Buying a Home: Before or After Retirement?

For the Home

Should you buy a home before or after retirement?

A move to a smaller home is a positive lifestyle and financial change all empty-nesters and retirement age individuals should consider. While there are many fond memories of the home in which you raised your family, it’s time to think about your own needs as you approach a new phase in life.

Many people dream of buying their ideal retirement home after their career has concluded. However, many real estate professionals advocate for clients to find a retirement property before they are off the payroll. There are significant financial benefits to purchasing your retirement home before you retire.

Here are a few things to think about…

If you wait until you are no longer working to buy your retirement home, you may not have the income required to qualify for the mortgage that you need. Having an income can also alleviate financial stress should you run into any unexpected costs after closing. Plus, buying a new home while you have an income provides you with more financial flexibility if the home you select needs upgrades or renovations.

It is sometimes tough to predict the ongoing expenses related to a new home. If you buy the property before retiring, it gives you time to get used to the true amounts of your monthly home expenses.

Buying before can also help ensure that you have enough saved to retire and live comfortably in your new property, with no surprises to stress your budget. You’ll be in a better position to make necessary adjustments and create a financial plan once you know the reality of owning your new home.

Lastly, many people purchase a retirement home before they retire and use it as rental property until they are ready to move in. This will not only help cover mortgage payments but is another way for you to see firsthand what the monthly expenses are for the property.

Depending on where you want to retire, the rental property can also be a fun vacation home for you and your family before you retire. It’s easier to see the good life ahead if you can experience it in small doses before it’s time to retire.

If your circumstances prevent you from buying before you retire, or it isn’t the right time for whatever reason, don’t despair. It is possible to get financing to purchase a home after retirement. Even if you have the cash on hand to purchase your home, that may not be the best scenario from a financial perspective depending on your lifestyle requirements. As a retiree, your required down payment can vary depending on the income method used.

But there are many options on methods to finance a home if you need to make it happen later in life. Two of the ways are drawdown from retirement and asset depletion.

Asset Depletion

For retirees with a lot of invested assets, the asset depletion method of determining income may be the best option. With this method, the lender starts with the current value of financial assets, subtracts any amount that will be used for the down payment and closing costs and divides a percentage of the remainder by the length of the loan. You should plan on a higher down payment with this method, typically 30%.

Drawdown From Retirement

For retirees who are now retired but are delaying the start of Social Security or pension income, the most favorable option is using a drawdown on assets method of establishing income. If the borrower is at least 59 ½ the lender can use recent withdrawals from retirement accounts as proof of income. Sometimes the lender will need a letter from the financial institution confirming these withdrawal amounts. For the drawdown in retirement method, you can put as little as 5% down.

Because your unique financial profile and personal goals impact what is best for you, it is important to select a financial partner who has experience with retirement lending. Let us make this easy. Call 888-508-2228 to schedule an appointment or visit directionscu.org for more information.

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