A Post from Hazel Bridges with Aging Wellness

Top Tips for Buying a Home When You’re a Senior

As a senior citizen, you realize that your current home is just too much to handle. The kids have flown the nest and started families of their own, the house is way too large for your needs and you’re tired of climbing up and down steps. It’s time to downsize so that you can enjoy your golden years without worrying about the upkeep of a large home.

But it’s important to carefully choose your new home. The type of home you gravitated toward as a parent with children isn’t necessarily the kind of home you need as you age. Read on for tips on buying a home when you’re a senior.

Finding the Right Home

As you search for houses, think twice about considering two-story homes. Ten or 15 years down the road, you may be unable to maneuver up and downstairs. Instead, search for one-story homes in case you might experience serious mobility issues in the future. Smaller homes often offer cheaper utility bills. If you’re retired, you probably don’t want a house with an enormous yard either. The last thing you want to do is spend your Saturdays mowing a lawn the size of a football field! Forget the homes with elaborate landscaping–unless you plan on hiring a landscaping service. And if you’re on a fixed budget, you may not be able to afford professional landscapers.

Search for homes located within walking distance of stores, movie theaters, public transportation doctor’s offices and hospitals. There may come a time when you aren’t able to drive anymore. You don’t want to end up trapped in your home because you live too far away from the places you need to go.

Navigating Financial Options and Challenges

Buying a home when you’re a senior isn’t the same as buying one when you’re younger. Think carefully before using a 401K, pension or IRA to purchase a house. National Debt Relief reports that you don’t want to get into a tough situation and experience difficulty paying your bills during retirement because you’ve purchased a home that’s too expensive. Avoid emptying your savings by considering an FHA “Reverse Mortgage for Purchase.” This type of loan is tax-free and can be used to buy your home.

Enlisting the Help of Professionals

Hiring a licensed real estate agent is a smart move if you are in the market for a new home. Effective real estate agents are knowledgeable about the housing market. They handle negotiations, complicated paperwork and serve as your advocate. Good real estate agents know important details about the neighborhoods in your area, including demographics, crime statistics, and school rankings. In short, they remove much of the headaches of buying a home.

How Much Home Can You Afford?

If you’re retired, the amount of home you can afford depends on a variety of factors. It’s based on your annual income, down payment, monthly spending, loan type and current average APR. US News cautions you to “consider how taking on a new home will affect your retirement cash flow.”  Many consumers choose a 30-year mortgage since payments are relatively low. But if senior citizens select this type of mortgage, they will spend the majority of their retirement life trying to pay off their house. The goal is to get a mortgage that won’t prevent you from taking care of your other financial wants and needs.

If you’re a senior citizen ready to downsize to a smaller home, consult with a licensed real estate agent to help you find one that fits your budget and lifestyle. By considering your future health and financial situation, you can find select the ideal home that will shelter you during your golden years.