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. Follow our guide to senior house hunting 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 these accessibility features that make aging easier than ever:
- 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.
- Ensure there is plentiful lighting. Lighting is not only crucial to the overall feel of your home, it is also necessary for aging eyes to see.
- Look for wide doorways and hallways. Wide open hallways feel luxurious and make your home wheelchair-accessible. Even if you don’t need the space to wheel around, you may have friends who appreciate the accessibility.
- Choose a walk-in shower with seats and grab bars. Shower in comfort with a place to sit and support bars to lean on when it gets slippery. A walk-in shower is key—it means no ledges to trip over.
2. Prepare your home to sell
After being in your home for so long, the space is fully yours. One glance around the room and you can see your personal touch. But when it comes time 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.
- Put away personal items. Your home should be clear, orderly and tidy both inside and out. Put away family photos and personal decor while showing your house. Show buyers your home, not your belongings.
- Fix everything that is broken. You don’t want buyers to wonder what else is wrong with the house. Schedule a home inspection so you know what work needs to be done. Do a thorough round of repairs throughout your home before you list it.
- 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.
- 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 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) given to you by your real estate agent. 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. Soon you will be decorating your new home, meeting your new neighbors and safely aging in place.
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