Buying a new home as a senior can be a little overwhelming, but for many, the choice to make a move after retirement comes due to a need to downsize, and buying is often more attractive than renting, for various reasons. There are lots of things to think about during the process, however, such as financing, finding the right home for your needs, and deciding which items you’ll keep and which you’ll get rid of. It’s a big job, but with a good plan, you’ll get through it smoothly.
The key is to do some research and know your rights, especially where financing is concerned. Depending on which state you live in, you may be eligible for special programs that offer assistance for seniors, the disabled, and those below a certain income bracket. Just be sure you read all the fine print, or hire a professional to help you understand it all.
Here are a few things you’ll need to think about when buying a home as a senior.
Establish a timeline
One of the most stressful parts of buying a new home is preparing to sell the one you’re in. It’s tricky, as you need to establish a timeline in order to get your current home sold before you move. Ideally, you’d be able to use some of the money from the sale as a down payment on the new place, but sometimes it doesn’t happen in time. Start thinking about what the timeline will be — when you’ll put your home up for sale and when to start looking for a new one — right away, before you do anything else.
Figure out your budget
Your budget is a huge part of the homebuying process, and one of the first things you should do. Figuring out how much you can spend requires total honesty with yourself, because you don’t want to find out down the road that you can’t actually afford the mortgage payment. Once you’ve taken a good, hard look at your expenses, have an accountant go over everything with you to make sure your numbers are correct.
For more information on how to decide how much you can spend, check out this handy calculation tool from Angie’s List.
Do some research
If you’re disabled, be sure to do some research on how your state can help you pay for expenses related to home buying. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Social Security Administration are two of the best places to start. If you’re a veteran, or your spouse served in the military, read on here for even more options.
Think about downsizing
Once you have your home picked out and financing taken care of, it’s time to start thinking about downsizing. Many seniors choose to do this after retirement because it allows them to think about their future safety and mobility; for instance, if you currently live in a home with stairs or a large lawn to take care of, it may not be very accommodating five or 10 years from now.
Downsizing can be a big job, depending on how big your current home is, so ask for help from friends and family and start early so that you don’t become overwhelmed. Go through each room and decide which items you want to take and which ones you might not have room for; start piles for things to sell, donate, and trash, as well a pile for items you want to give to loved ones.
The homebuying process is a complicated one, so don’t go through it alone; talk to other seniors who have gone through it and seek professional help with financing so you can ensure you’ll get the best deal.
Article by Teresa Greenhill