“I’ll Live In My House Forever”

I hosted a party for a friend who just retired recently and had several conversations over the course of the evening about real estate.  Not sure how that happens! One comment that stood out for me was “I’ll live in my house until I die”.

Short Sighted Thinking

Now I understand that concept even if I do move all the time.  But staying in your home as your circumstances change may be short-sighted thinking if you don’t consider all the angles. So here’s a couple of stories to illustrate.

Keep More of Your Money

One of the women at the party mentioned that she was recently widowed and was thinking of selling her house. She said that they had lived in the house for many years and it needed some updating however she didn’t have the energy or interest doing the update.  She was also dreading going through all the stuff in her house, records from her husband’s business and other accumulated household goods. She also rued that fact that she lost out a the married person tax exemption for that sale of the home so an additional $250,000 of the gain from the sale would subject to capital gains tax.  If they had moved before her husband died, she would have had an updated home, some of the accumulation could have been dealt with by her husband, and she would not have lost out on the total exemption.

Sell At The Highest Value

Another friend, whose husband died a few years ago, lives alone in a almost 3000 ft home.  She is rarely outside the living room, the bathroom and her bedroom. It has been years since she went upstairs and I hope that she never ventures downstairs just for her safety.  Although she has someone in the house with her most of the day the house is generally mostly unused. She keeps the house repaired as best she can or when things are brought to her attention but the condition of the house is slowly declining along with the value.  So for her safety, her comfort, and for cost savings in maintenance and utilities, it makes sense to move. Also, she could sell while her house is still at its highest value.

Comfort and Safety

I worked with another couple a few years ago who did make the decision to move.  They are an older couple who loved their home. Her father was an architect who designed it for them as a wedding gift.  They had lived there for over 40 years, raising their family and enjoying their neighborhood so it was really hard to leave.  However they realized as much as they loved their house it wasn’t working for them anymore. Although the home was a single level there was no way to get to it without stairs, either through the garage or up to the front or back doors, this made it unsafe for them, especially the husband who was having health issues.  And again if her husband had died before they moved they would have lost out on the larger tax exemption. They built a new home, which is still close to their church and their friends, that is truly one level, requiring no stairs at all, and has lots of other enhancements making their lives simpler as they age.

Help Is Out There

Moving is not fun, especially if you’ve lived there for multiple decades and have accumulated a lot of stuff.  This often is a big barrier to people considering moving. However there are a lot of service providers out there that help you deal with that accumulation; helping you decide what to keep, what to give a away and what to dispose of.  Many help with people who struggle due to sentimental attachments to things they don’t need, use, and in some cases even want.

Options With Benefits

Another barrier is the feeling that you won’t be able to stay in your neighborhood if you sell.  And although this may be true if you’re looking to replace your house with one of the same size, however you may be able to if you downsize.  Or you may only need to move to a nearby neighborhood which keeps you close to the places and people you see regularly. Or you can use it as an opportunity to find a new neighborhood that may offer additional benefits such as walk-ability, easy access to transit, or being closer to children or grandchildren.  Change can be good.

So although moving is not fun, there are many reasons and many benefits to sell sooner than later.   If you know someone who is thinking about selling their home and needs help understanding the consequences or getting the resources needed to help them get their home ready, let me know.  I am here to help.


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