Questions Seniors Ask About Real Estate
When They Need to Sell, Buy or Refinance, or When They Can No Longer Live Alone In Their Home
What if it's a hoarding house? Do I have to clean it up?
Why Work with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?
Dedicated to Helping the age 55+ Baby Boomers and Seniors and Caregivers of All Ages
A Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) is uniquely qualified to help you take the next step.
As a seller or buyer over the age of 55, your needs aren't the same as a first-time homebuyer or seller. You might be looking to retire, downsize, or join an active adult community. Whatever reason you may have for considering a move, you can depend on a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® SRES® to guide you through every part of the process.
Knowledge, Experience, Compassion, Dedication.
Dave Halpern, Realtor, Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), has been serving real estate clients in Louisville and surrounding counties for 24 years. He has successfully closed almost 1,000 real estate transactions. Dave is highly trained and extremely experienced in complicated real estate transactions including but not limited to helping seniors, their caregivers, and sometimes their heirs, to find the best solutions for their real estate needs. Dave is patient, compassionate, knowledgeable, and is dedicated to helping his clients optimize solutions to their real estate needs and wishes.
Should I remodel the home or sell it?
It's too risky to live alone but I don't want to move. What should I do?
- Hire in-home non-medical home care aides.
- Change medical provider to in-home medical care.
- Declutter and rearrange the home to remove tripping hazards and enable easier access to essentials.
- If it is cost-effective, do some renovations to make aging in place safer.
- Install technology that can help others monitor your well-being. That includes medical alert systems, Amazon Alexa, Google Nest Hub, and other technology.
- If you don't have the financial reserves to pay for in-home care and modifications to the home, but you do have equity in your home, then consider a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage can enable you to convert some of the equity in your home to liquid and spendable cash.
- Although the mortgage eventually gets paid back when you sell the home, you do not have to make monthly payments along the way.
I own my house but it's too risky to live alone. I need to move to an assisted living but can't afford it. What should I do?
If you find it risky to live alone and can't afford assisted living, there are a few options you can consider:
1. Government Assistance: Check if you qualify for any government programs or benefits that can help cover the costs of assisted living or provide you with additional support. Contact your local social services office or department for the aging to inquire about available options.
2. Medicaid: If you meet certain income and asset requirements, you may be eligible for Medicaid, which can help cover some or all of the costs of long-term care, including assisted living. Research the Medicaid program in your state and see if you qualify.
3. Nonprofit Organizations: There are nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to seniors in need. Look for organizations that specifically focus on housing and senior care, as they may offer financial aid or resources to help you afford assisted living.
4. Roommates or Shared Housing: Consider finding a roommate or exploring shared housing options with other seniors. This can help reduce the costs of living in assisted housing while providing some level of companionship and support.
5. Family and Friends: Talk to your family members and close friends about your situation. They may be willing to offer financial assistance or provide other forms of support to help you afford assisted living or explore alternative living arrangements.
6. Downsizing or Renting: If maintaining your current home is becoming difficult, you might consider downsizing to a smaller, more manageable residence. Renting a smaller apartment or moving into a senior housing community with lower costs could be more affordable.
7. Community Resources: Look for local community resources such as senior centers, community centers, or faith-based organizations that offer services and programs to assist seniors. They might provide information, support, or financial aid options.
It's essential to research and explore various avenues for assistance. Contact local agencies, organizations, and government offices to inquire about the specific programs and support available in your area.
My house is full of good memories that I don't want to leave behind. What should I do?
There are professional downsizing and moving companies that are specifically trained to work with seniors and their relocation needs.
Downsizing and packing is too overwhelming for me. I'll never get it done. What should I do?
I just got out of the hospital and I am in rehab. The social worker refuses to release me back home to live alone. What are my options?
- Your family.
- Your health insurance agent.
- An elder law attorney.
My spouse passed away and I am very lonely in my home. I don't want to move in with my adult children. What are my options?
- Move into a 55+ community that has good socializing programs.
- Moved to a Condo Community that has good socializing programs.
- Move into assisted living that has good socializing programs.
- Move close to your children and grandchildren.
- Seek out programs in adult education classes in nearby community centers and cultural centers. If you are in a position to do so seek out volunteer opportunities.
- Recognize that there are thousands of people experiencing the same. They too are seeking friendships.
I own my home without a mortgage. If I move into assisted living I'll have a monthly payment. Do you have a way for me to compare the cost of living at home versus in assisted living?
Link: Can I Afford Senior Housing? (from WhereYouLiveMatters.org and American Seniors Housing Association)
Type of Expense
- Property taxes
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Utilities (water, gas, electric)
- Trash removal
- Phone bill
- Internet service
- Cable television service
- Housekeeping, laundry assistance
- Home security system
- Smart home technology and/or personal alert system
- Transportation (transportation services or private car expenses)
- Lawn care
- Snow removal
- Exterior home maintenance and repairs (include routine improvements)
- Interior maintenance (painting, carpet cleaning/replacement, appliance repair/replacement, HV/AC maintenance/replacement)
- Additional handyman services
I can't physically do home maintenance anymore. What options do I have that would be lower maintenance?
If you're unable to perform home maintenance tasks due to physical limitations, there are several housing options and adjustments that can help reduce the burden. Here are some possibilities:
Downsize to a Smaller Home: Smaller homes usually mean less maintenance. A single-story home, for instance, eliminates the need for dealing with stairs and can be easier to maintain.
Condos or Apartments: These often come with maintenance services as part of the deal. The homeowners' association (HOA) or building management usually handles the maintenance of common areas, landscaping, and sometimes even certain parts of individual units.
Active Adult Communities: Designed for seniors (usually 55+), these communities often include maintenance services. They also offer various amenities and activities tailored for residents in that age group.
Assisted Living: For those who need more comprehensive help with daily tasks, assisted living facilities offer both housing and support services.
Modify Home for Ease and Aging in Place: Replace standard fixtures with those designed for easy care. For instance, gutters can be fitted with guards to prevent leaves from collecting, and siding can be chosen that doesn’t require frequent painting.
Shared Housing: Consider sharing your home with a roommate or tenant who can help with maintenance tasks in exchange for reduced rent or other arrangements.
Technology Solutions: Smart home technologies can help with tasks like controlling lights, thermostats, and security systems remotely, reducing the need for some manual tasks.
Community Help: Some local organizations, especially those geared towards senior services, offer assistance programs for home maintenance. This could be a good option for occasional tasks.
Home Cleaning Services: Hire a regular cleaning service to handle tasks inside the home, like cleaning, dusting, and vacuuming.
Lastly, reach out to your community or local organizations. Many places have volunteer groups or programs that assist seniors or individuals with disabilities in maintaining their homes. Whether you choose to modify your current living situation or move to a more manageable property, there are many options available to help reduce the physical demands of home maintenance.
I love my house but it's too big. What features should I be looking for in the next house as I downsize?
If you're looking to downsize from your current house, there are several features and considerations to keep in mind. Here's a list to guide you:
Smaller Square Footage: This might be obvious, but ensure the total size is manageable and aligns with your downsizing goals.
Efficient Floor Plan: Even with smaller square footage, an efficient layout can make the space feel larger. Open floor plans can offer flexibility, and avoid wasted spaces like long hallways.
Storage Solutions: When moving to a smaller space, having ample storage can make a big difference. Look for built-in shelves, storage under stairs, multi-use furniture, and other smart storage solutions.
Low Maintenance: Smaller homes often come with less maintenance, but some features can further reduce chores. Easy-care landscaping, newer constructions with modern materials, and smaller yards can all contribute.
Single-Level Living: If you’re downsizing with age in mind, consider a single-level home to avoid stairs and to make it more accessible as you grow older.
Location: Since the house will be smaller, you might want it to be closer to amenities, family, or entertainment. A good location can compensate for less living space.
Quality over Quantity: Opt for homes where quality materials have been used. It might be smaller, but you want your new home to be durable and feel luxurious.
Energy Efficiency: Look for a house with good insulation, efficient HVAC systems, double-paned windows, and other features that will save on energy costs.
Adaptable Spaces: Rooms that can serve multiple purposes can be beneficial in a smaller home. For instance, a guest room might double as a home office.
Outdoor Space: Even if you're downsizing, having some outdoor space can be valuable for relaxation and entertainment. It doesn't have to be big, but a functional patio, balcony, or small yard can make a difference.
Community Amenities: If you're considering moving to a condo or a community targeted at downsizers or retirees, look at the amenities they offer, such as fitness centers, clubhouses, pools, etc.
Safety and Security: In a smaller home, and perhaps a new neighborhood, you'll want to ensure you feel safe. Features like security systems, gated communities, or neighborhoods with neighborhood watches can be beneficial.
Future Resale Value: Think about how easy it will be to sell the home in the future. Even if you plan to stay long-term, life can be unpredictable.
Lower Costs: One of the perks of downsizing is often reduced costs. Look at not just the purchase price, but also the expected utility bills, property taxes, maintenance costs, and homeowners association (HOA) fees.
Personal Preferences: While downsizing might mean making some sacrifices, it's still crucial to have certain non-negotiable features that make the house feel like a home for you.
It's also a good idea to declutter before you move. This will give you a clearer idea of how much space you genuinely need and ensure you're only taking what you love and need to your new home.
I currently own my home. How does that affect my Medicaid eligibility?
How does SELLING my home affect my Medicaid Eligibility?
I am not a lawyer, but the ownership of a home can indeed have implications for Medicaid eligibility, particularly when it comes to long-term care. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program, and eligibility rules can vary from one state to another. Generally speaking, here's how owning a home might impact Medicaid eligibility:
Principal Residence: In most cases, your primary residence (where you live) is not counted as an asset when determining your eligibility for Medicaid, as long as you or your spouse live in it. However, there can be an equity value limit on the home. If the equity value (fair market value minus any mortgages or liens) exceeds a certain threshold, it could impact eligibility. This threshold can change annually and can vary by state.
Intent to Return: Even if you're not currently living in your home (for instance, if you're in a nursing home), your home may not be counted as an asset if you express an "intent to return" to it.
Community Spouse: If you have a spouse living in the home while you are receiving long-term care, the home is generally not considered an asset, regardless of its equity value. This is because the community spouse is allowed to continue living there.
Transfer of Home: If you gift or transfer your home to someone else without receiving fair market value in return, and then apply for Medicaid within five years of that transfer, Medicaid may impose a penalty period. This is called the "look-back period," which is typically five years but can vary by state. There are exceptions, such as transfers to a spouse or under certain conditions, transfers to a child with a disability.
Estate Recovery: After a Medicaid beneficiary's death, the state might try to recoup some of the costs it paid on their behalf through estate recovery. This could involve placing a lien on the home or seeking repayment from the sale of the home. However, there are many protections in place, particularly if there's a surviving spouse or a dependent child.
Other Property: If you own additional real estate besides your primary residence, that property could be counted as an asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes.
Homestead Exemption: Some states might have a homestead exemption which can protect a portion of the equity in your home from being counted as an asset.
If you are considering applying for Medicaid or are planning for long-term care, it's crucial to consult with an elder law attorney in your state who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation. They can help you navigate the complexities of Medicaid rules and strategize on how to best protect your assets while ensuring you receive the care you need.
What legal documents do I need?
When selling a house, seniors will need the same legal documents as anyone else. In Louisville and the surrounding counties, Call Dave Halpern, Real Estate Broker and Seniors Real Estate Specialist. The specific requirements can vary based on your location and specific circumstances, but here is a general list of legal documents and items you may need:
Many of these documents are taken care of by your closing attorney and/or Dave Halpern, your Real Estate Broker and Seniors Real Estate Specialist.
Title Deed: This document proves that you own the property. The buyer will want to ensure that you have the right to sell the property.
Recent Property Tax Bills: This shows that all taxes have been paid up to date.
Mortgage Documents: If there is an existing mortgage on the property, these documents will be important. They detail the outstanding amount and conditions of the mortgage.
Property Survey: This illustrates the boundaries of your property. It may also show any easements or rights of way.
Home Inspection Reports: Even if the buyer chooses to have their own inspection, any previous reports you have can be helpful.
Disclosure Forms: Most jurisdictions require sellers to complete a form disclosing known defects or issues with the property.
Preliminary Title Report: This shows any liens, encumbrances, or other potential issues with the property's title.
Purchase Agreement (or Contract): This is the contract that you and the buyer will sign once you've agreed on terms. It outlines the sale price, contingencies, closing date, and other key terms of the sale.
Counteroffers and Addenda: If you or the buyer make changes to the initial purchase agreement, these will be documented in counteroffers or addenda to the original contract.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure: If your home was built before 1978 (in the U.S.), federal law requires that you disclose the presence of any known lead-based paint.
Utility Bills: Some buyers might request copies of recent utility bills to gauge the cost of running the house.
HOA Documents: If your property is part of a homeowners association (HOA), you'll need to provide the buyer with the HOA's covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), as well as any other relevant documents.
Escrow Documents: These are used to ensure the transaction process is neutral and that all terms are met before the sale is finalized.
Final Settlement Statement: This breaks down all the costs associated with the sale, including agent commissions, fees, and other closing costs.
Power of Attorney (if applicable): If someone else is signing documents on your behalf, you will need a power of attorney that specifies they have the right to do so.
Personal Identification: This might include a driver's license or passport. It's used to verify your identity at closing.
Before listing your home for sale, it's wise to consult with a professional real estate agent who can guide you through the process and ensure you have all the necessary documents. This is especially crucial if you're selling property in a state or country you're unfamiliar with, as regulations can vary widely.
What is a reverse mortgage? Is it legit? (Yes, it is) And how can I benefit from it?
I can't drive anymore and I feel trapped in my own home. What do you suggest?
Losing the ability to drive can be a significant change, and it's completely understandable to feel confined or limited. Here are some suggestions to help regain some independence and mobility:
Relocation: If you're in an area that's not conducive to your current situation, consider moving to a more accessible location or a community designed for seniors or individuals with mobility concerns.
Public Transportation: Investigate your local public transit system. Buses, trains, and trams can be a feasible way to get around.
Para-Transit Services: Many cities offer special transportation services for individuals with disabilities or those who are unable to use regular public transportation.
Ride-Sharing: Companies like Uber, Lyft, or local taxi services can be used for occasional trips.
Community Rides: Some local organizations or religious institutions offer transportation services for seniors or those with mobility issues.
Walking or Biking: If you're physically able, consider walking or biking to nearby places. It's also a great way to get some exercise.
Delivery Services: For groceries, meals, and other essentials, there are many delivery services available. This can reduce the need to leave home frequently.
Social Connections: Stay socially connected to prevent feelings of isolation. Arrange for friends or family to visit regularly. Consider joining clubs or groups that share your interests.
Remote Work & Activities: If you were working or had regular activities outside, see if there are opportunities to do them from home. The digital age has made it easier to work, learn, and even socialize remotely.
Assistive Technologies: Make use of technology to help you stay connected. Tablets, smartphones, and computers can be used for video calls, online shopping, or even virtual travel.
Vehicle Modifications: If it's a specific medical issue preventing you from driving, look into modifying your vehicle. Special controls or adjustments might make driving possible again, but consult with a specialist.
Seeking Help: Sometimes, it's okay to ask for help. Engage neighbors, friends, or family members to assist with certain tasks that require mobility.
Remember, it's essential to communicate your feelings with your loved ones. They might offer solutions or provide support in ways you hadn't considered. Above all, it's crucial to maintain a positive and proactive mindset. While it may feel like a significant loss now, with time and adaptation, you can find ways to navigate your new normal effectively.