Home Buying Tips For Seniors
If you’re using a reverse mortgage to purchase a home, you probably want to find a place that will be a good fit for many years to come. In this post, we’ll look at some tips for evaluating a property as a home as you age.
Tip #1- Understand what you need as opposed to what “looks good.”
Depending on your living situation, income, and plans for the future, there may be certain special features you need in a home. Just like any younger home buyer, you’ll likely be influenced by a property’s floorplan, location, convenience and size. However, as a senior home buyer, you’ll need to evaluate these things differently. Whereas a younger home buyer may want a bigger house with a large backyard for their family, as an older home buyer, you may feel overwhelmed with so much space to maintain after a few years. And where a younger home buyer 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. Skylights are difficult to reach for cleaning and staircases aren’t very practical for older people who have experienced a loss of mobility.
Tip #2- Understand what you’ll need in the future.
Also, as a senior home buyer, your future is going to be focused more on how you’ll be taking care of yourself instead of taking care of kids or other family members. Therefore, you may need a home that has or could be easily remodeled to have handicap accessible features like wide doorways, lower countertops, ramps, and so on.
Tip #3 – Understand your budget.
Being on a reverse mortgage doesn’t necessarily mean all your money troubles will magically disappear. Sure, you won’t have to worry about giving your lender a mortgage payment every month, but you will still have other financial obligations. First and foremost, remember that with a reverse mortgage you will still be responsible for paying your homeowners insurance premiums as well as your property taxes. If you fail to do so, your loan could be called due. And if you cannot pay what you owe within a specified time period, you could face foreclosure.
In addition to paying for taxes and insurance on your home, remember that you will also have other expenses. Utilities, gassing up the car, medical bills, groceries, other debts and miscellaneous costs should all be factored in before you commit to a home purchase.
Tip #4 – Realistically anticipate your future needs as you age in place.
Ok, so you’ve evaluated your current budget. Great! Now, there’s one last thing you should consider. What will your finances be like in ten years? What sort of needs will you have? If you’re planning on aging in place (as opposed to moving into a retirement or nursing home), will you have the financial freedom to hire in-home caregivers when/if the need arises? Will you be able to access necessary resources for things like transportation assistance, landscaping/lawn care service, and other tasks that you may not be able to perform on your own?
Even though most of us don’t like to think about the future in that way, it’s better to face the reality that as we age, our dependency on others tends to increase. Those who have strong support systems through their spouses, children or other family members don’t have as much to worry about. However, even with the support of a loved one, there may be things you’ll need that they cannot help you with. This may include anything from doing emergency repairs around the house to converting the home so that it is wheelchair accessible. Anything that can’t be done by yourself or a supportive caregiver will likely need to be done by a hired professional. Will you still be able to have enough money in reserves for these expected and unexpected events?
To summarize, make sure you are not entering into a home purchase with a reverse mortgage on a whim. Take the most important things into account (finances, health needs, etc.) and give it serious thought. If you have questions about reverse mortgages, how they work, and if one would make sense for your situation, feel free to contact a licensed reverse mortgage lender serving your area or speak with a HUD housing counselor for more information.