Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

April 14, 2017

Retiree Real Estate Mistakes

By David Reiss quoted me in 5 Major Mistakes That Retirees Make With Real Estate. It opens,

You’ve worked hard year after grueling year and, finally, retirement is on the horizon. There’s nothing ahead for you but lazy days of relaxation and idle time to pursue those back-burner hobbies. Hey, you’ve earned it!

But if you haven’t planned ahead, those golden years could be full of stress—fraught with unknowns and major decisions to be made. And one of the biggest, most stressful aspects of retirement is, you guessed it, real estate.

Do you downsize? Buy a second property so you can make like snowbirds and fly south for the winter? Keep the home where all your family’s memories were made? While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some general pitfalls to avoid.

Here are five of the biggest real estate mistakes experts see retirees make.

1. Failing to ‘audit’ the situation

It might come as a surprise, but many retirees forget to assess their current real estate situation to make sure it meets their future needs, according to David Reiss, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School.

“Most people are on autopilot when it comes to their home: ‘It has worked for me up to now, so I assume that it will work for me going forward,’” Reiss says. “The mistake they make is that they do not realize that their future selves are very different from their current selves.

“As we age, our ability to do all sorts of physical things worsen—shoveling, climbing ladders—decreases,” he adds. “So it makes sense to assess your housing situation at regular intervals.”

Even if you plan on keeping your home, there are questions you should ask yourself: Should you make adjustments to your home so you can age in place? Does it make sense to refinance into a 15-year mortgage in order to pay off what you owe more quickly while paying a lower interest rate? Should you access some of the equity that’s built up in the house in order to supplement your retirement income?

“All of these options have pros and cons,” Reiss says. “It’s worth talking them through with someone whose financial judgment you trust.”

| Permalink