Many baby boomers never bought a home in their younger years and some baby boomers lost their home in the 2007 to 2012 recession. Baby boomers were born between 1944 and 1964, making them between 57 and 77 years old this year. In the U.S., there are currently 76 million baby boomers. Many of those baby boomers are now in their retirement years and are asking, “Am I too old to buy a home?”
There are certainly few things in life we’re too old to do, like playing in the NFL. However, when it comes to buying a home, you’re never too old. In fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says that about 25% of first-time homebuyers are over 52 years of age.
One myth that prevents seniors from buying in later years is that they think they are too old to qualify for a mortgage. However, under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, lenders cannot discriminate against borrowers based on age. Any borrower, regardless of age, needs to show they have good credit, an acceptable level of debt, and enough income to repay the mortgage on a monthly basis.
Now that we have established that you are never too old to be a home buyer, there are a few things to consider if the decision to buy a home is the right decision for you:
Consider your finances
If you are applying for a mortgage, the main thing you need to consider is whether or not your cash flow will be able to meet the monthly payments in the long term. Consider if you could afford the payments if any life-changing event occurs, such as the loss of a spouse. If you are still working, will you be able to afford the payments once you retire? If you are buying a home with a homeowner’s association, be sure to check if the likelihood of fee increases could be covered by your budget.
Consider the market
In markets like Boulder County with a proven track record of home appreciation, it’s pretty safe to assume that the home you purchase is going to increase in value. If you are looking in a market where values have a history of declining, it may not be such a great idea to be a home buyer.
Consider using a reverse mortgage to buy a home
Homeowners who have built up equity over the years have a wonderful opportunity to buy a downsized home and have no payments with a reverse mortgage.
Consider the lifestyle the home offers
Some baby boomers want to travel the world and have a lock-and-leave set up. Others want to have room for grandchildren to visit on a regular basis. Others are most concerned about nearby recreational opportunities like golf courses and access to infrastructure like shopping and medical care. 55+ communities offer many amenities for active seniors to stay fit the rest of their life.
Consider disabled access
Aging in place is the desire of many seniors today. While a particular home may work for your level of physical mobility today, you will need to assess whether the home would still work for you and your family in the event of a disability or other health issues.
Consider the amount of maintenance required
At retirement age, some baby boomers love to garden and do minor home maintenance. Others want nothing to do with that. The trade-off is that the lowest maintenance opportunities will have the highest homeowner association fees.
Consider access to transportation
At some point in time, everyone will need to stop driving. Access to transportation opportunities to travel to day-to-day activities becomes more critical.
Make a decision
After you consider all the factors involved, you can make a decision about home buying — just don’t use age as an excuse not to buy a home. It’s never too late!
If you do decide to start the home buying process, be sure to consult a mortgage lender and look for a Realtor® with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® certification (SRES®).
By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982 and has facilitated over 2,500 transactions over his career, the vast majority from repeat and referred clients. He has been awarded two of the highest honors bestowed by RE/MAX International: The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Legends Award. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life. For questions, e-mail DuaneDuggan@boulderco.com, call 303.441.5611 or visit boulderco.com.