By Guest Blogger Norm Pullen
MKB Realtors, Roanoke, VA. 540-330-6906. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Every real estate transaction is different. Part of my job is getting to know the specific needs of each client so I can provide the right information for the circumstances.
For seniors, real estate transactions come with distinct legal, financial and health considerations. A comprehensive plan that takes all these things into account is so important that the National Association of Realtors offers a Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation for agents who want to be able to better serve their senior clients.
When I was going through the SRES training to get the designation, I learned so much about the different factors seniors and their families have to weigh. It can be overwhelming for even the most prepared clients, who have already spent time planning.
Ultimately, the goal is to find a solution that preserves a client’s assets and works both for the immediate future and well into the years beyond. To get that done, you’ll need to gather information about housing alternatives and your finances.
What are your plans for housing now and in the future? Would you like to maintain your current residence, or would you like to simplify and downsize? Do you like the idea of a community of seniors that offers lifestyle amenities and a spectrum of care?
Your answer will depend on various factors, including your finances, your health, and your goals for retirement.
If you want to age in place, connect with one of several contractors in the area who hold Aging in Place certifications. These experts can help you make a plan to adapt your home to meet your needs now and later.
If you want to stay in your home but think it will be a financial reach, a reverse mortgage could be an option. Talk with a specialist who can evaluate your eligibility and answer your questions about how the program works.
If you want or need to downsize into a new home, you and your REALTOR will start by doing a comparative market analysis of your current home to determine a list price that will meet your financial goals and timeline.
For more information about downsizing, check out these tips I shared with Heritage Hall last year.
If it’s a community you’re looking for, there are options for every budget. Check out AARP’s list of questions to ask when choosing a community.
A comprehensive financial review will help you determine your budget for housing now and in the future. These topics will get you well on your way:
I put it at the top to get it over with, but it’s actually not terrible news. In Virginia, most localities offer real estate tax relief to homeowners over 65 and those who are permanently disabled. Check to see if you qualify.
The federal estate tax applies only to very few people. Neither your estate nor your heirs are likely to be liable, but always consult your tax advisor or attorney when finalizing estate plans.
Sit down with your financial advisor to take stock of pensions, IRAs, 401ks and any other investment vehicle you’ve used to save for retirement. Be sure you understand when and how you can start accessing those funds and what the required withdrawal schedules are. You want to get an idea of what lump-sum withdrawals you’ll need to make to meet major expenses as well as what sort of monthly income you can expect. In addition, make sure you understand which funds carry tax liability when you withdraw, such as Roth accounts.
If you were born in 1960 or later, you can begin drawing full Social Security at 67. You can take partial Social Security at 62, but your monthly benefit will be permanently reduced. You might also be eligible for a greater benefit if a spouse has preceded you in death. The Roanoke Social Security office can help you sort through it all (get contact information for your locality’s office). The Social Security Administration’s website also has lots of tools to help you plan.
Navigating Medicare is no small thing. In general, you’ll be eligible at 65. It’s absolutely critical to get a handle on what Medicare covers and what it doesn’t so you can make arrangements for any supplemental, specialty or long-term-care policies you may need. Planning carefully will help protect your assets should you become seriously ill or injured. Consult your financial advisor or contact LOA (Local Office on Aging) to get more information.
Talk with a REALTOR about your circumstances. They’ll be happy to include your family or caregiver in the conversation as well and connect you with other professionals who can help you plan for your next stage in life.