Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, my experience has been that many individuals, couples, and families are on the move, including seniors, and the move can be anywhere from a few miles down the road to far across the country. This does not eliminate the possibility of purchases overseas but, since the pandemic has severely restricted travel, it is possible that may come later.
I see evidences of the moving trend in my elder law practice as our office works out plans which might involve reviewing contracts for senior communities or financing or titling. I see it also as we discuss strategies for families where parents move in with children after possibly advancing the cost of adding an “in-law suite” or making other renovations or advancing ideas for adult children and parents purchasing homes together. Legal work can involve everything from preparing Family Agreements defining the rights and responsibilities of the parties to review of titles and finances, review of estate documents to reflect parents’ wishes with a new plan and even review of detailed architectural plans. This is a time when my prior experience working with architects can come in handy in the right case.
Reports after the spread of COVID-19 seem to have focused on young families and their need for added space, whether to add a home office to accommodate working from home or to provide more room for children to participate in online classes. The reasons for senior moves might be different.
In an article posted by Caring Transitions, “Senior Rightsizing: Trends Among Seniors Selling Their Home” published online on February 21, 2018, the author noted “s the idea of retirement is changed daily by Baby Boomers, there is a growing group of seniors who decide they want retirement to be a time for new experiences or developing deeper bonds.”
I would add some other considerations. For instance, the huge McMansion purchased years back with acres of ground surrounding might now seem too much to handle in terms of maintenance. With younger family members gone, there may not seem to be so much motivation for larger space. Homes with high balconies and difficult to maneuver staircases present safety challenges or maybe the attraction of having a management company that cares for the surroundings has appeal.
On the other hand, older homes can begin to become prohibitively expensive if the owner wants to repair and renovate. All of these factors play at part.
In the same article cited above, the author continues and cites sources.
“This new approach to life after retirement, has impacted the real estate industry shifting the motivations for seniors who decide to move. In an article by DestinationHub, seniors’ motivations to sell include moving to be closer to family and friends, retirement and downsizing. Author Shahla Jalali writes seniors are ‘most likely to sell their home for 100% or more of the asking price, compared to other generations,’ and even noted an increase in seller satisfaction with realtors ‘as the sellers got older, leading to a higher probability of referrals and recommendations.’”
The article continues:
“As seniors downsize, rightsize or relocate, many are also considering their financial plans, well-being and lifestyle in addition to family and friends and reducing the stress of maintaining a property. Learn more about this in ‘Rightsizing for Senior Couples 5 Things to Consider Before Making a Move…(Online article by ‘Caring Transitions’)
Finally, the article concludes by citing a survey, “Project Looking Glass III: From The Outside,” https://seniorhousingnews.com/2015/11/12top-reasons-for-moving-to-a-senior-living-community/ which states that the top three reasons for senior moves include change in health for you or your spouse, freedom from home maintenance responsibilities, and a desire for peace of mind. Where there are questions, seek help. Decisions can be easier to make with assistance.
Esquire, Colliton Law Associates, P.C. Janet Colliton has practiced law for over 38 years, 37 of them in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Her practice, Colliton Law Associates, PC, is limited to elder law, Medicaid, including advice, applications and appeals, and other benefits planning including Veterans benefits, life care and special needs planning, guardianships, retirement, and estate planning and administration.