Senior Solutions: Buying A House & Aging In Place

Looking at living solutions when you’re a senior, there is the option of buying a house and hoping to age in place.

There are two sides of the coin when it comes to homeownership versus renting: Owning gives you stability, but renting offers flexibility.

I am considering all my options. For instance, now I’m applying for home loans.

If I could buy a small house that had been recently updated that might be wise. Because then no one could yank the rug out from under me and steadily raise my rent. Or sell my home. Or refuse to fix maintenance issues while renting.

There is the fact that there are long lists for senior independent living in apartments and the costs are pretty high.

Owning A Home Versus Renting:

Owning a home when you’ve been renting looks pretty good when there is little upkeep and not much maintenance done where you happen to rent. And certainly no improvements.

I never thought I’d be paying $800 a month to what is in many respects a slum lord operation.

Over the weekend I learned that I could likely qualify for what is called a HOPP loan. This means that if you make less than $74,200 a year and are looking for a single-family home, HOPP loans can come into play. (But not when buying a condo.)

Money Paid In Rent In Less Than 10 Years:

I added up how much I’ve paid in rent since I moved to Tulsa less than 10 years ago. And it comes to over $81,000.

I got a little drop in my stomach when I saw that figure come up on my calculator.

(You might also want to read: Mortgages For Seniors)

HOPP Loan Program Features:

  • 100% Financing* (Maximum loan amount of $250,000**)
  • Closing Costs can come from savings, monetary gifts or assistance programs
  • No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Requirements (Usually required with a conventional loan. The most common way to pay for PMI is a monthly premium, added to your mortgage payment.)
  • Refinances allowed

Many seniors go into retirement with their homes paid for. That is not the case for me. I wish it was.

Should You Buy A Home As A Senior:

But does that mean I shouldn’t look into homeownership at age 64? I realize that it is probably a bit harder to qualify for a loan at my age.

But all factors considered it boils down to how much I can reasonably pay per month. And whether I have debt factored in. Luckily I have no debt.

So it might be well worth my time to possibly find a small home that has been recently updated, should I decide to buy.

Quality Of Life/Aging At Home:

According to one AARP survey, roughly 90% of American seniors wish to live at home for as long as possible. Seniors vastly prefer aging in place to facility care, even in cases where physical or cognitive decline makes it difficult to live independently.

So then at some point in time, you may be looking at home health aides instead of the expense of assisted living facilities.

You can read: Look into plans for home health care with Medicare.

What Medicare Does Not Pay For:

  • 24-hour-a-day care at home
  • Meals delivered to your home
  • Homemaker services (like shopping, cleaning, and laundry), when this is the only care you need
  • Custodial or personal care (like bathing, dressing, or using the bathroom), when this is the only care you need

All People With Part A And/Or Part B Who Meet All Of These Conditions Are Covered:

Resources For Home Health Services:

As for myself, I don’t like to be around people all that much. So finding a small house to buy could be a good solution. I at least will be checking this option out.

Right now home prices are high. But so is rent.

My daughter Kendra, a real estate agent and house flipper, will be keeping an eye out for something that might be the right choice for me.

I am not in any great hurry at this point. And I want to make the best possible choice for me. She can steer me in the right direction.

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27 Comments

  1. Finding all your options is a great first step. I am 78 and I bought my home 11 years ago the mortgage + insurance + taxes (less IRS tax deductions) was still less than rent and today I have a savings account in the equity in my home. There are many senior agencies that help figure this out, like AIAA, Area 1 Agency on Aging. Wishing you the home of your dreams. You deserve it!

  2. I think this is a perfect idea. I am sure your daughter can find you a place and help turn it into what you want. I don’t believe in renting any more because it is much too expensive, landlords have become so lazy, and owning a home gives you a sense of freedom. Good luck!

  3. I just went thru getting help at home and it can cost about $25 an hour and I found were very undependable and if you didn’t double check the hours some padded the bill. Young people did very little but play on their cell phone. Good thing my husband didn’t need a lot of help. The doctor put him in a nursing home and he is very content.

  4. I live in Ireland so conditions are not the same as with you. However I recently sold the house where I’d lived for 29 years and bought a large duplex near one of my daughters. The beauty of a duplex is that the management company looks after the gardens and fabric of the building so I don’t have to worry about any of that. I have a small private courtyard of my own. I’m 77 and very fit with no medical conditions. I can’t emphasise enough the pleasure of owning my own home and the fun I’ve had placing my treasures around me. I hope to age with minimum dependence on my daughters but living near one of them gives them ease of mind and gives me the pleasure of seeing them and my granddaughters regularly.

  5. A small home would be a great option. Privacy, a bit of outdoor space for you and Charlie, and a patio or porch for plants…that would all be so nice.

  6. Brenda you make some excellent points. Having always been a homeowner myself, I just assumed renting was the way to go when older, especially due to maintenance, upkeep etc. , particularly as a single woman. But I’m reevaluating that opinion now. With the right house, I think you just may be on to something. Something for my husband and I to keep in mind as well. Our current house is much too large, but downsizing to a nice good condition bungalow actually makes a lot of sense. Good luck in your quest!

    1. We sold our big house. We bought a 1200 Sq ft cottage in the mountains . Best thing we ever did. Love it. We are 72 and 82

  7. Brenda, I don’t think you should worry about having trouble getting a loan because of your age. That would be discrimination. I bought my home when I was 65 and retired and was advised by my financial advisor that my IRA would be put to better use continuing to work for me than to pay cash for the house. Of course, I’ll never get it paid for but I have to live somewhere. The house is pretty large with horse facilities and a few acres but if I’m lucky I’ll outlive the horses and not need the land and barn any more but as long as I can find someone to mow for me all will be good. I hope you find a charming home that you will love.

  8. As we are getting older I’ve thought often about downsizing as we live in a huge house with a quarter acre of land to take care of. We own some other property and have talked about building a smaller, one story, wheelchair accessible home there in the future, but it all seems overwhelming as we really would have to get rid of a lot of stuff before we moved. It’s not easy getting old and making these decisions, but I do think owning your home, if possible, is far better than renting. That $81,000 you spent on renting could have been building equity in a home, but I’m sure you have thought of that. I hope everything works out for the good for you and you find the place that will fit all your needs and wants.

  9. I like the idea of buying your own small place if you can find a home you can afford with a HOPP mortgage and is in reasonable condition/repair. My mother, who passed away a few weeks before her 87th birthday, lived in her own home until she passed away. She wouldn’t hear of having it any other way.
    I would also like to stay in my own home as long as I can. There’s no substitute for the freedom to do what I want here and the privacy of a fenced backyard. I use Home Advisor if I need something done around my own place that I can’t handle myself. I’ve had very good experiences with hiring people through Home Advisor. Your daughter probably knows lots of good handymen, plumbers, roofers, carpenters, etc. too.

  10. I like to have flexibility & stability. However If I had to choose one over the other I would pick stability. If that is the same for you then I think buying is your best option. I think owning puts you more in the drivers seat. Having Kendra to be able to be on the lookout for you is also a big plus. I’m sure you will make the right decision for you !

  11. it is a big decision to make. Rent vs buying. I bought a small condo with much lower monthly payment. I got a first time buyer homeowner credit which helped a lot. Not sorry I made this move. But everyone has to make their own decision.

  12. Whatever conclusion you reach, it will be fun as a reader to see you set up a new place. Good luck with all the information gathering and decision making.

  13. The amount of money we have paid in rent since Dec 1999 is astounding!! But we just either could not find anything to suit, or else we needed to be able to move about, we felt…so there it went. Heh, the kids COULD have saved us that amount and their inheritance, which at this point is not likely to even be there. One had 5 acres we could easily have put a little place on…oh well…tis how it goes. I do hope you will find just what you need…glad your daughter is helping watch too!!

  14. The purchase of a cute bungalow sounds wonderful for you. And you would have the yard to do what you want. I’m all for it.

    Please send me your address again. My phone is not keeping things. I’m ready to mail.

  15. I agree that buying a small house that is updated is a good option. The only things to be “concerned” about is the cost of lawn care, gutter cleaning and tree and bushes trimming, if applicable. And the cost of interior maintenance ~ plumbing issues, electrical issues, appliances breaking down, things like that. But if you can save some money each month in an emergency savings fund, then you would have the peace of mind for when these house issues do happen.

  16. We bought our current home in our mid-60’s just before my husband retired. We were careful to stay within our desired amount to spend on a house and it took a while to find one that fit the things we needed in the price range we were willing to spend. We were fortunate to be able to get a VA loan with no money down so that was a bonus. And we took out a 30 year mortgage so our payments would be reasonable on a fixed retirement income. This year we were able to re-finance for 30 years which brought our monthly payment down another $200. Obviously we will never get this mortgage paid off — we’re now in our mid-70’s — but our monthly mortgage payment including taxes and home insurance is less than half of what the cheapest rent is now in our area. And this mortgage is assumeable so when we are gone our son will be able to take over the mortgage for his family if that is what he wants to do. We also have a home warranty policy that costs us a whopping $66 per month and covers all our appliances (including the pool pump), electrical, plumbing, and air conditioner (both replaced last year for a $75 fee!), etc. so we don’t expect any surprise big dollar repairs. No one can raise our rent and there is even an exemption for seniors on the asessment increase for tax purposes.

    So it’s possible to be frugal and live comfortably in very nice surroundings at the same time.

  17. I think that owning your own home would be a great idea for you ! Then you would be in the comfort of your own home with Charlie and Ivy. You could have a nice garden! You wouldn’t have to worry about neighbors in the same building or your rent being raised!

  18. Hi Brenda.
    I’m with the rest of your readers who commented so far: buying is, in my opinion, the better option. You’d have your own space, which would be an asset in future, plus you’re young and could enjoy building your own garden, decorating (and redecorating!) as often as you like in your own place.
    Wishing you good luck in this search.

    Colin

  19. Buy a house! If you can!!!
    I believe you will be happier in the long run. We moved to a one floor ranch. I love the privacy of not sharing a wall with someone. Unfortunately, the yard is huge…but when the time comes I will pay someone to cut the grass. Fortunately the bottom of our property borders woods and that is fantastic….wildlife, deer, ducks, squirrels, so many birds provide a relaxing view!!! There is always something that will go wrong or need fixed in a house…but you just have to be of the mindset…to call someone in to do the work. That is difficult at times to find someone who will do a quality job. No matter…I like you…enjoy privacy and owning a home affords me that. To me, paying rent…long term is like flushing money down the toilet. But I do respect everyone’s choices, wants and needs. Good Luck with house hunting!!!

  20. Sounds like you did your homework on this and have some good information. With Kendra watching for you that is great. Maybe she can find a good place to flip and you can buy it and have her do all the renovations for you. Maybe she can get lucky and find something that is not a big renovation project. My mom qualified for someone to come in so many hours a week to help with cooking, cleaning, shopping and she was able to get meals on wheels in her senior place but she also only made 32,000 a year for her social security and a small pension. Catholic Charities paid for all these things for her with having no assets and only a small annual income. I was so happy she could get some of these things with her being in her late 80’s. I think you will be happier in a home of your own in the long run.

  21. I hope you-or Kendra on your behalf-can find a small updated house with a small yard. I’d think you’d easily qualify for a mortgage. I also think you’d be much happier in your own place, instead of sharing a wall(s) with a neighbor. The situation at your current apartment complex is only going to continue to disintegrate, unless someone buys it who is willing to spend some money, and then your rent will go up, possibly a lot.

  22. Buying would be cheaper in the long run. Even paying for lawn care and maintenance would be cheaper than 1500 to 2000 in rent, if you’re lucky. You are too young to go into any kind of senior living. Plus, your plant space is your life and you would be miserable without your beautiful plants.

  23. This sounds like a plan, and very exciting, Brenda. With Kendra checking on what is available, and what the going rates are on homes, you already are one step ahead of the game. You certainly are not “too old” to be thinking of buying a home. Keeping my fingers crossed for you, as long as it takes! Hugs from WI

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