HOME CHOICES: Do you sell your home to downsize or do you age at home?
HOME CHOICES: Do you sell your home to downsize or do you age at home? Yuri Arcurs

Tips to consider when deciding to sell or age at home

WHAT are some of the issues you should consider while making the decision to age at home, renovate or sell at home and share your home with others?

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found that 73% of older Australians own their home outright and "many older Australians report a desire to age in place".

Many people consider their homes affordable, comfortable and in a good location, and they feel an emotional attachment to it. Others believe they simply can't afford to move and then there are owners who think the afford to stay.

Linda Coskerie from they Sydney business Lifestyle Transition Services said there are many issues to be considered when choosing to remain in your home or to leave to find alternative long-term living arrangements.

STAY AT HOME

Here are just a few of the issues to be considered if you plan to age in place.

Security

  • Do you have sufficient personal security on your home?
  • Do you want to keep living behind a locked door?
  • Do you have appropriate fire detection installed?

Access to shopping centres and medical treatment

  • Do you have nearby retail areas and health services?

Public transport

  • Is there transport, both public and private, readily available to you?
  • Can you easily walk to a meeting point for your transport, avoiding steep and uneven surfaces?

Friends and family

  • Are your close friends and family living close by?
  • Is it important that you live close to your friends, or to your family?

Maintenance

  • What cleaning, garden and house maintenance is required and how often?
  • Can you do the maintenance yourself or do you need to pay someone to do it for you?
  • Can you afford to pay someone to do repairs for you?

Cost of ownership

  • Can you afford to continue paying your mortgage and home cost outgoings?

Practicality of your house design

  • Do you need to make modifications to your home to make it a more practicable living space ?
  • Did you know you can release some of your home equity to pay for the renovations?
  • Are you sure your renovations will improve the value of your home?

When thinking of making home design modifications, Livable Housing Australia sets out eight basic house design needs which you may consider in your plans.

  • A safe continuous and step free path of travel from the street entrance and / or parking area to a dwelling entrance that is level.
  • Internal doors and corridors that facilitate comfortable and unimpeded movement between spaces.
  • A toilet on the ground (or entry) level that provides easy access.
  • A bathroom that contains a hobless (step-free) shower recess.
  • Reinforced walls around the toilet, shower and bath to support the safe installation of grabrails at a later date.
  • A continuous handrail on one side of any stairway where there is a rise of more than one metre.
  • Stairways are designed to reduce the likelihood of injury and also enable future adaptation.

Renting out the spare room

  • Have you considered taking in a boarder, tenant or lodger?

"If there is a financial gain, that may affect their pension, or can they get someone in as a swap for domestic services," Ms Coskerie said.

CHANGING HOMES

"The fear of change; for some people, they can't get their head around that," Ms Coskerie said.

"When you are talking women in their 80s, a lot of them haven't been in the workforce and aren't very knowledgeable about life decisions.

"Their husband has usually handled all the finances and if they are now in a widowed situation, it's really quite difficult for them if they don't have family around."

And for others she said it's the concern over the loss of the pension, if they sell.

But for those who have decided to sell their home, many of the same issues that exist in reviewing the decision to stay in your home, should be applied to the decision to sell and downsize.

Cost of a new home

  • Will you have enough money from the sale of your home to afford buying another one and still have an acceptable standard of living?
  • Have you considered the costs of selling - stamp duty, conveyancing, agents and auctioneer fees, marketing fees?

Choosing new home

  • Are you clear on what kind of place you want to move to?
  • Do you have security of tenure?
  • Can you have a pet?
  • Is there a garden area for you to maintain or access?
  • Can you get used to balancing privacy and company?

Sharing

  • Can you live with family or friends?
  • Is their home anywhere near other friends, shops, public transport and usual medical services?
  • What role will you play in the house, for example, child sitting duties?
  • What financial arrangement are they expecting between yourself and them?
  • Will they agree to a written agreement regarding this arrangement?

Protecting your assets

  • Will selling your home affect your aged pension?
  • Have you considered what you will do with the funds you receive from the sale of your house?
  • Have you sought financial advice on protecting those funds?

Whether staying or selling, consider asking for professional advice before you make your final decision.


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