According to a recent Point survey, nearly 70% of homeowners ages 50 to 80 feel it's extremely important to live in their current home for as long as possible. More and more older Americans prefer staying in their familiar environs than uprooting to a senior retirement community or downsizing.
Staying in your abode provides comfort, safety, opportunities to create new memories with loved ones — and a sense of freedom and independence in your later years.
Common concerns about aging in place
While staying in one's home as long as possible ranks high on older Americans' wants, according to the Point survey, only half of the respondents feel their home is "somewhat ready" to age in place. Another third reveals that their home isn't ready at all.
The disconnect between one's future wants, and current moves might be chalked up to stumbling blocks about remodeling one's home so they can have the ability to live there comfortably for decades.
Top concerns about aging in place might be:
Predicting future needs. As we age, our health and well-being can change. However, we can’t predict what home modifications will be needed — there is no magic oracle to consult. So, there's no way to tell which are essential and in what order to prioritize these making changes.
For example, if one is struck with mobility issues, priority home projects would be to install grab bars, rounded countertops, and slip-resistant floors. A universal design can be a better investment to support the ever-changing needs of seniors living independently. These changes to one's home can provide security and comfort to a wide range of people.
Planning for changes in the family. Another wild card: Whether one's kids end up moving in with them and end up living in a multigenerational household can also impact what kind of upgrades they want to make.
Paying for remodeling projects. Per our survey, about one-third of older adults who want to age in place don't know how they'll cover necessary home improvements. Another one-third reveal they already have the cash on hand to get their homes ready for their future selves.
Age in place remodeling
If you're a homeowner preparing to age in place, there are likely modifications to your home that have crossed your mind. Depending on your current and anticipated needs, here are some common aging in place remodeling projects to consider:
Home improvement projects largely depend on your preferences, situation, and needs. Still, modifications to your overall layout might include:
- Wider turn space in the main rooms (i.e., bathroom, living area, kitchen, and bedroom).
- Eliminate steps between rooms.
- Widen hallways and doors to help with any mobility issues.
- Chair lift to make the home more accessible.
- Remodel so most of the main everyday living amenities are on the first floor of the home.
- Install more windows, skylights, or solar tubes to bring in more natural sunlight.
- Adjust the height of your windows so they're lower or higher.
- Upgrade the finishes on your walls and countertops to a lower maintenance material.
As mentioned before, consider a universal design that provides comfort, safety, and aesthetic design best suited for most people. If you might live in a multigenerational household with youngsters, universal design might be the way route for you.
Common kitchen aging in place home remodeling projects include:
- Updating to rounded countertops to bump down the odds of injury should one fall.
- Incorporating accented stripes on the edge of countertops to boost visual orientation.
- Adding roll-out trays, lazy Susans, pull-down shelving, and open shelving to store pantry items and kitchenware you use frequently.
- Lowering the cabinetry a few inches for easier reach.
- Adding adjustable and height counters of varying heights.
Here are some bathroom remodels to consider for the bathroom:
- Swapping handled faucets for motion-control ones.
- Installing anti-scalding, temperature controls in your shower.
- Adding automatic flushing mechanisms or a bidet.
- Adding a sideway step to your tub or replacing your existing bathtub with a walk-in tub to boost safety.
- Installing a bath seat and grab bars or handrails.
- Upgrading to a raised toilet seat with grab bars on either side.
Home improvements for the outside of your home can be as important as the interior ones. Think of ways to accommodate changes in your lifestyle and mobility, which might include:
- Changing your landscape so it makes for easier upkeep and lower maintenance exteriors (i.e., vinyl, brick).
- Installing a ramp so it's wheelchair- or walker-accessible.
- Making sure the doorbell is in an accessible location.
- Adding a sensor light in your driveway.
- Upgrading your garage by installing a ramp from your garage to your doorway or putting in a raised roof.
The proper changes to your flooring can prevent falls, increase comfort, and make it easier to get from room to room. Home improvement projects might include the following:
- Slip-resistant surfaces that are also non-glare.
- Low-density carpet with firm padding, if you have carpet.
- The addition of texture of color to surfaces can increase visibility and prevent slips and falls.
Believe it or not, our chosen appliances can significantly impact our comfort, convenience, and overall safety as we age. Appliance upgrades can enhance accessibility, promote energy efficiency, simplify daily tasks, and contribute to a more secure living environment.
- Replacing older, run-down appliances with eco-friendly or energy-efficient ones can save you money and increase your level of comfort.
- Swapping out your existing washer and dryer for front-loading models and raising them above the floor to avoid exertion.
- Replacing current appliances with ones that feature easy-to-read controls.
- Placing a fridge and freezer side-by-side or installing a side-swing oven.
- Raising your dishwasher with controls with a push-button.
Updates and improvements to boost efficiency and help with changes in your health aren't everything. To maintain a balance of comfort, practicality, and aesthetics, consider working with an aging in place specialist.
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Cost of age in place renovations
According to the home improvement site Fixr, to remodel your dwelling so it's "aging in place" appropriate, it can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 — with the average hovering at $9,500. In some cases, it can cost up to $50,000.
According to Fixr, here is the average cost of common aging in place remodeling projects:
- Widen hallways w/structural changes: $30,000 – $40,000
- Widen hallways w/o structural changes: $800 – $1,400
- Grab bar installation: $300
- Curbless shower: $9,000
- Ramp installation: $3,000
- Ceiling lift installation in a bedroom: Up to $12,000
- Stairlift installation: $4,000 - 8,000
- Home automation: Up to $10,000
- Non-slip flooring in a bathroom: $8,000
How much it might cost per room:
- Kitchen: $8,000 – $50,000
- Bathroom: $20,000 – $25,000
- Bedroom: $80 – $12,000
- Outdoors: $300 – $5,000
- Stairs: $800 – $45,000
Financing your renovations
You might feel the tug of anxiety and uncertainty about how to pay for necessary home improvements. Your income might be fixed or has decreased in recent years. Here are some ways to go about financing your home renovations:
Home equity loans
With a home equity loan, you take out a second mortgage by tapping into your home's equity. Lenders secure your property as collateral. You receive a single lump sum upfront, repaid with a monthly mortgage payment.
While the interest rate for a home equity loan is usually lower than a credit card, it's usually higher than the rate for your home mortgage. If you default, you run the risk of losing your home. Plus, you're looking at pricey monthly payments for years.
Home equity line of credit (HELOC)
Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are a type of financing where you borrow against the value of your home. You have the potential to borrow up to 85% of your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. In simpler terms, this means you can borrow up to 85% of your home's appraised value, subtracting the amount that is still owed on your mortgage.
HELOCs work much like credit cards — you get a revolving line of credit that you can borrow from and pay back again and again. They have a draw period, which is usually 10 years. After your draw period ends, your repayment period kicks in. HELOCs also have variable interest rates, so your monthly payments can go up and down and are more unpredictable.
With a cash-out refinance, you take out a larger home loan and cash out on the difference. While this provides you with a chunk of cash, you could owe more on your home should there be a market downturn. Plus, expect to pay high closing costs.
One thing to note is because of the current rate environment, a cash-out refinance would likely increase monthly payments. For instance, the current national average interest rate for a 30-year fixed refinance is 7.07%
A reverse mortgage is an option for those who are 62 and up. You essentially take out a loan, and your home is used as collateral. You don't owe anything on the loan until you either move out, pass away, or no longer meet the conditions of the product.
Reverse mortgages can be tricky, so it’s crucial to understand all aspects of the loan, including the concept of acceleration of death.
Acceleration of death is a condition that allows the lender to demand full repayment of the loan under specific circumstances. When the acceleration clause is triggered, the lender can declare the entire loan balance due and payable. A lender can initiate foreclosure if the borrower fails to pay.
When a borrower fails to meet the following conditions, the loan can be considered due:
- The home is no longer your primary residence
- A year after you leave your home to move into a long-term care facility
- When you fall behind on property taxes
- You no longer have homeowner’s insurance
Otherwise, the repayment is due when you pass or sell your home.
Home Equity Investment (HEI)
Another way to leverage your home's equity to fund aging in place remodeling projects is with a Home Equity Investment (HEI). A company like Point will invest part of your home's equity for a lump sum of cash. You can expect flexible terms and keep ownership of your home.
An HEI's minimum loan amounts start at $20,000. It's best for larger-scale renovations or if you plan on a string of home remodeling projects in a row.
A major perk is that there aren't any monthly payments, and you can buy back your equity at any time within the 30-year term. If you have a less-than-stellar credit score or a fixed/low income, you still have a great chance of getting approved for a Point HEI.
You won't have to worry about a long-term, ongoing payment with Point's HEI — nor are there penalties for paying early. Additionally, you don't have to choose between investing in your home and leaving your children the house after you pass. Plus, there are no residency requirements.
A home equity investment from Point can be the best fit for you. With an HEI, you can get cash for your aging-in-place renovations — without worrying about a ticking time clock and a 30-year repayment. Point can help you lock in the funds needed to enjoy your beloved home and good quality of life for decades. Reach out to one of Point's team members to see what you might qualify for.