Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Retirement communities love "downsizing" forums

Should “empty nesters” downsize?
From a moral perspective, the answer is probably yes.  Families "need" the space.  But it’s not always easy.  And tax reform could make it harder, if basis rules for capital gains for inherited property are changed (to go back to when the family originally acquired it). 
The better retirement communities do offer security, stability, and low maintenance, and sometimes unwanted social life.   And they cost a lot. 
Indeed, a retired person alone in a house, with more yard than needed (increasing property tax) – supporting wild animals rather than people – wonders about the convenience of a modern high rise, where a trip won’t be broken when something breaks, because there is staff around to fix it. 
No wonder modern buildings in urban areas are expensive to live in.  But buildings with anything less than first rate construction can be vulnerable to massive problem and displacement of residents, too.  And even in Manhattan, it you don’t want a hurricane to put out power for a week, you’d better be midtown or further north.  (When you visit New York City, you usually don’t notice how low most the  City is compared to the DC area.)
An active retiree perhaps knows what he wants for the rest of his life.  He doesn’t want disruptions.  He wants to focus on his own goals.  Prepping a home for open houses takes a tremendous amount of time.  Sometimes it’s easier to stay put, but there is always the issue of problems you shouldn’t face in a modern, well-built community.  
In the meantime, retirees who want to sell older homes and downsize can face practical problems, especially with more lax construction practices in the past, with the use of asbestos and lead paint. 
The practical result is that in many older cities, local government zoning is more lenient with teardowns and the construction of “McMansions”.   There is always the “as is” market, like here

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