The Ultimate Guide to House Hunting for Aging Adults

Ready to find a new home? Then it’s time to get your mind back into the housing game. As an older adult, you will have a house full of memories to clean up and sell. But there is a new home out there that will support you as you age. Whether it be a new condo in Miami or a home in Phoenix, follow our guide to house hunting for aging adults to make sure the transition to your next home is a smooth one.

1. Look for an accessible house

Before you put your current house up for sale, make your wish list for your next house. Keep an eye out for a home with many features that make aging easier than ever. Since this home is going to be where you spend most of your time, it is important that everything is accessible and safe.

  • Find a flat floor plan that has a no-step entry. As you age, you don’t want a home that has steps, high thresholds, or stairs to trip over. Finding a one-story home is ideal, or a home where the master bedroom and other necessities are on the main floor.
  • Ensure there is plenty of lighting. Lighting is not only crucial to the overall feel of your home, but it is also necessary for aging eyes to see everything more easily.
  • Look for wide doorways and hallways. Make sure the doorways in your new home are wide enough to accommodate a standard wheelchair comfortably. While you may be completely mobile at the present time, reliance on a wheelchair could become a reality in the future. And although remodeling may be a possibility later on, save yourself the headache by doing it right from the start. Medical Scrubs Collection
  • Consult a certified aging-in-place specialist: Before purchasing your new home, invest in a consultation by a certified aging-in-place specialist. Aging-In-Place specialists work hand-in-hand with specially trained contractors and having an expert’s input on how age-friendly the house is, or could be with modifications, can be priceless. Erica Smalley, A Hand To Hold
  • Look for a house that offers room and opportunity to expand for home modifications: For example, a bathroom may not be accessible or provide universal design elements yet, but if there is space to make needed renovations there is potential for easy modifications down the road. A bathroom that has a sizable closet attached would be one example of this. When needed the bathroom could be remodeled for a larger turn radius and an expanded curbless shower. Nate Lyon, All-In Construction Services
  • Install a ramp or lift if your home doesn’t have one: Make your new home accessible for you to live there with dignity and independence. Our compassionate local Amramp experts eliminate accessibility barriers every day with fast, thoughtful design and installation. Our ramps, lifts, and accessibility modifications are not permanent, so you can take them with you when you move—adding value for you and not devaluing your home when you decide to sell. Justin Gordon, Amramp 
  • Consider additional costs of your new home: Most home buyers focus first and foremost on the purchase price, but of greater financial consideration are the ongoing costs of the new house. If you want your retirement nest egg to go further, consider moving to a lower or no income tax state. You can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your retirement financial security by minimizing income taxes in retirement. Robert Pagliarini, Pacifica Wealth Advisors

2. Prepare your home to sell

After being in your home for so long, the space has really become yours. One glance around the room and you can see your personal touch. But when the time comes, you will need to prepare your home to sell. Buyers should be able to envision themselves in the space. Your job is to downsize and pack away those personal touches before opening your home to potential buyers.

  • Prepare to Downsize: When it comes time to sell your home, it’s time to start thinking about the daunting task of downsizing. But, just because you’re reducing clutter doesn’t mean you’re tossing out beloved memories. Making thoughtful choices, staying organized during the process, and making room for those cherished pieces are all a part of a positive downsizing process. We will provide you with the resources to make the right downsizing decisions and connect you with the resources you need during your move – all at no cost to you. Oasis Senior Advisors
  • Gift special items to your children or grandchildren: Sometimes it’s hard to let go of sentimental items, especially family heirlooms or items of sentimental value. What you might want to do is begin passing these items along to children, grandchildren, and other family members. When was the last time you used your good silver, China, or leaded crystal serving platters? Now is a good time to give them to a grown child that tends to host family dinners. Family Matters In-Home Care
  • Refresh the interior of your home. Clean the carpets. Repaint the walls and cabinets. Wash the windows. A neat and clean house is more appealing to potential buyers.
  • Put away personal items. When preparing your home for sale, make sure to remove your personal items such as money, medications, jewelry and any other tempting little trinkets. You want perspective buyers to think of the house as theirs, not yours.  Plus – protecting things of high value by removing rather than hiding things is the safest way to proceed. Senior Transitions 
  • Create a good first impression with curb appeal. Don’t forget about the exterior of your home. A new coat of paint on the door, a welcome wreath, and a well-manicured landscape will impress prospective buyers before they even walk in the front door.

3. Sell your home

The real estate market is constantly changing. Find a real estate agent you feel comfortable with who knows your local market. They can help you get the most bang for your buck.

  • Know your home’s current value. Look at online home estimates and review the comparative market analysis (CMA) to find out how much your home is worth. This includes the most up-to-date information about similar homes in your neighborhood so you can price your home correctly.
  • Seek expert advice. Financial planners and senior real estate specialists can give you advice and assistance when selling your home. These consultants can help you avoid scams and help you make the best decision for you.
  • Explore incentives and consequences. Selling your home can impact pensions, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, IRA accounts, and estate planning. If you purchase a home in a retirement community, you could be eligible for perks such as reduced upfront fees and closing-cost assistance.
  • Consider a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage allows seniors over 62 to borrow against home equity. Instead of making payments, the loan is repaid when the borrower dies or the home is sold. It allows you to buy a home on a fixed income without using up your retirement assets.

No matter how often you’ve done it, selling your home and moving is a tiring, stressful, and emotional experience. It’s hard to leave a house full of memories for a new one that’s yet to be filled. Just keep in mind the reward—a new home that’s ready for new memories. [With these tips on house hunting for aging adults], soon you will be decorating your new home, meeting your new neighbors, and safely aging in place.

Originally Published on Redfin

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