Seniors face a variety of issues when considering whether to downsize
Although some people still want a house big enough to host family reunions sitting on a large lot as they get close to retirement, that’s not everyone’s choice. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the perfect property for those in their 60s, 70s and beyond; it all depends on homeowners’ interests, hobbies, financial situation and health.
“Some people aren’t ready to give up their furniture or a yard,” said Jan Garber with Metro Brokers. “Sometimes health issues force people to downsize.”
Those who are living in a big house with a big yard may need to hire someone else to help care for it, and Garber urges her clients to consider whether or not its worth it.
She also urges people to consider decisions about remaining in a large home, relocating to be closer to family, downsizing and even moving into assisted living before it’s absolutely necessary and circumstances force someone else to make a decision for them.
Location is an important factor when choosing real estate, especially for seniors. Although some healthy and active 70-year olds may want a remote cabin on 40 acres on top of Grand Mesa, others prefer to be closer to shopping and medical offices. Some want a house with a yard for gardening and a shop for puttering, while others prefer a patio that requires no green thumb or maintenance.
“As baby boomers age, they’ll be looking for lower maintenance living,” said Bill Needham with RE/MAX 4000.
Most newer neighborhoods have home owner associations (HOAs) to take care of communal areas and common issues. Although paying monthly HOA dues may not be on anyone’s bucket list, HOAs perform a variety of functions and tasks that make life more pleasant for all homeowners in a subdivision. Not all HOAs are created equally, so it’s important for those who want low maintenance living to pay attention to the role of the HOA.
Typically, HOAs take care of landscaping in common areas, irrigation water to the house and snow removal on neighborhood streets. Some HOAs also do front yard landscaping and maintenance, trash removal, water and exterior home maintenance.
“If someone is interested in buying into a neighborhood with an HOA, look into the financials of the HOA to make sure there is a reserve,” Needham said. “Typically, they will be given an opportunity to look prior to closing. They are provided with the documentation.”
Safety and security may be bigger concerns for homeowners as they age. So are stairs; most people don’t want to have to climb stairs to get to the bathroom or a bedroom.
“A patio home seems to service their needs a little better,” said Vicki Chandler with RE/MAX 4000. Homeowners in a patio home still have a small yard for growing flowers or tomatoes or simply for sitting out in and savoring a warm breeze. Many patio home developments allow pets, which is important for many retirees and soon-to-be retirees.
Although some senior buyers have the means and prefer to pay cash for real estate, others are looking at mortgages. Reverse mortgages can be a good way for seniors to utilize the equity in their home, but homeowners need to get educated and explore all options when considering reverse mortgages or any type of home equity loan.
“They’ll want to talk with a financial advisor,” said Brook Seeley, loan officer for Unifirst Mortgage.
A reverse mortgage can give a homeowner much-needed cash that doesn’t require repayment while the homeowner is living in his or her house but it also depletes the equity in the home. The amount of cash a homeowner receives in a reverse mortgage and how they receive it is all variable and can depend on the age of the applicant and they amount of equity available in the home.
Seniors have options when it comes to real estate and its important to explore their options and learn about types of available residences and mortgages.