When you purchase a home, you are essentially committing to live in the same place for a certain period of time. This can be a complicated reality for seniors, who often face a unique set of challenges that progress and change as they continue to age.
If you are a senior looking to buy a home in Durham, North Carolina, you should keep the following considerations in mind when working with your real estate agent and finding the perfect home for you:
1. An Empty Nest
It may seem obvious, but it is important to remember that the house you buy in your older age does not have to be the same size as the one where you raised your family. For example, you can still have a house with more than one bedroom, but you may want to consider having a guest bedroom also serve as a hobby room so you can decrease the overall amount of space you need for daily activities and storage.
Buying a home as a senior is a great opportunity to downsize not only your space, but also your belongings. A real estate agent can help you work through your list of “want to have” versus “need to have” amenities in your new home.
2. Health Concerns
Seniors looking to buy their own homes need to keep the limitations of their health conditions in mind during their search. For example, many health conditions increase the risk for falling, so it may make sense to avoid multi-story homes. If you have a health condition that affects your vision, make sure to focus on homes that have great natural lighting and plenty of outlets for lighting rooms properly at night.
If health concerns are a major issue, it may be worth considering assisted living options in Durham. There are 11 assisted living facilities in Durham, NC and 30 assisted living facilities nearby. The average cost of assisted living in Durham, NC is $3,500 per month. The Durham Center for Senior Life also offers programs and services to helps seniors manage their health conditions to live healthy, active and independent lives.
3. Mobility and Accessibility Issues
Not all homes are suitable for the mobility and accessibility challenges that commonly affect older Adults. If mobility issues are a problem for you, it may make sense to narrow your search to ranch-style homes without stairs. Other amenities and design elements to filter for include:
A shower and toilet with space to accommodate grab bars in case you need to install them now or in the future
A bathroom on the main level – ideally with a full bath
Wide hallways and doorways to ensure they can accommodate a wheelchair if need be
Outlets and switches that can be reached from a wheelchair – so about 2 to 4 feet from the ground
Ideally one entry to the home that doesn’t involve steps
Many seniors live on a fixed income in their retirement, which makes budget a big issue when buying a home. A joint report released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and AARP Foundation found that the high cost of housing in the US forces about 30% of older adults, including 37% of people older than age 80, to pay more than one-third of their income for homes that may or may not actually fit their needs. This can force people to cut back on health care, food, continued retirement savings and other necessities.
According to real estate website Trulia, the median home price in Durham, NC is $240,000 and trends show that the price goes up 4% each year. If your live on a fixed income, it is important to plan out your financial future to determine whether or not you will be able to afford the costs of maintaining a home as you continue to age. Review your finances and connect with a real estate agent who can help your learn more about any housing assistance options you may qualify for.
Cindi is a born and raised Durham native. She is a former elementary school teacher turned realtor, now working at Movil Realty. Cindi is excited to help others find their home here in the triangle.