest is currently working on new floor plans for the homes he’ll build. He plans on continuing with the existing look on the exterior of the homes, which includes tile roofing and stucco exteriors.
“We will offer an upscale look,” Tucker said. “Conquest does nice things, so they will be nice.”
Some people have no interest in moving into a retirement or patio home development or moving at all as they age. It may be necessary to modify existing homes or make accommodations and improvements that allow for safer aging in place.
Those who cannot afford to make necessary improvements can get assistance through the Handyman Project offered by Recruiting Seniors for Volunteer Positions (RSVP). Typical projects include installing grab bars in bathtubs, building wheel chair ramps and minor plumbing or carpentry work. Handyman services are low cost and sometimes free, but homeowners must meet income eligibility guidelines.
Those who are age 62 or older and whose income is too high to qualify for assistance through the Handyman Project may be able to tap into the equity of their home to make costly repairs and accommodations that would enable them to age in place. Although the number of lending institutions offering reverse mortgages has dwindled, they can still be a great tool when used properly.
“I encourage people to look at all of the options,” said Warren McKay with 1st Reverse Mortgage. “Sometimes it’s better to sell, sometimes it’s better to refinance and sometimes a reverse mortgage works.”
McKay cautions those who are interested in a reverse mortgage to talk to a reputable lender with experience. Clients can check the Department of Regulatory Agency (DORA) or the National Mortgage Licensing Service (NMLS) to verify lenders.
Homeowners should also understand the nature of the mortgage as a negative amortizing loan that reduces the amount of equity in the home. Although homeowners as young as 62 can qualify for a reverse mortgage, generally speaking, the older a customer is, the more value that can be gained through a reverse mortgage.
Homeowners must have a substantial amount of equity in their home to quality, but they don’t need to own the home outright. If a married couple applies for a reverse mortgage, both spouses must have their names listed on the title if a remaining spouse wants to stay in the home after the death of the other.
While a reverse mortgage can be an excellent way to finance home improvements, it can also be used simply to generate more cash flow. A reverse mortgage can be used to pay off the existing home loan, too.
The fees for a reverse mortgage are higher than a typical loan, and family members may not understand why the homeowner would be interested in a reverse mortgage.
“I tell people to talk to their children,” McKay said. “It’s far better for the family to understand.”
Seniors who are considering selling their home must understand the current market. Prices and values have fallen, and they may not be able to get the price they would have gotten back in 2007. They should also make sure they’re working with a real estate agent they trust and who will take the time to explain every part of the transaction process.