We all want to maximize profit when selling our homes but when retirement is on the other side of that sale not planning ahead could keep one from gaining the most profit possible on their home sale.
We in the real estate community are often faced with owners unable and unwilling to properly prepare their homes to sell (for many reasons) but some of the biggest challenges arrive with the senior community.
55+ had been considered the ‘mature market’ but as seniors are remaining in their homes longer, sometimes in to their 70’s or later, this is creating further issues when it comes to maximizing their profit at closing for retirement.
More often lack of proper maintenance and outdated features is contributory. Industries have been created in order to keep seniors in their homes longer but it isn’t all what they say, whether a reverse mortgage or even a 1031 exchange.
Add to this health issues and even some families in peril where adult children are returning home with children of their own. Mom and dad may have planned on selling but now their grandchildren are under their roof. Yet while living off the good graces of their senior parent(s) these ‘boomerang’ kids don’t necessarily help out with the needed maintenance of the home creating more wear and tear.
Ultimately these all collectively minimize profit once they decide to sell.
When and where to retire is a complete different nut to crack but waiting until the home is crumbling to the ground is not what you want to do. Make a plan. Write it down. Discuss with your children or someone who can help you strategize.
This is not saying seniors aren’t capable of maintaining their homes but more often than not we see outdated homes in need of most everything. From clutter and dust bunnies to endless wallpaper, outdated fixtures and resistant to change are common. More serious issues could be major appliances, flooring and roofs, driveways.
The same seniors (and regular homeowners too) that have not made updates in 25+ years will also expect to sell at the same prices updated homes sold for. Helping them realize what the market will most likely bring can be a humbling experience. But we are here to sell your home. If you want to know the actual value of your house you can hire a certified appraiser who will surely provide a good idea of value. As a broker we will want to list the home in the same range of comparable homes sold in the past 3 months. Keep in mind it is the buyer’s lender and appraiser that will determine if your contract price is worthy of a loan.
Retirement Planning Now for a senior is critical if you own a home. If one has to act quickly or unexpectedly due to illness or even a natural disaster they should know what they will do when they sell their home for retirement purposes. Making retirement plans without stress or from a hospital bed will ultimately provide peace of mind and freedom from the worry of ‘what will happen’ when I retire - versus having these matters placed in the hands of someone else, i.e. children, power of attorney, etc.
They should develop a strategy based not only on their ‘type’ of property to sell but also their retirement lifestyle wishes. When I work with mature clients I provide a list of questions to get them started especially when it appears they don’t know where to begin.
The first 3 questions are more important for your own knowledge or possibly a family member helping out or POA (Power of Attorney). The other questions help me in my own valuation of their home and can then best advise them based on their wants, needs and finances.
1. How much will you need to live on in retirement or how much cash flow will your lifestyle require?2. What is the total value of your estate?
3. Is your estate (including your home) in Trust? If not consider doing so to prevent your home sale profit from becoming the income of a nursing home should you end up there. If you do not have a WILL get one made immediately.
4. Do you own any rental property?
5. Will you want to move to a) Independent Living; b) Assisted Living; c) Retirement Community
6. Do you want to remain in your home or possibly downsize to something smaller a) Condo or Home Out of State; b) With Family (children)
7. How long has the home been owned?
8. Is there any remaining mortgage on the property?
9. How much has been spent on improvements in the years since it was purchased and are there receipts and or records to substantiate work completed?
a. What specific improvements or updates have been made to the home in the last 2 years?
b. Have updates been completed in the last 5-20 years?
c. Have no updates or improvement ever been made since original purchase?
10. Are you willing to do minimal changes and improvements (including staging) if not more to help facilitate the sale of your home (in the event no improvements have been made in many years)?
Having control over your matters while in sound mind is truly taken for granted. Planning brings you peace of mind. At their stage in life worrying about where and how they will live is not a place anyone wants their parent to be.
In summary there are several options seniors can consider but never without consulting your attorney, accountant, real estate broker or adult children.
1) Sell your home and downsize to something smaller with less or minimal maintenance in accordance with your retirement cash flow.
2) Remain in home, arrange for in-home health care (for when the time comes, including but not limited to discussions with adult children on your desires for care). If needed there are some ways for seniors to refinance their homes but get advice first before counting on this method.
3) If you own a rental property sell your home and move in to your rental property as long as your lease obligations are finished.
4) Sell your home and buy a multi-unit building renting out units for additional income or even move in to one of the buildings unit. This is for those willing to be landlords in the prime of their lives and not recommended for everyone.
5) Sell your home and move in to a 55+ community (where there are single family, duplexes, condo-like), or Independent Living Community, Assisted Living or senior living community.
6) With careful planning make a tax-deferred 1031 Exchange
7) If concerned about taxes that will be owed at the time of sale you can sell via an Article of Agreement for deed or Installment Sale. Buyer puts down agreed amount as earnest money or down-payment and the balance is amortized (via P/I) usually for 30 years but the note is due in 3 to 5 years or whatever you agree to. Buyer pays you monthly.
Make certain whatever you do when speaking with your attorney or accountant discuss with them potential real estate strategies that might best fit your retirement needs.