Seniors have housing options

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The longer we stay in a home the less we use it. Or so it would seem. Many seniors are discovering that the house they loved, the home they raised their families in, now seems massive. Often they discover that they are no longer using a large part of the home.

Gone are the days when the basement was filled with teenagers. Kids grow and move away. Even the occasional visits with the grandchildren do not put to use the forgotten parts of the home. The occasional trip to the basement or spare room often ends in frustration as one discovers the room too full of stored mementoes to be of any use for anything but storage.

At some point, many decide it is time to find new quarters, but how do you begin?

First of all, you need to determine what type of housing you need at this point in your life. A determining factor may be the value of your current home. Moving can be expensive, even if it is just across town, so make sure you are financially prepared to move.

If you have been in your current home for quite some time you may have significant equity to help facilitate your move. If you started thinking about selling your home three years ago and had your home valued then, you may be in for a surprise. As we have often reported here, housing prices are not what they were a couple years ago. In fact, over the past year many homes have lost from two to 15 percent of what they were valued a year ago.

Make sure you have a realistic view of today's market value before you start shopping for a home that suits you better. If you are of good health you may look to buy a smaller home that still requires yard maintenance or allows you room for a garden.

If you are not enamored with yard work, you may want to look into the condominium or townhome market where outside chores are taken care of for you, or that provide opportunities for you to be a part of community activities. Many of these places offer clubhouses, swimming pools or fitness facilities.

If you are of an age where you think you may soon lose some physical abilities, you may look to communities that offer support with physical tasks beyond yard work and exterior maintenance.

We are fortunate here in North Idaho to have a broad spectrum of home choices for our seasoned citizens. From small homes in neighborhoods with walking or biking paths, parks and tennis courts to continued care communities, the options are here. When you ask your Realtor to help you determine the market value of your home, ask them where you might move. You may be surprised at the many attractive options to a too large home.

Trust an expert... call a Realtor. Call your Realtor or visit www.cdarealtors.com to search properties on the Multiple Listing Service or to find a Realtor member who will represent your best interests.

Kim Cooper is a real estate broker, Realtor and the spokesman for the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors. Kim and the association invite your feedback and input for this column. You may contact them by writing to the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors, 409 W. Neider, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815 or by calling (208) 667-0664 with your questions or commentary.

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