Thursday, November 10, 2016

Words of wisdom for buying a first home later in life

By Ellen James Martin

The retired Sears delivery man had just passed his 70th birthday when he decided to seek a mortgage. He embarked on his mission with skepticism, recalls Keith Gumbinger, a family friend and president of HSH Associates, a

consumer mortgage information company.

"Who's going to give me a 30-year mortgage when I'm in my 70s?"

But his skepticism melted away when his mortgage application gained quick approval based on his retirement income, including union pension benefits and Social Security payments. "Absolutely, older people can buy a first home, as long as they have money coming in every month to make their payments," says Gumbinger.

Many people over 50 believe their age can be a barrier to career opportunities. But there is little evidence of age discrimination in mortgage lending. "I don't know of anybody who says you can't buy a home, even a first home, because of your age," says Leon Harper, a senior housing specialist for the AARP.

AARP data indicate that homeownership "is still the preferred living style for older persons," Harper points out. The AARP's latest estimates show that of Americans age 55 and over, 86 percent own their homes. That's the highest level since at least 1986, when the organization began conducting senior housing studies.

Harper believes that homeownership for adults of any age is a worthy goal. But he urges buyers age 50 and over to shop carefully, making sure the property they acquire will continue to meet their physical needs as they get older.

Here are several pointers for older people buying a first home:

- Recognize that lending is a "numbers game." "There are plenty of people out there who want to lend money to virtually anybody, no matter their age," Gumbinger says.

Most mortgage lenders work on commission and don't make money if they don't make loans. That creates a strong incentive for them to find ways to help mortgage applicants of any age qualify for financing.

Moreover, loan approval rests largely on statistical measures of a would-be borrower's monthly income, credit standing and the likelihood of repayment. When prospective buyers call a lender's office, they're more likely to be asked about their financial status than their age.

- Shop for a mortgage suited to your late-life plans. Suppose, for instance, that you are 57 and expect to retire at 62. You're buying your first property but plan to hold it only until retirement when you intend to move near your grown daughter and her family. If you'll be staying in the home for just five years, your best bet is a "hybrid" mortgage that remains at a low fixed-interest rate for that period before converting to an adjustable rate. Such a mortgage would give you slightly lower monthly payments than a classic 30-year fixed-rate loan.

As a first-time buyer you need to allow ample time to familiarize yourself with the wide array of mortgage options now available and to scout out the best deal. "You want the best-priced mortgage for your particular circumstances," Gumbinger says.

- Look for a "life-span house" that can meet your needs for years. A 1999 AARP survey of 2,000 Americans age 45 and over found that 29 percent worried that eventually they would have difficulty using such features of their homes as stairs. And 31 percent feared they would one day be forced into a nursing home because of trouble getting around their current home. But older buyers who plan ahead for their late-life housing needs greatly enhance their odds of remaining for years in a property they purchase, says AARP's Harper.

An increasing number of older purchasers are asking builders to customize a brand-new home in anticipation of their needs as seniors. For example, they are seeking wide doorways (at least 32 to 36 inches) that permit wheelchair access. Thus bedrooms, bathrooms and other parts of the home will remain accessible, should someone in the household become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Another key feature is a kitchen with easy-to-reach cabinets and counter space low enough for someone who needs to be sitting down while preparing food.

"Builders respond to consumer demand," Harper says. He notes that the AARP is working with trade groups such as the National Association of Home Builders to encourage greater use of accessibility features in new construction.

- Find out if a resale property you like could be adapted to your needs. Buying a brand-new home customized to your requirements as an older person is an appealing concept, but what if you choose to live in an area where no new homes are being constructed? Then your best option could be to hire a professional home inspector to assess whether a property could be modified to suit future needs.

My name is Scott Grebner and I have been helping my clients realize their own personal real estate dreams. Real estate is a relationship-based business that works best when client relationships are built on trust and confidence. My goal is having clients be completely satisfied with the professional and caring service they have received.

The role of technology is rapidly changing how the real-estate market functions in this country today. Re/Max Preferred Choice is embracing these new mediums of communication to better serve our customers. We have created our company to better place important information in your hands to help you with your housing needs. For a personal consultation please contact me at my
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It seems that the dream of past generations was to pay off a mortgage. The dream of today’s young families is to get one. I would love to hear from you, about your Real Estate Dreams and questions.



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