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10 top mistakes for seniors buying or selling homes

Buying or selling a home is complicated for anyone, but seniors have many added issues.

Here are the top 10 home-selling and home-buying pitfalls for seniors and how to avoid them:

Selling mistakes

  • Not opting for a senior-oriented real estate agent. The issues facing senior citizens when selling their homes are much different than for younger people, and most real estate agents have little idea how to resolve them. A mistake can be very costly, and for that reason any senior should consult with a specialist -- most notably an agent designated as a Senior Real Estate Specialist -- to help sell their home. A state-by-state listing of Senior Real Estate Specialists can be obtained from the Senior Advantage Real Estate Council. If no Senior Real Estate Specialist is available, ask agencies for the names of agents who are most comfortable with senior clients.
  • Not getting a market analysis and financial evaluation. Ideally, a "sell" decision should surround market realities plus address investment and tax objectives, as well as lifestyle and emotional needs.
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  • Assuming you have to sell. A reverse mortgage or other financing may help keep you in the comfy confines of your family home and facilitate home modifications.
  • Conveying that lived-in look: Too much clutter can kill a sale. Divest your home of some furnishings, collections and heirlooms, by either placing them in temporary storage or more permanently with family members or friends who will appreciate them. This is an ideal time to take those treasures of a lifetime and start sharing them with the family.
  • Committing to a vacate date before securing a new home. Moving is stressful enough. Don't be uprooted twice before you settle into the new home. The home-buying process is sometimes rushed because of a pending date to vacate.
  • Home-buying mistakes

    • Disregarding future transportation needs: Changing health conditions may prevent driving. Carefully consider ease of access to public transportation, stores, work, businesses, health care facilities, loved ones and favorite haunts.
    • Missing steps in the process: Stairs and seniors don't mix. Seek single-floor layouts, stepless entries and level driveways. Non-slip floors, bathroom grab bars and levered door handles will likely make life easier as well, either now or down the road.
    • Poor reconnaissance: Minimal time spent scoping out the new community can spell disappointment. Explore many potential options for relocation and then revisit your favorites at different times of the year -- and even different times of the day -- before you move.
    • Moving too far from kids and grandkids: Warmth is where the heart is. Many a new Floridian has backtracked to home base to live near family.
    • Using an agent who may not best represent your interests. Calling a number off a yard sign will hook you up with the seller's agent who may not represent your best buying interests. Conversely, a buyer's agent may bring a seller a qualified buyer, but not truly dedicated representation. Your agent should be your agent.
    -- Posted: July 27, 2007




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