Successful Aging: Questions about selling, renting or upgrading your home
Q. My husband has been gone for two years and my mother died this past April. I find that my family can’t seem to help me with issues that the two have done with me over the years. Here’s my problem: I can’t decide whether to sell my home, rent it or move back into my house after the painting and upgrading are completed. I currently am living in a rented house. Even my financial advisor cannot convince me what to do. I want to make a decision before my significant birthday in June. What can I do to find those people who can answer questions weighing on my mind? Any advice and thanks for listening. E.N
Indeed, you are embarking on a big decision. Trusted advisors may help you. These could include an accountant, an attorney, a real estate broker and possibly another financial advisor. However, first consider doing some additional personal homework.
Financial concerns: Think about the financial implications of selling, renting or moving back into your home. Determine what you can afford that will allow you to meet daily expenses as well as your lifestyle, priorities and future needs. You mentioned your advisor could not convince you what to do. If necessary, ask the same advisor some follow-up questions regarding the rationale underlying the recommendations.
Envisioning your life: A large challenge is to envision how you would like to live at your life stage and in the future. There are many variables to consider. Location is a big factor. Are you part of a neighborhood or community that is important to you and do you like or even love your current surroundings? If “love” is the word, that might be a good reason to move back into your upgraded house or find a place in your same general neighborhood. If you are indifferent or don’t like your current environment, it might be a great time to make a move to live in your ideal surroundings. When considering such a move, make note of access to health-care services, transportation, religious institutions as well as amenities you enjoy such as movies, restaurants, theater, concerts or sport opportunities that might be tennis or pickleball. Also, evaluate the importance of living near family and friends.
Selling your house: Note, there are advantages to selling your home: a likely influx of cash and no longer needing to pay property taxes, homeowner’s insurance or repairs and maintenance. There also is a possible capital gains tax break for those qualified to exclude tax liability on a portion of capital gains. Although June is your desired deadline for making a decision, market performance may affect your timing.
Renting your house: There also are some perks to becoming a landlord. One of the biggest benefits is having a source of passive income. Add to that the flexibility to sell at the right time, the option to move back into your home and the likelihood that the property will appreciate. Furthermore, renting your house reflects a diversification of investments.
Moving back into your house: With the renovations completed according to your tastes and preferences, moving back into your home may feel like a refreshed opportunity to live in an upgraded environment in a familiar neighborhood with familiar amenities and services. If part of the renovation includes modifications that will enable you to age in place, moving back into your home might have an added appeal. Such modifications might include living on one floor, having handrails to outdoor and indoor stairs, placing light switches at the bottom and top of the stairs, installing grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower and more.
Where to live if making a move: One can buy or rent another home or condominium or move into a senior or continuing care community. For more information about the latter, see the recent article by Richard Eisenberg, published by PBS Next Avenue. Co-housing is another option. This is communal living with private residences and shared common space such as kitchens and meeting rooms, managed and governed by the community.
Finally, it may be helpful to review a list of the pros and cons for each option you identified. Also, speak with friends and family who have made similar decisions and were in similar circumstances. After going through some of the personal homework, you might share what you have learned with trusted advisors and friends to get their reactions. Embrace your informed decision and ask others to join you in celebration of moving to your next life’s chapter
E.N., Thank you for your good question. Stay well and know kindness is everything.
Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on issues of aging and the new retirement with academic, corporate and nonprofit experience. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at Helendenn@gmail.com. Visit Helen at HelenMdennis.com and follow her on facebook.com/SuccessfulAgingCommunity