Pros and Cons of Downsizing After Retirement

Pros and Cons of Downsizing After RetirementWith Baby Boomers already rolling into retirement and Gen X looking forward to shrugging off the stress of the 40-hour work week, downsizing could be a strategic move.

For many Americans, homeownership remains their single largest investment and the monthly mortgage payment their highest bill. Lowering or nixing that cost altogether can free up a considerable amount of cash that could be used for retirement security or leisure activities. Keep in mind, your “golden years” should be just that, so enjoy them.

That being said, there are pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to downsize to a less expensive home.

Size Matters

If you have raised a family and find yourself as an empty-nester, so to speak, you probably have more home than you needed during the days of romping youngsters. Downsizing to a smaller home reduces the amount of maintenance, upkeep and cleaning responsibilities. Relieving yourself of those chores can free up time to relax.

On the con side, a smaller home means less space to for family visits. Although children and grandchildren may not spend months at a time, having the space for holiday stayovers can be important. A smart downsizing plan should consider balancing reduced labor with family time.

Costs Considerations

The surface numbers of downsizing often point to freeing up personal income. A lower or no mortgage payment equals more cash on hand. But selling and buying come with industry and relocation costs.

In all likelihood, your home sale and purchase will come with real estate agent fees, closing and moving costs among others. It’s important to factor all of these expenses into your future projections.

Although home transaction costs are generally static in the real estate industry, relocation can be a bit of a wild card. In-state moves may require only a set fee from a local moving outfit. But if you are headed to warmer or cooler climates, a big move can run upwards of 10 percent of your selling price. Get solid moving prices before tallying up your gains.

Ranked among the top pros to downsizing is the reduction in expenses. Retirement-age folks who have built up significant home equity may find themselves in a position to finally have no more mortgage. In this low-inventory seller’s market, the ability to cash out on high equity gives Baby Boomers and Gen Xers a chance at a zero-mortgage lifestyle.   

Many of our valued elders and 50-somethings are in the downsizing driver’s seat. With the help of an experienced real estate professional, your golden years could get even better.

Your Guide To Aging In Place Home Modifications

Your Guide To Aging in Place Home ModificationsIf you’ve had to watch your parents transition into assisted living, you may have no desire to call such a place home. You are not alone. According to the Aging in Place Housing Survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), more than 90 percent of seniors want to remain in their home.

Many survey respondents said that they would rather use nursing home funds towards purchasing a home that is suited for aging in place or making accessible home modifications.  

You’ve probably heard the buzzwords — aging in place, non-assisted living, universal design — these phrases mean the same thing: growing older in your home. Today, home modifications can help you continue to live in your home as you age. Plus, aging-in-place home modifications are much less expensive than moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility.

The problem is that most existing homes are not conducive to aging in place. There are more than 100 million homes in the United States. However, only one percent of them are currently set up for accessibility. Fortunately, there are a variety of home modifications that you can do to make any home more accessible. Here is a handy guide to accessible home modifications.

Think About Your Future Needs

The first step in making sure your home is suited to aging in place is to consider how your needs might change in the future. Everyone’s situation is different.

If you have a chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease, it is best to talk with your doctor to determine how these health issues might make it hard for you to live on your own in the future. Consider what modifications you’ll need to make to ensure that your home will suit your future needs.

For example, if you are thinking of buying a new home with an upstairs, you might use the upper part of the house for your home office now and convert the area into a caregiver’s quarters in the future.

Consider a First-Floor Master Suite

An essential home modification for aging in place is first-floor living. Although you might not have mobility issues now, hip replacements and other problems that affect mobility are frequent with increasing age.

Plus, a first-floor suite can increase the value of your home should you sell in the future. According to data from Builder Online, out of the best-selling new home floor plans, more than 83 percent feature accessible master suites.

Choose Slip-Resistant Flooring

Falls are a serious threat to the independence and health of older adults. They are the leading cause of injuries among Americans ages 65 and older. That is why it is so important to take steps to reduce the likelihood of a fall.

One of the easiest modifications that you can make in this area is to choose slip-resistant flooring. Cork and bamboo flooring are both popular for aging in place as they are softer and thus more forgiving during a fall.

These are just a few of the aging in place modifications that you can make to your home. There are many others. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to sacrifice lifestyle or luxury to have a home that is also accessible.

Many of the above modifications can be made anytime and can help enhance the beauty and comfort of your home.

 

Nearing Retirement? Three Reasons Why You Might Consider a ‘Reverse Mortgage’

Nearing Retirement? Three Reasons Why You Might Consider a 'Reverse Mortgage'If you are nearing retirement, a reverse mortgage might be right for you. This type of mortgage essentially allows you to turn your home equity into cash. If you find yourself with little money, a reverse mortgage could be the perfect solution, and here’s why.

No Worries About Monthly Payments

After taking on a mortgage, there are many costs that you have to worry about. One of these problems is mortgage insurance premiums. Add interest and fees from lender service providers to the mix, and you’ve got yourself many costs.

All of these fees can create tremendous headaches, as a large chunk of the loan amount goes into covering these costs.

When you undertake a reverse mortgage, you don’t have to worry about any of that. The loan is paid back with home equity, not ongoing cash flow, so monthly payments aren’t a worry.

Your Income Won’t Affect Your Eligibility, And The Income You’ll Get Won’t Create Problems

If the reason you’re hoping to get a reverse mortgage is your low income, the last thing you want is that income to be the deciding factor. With this type of loan, it’s not an issue. That’s because the thing that determines eligibility is your house’s value.

In fact, the income you’ll be getting from this loan is not taxable, which means you’ll be able to keep it in full. Plus, any benefits you get from Medicare will not be affected, and neither will your Social Security.

As such, what you’ll be getting is a loan that doesn’t take into account your current income. Rather, it adds on to it, without creating any issues for you. Plus, you’ll be able to get the money in several different ways, which means you’re in control.

Lastly, the money you get is fully yours. That means that you can use it for anything you want, whether that means you’ll be paying off other loans, or simply funding your day-to-day needs.

You Won’t Be Taken Away From Your Home

Your house is yours because it feels that way. It’s the place in which you’ve invested money and effort. It’s also the place where many loved memories were created, and where they’ll keep on being created.

One of the hardest things for the elderly is being removed from their loved homes and placed into care. They have to leave the place they’ve grown to love. Worse than that, they’re thrown into a world they don’t know.

With a reverse mortgage, this doesn’t need to happen. With this type of loan, you get additional income, and you get to stay in your own house.

Not only that, but you’re also keeping the title to that place until you move, pass away, or reach the end of the loan’s term. Your home will stay yours, both effectively and in the documents.

There are many more reasons why a reverse mortgage is a great idea. However, the fact that you’re in complete control of the income you’ll be getting is one of the most important things.

If you’d like to learn more about reverse mortgages, be sure to contact your mortgage professional.

Getting Ready to Retire? Six Tips for Downsizing from Huge House to Efficient Condo

Getting Ready to Retire? Six Tips for Downsizing from Huge House to Efficient CondoIf you’re getting ready to retire, you may be thinking about downsizing. Having a large house makes sense when you’re raising kids, but once you reach your golden years, it usually makes sense to move into a smaller, more efficient condo. While downsizing may seem impossible, these six tips will help you reach your goal.

1. The Six-Month Rule

If you’re finding it hard to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of, stick to the six-month rule – if you haven’t used an item within half of a year, you probably don’t need it. Seasonal items aren’t used as much, but if you haven’t used them within a year or two, it’s safe to get rid of them.

2. Measure Twice

Measure your furniture, your current room sizes and your future room sizes. After you’ve done that, do it again. Nothing’s worse than wrestling with your heavy sofa for hours on end to find out that it won’t fit in your new living room after all.

3. Pre-Arrange Big Items

Once you know where your new home is going to be, get the floor plan or draw one up yourself. Use measurements from your furniture and other big items to figure out where you’re going to put things. If it looks crowded on paper, it will probably look even more crowded in person, so make sure your plans look okay before you decide to hire a mover or move everything yourself.

4. Get With The Times

With all the new technology coming out, it’s easy to transfer almost all of your physical media to electronic form. While you might want to keep your all-time favorite books and movies in physical form, you can put most of your reading material on an e-book reader and most of your movies on a computer or external hard drive.

5. Multiples Multiply Headaches

Yes, you need to have a soup ladle, but you don’t need five of them. If you have more than one of the same item, consider getting rid of the multiples. You’ll probably find that your kitchen is the biggest culprit as far as multiples go, but you may also find that you have three tops that are very similar in color and style or four laundry baskets even though you only do one load at a time.

6. Use Your Resources

If you’re moving to a neighborhood with a great library, plan to use it instead of bringing all of your books and movies with you. If you’re going to have a gym virtually next-door and can afford a membership, it may be time to give away your home gym equipment.

Don’t forget that your real estate agent can be an invaluable resource when downsizing, so be sure to get in touch with them before you make the jump. In summary: moving is hard enough, but downsizing is even harder. By following these tips, though, you should be able to pare down your belongings so that you will be able to live comfortably in your new home during the best years of your life.