Thank you to Jim Vogel of ElderAction for this guest post.
Think you’re too old to buy a new home? Think again. The median age for home resellers has risen in recent years to 54, according to the National Association of Realtors. Regardless of age, there are a few things that home buyers should keep in mind. The following tips are especially true for seniors.
1. Shop Around
First and foremost, just as you shop around for the perfect house, you should also shop at different banks and lending companies to find the best fit for you. This will help you secure a good deal for your mortgage. There may be grants available to assist you and veteran seniors in particular stand to benefit from contacting their local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA often offers special loans for veterans, guaranteeing more favorable terms than many traditional banks.
2. Know Your Credit Score
Knowing your credit score before you begin the home buying process is also important because it will tell you where you stand when it comes to lending. If you’re not familiar with credit reports, here’s how it works: you’re allowed one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Rather than falling for the free credit report scams you’ll find online (many of which target seniors), the AARP recommends seniors obtain their free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. If you do suspect you’ve been scammed, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at once.
3. Calculate Your Payments
Another important question to ask before buying a new home is: can you afford it? Of course, this applies to all future home buyers, regardless of age. To help you with budgeting, you can use an online mortgage calculator to determine whether or not you can afford the monthly mortgage payment for a particular home. A simple Google search for the term “mortgage calculator” brings up several free and readily available options. The best part is that these online mortgage calculators are easy to use for people of all ages, and don’t require any special computer skills at all.
4. Prep for the Move
Once you’ve been approved by a lender and have found your dream home, it’s time to consider the next steps in preparing for your move. You’ll probably want to downsize a bit prior to the move, which can be an emotional process for seniors in particular. It may help to see if any relatives, friends or loved ones are willing to help you sort through your beloved possessions and determine if there are any you might want to part with.
In addition, you’ll want to consider how you will relocate all of your belongings to your new home. If you have friends and family who are willing to help you move, that’s great. However, that simply isn’t an option for many seniors. In those situations, you may want to consider hiring moving help. You can find assistance from professional moving crews during your big move. Although it might cost you some money initially, it will save you the stress, hassle, and possibly limit your chances of potential injuries during the move. If you need someone to help you take some items to storage (in case you’re downsizing), you can even find companies that will pick your belongings up for you and take them there.
At any rate, the list above are certainly things to consider when planning any move at any age. The more proactive you are and the more helpful resources you have during your move, the less stressed, anxious, or worried you will be. This will free your mind so you can put more energy into enjoying getting settled into your new home.