Just like every other part of aging, buying a home becomes a different proposition when you're a senior or soon-to-be senior citizen.
Certainly there are still matters of personal preference, but some features will almost always make a house better for senior buyers, according to Pam Neighbors, an associate broker with Keller Williams Realty Atlanta North.
- A stepless entryway from garage to kitchen. "Some people also want a front entryway with no steps," said Neighbors. "But others still want those steps for exercise."
- Wider doorways. "You want to make sure that a wheelchair could fit through them," she said. "It's also a good idea to have a shower a wheelchair could fit through."
- A bedroom on the main floor. "Ideally that will be a master suite, but you should look for a property that at least has one bedroom on the main floor," Neighbors said.
- An HOA that covers exterior maintenance and landscaping. "Some seniors don't want to have to worry at all about home maintenance and you may be able to find a place where the HOA fees cover some outdoor maintenance," Neighbors said.
- Manageable amounts of garden: Some older folks include gardening in the "that's not my thing anymore" category, but others really want to still be able to garden. If a garden is desirable, find a place that has one, certainly. But according to Neighbors you should consider whether the property might have too much garden space that would require too much maintenance when choosing a home.
As for picking a real estate agent to work with during this all-important transition time, Long Realty in the retirement hub of Tucson offered these tips on the Active Rain real estate blog:
- Do not just pick a real estate agent out of the phone book or stick with the first agent you meet. Interview at least two agents.
- Question the agents about their experience in handling clients dealing with the issues that you are dealing with.
- Make sure the agent is willing to deal with other family members if necessary.
- Discuss the percentages that the agent will charge you for selling your property.
- Pick a real estate agent who is willing to show you a marketing plan.