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by Hazel Bridges
There once was a time when paying off the mortgage was a milestone as people approached retirement age. Today, people buy homes at all different stages of their lives. Someone might purchase a starter home in their 20s then upgrade to a larger home in their 30s or 40s, only to then downsize In their 60s or 70s. For seniors who are looking to buy later in life, they can face some unique challenges.
More than just downsizing or finding the right value for your money, seniors need to make sure that the home is appropriate for them for the rest of their lives.
The usual considerations for a downsized or empty-nesterhome are having a master bedroom on the first floor or having no second floor at all. Additional things to think about might include proximity to doctors' offices, shopping, community resources, golf courses, and other places of recreation. Neighborhoods have different amenities, some of which are tailor-made for the senior community.
Before you search for your home, have an idea of what loan you can get by checking out an online affordability calculator. Get to know the property values in your area, too. For example, the average listing price of homes in Somers, Connecticut, is $256,000.
In addition to size and location, older adults should look even further down the road in their lives and anticipate any mobility issues that may occur. You may want to consider accessibility modificationsthat will make life more comfortable as you age. This can range from entranceway ramps to handrails, grab bars, and many other tools to assist in daily living. If you are unable to locate homes that already have specific accessibility modifications, you can speak to specialists in this field who can help identify potential needs.
Other professional assistance that is available for seniors looking for homes includes, of course, hiring a real estate broker. Search in your area for real estate agents who specialize in downsizing. These brokers can be invaluable sources of information on homes and neighborhoods that will be ideal for senior living. The good news is that the increasing aged population means that there are lots of choices in these areas.
An additional consideration is financing your new home. Low-interest rates makemortgages attractivefor even those who have lots of cash in the bank to use to buy a house. Financial planners often recommend that their senior clients leverage these favorable rates and terms to free up their money for retirement news and other uses. One might wonder if a lender would give a 30-year mortgage to someone who is in their 70s, as it is highly likely that the loan would not be paid during the borrower's lifetime. As long as you have steady income such as retirement and/or Social Security, a bank is happy to lend to you regardless of your age.
Another reason for seniors to use mortgage lending to acquire a new house is the potential tax benefits associated with mortgage loan debt.
And in cases where income might not be as steady, there are programs such as Fannie Mae’s HomeReadyprogram, which allows seniors to count adult child toward their loan approval process. Also for those looking to tap into the equity of their existing home to buy another property, HECMor reverse-mortgage loans can provide a source of cash.
Senior are increasingly buying homes late in life. The need to downsize to smaller homes and the growth of senior-focused residential communities make today a perfect time to buy.
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