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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

Preparing an Aging in Place Plan For Your Waterloo Region Home

Rather than moving to a senior living facility or community, many people prefer to stay in their Waterloo Region homes once they retire. Unfortunately, most homes are not designed to assist us in aging in a safe and affordable manner.

If you want to "age in place," some planning ahead of time can help you achieve that goal — or put you on the right track to move to a new Waterloo Home region that better suits your future needs.

If you're in your 40s or 50s, you're probably starting to consider whether you'll be able to stay in your current home. Or will you have to make some adjustments? Here are some pointers to keep in mind if you are ready to have that discussion with yourself about your Waterloo Region home.

Think About What You Need to Change.

Begin by imagining how you would live in your home if you had less mobility, energy, and possibly money.

According to a 2015 research paper released by the Society of Actuaries, the most common financial shocks faced by retirees were unexpected expenses for substantial house repairs or modifications. On a fixed income, those high-ticket prices might be crippling, or even impossible.

Before retiring, the society recommends getting a home inspection, so you can figure out what you'll need and budget for it. However, you can schedule some of the more expensive repairs while you're still working, such as repairing the roof or improving the heating and air conditioning system.

Similarly, energy efficiency initiatives may help you avoid large expenses when you are less able to pay them. Insulation, a smart thermostat, and the use of energy-efficient equipment can all assist. Solar panels can significantly lower your energy expenditures in brighter climates.

It should be noted that these are things that will add efficiency and even value to your home at any time, so making these improvements decades before you retire will be forward-thinking that also offers great ROI.

Also think about upkeep. Low-maintenance landscaping could be used to replace a labor-intensive grass yards and planting beds. Siding that needs to be painted every few years could be replaced with a more durable choice like vinyl, fiber cement, or modified wood. Decluttering your space can make it easier to traverse and maintain.

Consider Your Equity Position

In retirement, you may still have large costs or financial difficulties. In that instance, the equity in your home could come in handy. You can access the value of your property by selling it, taking out a reverse mortgage, or taking out a home equity line of credit.

However, you can't use equity that you don't have. According to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, 46 percent of North American homeowners aged 65 to 79 had mortgage debt in 2019. The average amount owing was $77,000.

According to financial advisors, a mortgage in retirement isn't optimal for many people. Few people profit from their mortgages in terms of tax benefits, and having to make payments might cause people to deplete their retirement assets more quickly.

According to those financial planners, paying off your home should not take precedence over preparing for retirement and emergencies. You shouldn't use money from your retirement account to pay down a mortgage, either.

However, if you've met your savings targets, you can increase your principal payments to pay down the loan faster. You can also avoid having a mortgage in retirement by refinancing for shorter loans. For example, if you're 50, you might choose a 15-year loan over a 30-year loan.

Think Accessibility

Consider including accessibility elements in any renovations you're planning. For example, grab bars in bathrooms, lever-style knobs on doors and faucets, and rocker-style light switches are all reasonably inexpensive additions. Widening doorways and hallways, building a curbless shower, laying non-slip flooring, and establishing a zero-step entry are all more expensive upgrades but ones that may pay off in years to come if they allow you to stay in your Waterloo Region home.

Your home should ideally have only one level if you have decreased mobility, but if it has a bedroom and full bath on the entry level, it can work. If that's the case, instead of trying to rebuild the entire property, you can concentrate your renovations on making certain rooms accessible.

Time to Move?

Sometimes there's just too much to accomplish, or your home has characteristics that you can't afford to change. Even if you think you can handle a flight of stairs or a house far away from your neighbours, your living conditions may cause concern among your family members.

You might be able to live closer to your support system if you relocate. It's easier for them, and it's easier for you. Some people are now starting to make these decisions much earlier than in the past, after the kids have all moved out perhaps, but while they still have 20, maybe even 30 years of work left to go.

Getting ready to buy a Waterloo Region home, or sell the one you own? Let Team Pinto use their huge local real estate experience and expertise to help you. Contact the award-winning Team Pinto here, or book a free Zoom consultation to discuss your unique Waterloo Region real estate needs here.


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