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Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

I’d like your opinion on my plan. I am a financially comfortable, retired woman, who has been divorced for many years. My two children are grown and fully independent. I am looking down the road and want to make sure I plan well for my “golden years,” meaning those years when I need assistance to stay in my home for as long as possible.

I want to sell my home (which I bought in 1987 and own free and clear) and buy a duplex closer to my children. (By close, I mean a neighboring suburb but certainly not in their backyards!) I’d live in one half of the property and rent the other half out. Eventually, I would offer the rental to someone as payment, or part of payment, depending on the rent, for my care.

My kids approve of this plan but my son has some concerns, given the real estate market. He says I should hold out or a couple of years until things rebound more. If I was forty, I would agree with him wholeheartedly. But at 69, the clock is ticking. I am in great health right now but as we all know, that could change in an instant.

Do you think I am foolish to try and implement this plan now? It feels very “right” to me but perhaps that isn’t the proper approach to take.

Thank you.

Ready to Move

Dear Reader,

I applaud your vision! You are to be commended for taking an honest look into the future. By doing so, my guess is that you will ensure the quality of your life for a good long time. It can be challenging to be proactive, especially when we don’t know what the future holds. But time and time again, I see taking charge of our lives as the very best plan in the long run.

I am not an expert on real estate but I do tend to put stock in what you are “feeling.” You own your home outright and you bought it in 1989.  While selling now may not get you what you could have a few years ago, it would still ALL be profit. This is worth something. On the other end, since the price of real estate is low in many places, you may be able to get into a duplex for less that you once could.

And this is as far as I’m going to take you on the real estate market! You would be better served by running all of this by a reputable real estate agent. Ask your friends for recommendations, for the names of firms or individuals they have had experience with. Real estate agents are also “rated’ on various Internet sites – check these out as well.

Then, call a few and get a “feel” for his/her style, attitude, and approach. Make an appointment with those with whom you feel most comfortable. Their expertise and experience will help you make an informed decision about how you should proceed. (This research may also help your son get onboard with your plan which would make things more comfortable  for both of you.)

While real estate is not my thing, I would like to weigh in on the merit of your plan in general. Given your situation and financial standing, this plan makes so much sense to me! Why not do it now when you are still young (!) and healthy enough to re-establish a new life?

This process is going to take time and energy. You will want to thoroughly investigate different neighborhoods. Are their hospitals highly rated? Are their plenty of activities for Seniors? Is there a reliable transit system in place for those days when you won’t be driving any more? Do all of your homework and this could end up being one of the smartest moves you’ve ever made.

Good luck!

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