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Thinking About Selling Your House for Retirement? Here’s What To Consider

At some point, many older adults contemplate selling their home. They may be tired of keeping up a house that’s larger than they need, or physically unable to maintain it. Or, they may want to ensure their heirs benefit from such a large asset.

Whatever their motivation, these seniors all have one thing in common. If they sell their house, they’ll need somewhere else to live. Many will use the proceeds to buy or rent a place that better suits their current lifestyle and future plans.

If you’ve been pondering the possibility of selling your home, then you likely have a list of other questions, too — such as when to sell; whether you should rent your house instead of selling it; what kind of help you’ll need to sell your house; and will the proceeds be enough for you to retire comfortably?

Before making such consequential decisions, it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of a financial adviser. You may also want to consult an estate planner and a tax expert.

When To Sell Your House

When should seniors sell their home? It’s a common question, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Along with the various factors that influence the real estate market, your unique set of circumstances will also play a crucial role in the decision of when to put your house on the market.

A key consideration is the status of your health — and if you have a spouse or other partner who lives with you, their current health. Naturally, there’s no guarantee that good health will continue indefinitely, so it’s wise to plan ahead for the possible need for long-term care.

Moving to a senior living community like Highpoint at Stonecrest can ease many of the worries about whether you’ll have access to advanced care if and when you need it. Besides the convenience of independent living and the many amenities that go with it, we offer assisted living and memory care.

The Current Real Estate Market in Florida

As of April 2024, housing prices in Florida were up 5.2% in comparison with a year ago, according to Redfin. Much of that increase has occurred since the beginning of this year. Overall, housing prices in Florida have been steadily increasing over the past five years.

The median sale price for a single family home in Florida, per Redfin, is just shy of $448,600, a year-over-year increase of 4.3% but similar to the median sale price in May 2022.

There were 126,260 single family homes for sale in Florida as of April 2024, based on Redfin’s analysis, an increase of 30.4% relative to the same period of 2023.

Not as many single family homes are selling above list price compared with April 2022 or even a year ago, suggesting that the Florida housing demand has cooled in the last couple of years.

Nonetheless, four Florida cities are among the top 10 areas people from other states are moving to; those cities are Sarasota, Cape Coral, Orlando and Jacksonville.

Redfin lets you drill down to the local market based on ZIP codes, so if you’re interested in learning more about what the housing market is like in your area, it can be a good place to start.

How To Choose a Real Estate Agent

One way to start looking for a real estate agent to help you sell your home is to ask friends and family for referrals. Keep in mind, though, that just because an agent did a fantastic job for someone else, it doesn’t mean he or she is the best choice for you.

Whether you start from scratch or with a list of recommended agents, be sure to do your research. You can find an enormous amount of information through online searches, including ratings and reviews for specific real estate agencies and agents.

Once you’ve selected a few agents, it may be worth checking with the Better Business Bureau® or the government agency in your state that regulates real estate agents to see if any complaints have been filed against them.

From there, you might want to:

  • Meet with the top two or three agents on your list
  • Ask questions about their experience and familiarity with the local market
  • Request references, and then check them
  • Listen to your instincts

Before signing any contract, review it carefully. You may want to have someone who’s judgment you trust look it over as well.

Seeking Services From Other Professionals

The thought of getting your home ready to be sold may tempt you to put off making a decision. And then there’s the sorting, packing and moving process to deal with after you’ve decided to sell your house.

Postponing your decision will likely only make it harder to follow through when you do decide to move. And sometimes older adults wait until they’re forced to make a decision — or someone else has to make the hard choices for them.

Here’s something that can make it easier: Know that you can hire trusted professionals to help you every step of the way, from making the necessary repairs to your home and staging it so you’ll get a good price, to unpacking your belongings and setting them up in your new home.

Take a look online, and you’ll find an assortment of local and nationwide businesses that specialize in assisting seniors with organizing, downsizing and relocating. (For downsizing tips, check out this blog post.)

Your real estate agent may also be able to recommend professionals who provide these services. If you decide to move to a senior living community, ask if they partner with or can refer you to businesses that can help you with the various steps involved in moving.

Should Seniors Sell Their Home and Rent?

You may have wondered, “Should I sell my house and rent when I retire?”

This is one of those questions you should discuss with a financial adviser or estate planner. Depending on your situation, the factors may weigh in favor of staying where you are, selling and renting, or selling and buying another home.

Selling the house and renting in retirement offers certain advantages. For example, you won’t have to “buy into” a senior living community that requires an entrance fee — which can be hefty.

Another Sell vs. Rent Consideration

You might also have wondered, “Should I rent or sell my house?”

This is another question that should be part of the conversation you have with a professional adviser. You may have good reasons for wanting to rent your home instead of selling it. Maybe you have a family member who would like to live in it, or maybe you could benefit from the revenue stream.

A tax expert and/or an estate planner can advise you of the pros and cons of renting versus selling your house.

For many seniors, shedding the responsibilities of homeownership is one of the most appealing reasons to sell their home. If you decide to rent your home to a tenant instead of selling it, ultimately, you’ll still be responsible for its upkeep, as well as property taxes, HOA fees and other expenses.

You could build some of those expenses into the rent you charge, and you could hire a property manager to oversee repairs and upkeep. Only you and your advisers can determine if it’s worth the extra effort.

A Final Point To Think About

Homeowners of all ages ask, “If my house is paid off, how much do I need to retire?” The closer you are to retirement, the more relevant this question becomes. If you’re already retired, you may be wondering instead if you have enough assets to last throughout your retirement years.

You can find a bevy of articles, blog posts and other sources that provide estimates of how much you need to put aside for retirement, but at the end of the day, those are still just estimates. Circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, and there’s no way of knowing what will happen in the next year or two or 10.

Whether or not you’ve paid off your house, and regardless of how long you have until retirement (or if you’re already retired), your best strategy for planning for the future is to meet with a qualified financial professional. Let him or her assess your situation and then devise a plan together.

How a Senior Living Community Can Fit Into Your Plan for the Future

Sometimes when older adults start exploring the option of moving to a retirement community, they’re surprised by the costs. But once they realize that the monthly fees retirement communities charge often include utilities, maintenance, meals and other ongoing expenses, they discover how affordable it can be to live in a community that offers so many amenities and services they don’t have access to in their current home.

And, depending on the specific community, there’s the benefit of having access to higher levels of care, such as assisted living or memory care. The peace of mind this can bring is priceless.

We’d love the opportunity to tell you about the lifestyle Highpoint at Stonecrest offers. Contact us to set up a visit or call 352-251-0919. We look forward to hearing from you!

Featured Image: Perfect Wave/Shutterstock