How Can I Afford
to Stay in My House as I Get Older? Or Where Can I Go?
By Barbara Wilson, SRES,
Realtor Coldwell Banker
Many homeowners here are over
65, and many have lived in these homes for 25 years or more. Neighbors have told me “I’m staying here
until my kids inherit it.” But there
often comes a time when assistance is needed to stay, when you become isolated
as friends have gone and support is no longer nearby, when the big house and
large yard really are too much.
Some have told me staying in
the house is “free” because the mortgage is paid off. However, there are still property taxes and maintenance
costs which continually increase. And when you need help from house cleaners,
gardeners, companions, handymen, “visiting nurses” assistance with daily tasks,
medicines, meal preparation or meal delivery, staying isn’t “free”.
So how can you afford the
high cost of staying? And if you decide
not to stay, where can you go?
In-home health care or
companion prices start around $25/hour. 8
hours a day is $6000 a month. If full-time
help is needed, that cost is at least $18,000/month. Most people in this area have incomes too
high to qualify for programs covering this.
But a viable option to consider is the new reverse mortgage, a greatly
improved product from the offerings of 10+ years ago.
Reverse mortgages are offered
by specialized lenders. There is no
payment required as long as the borrower is living in the house, and can be a
tax-free payout. The heirs eventually
repay, either with cash or by selling the property. If the amount withdrawn by the borrower
exceeds the value of the house, the government insurance pays the
difference. The borrower will never owe
more than the property is worth. And the
money can be used as you wish, to avoid foreclosure, to buy another property, repay
debts, modify the home, or pay for in-home care.
There are many “where to
live” options for the over-55 group.
There are apartments in dedicated facilities offering levels of care
from fully independent to assisted living and memory care. Detached houses, condominiums, and townhomes
are in Walnut Creek, Rossmoor, Sunny Glen and other places. The benefits of communities include less
isolation, lower maintenance costs, more activities, security, and quiet
With so many options, the
time to explore them is now, before you need it. As a Senior
Real Estate Specialist Realtor,
I am happy to help my clients understand what can be done to help them stay in-house. But I’m also there to help them with the
process of de-cluttering, organizing, and preparing to make the move should
selling be their choice. So talk with
your heirs, your lawyer, and your SRES Realtor to review your options, so you
can make the right decision for you, and are as prepared as possible for
whatever the future holds.