If you decide on aging in place, is your current home equipped to age with you?
Here at Active Adults Realty we’ve been talking since 2005 about Boomers and their homeownership choices as we age. Aging is one of those chapters of life we can’t avoid so we must prepare. With this preparation, it’s prudent to consider “How well will your home age with you?” We’re not talking about solely home maintenance over the years but about having the things in place within your home to allow you to be comfortable and adapt should your health require it.
If you fell and became unable to handle steps, could you still get into your home? If your mobility changes to require the usage of a walker or wheelchair would you be able to comfortably get down a hallway, maneuver in a bathroom and shower, or comfortably access kitchen countertops and cabinets? Many of us Baby Boomers don’t want to think about getting old but it’s going to happen. Now, is the time to take charge of your choices and prepare a home to meet your wellness needs. It may feel like living in your current paid-for home is the least expensive option but not keeping up with the maintenance, updates, and repairs can quickly become an equity killer for Baby Boomers. And should situations change to require adaptations to update an older home to accommodate accessibility features such as grab bars, handrails, carpet removal, extra-wide doorways and hallways, well, the expenses can quickly add up and up and up.
I am a leading-edge Boomer who just turned 72 and I am the Associate Broker and co-owner of Active Adults Realty in Delaware. All of my 18 agents and myself are Seniors Real Estate Specialists (SRES). As our name says, we specialize in working with active adults that are preparing for or entering retirement. Many are relocating to Delaware from the surrounding states in the Mid-Atlantic Region. What I have found interesting is that most of our clients are not really buying smaller homes when they first retire and relocate. About half are not even buying in a 55+ community.
Boomer Housing Market Fast Facts
According to a Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) Report we learned:
- From 2012 through 2017 the number of households with the head of the household aged 65 or over increased from 27 million to 31 million.
- Between 2018 and 2028 the number of households aged 75-79 will increase 49 percent and rise another 20 percent between 2028 and 2038.
- Those aged 80 and over make up 57 percent of homeowners living on their own.
- In 2017, 10 percent of those aged 65-79 and 14 percent of those aged 80 and over, took on at least one home renovation project to help with accessibility issues to allow them to age in place for a bit longer.
Are home construction builders prepared for these increases in living arrangements? Sadly, the research data suggests they haven’t been considering the specific needs of an aging population. Fewer homes with accessibility features, universal design features, slab foundations, and bedrooms on the main level are in the current housing inventory.
Why are more builders not building homes with these features? They’re telling me people are not asking for them. They hear people say things like “I don’t want slab construction because slabs are cold.” No, they’re not. My home and numerous homes in my community are built on a slab. Homes built today are being built differently than they might have been 20-30 years ago, even. Today’s building codes are better, standards are better, and insulated slabs are not cold. A slab construction home makes it a lot easier to have a zero-step entrance. Read more about aging in place on this blog post.
If you have questions about whether or not your home can see you through your needs as you age, we invite you to schedule an appointment with a real estate professional. You may be pleasantly surprised by what the market has to offer to ensure your comfort and anticipate your future needs. There are so many more options today than even a few years ago.