As published in the Savannah Morning News - 3 March 2013
Finding the Right 2nd Home for Retirement
The Azaleas are already blooming in the south, and the snow is still flying in the north. Dreams of warmer weather and vacations homes are invading the sleep of the snow bound…and many northerners have escaped to our area to find their next, and possibly, “last” home. With the market improving, downsizing makes sense, so are you thinking about a change?
The good news is, sellers are now more realistic in their pricing, and homes are selling again. The northern market is moving as well, and the snow birds are here, so if you are thinking of listing your home, this is a great time. They are down-sizing, up-sizing to accommodate visiting family, or simply making the move to warmer weather.
We are starting to see a shift from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market. That’s great news for sellers who have been suffering for the last 6 years. I am excited to tell you that I am again receiving multiple offers on nice homes that are priced right, which is a sign the buyers are scooping up the cream of the crop. Short sales and bankruptcy inventories are also shrinking, so things are looking up!
If you are in the mood to make a change, or buy a vacation home that will become your retirement abode, this is a great time to buy while prices are low, money is cheap and inventory is available. Rising values incentivizes buyers to buy now. For sellers waiting for your home values to increase, it will be a long wait to return to 7 year old values. Yes, you will sell lower than 7 years ago, but you will be buying low as well.
So, let’s take a look at finding your “last” home. In order to age-in-place comfortably, choose carefully.
Stairs is the main concern that comes to mind. Many consider a home with a master bedroom on the ground floor to be the plan for the future. Yes, it has its advantages, with the guest rooms separated, but no more than a ranch style with a split bedroom plan. I have sold countless homes that have significant issues on the 2 floor…roof leaks, air conditioner moisture, mold, branches through the roof…the list goes on. Seniors tend to ignore the upstairs and live on the ground floor, while the mold grows and the house becomes toxic. If you are not going to visit the upstairs, don’t buy one.
Also, if you are building, install an elevator shaft, even if you don’t need the elevator now. The space makes a great pantry in the kitchen and walk-in closets on other floors. When the elevator becomes necessary, you take out the false floors and move forward with the installation. Planning is the key.
Installing stair chairs are not the simple answer if a wheelchair is involved. There must be proper space for a person to be able to negotiate from a wheelchair to the stair chair. If not, both the senior and the caretaker risk injury trying to make that work.
Doorways, counter heights, door lever hardware, level ground around the house are just some of the considerations when choosing your last home. If it does not have the capability for wheel chair mobility and it can’t be renovated for safe bathroom, shower and hallway maneuverability, then you have the wrong last home. One fall can change your life in a moment, so make sure your Realtor® helps you choose the right last home where you can age-in-place gracefully.
Next week in Moving Mom…more on Finding the Perfect “Last” Home! Stay tuned!