Exploring The Home Purchase Contract

north conway home buyingWalking through the home buying process can bring its own set of frustrations and headaches. The paperwork, approvals, unfamiliar words, and waiting can seem never-ending for both the seller and the buyer. Part of the journey of securing your dream home is signing some type of home purchase contract. But what exactly does that mean?

  1. What is a home purchase contract? A home contract may be called many things, including a purchase agreement, binder, earnest-money agreement, or simply an “offer”. Once signed, it may be binding. Basically, it defines the legal relationship between the buyer and the broker.
  2. What should a home purchase contract include? At the very least, a home purchase contract should include which items will remain with the home, the total purchase price, a full legal description (including street address), conditions for earnest money, the type of deed and title, and settlement date.
  3. What is a contingency? A contingency is a condition attached to the offer you are making on the home you wish to purchase. Contingencies can include: appraisal (giving the buyer an option to cancel if the appraisal minimum is not met), repair (if repair costs exceed a certain amount), and financing (related to buyer’s ability to secure financing).
  4. Who is involved? Your agent, the seller’s agent, the seller, and you as the buyer. You may decide to hire a real estate attorney, who can review the home purchase contract before you sign in order to ensure everything is ready to go.
  5. How long does a home purchase contract take to finalize? The finalization depends somewhat on the terms of your offer and if the seller chooses to accept them or not. It may take a few back-and-forth offers and counteroffers before a final agreement is reached. Once you come to an agreement, there are other tasks that will need to be completed, including property disclosures, loan processing, and a final walk-through.

Requirements for home purchase contracts may depend partly on:

  • The state in which you are purchasing the home
  • Negotiations between the buyer and the seller
  • Local regulations regarding home purchases

Of course, other details and requirements will emerge along the way as you continue along this process. Since purchasing a home is not a decision to make lightly or on a whim, all offers and considerations should be contemplated thoroughly before presenting them on paper

Your real estate agent (hopefully a professional, reputable agent) will be able to walk you through all the steps of the home purchase contract and explain any terms or conditions that seem unfamiliar. Never agree to any contract or terms that you do not understand.

Research can prove helpful prior to purchasing a home; understanding the language before you step onto the road of real estate buying can alleviate some confusion later. No matter where your home buying journey takes you, contracts will be a part of the plan. Be prepared and save yourself confusion later!

Riding the Wave of New Home Buyers

conway nh real estateThe trend in North Conway NH real estate this year is leaning towards more and more home buyers who are expected to get in on the real estate market. This will take the form of people who have up till now been primarily renters heading into the realm of homeownership as a growing trend in 2015. In fact, about 12 percent of current renters around the United States say they plan to purchase a house this year, an increase of 25 percent from last year, according to National Mortgage Professional Magazine. These renters — many of whom are Millennials — are coming to the realization that owning a home represents a great long-term investment.

Why?

This trend comes as more Millennials — those who have been delaying marriage, house, and kids till later in life — are forgoing renting because there are simply fewer affordable units available, according to Loan Logics. As a result, rental costs are going up thanks to the simple laws of supply and demand, making it less affordable for renters to keep up that lifestyle. Their monthly rent doesn't differ too much from what they would pay in a mortgage, so they're opting to buy homes instead. It doesn't hurt that mortgage rates are at all-time lows right now as well. Banks and other financial institutions are becoming more lenient on their approvals for mortgages for those with poor credit, which is a hallmark of those Millennials who are left with crippling student debt and lower incomes than the generation before them. In addition, home buyers are not required to put large down payments on houses as they once were. All of these factors are leading to a ripe real estate market in many pockets of the country.

Changes

The landscape of home buyers is changing. The market is seeing an influx of more and more single adults, gay couples and non-native-born Americans, which is in somewhat of a contrast to the traditional family structure. Buyers are now seeking out modern homes located within urban areas rather than the suburbs so they have less of a commute to work and can be close to the city for entertainment purposes. This is all thanks in part to the slowly improving American economy that will continue to spur on this trend in home buying.

Buying a Home: Walk-Through Checklist

conway lake nh real estateAs you journey along the home buying process and are nearing the end, you may hear your agent talk about a “walk-through” before finalizing the home sale at closing. This is an important step, allowing you as the buyer to have all the information available to you before making the house your own.

This is not to be confused with the home inspection or appraisal. Rather, the final walk-through is an opportunity for you as the buyer to ensure the home is in the condition agreed upon for the sale. You should not close on the home until a final walk-through has been completed.

  • Who: Taking along your home inspector can be helpful in order to have another set of eyes. Your real estate agent can also be helpful in this step.
  • What: One of the purposes of a walk-through is to make sure any previously agreed-upon repairs have been completed. Look for possible leaks, test lights, stains, or damage. If you as the buyer had an agreement with the seller in the sale contract for certain appliances or other items to be left in the home, the walk-through is your opportunity to make sure everything is in place.
  • When: The day before closing is a good time to schedule a walk-through. You want to be looking for any issues not previously take care of, so timing is everything. Too far in advance, and the sellers may still be making preparations; too soon, and there may not be enough time to make necessary adjustments.
  • Where: Check not only the interior but also the exterior of the home, garages and/or outbuildings, and landscaping.
  • Why: A final walk-through is a way to make sure nothing has changed since you last saw the home, including damage from weather or unmet promises from the seller.

What to Do If You Find a Problem
Irene Gianos is a New Jersey broker who recommends contacting a settlement attorney if an issue arises that becomes serious. It may be possible to negotiate between agents and not involve lawyers at all.

As the homebuyer, you will also need to decide if the problems are worth a disruption; it is helpful to have a copy of the home inspection report and the contract with you as a reference, so you have a list of what was promised to be repaired or replaced. There may be items left that were not included in the agreement, in which case you can decided whether to dispose of those on your own or ask that the seller take care of the issue.

The final walk-through when purchasing a home is an exciting time, as you move one step closer toward home ownership. This part of the process holds a lot of details, and this one is not to be skipped over or taken lightly. Buying a home is an investment, and paying attention to the details of the final walk-through is a way to ensure you are getting every penny’s worth.

On Being Human

conway lake nhThis past week I re-watched some of the Planet Earth series that were put out by the BBC and now played on the Discovery network. If you haven’t had a chance to see them, do yourself (and your kids) a favor and seek them out. They have been in circulation since they first aired in 2006. It is a remarkable series and I promise you’ll learn something even without trying!

One of the more amazing things I notice, every time I watch the series, is how intelligent and social our animal friends are. Seeing hundreds of female penguins arrive to re-connect with their male counterparts after 3 months at sea is simply mind numbing. From the couch, all we see are hundreds of identical looking and sounding creatures milling about atop the icepack. What the females see is a single individual penguin carrying their precious offspring.

It reminds me (us?) to take a step back and review who we are as human beings. A little info-graphic on Facebook this morning said it best. The cartoon showed 4 kids of different colors and nationalities standing arm-in-arm on a playground. The caption read: We are all born human beings. We are taught to discriminate based on color, gender, social class, etc. I could not agree more.

I also listened to a Ted Talk a few weeks ago that shared the same sentiment. It was a middle-class, white American talking about “race” (How dare he!). He postulated that at some point in our ignorant, discriminatory past we chose to ignore the fact that we are all the same “race”. We are all part of the “human race”. Everything beyond that is societally generated and solely based on fear and ignorance. At some point along the way we were taught discrimination (and often hatred) for others solely based on their color, gender, religious beliefs, where they were born or some other nonsensical reason. (Unless they are Yankees fans, then discrimination is perfectly acceptable!)

As infant children, we are born without the ability to feed, shelter or protect ourselves. We rely solely on a guardian or caregiver to provide these life necessities and raise us to a point in which we can fend for ourselves. Once we have gained this independence, we are then further able to spread our proverbial wings and venture out, into this amazing world in which we live, to explore and find our place. It is during this time that we are also able to redefine our worldview and start to make decisions based on our own goals and objectives. That said there is still some semblance of our upbringing lingering in those decisions.

I’m going to make the assumption that if you are reading this today, you are likely not living at home with your parents. You are a thinking adult and are out in the world making decisions based on what you believe to be the best path for you at this time. If you stop and look around for a minute (maybe head over to Settlers’ Green and look around) you will see dozens and dozens of people, just like you, making choices based on what they believe to be the best path for them. They were raised by caring guardians that got them to adolescence and have migrated past that point to adulthood where both of you stand today. Who knows? Maybe one of them is sitting on the bench across from you pondering the same article!

My plea today is simply to invite you to step back from the daily noise and (often) nonsense of your busy lives and really consider the path where you now stand. Consider both, the path that got you to this point and the path on which you are headed. Try to think of your life merely as a single entity on the face of this amazing planet. Think of yourself as a human atop this huge rock spinning and rotating around an incredibly large light and energy source. And remember that that rock is but a tiny speck in an incomprehensibly large universe.

My (slightly lofty) hope is that you will more fully appreciate both how infinitesimally small you are and how incredibly precious each day of your life is. I’m hoping we can all start to appreciate that each one of us, every person you see walking around the streets of North Conway or the halls of the shoppers village, is sitting atop the same huge rock. We are all seeking answers and trying to figure out the best way in which to live our lives. We are all part of the same human race, living on the same planet, trying our best to survive and (ideally) leaving this planet in a condition worthy of our future generations. All of the “stuff” between us is literally “made up” and has nothing to do with our lives as stewards of this planet.

We strayed a bit from real estate this week. As my good friend and Badger Realty agent, Bill Barbin once said, “Life is too short to be solely focused on work and business. Our friends, families and loved ones are far more important to our health and happiness than any day spent in the office”. I couldn’t agree more, Bill. Have a great week everyone. Don’t worry. It will stop snowing any day now… Right?

Manchester's Growth Migrates North

conway nhAnyone looking to find some very positive signs about the health of the real estate industry in northern New England need look no further than the largest city in the state of New Hampshire, Manchester. Within the last five years, Manchester has been showered with accolades for its liveability and all-around desirability as a place to settle and pursue a career.

CNNMoney has listed the city 13th of its 100 best places to live and launch a business; Forbes Magazine ranked it #1 on its list of cheapest cities to live in; andKiplinger designated Manchester as #2 among tax-friendly cities to conduct business. Clearly the city is on to something, and in a big way – which is great news for the entire surrounding area.

Magnet for young professionals

The work done by the city's visionaries over the past two decades is paying huge dividends now, with two new fantastic entertainment venues in the area (Verizon Wireless Arena and Northeast Delta Dental Stadium), a significantly updated regional airport, and the hugely successful Downtown Market Basket all drawing in visitors from near and far.

Best of all, the flexible zoning established in the Central Business District and the tax-friendly environment has had the wonderful effect of luring in new business and keeping it there. A whole Who's Who of powerful companies like CCA Global, Anthem, and Riverstone Resources have all found the area to their liking and have entrenched themselves in northern New England.

All these things are beginning to work like a magnet in attracting young professionals to the area, at first for the job opportunities, then for the natural beauty of the area later on, and it quickly becomes an easy place to fall in love with. They are all discovering what lifelong New Englanders have known for ages – that New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont are among the nicest places to live in the entire country.

Another way this bodes well for the area is in the overall picture of demand for real estate. Since vacancy rates are extremely low throughout the greater Manchester area, housing has had to spill over into the surrounding countryside to towns like Berlin, Bridgton, Ossipee, Laconia, and all the way to the Atlantic coastline. New housing construction is already underway, but the pace of new construction will likely have to pick up in order to satisfy the demand generated by this pleasant influx of new real estate clients.

Behind Your Busted Bracket

north conway nh homes Is your bracket busted yet? I’m guessing if you’re reading this Saturday morning, there’s a good chance you still have Kentucky in there. I was lucky enough to throw Michigan State in my bracket, all the way to the end. I say “lucky” because, in my case, there is absolutely no skill involved whatsoever. I base (most) of my picks on who I liked back in the early 90’s. I was a UNLV fan and was heart-broken when Duke squished them in the tournament. From then on I have rooted for anyone who beats Duke. Just like with baseball, I love the Red Sox and anybody that beats the Yankees!

So what does the NCAA tournament have to do with real estate, you ask? Plenty. At least as it relates to my (fairly silly) strategy of picking my teams. My girlfriend went to the University of Colorado and is an avid college sports fan. She is well read about the PAC-12 and most things “college sports”, especially football. I assure you her picks, this year, were far better thought-out than mine. The point of my rambling is that you really can’t base your strategy for buying or selling a home on outdated information and tactics. Like it or not, the world has dramatically changed in the past 20 years (20 months, actually!) and it is important that you have changed with it. Let’s look at a few examples.

As some of you know, I teach a couple classes on marketing for businesses. Essentially these classes cover search engine optimization (SEO) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) for businesses. The focus of these classes is to educate new and old business owners on how these things have changed the marketing landscape and (more importantly) how best to take advantage of them. One of my favorite slides I use in every class is a graphic showing that 60% of the sales cycle is over before the consumer engages a salesperson. This is from a Customer purchase research survey in 2011. You can bet that number has increased in the last 4 years. And, if you think about it for a minute, this is not all that surprising.

Think about the last time you purchased something, large or small. I’m willing to bet you spent time researching that product before making the trip to the store. The reason is not (entirely) because we simply don’t trust the salesperson, but because we now have unprecedented access to information that was never before available. I can find out far more about the Subaru WRX wagon (which those jerks discontinued!) by reading about it online than even the most educated salesperson could ever tell me.

To be perfectly clear, the salesperson still has an important job and plays a vital role in this process. At the end of the day, I want to see, feel and touch the product I’m buying. A trip to the car dealership accomplishes all of those things and allows me the experience of speaking to a real-live human being about the features and amenities of the product that simply can’t be gleaned from a computer screen. An in-person walk-through of a home can never be replaced by a virtual tour. A few articles about the neighborhood can never replace the experience and knowledge of the local area that a real estate professional has. People still need people. But I digress.

conway nh realtorsOur Social Times website noted the following (staggering) statistics. In 9 months, Instagram grew by 50% and is now larger than Twitter. They now boast over 300 million users. People use this to share pictures of listings and even “potential” listings to their friends, family and even clients. Those users share over 70 million photos and videos every single day.

In June of 2014, Facebook served up more videos that YouTube, at a whopping 12.3 billion. There is no question video is a huge factor in social media and is exactly what users are looking for. Viewing videos of homes, products and other commerce-related items likely out-pace those of our family, friends and yes, even our pets.

Mobile phone and tablet usage continues to increase and play a critical role in how we ingest our data. April 21st is being referred to as (jokingly) “mobile-gedden” in the web development community. Google has told us that websites that are not “responsive” or viewable on any sized device will now rank lower than their mobile-friendly competitors. The lesson here is, if you aren’t mobile, you aren’t seen. Generation “Y” will spend an average of 2 hours per day on their smartphone and will use 6 apps a day. This group will also form half of the workforce by 2020. In a word: Yikes!

“The moral of the story is if you are selling your home, it is more important than ever to know your ‘target buyer’, notes Badger Realty agent, Ed O’Halloran. He continued, “If you are interested in the increasing number of millennials buying homes today, you need to meet them where they are. And all signs are pointing to them being online and on their phones”.

Home Trends: 2015

conway nh home trendsSingle-residence homes have seen quite the evolution over the past several decades, growing from 983 square feet in the 1950s to a few thousand square feet in 2015. Home trends, including size, change from year to year. From Early American interior design, to shag carpet, to pastels, what is “in” is constantly shifting.

First, a rundown of what is on its way out:

  • Matching furniture
  • Ombre look
  • Solid-colored accent walls
  • Chevron
  • Mirrored furniture

Home designers and style experts are mostly in agreement with what is hot in home design for 2015. Here is a look at home trends for 2015 (but we should warn you-it might not be this way tomorrow):

Bathrooms

Home designers are finding homeowners are asking for the luxury treatment in what used to be the most private room in the home:

  • Large soaking tubs centered in the middle of the room, to evoke a spa feeling
  • Geometric 3-D tile
  • Lots of color, less white
  • Modern design with natural elements

Kitchens

CNN recently spoke with Steve Murray, owner of Murray Homes out of Sarasota, Florida. Murray gave some insight into home kitchen trends most recently requested by home buyers. Luxury homeowners are asking for:

  • Custom pantries, which can include mini sinks and a built-in coffee center (think smaller kitchen)
  • Refrigerated drawers, allowing for extra chilled storage throughout the space
  • Touch cabinets, with the capability to open with a brush of a hand
  • Steam ovens, offering a new way to cook efficiently

Relaxing Spaces

We want our outside spaces to also feel like the inside with inviting seating and fire pits around luxurious swimming pools. We also want:

  • Getaway rooms (didn’t we use to call these “family rooms”?)
  • Roof space, using screens and foldable walls in order to bring the outside in, and vice versa. Also called three-season rooms, these would include fire pits and sitting areas.
  • Wine rooms and bars with new designs to utilize the space underneath stairs as wine storage
  • Courtyards

Fixtures and Floors

Wide plank floors and gold tones are predicted to rise in popularity this year, as well as incorporating natural elements into these pieces.

  • Mixed metals
  • Natural tones
  • Brass fixtures with a satin finish
  • Sandstone tiles

Best in American Living also mentions trends in garage design, which are not only detached, but a short walk from the actual home. Also, both attached and detached mother-in-law dwellings to accommodate grandparents and kids moving back in with mom and dad. Other popular designs for 2015? Wallpaper with geometric designs, shades of blue and gray, as well as modern and mid-century design make the list. It may sound like a given, but top technology and environmentally friendly design will also be in-demand, from the kitchen to the living room. Whether you live in an apartment, a log cabin, a large home in the city, or a small dwelling in the suburbs, trends come and go. No matter your style, your space should always be as personal and unique as you are.

Misleading Mortgage Myths

north conway homesThe national average for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.86% last week. That (and the data listed down below) is according to Freddie mac’s most recent survey. Their Chief economist, Len Keifer, believes that 2015 is shaping up to be a great year. While we don’t normally encourage you to “buy in” to the national trends in real estate, I thought it might be worth our while to peek outside the box a bit and see what is happening outside the White Mountains region. While it does not determine our market, it certainly has some impact. Let’s take a look.

Regardless of the color of your lapel pin, with a growth rate of 250,000 per month for over a year, you can’t argue that jobs have increased across the country. Because of this, we have seen a strong increase in consumer’s buying power and the first-time homebuyer age group is gaining steam as well. Consumer confidence has a large impact on real estate. As we saw in the softening market a few years ago, if folks don’t have confidence that they will have a job tomorrow, they are certainly not going to venture out and take on a mortgage. As we see this job growth trend continue, we should continue to see the first-timers jumping on board.

If you have been reading along (in the national media) for the last couple of months, you have seen the word “affordable” floating around quite a bit. The numbers state that about 80% of homes in metro markets are affordable for a median family income to purchase a median priced home. I like this metric simply because it is very general, but allows consumers (like you and I) to gauge ourselves against a “real” set of numbers. If we find ourselves at or above the national average for income, we can feel better about moving forward towards home ownership.

We are also seeing rental rates start to creep up into an area that is making mortgages seem more attractive. With increases of over 11% in the last three years, renting will start to make less financial sense for the average buyer. To clarify, renting may still be the best option for you when the conditions point you in that direction. The comment here is simply to say that financially, buying a home can be more affordable in the long run.

So with rents creeping up, mortgage rates at comically low levels and housing at its most affordable in years, what is keeping you from throwing down this copy of the Sun and heading to the bank (besides it being Saturday!)? Perhaps it is the fear of the dreaded 20% down payment. Perhaps it is that lingering blemish on your credit report. The reality is much different than those two myths would have you believe. Let’s tackle the down payment myth first.

In the world of Freddie Mac, qualifying borrowers who buy within “maximum loan limits” (up to $417,000 in most areas) are able to get loans by putting less than 20 percent down. Beyond that, low-income and first-time buyers can get conforming loans with as little as 3 percent down from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac. The Veteran’s Administration and the Federal Housing Administration still offer mortgages at 3.5% down.

Of course there is some “fine print”. You’ll need to meet credit and income qualifications (derr!) but at least you can get yourself into a home and stop paying someone else’s mortgage for them (i.e. rent!). “For those of us who work in real estate, we are happy with the changes made to the lending practices over the last few years,” notes Badger Realty agent, Brett Newton. He continued, “The truth is, it was the LACK of those logical and intelligent requirements that got the industry in trouble in the first place.”

Speaking of that “blemish” on your credit report… The myth of needing “perfect” credit is also just that: a myth. Of course a higher credit score nudges you towards a better rate, but you can still get an FHA loan with a score as low as 580. If your score is at 650 or above, you are now able to take advantage of Fannie or Freddie’s conforming loans. In general, the less money you provide as a down payment, the higher your credit score needs to be. If your score is up in the 700 range, your down payment can be comparably minimal.

The market is getting stronger every day and lending institutions are gaining steam right along with it. Lenders ARE, in fact, offering jumbo loans and loans without requiring income verification. It is just that now they are offering these loans to buyers, whom they have determined, actually deserve them. (What a concept). In general, lenders are reviewing 15 – 20 factors to determine your loan amount, interest rate and required down payment. If you work to ensure you financial house is in order, you might find yourself in a REAL house before you know it!

Finding Feng Shui

conway nh homesFeng Shui, in a nutshell, would mean really small furniture! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Seriously though, it is a “Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment.” Yes, I got that from Wikipedia. We have all at least heard of the concept and some of us even make efforts to work it into our rooms, homes and offices. Whether you are a fervent believer or not, it is hard to refute the fact that a room utilizing these ideas really does “feel” better. Whether you are selling your home or simply want to “Feng Shui”-up your existing space for your own benefit, let’s take a look at a few areas on which to focus your attention.

The first concept is balance. If you look at a room and find there are large pieces of furniture on one side and these are not comparable to the items across the room, you are most likely out of balance. Many homes have a combined living/dining area in which this idea of being off-balance is fairly common. With one side containing couches, chairs and an entertainment center, the other side of the room can’t compete with (typically) wooden table and chairs. The “weights” of each side are not in balance.

An easy fix for this is to open up the area with the larger furniture by moving those large pieces to the exterior walls. This helps give the room a lighter and more open feel and allows the larger items to lose their place of prominence. The addition of a glass table or table with wiry “thin” legs can also highlight the airy feel of the living area side and works to balance out the thinner legs of the dining room’s table and chairs.

One of the more common ideas with this system is that of “flow”. And we’re not talking about the swelling Saco! Flow simply means you can physically and mentally get “through” a room without impedance. One of the more obvious examples of this would be a room that greets you, as you walk into it, with the back side of a couch. The couch immediately stops you from walking into the room and mentally stops your brain from “taking in” the rest of the room.

Some people are really good at jamming way too much furniture into their homes. I promise I’m not going to get on a kick about clutter, but suffice it to say: less is more when it comes to furniture in your living space. Not only is it annoying to have to wriggle your way through the living room to get to the bathroom, it is mentally stopping the flow of the room and removing the balance we just gained from the earlier paragraph. Try to walk through your home (end to end) without having to think too much. If you find yourself winding and twisting too much, it is likely time to make some changes.

Every room has a focal point. While some are not always obvious, they are present and make an impact on how you perceive the area. Just like the idea of “flow” from above, are there items in the way that block the access to the focal point of the room? Using the couch example, you would not want a couch to be between the entryway of the room and the fireplace. Make sure the centerpiece of the room is accessible and is not blocked (physically or mentally) from the main entrance.

The last idea is that of feeling too “boxed” or cramped in the room. Right in line with the ideas from above, you don’t want to make your room feel like you are having book club every day. Boxing-in the room with chairs, couches and other furniture seals it off from the rest of the house and obviously blocks the flow of the room. Once again, this also makes it more difficult to walk through the home and creates a feeling of cramped, contained living quarters.

less is moreThe “boxed” idea is one in which you will have to adjust for your needs. I don’t entertain large groups very often so the need for lots of indoor furniture is minimal. I can minimize my couches and chairs and leave the room and the home feeling open and airy. For those of you who DO entertain often, you can be strategic with your placement of these items between parties and still maintain the flow and open feel of the home.

Whether you are selling the home or not also plays a huge role in how you lay out the area. “For showings and pictures, you want to have the least amount of furniture possible which still maintaining a lived-in look and feel,” notes Badger Realty agent, Diane McGregor. Potential buyers should be able to easily walk through the home (without the zigzagging from before). A minimizing of large and cluttered furniture placement also helps when taking photos for the listing.

If you are selling your home or just want to find a better balance in the space you live, take a little time to brush up on your Feng Shui knowledge. Not only will you end up with a more livable and pleasant space in which to live, you will find a more positive response from potential buyers (and your Realtor!).

Housing Options for Older Adults

north conway homesLet's be honest, none of us is getting any younger.  (Even though you LOOK younger!)   ;)   Here are a few tips on how to get a handle on some different housing options for mom and dad.

Jack and Jill are thinking about selling their house (the one up the hill). They are both 65, their kids are grown and have kids of their own. They’re ready to retire together. What are Jack and Jill’s options?

Real estate options for older adults are not confined to the traditional nursing home or assisted living facility. More modern dwellings have developed in recent years, allowing individuals to choose a living environment based on his or her independence level and preference for community type.

There are choices available to older adults when it comes to housing solutions:

  • If Jack and Jill were to choose to stay in their home, a reverse mortgage is one path they could take. This is a process by which money is borrowed and the payments are charged against the equity of the home.
  • The USDA and HUD have a variety of programs available to older adults who would rather live independently, including mortgage insurance, housing choice vouchers, and rural rental assistance.
  • If an adult would rather live in an apartment setting, HUD has made available a Subsidized Apartment Search, organized by state and updated on a regular basis.

Not everyone will choose to live in a single dwelling home or an apartment environment. In those cases, there are other options available to older adults. They include

  • Independent Living Communities: Often in the form of studio apartments, condominiums, and townhomes, these communities and the amenities that they offer vary from place to place. For adults who are active, independent, and can live without assistance, this residential option may be ideal.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities: These type of communities provide levels of care, so Jack and Jill and remain as their needs change. CCRCs offer independent living assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care.
  • Living with family: In the year 2013, 51 million Americans lived together with a grandparent and at least one other generation, a rise of 10% between 2007 and 2009. Lennar homebuilders became the first to introduce a multigenerational family home, making it possible for large families to live together.

Housing Protection

The national Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968, protects older adults from housing discrimination based on age. Landlords are prohibited from making certain decisions for tenants based simply on a person’s age. They are, however, required to allow reasonable accommodations for individuals who have a disability or specific need for service animals.

Jack and Jill have options. If they want to remain in their home up the hill, there are resources available to help them remain independent and settled. If they would rather live in close proximity with a like-minded community, affordable choices can be found nationwide. From apartments, to retirement communities, to multi-family dwellings, Jack and Jill do not have to worry about the future. With the right resources and a plan for what’s to come, the real estate options for older adults have exciting potential for the future!