For seniors committed to aging in place, purchasing a new home can be the best move. Some seniors feel overwhelmed by their longtime homes, encumbered with too much upkeep. Some may want to move to a house that’s closer to their family. Whatever the reason, there’s no law saying a senior has to age in the same place they’ve been for decades. Here are some tips for seniors purchasing a new home.
Consider your needs
If you’re leaving a home you’ve lived in for years (maybe even decades), full of many great memories and a likely low mortgage payment (if you have one at all), there must be a good reason. For many seniors, illness and/or mobility issues precipitate a big move. So if you’re moving for a reason, you need to be sure that you’ll benefit from the move. Before choosing a new home, first consider your needs.
“Whereas a younger home buyer may want a bigger house with a large backyard for their family, as an older homebuyer, you may feel overwhelmed with so much space to maintain after a few years. And where a younger homebuyer may be more easily impressed with attractive design features like skylights or a grand staircase, as a senior homeowner, these things can actually be more of a nuisance,” notes ReverseMortgageValue.com.
If you have a mobility issue, make sure you get a home that you can handle. Maybe you want something with every essential room on one floor. Maybe you want something with an open floor plan to accommodate a wheelchair. Maybe you want something that will be easily renovated to support a visual impairment. Just make sure that if you’re moving for a reason, those reasons are reflected in your new home purchase.
Try to avoid incurring extra debt
When we think about home buying we think about debt – that’s just the way the system works. But as a senior, you may want to avoid incurring a bunch of debt in your twilight years.
Downsizing to a smaller home usually means it will cost less, unless there’s a huge discrepancy in home value in your current and prospective neighborhoods. By downsizing, you can hopefully use the proceeds from your current home sale to finance your new home (assuming you have a low or non-existent remaining balance on your current mortgage). If you have enough money in savings/retirement accounts to make a substantial down payment on a traditional mortgage and maybe opt for a shorter-term loan, that may be your best option.
If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, there’s always the reverse mortgage for home buying route.
Know how to prepare for the big move
Finding and financing a new home is only part of the battle. The big move can be a tumultuous period, both physically and mentally.
As a senior, you probably want to consider hiring movers for the physical part of the move. Without help, it’s virtually impossible to move heavy furniture and boxes from place to place. When hiring movers, always get multiple quotes and never take the lowest estimate – this is a red flag, as the company may be cutting corners. Never sign a blank contract and always demand you know the pricing up front.
As far as packing goes, it helps to do most of it yourself. You should start early, so you can reduce the inevitable stress that comes with it. Always look for sources of free boxes, and remember than you are downsizing. This means you need to donate or throw away some stuff. If you’re having trouble deciding what to keep and what to throw away, invite your family over and have a discussion about what is truly important.
Moving to a new home is difficult at any age, but for seniors it can be especially tough. Uprooting your life is taxing on both body and mind. But if you give it the proper amount of thought and preparation, you can make it a tolerable, if not enjoyable, experience.
Article Contributor: Jim Vogel | http://elderaction.org/
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