Considerations To Make When Purchasing A New Home As A Senior

Dated: 11/07/2017

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Guest Article by Jim Vogel

Buying a new home in retirement is a big decision. Before moving and purchasing a new home, you should review the details and ensure you make an informed decision about the many aspects involved in choosing a new home or city. One of the most important choices is whether you want to rent or buy. You’ll also need to choose a location, budget, home features, and more.


Buying a home has many benefits. House prices tend to rise over time, so a house is one of the best investments you can make. Also, interest rates are currently very low. You can pay fewer taxes, use the equity in your home for low-cost loans, and enjoy the stability and emotional security of owning your own home. There’s no need to worry about bad landlords, rent increases, or the possibility of your building being sold. You’ll be able to redecorate and renovate as you see fit, and you can have a garden or yard to enjoy.


Homeowners put down roots in a community, while renters tend to live more detached lives. Because renters tend to be more temporary residents than homeowners, they have less influence on policymakers than homeowners, so you’ll have a greater voice in community affairs, including development proposals, school issues, changes to traffic control and routing, and more.


Of course, there are perks to renting as well. There’s no need to worry about maintenance costs or repair bills, as the landlord is responsible. Also, renters don’t need to worry about coming up with a big down payment or paying annual real estate taxes, and renter's insurance is much cheaper than homeowner's insurance. Also, utility costs are typically lower in apartments than homes.


While many experts claim that the U.S. Housing market is making a full recovery, others aren't so sure. By renting, you’re avoiding the chance of having a mortgage that’s more than the house's worth. An unstable market also greatly affects property value, which can increase property taxes, unfixed mortgages, and more. So while rent can fluctuate, so can property taxes and some mortgages.


Luxuries such as an in-ground pool or a fitness center come standard at many apartment complexes without a monthly fee. Furthermore, if you change your mind about the size, location, or other aspect, it’s easier to move. “When you are a homeowner, it is much more difficult to break free of an expensive house because of the fees involved with buying and selling a home,” says Investopedia.


Once you’ve decided whether to rent or buy, you can move on to making other important decisions, such as choosing a location. Even if you think you’ve decided, you should visit the area to ensure you like it. If possible, rent for six months or a year before you buy a home; at the minimum, take a short trip to the area. Consider the climate, cost of living, and closeness to amenities (such as airports, hospitals, medical care) and conveniences (like grocery stores and restaurants).


Decide on a budget for the mortgage or rent, and consider whether one person will be able to pay for the costs of the home on their own if something were to happen to the other spouse. Expenses may decrease 20 percent if one spouse passes, but the mortgage, property tax, home insurance costs don’t change, and the income drops by 50 percent.


Try to find a home that will allow you to age in place. While stairs may not be an issue now, what about when you’re 80? Your home should have at least on entryway without stairs. The physical layout of a home is one of the more important aspects. Hallways and doorways should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or walker, and the countertops should be low enough to access from a wheelchair. Also, look for the flooring without thresholds, a master bedroom on the main floor (or a one-level home), a walk-in shower, and other features.


You should thoughtfully make each decision based on thorough research. From deciding to rent or buy to carefully selecting the town or city to ensuring you can age in place, there are many aspects to consider. Taking the time to prepare for the decision helps guarantee that you make the best choices for your unique circumstances and needs.

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