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10 Things Retirees Need to Know About Selling Their Home

Selling a home as a retiree is a tempting idea. Here's what retirees should know about selling their home.

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retired couple at a computerRobert Kneschke/Shutterstock

Understand Impact to Social Security Benefits

Buying and selling a home has no impact on Social Security disability benefits but selling a home could have an impact on Supplemental Social Security benefits (SSI). The proceeds from a home sale could potentially make someone ineligible for Supplemental Social Security benefits because those who receive SSI are limited to having assets of no more than $2,000, excluding the value of the home they live.

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What Does Your Savings Look Like?

If your retirement savings need a boost, the equity you have in your home could be a potential source to shore up any potential shortfall. People 65 or older have, on average, have more than $200,000 in home equity, according to a 2015 Merrill Lynch report. But, on average, they have around half of that in retirement savings, according to a 2017 report from the Government Accountability Office.

Find out what a home equity line of credit can do for home repairs.

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Be Aware of Capital Gains

Some retirees worry about incurring capital gains taxes if they sell their home but often it doesn’t come into play. If you’re married, you can take up to $500,000 in profit from the sale of your home without paying taxes. If you’re single you can take up to $250,000. If you want your house to sell fast, you’ll want to know these 15 home-selling secrets.

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Factor in Cost of House Upkeeping

As you age those aches and pains can add up and tasks like mowing the lawn become tougher. Cleaning a big house can really start to feel like a chore, too. You might start to look around and discover that your house isn’t well suited for you to age in place as many retirees desire. (Here’s more on what aging in place means.) Remodeling your house to add important safety features can run expensive and maybe you can find a place with many of the safety features you’ll need. Here’s what you can do to make a home safer for older folks.

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How Much Does it Cost to Rent?

You’re probably accustomed to having pretty fixed expenses if you’ve lived in your home for decades so you’ll have to do some research on rent prices so you can know what to expect if you decide to sell your home. If you’re thinking about downsizing to a townhome, you have to consider homeowner association fees. Not to mention these homeowner association horror stories.

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Accessibility Issues

Just as keeping up a house can wear on an older homeowner, so can poor accessibility around the home. Do you have a split-level home? Carrying things up and down the stairs is not only taxing as you get older, it can also be a hazard for falls. You probably haven’t thought of these 10 home hazards before.

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Find the Right Size Home

Your house probably felt cramped when you were raising children but now that you’re empty nesters your home might start to feel cavernous. You no longer need all those bedrooms and bathrooms, and maybe you want to move closer to the kids. Before you make the move, be sure to test drive a smaller place. Downsizing can be tough for some people to adjust to, so many real estate agents recommend selling first and renting something to make sure you it’s the right square footage for you. These are 11 important things to do when you’re planning to sell a home.

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Expenses of Selling, Buying and Moving

There are a number of expenses to consider before moving, not all of which you’ll realize. There’s the usual closing costs but have you considered staging costs and listing fees? Then there are home inspections and possible repairs you’ll have to make. Then, if you do sell, you’ll likely want to hire movers to bring your things to your new place. It’s a good idea to keep a moving timeline to keep tasks in order.

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Reverse Mortgage

Another way to tap into your home’s equity is through a reverse mortgage. You can draw down funds and defer any payments until you pass or move. Homeowners still have to pay the taxes and insurance on the home. Find out if you should get a reverse mortgage.

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Condition of Big Ticket Items

How old is your furnace and water heater? Has it been a while since you replaced the roof? You might be able to avoid having to replace those big ticket items by selling your place. It can help you save some cash and avoid living in a work zone. Here’s how you can protect your house during a remodel.