Article courtesy of Realtor.com

money_houseThere are plenty of reasons why many people today aren’t financially prepared for retirement. We’re living longer, so we have to stretch our savings further. And the pensions that helped previous generations have largely vanished.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic quite yet.

Truth told, many on the cusp of retirement do have one source of cash that could help them close the gap between what they have for retirement and what they’ll need to live well: their home.

In fact, the majority of senior Americans have more money in home equity than they do in their retirement portfolios, according to an analysis last year by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. So how much cash are you sitting on, anyway? To figure out your home equity, subtract the amount you owe on your mortgage from the current market value of your property. Next, to see whether you’ll need that money in retirement, plug your other info (excluding the value of your home equity) into a retirement calculator, then see whether you’ll be able to comfortably live without it.

“A lot of people think of their home equity as their Plan B for retirement, but for a lot of people it really has to be their Plan A,” says Jenna Rogers, a client adviser with Mission Wealth.

If it looks like you’re going to have to tap your equity, you’ll want to make a plan for the best way to do so. Here are five options, and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Option 1: Sell and move

This is probably the first thing retirees think of doing with their home, and for good reason: Many retirees feel liberated after shedding their excess stuff to move to smaller digs.

Pros: By selling and moving to a less expensive house or region, you’ll not only bolster your portfolio with the proceeds, you’ll also lower your monthly expenses. And if you move to a condo or apartment, you won’t have to deal with external home maintenance issues anymore.

Cons: Moving can be stressful and far from ideal. Nearly two-thirds of baby boomers don’t plan to move in retirement, according to a 2014 survey by the Demand Institute.

Option 2: Open a HELOC

If you have enough cash to cover your day-to-day needs but no cushion for unexpected expenses such as medical bills, a home equity line of credit can serve as an emergency fund.

“For somebody who doesn’t have a cash safety net, a HELOC is a way to get peace of mind,” says Andrew Rafal, president and founder of BaynTree Wealth Advisors.

Pros: You get to stay in your home. You’ll have to pay only the interest on the amount you use during the “draw period,” typically 10 years. Interest rates are so low now that those payments will be pretty minimal.

Cons: When the draw period ends, you’ll need to pay back the principal as well—and rates will likely be higher than they are now. So if you use a HELOC, focus on paying off the debt before the adjustment hits.

You typically need to prove your income to get approved for a HELOC, so if you’ve already retired you may have trouble securing one. A lender can also freeze a HELOC if it’s concerned your home’s value has gone down or you’ll be unable to make the payments.

Option 3: Use a reverse mortgage

A reverse mortgage allows you to tap your home’s equity but is different from a HELOC in that you don’t have to pay it back until you move or pass away.

Pros: Unlike a HELOC, which is good for short-term borrowing, a reverse mortgage gives you cash for the long haul in the form of monthly checks, says Damon Gonzalez, founder of Domestique Capital.

Cons: The fees associated with a reverse mortgage are high, although they’re typically rolled into the loan so you won’t have to pay them upfront. Since a reverse mortgage can eat through the equity in your home, there may be little or none left to pass on to your heirs, or if you eventually decide to move.

Option 4: Become a landlord

It may not be a huge investment to turn part of your home into an apartment with its own kitchen, bathroom, and entrance. Or, you can rent out your entire home for all or part of the year, rent a smaller unit yourself, and pocket the difference.

Pros: You can cover or offset your housing costs with rental income—and postpone selling your home for longer than you might otherwise be able to.

Cons: You’ll have to deal with all the headaches that come with having tenants. Be ready for 3 a.m. phone calls, and have enough cash in reserve that the apartment or home can be vacant between renters.

Option 5: Do a sale/leaseback to your kids

If passing the family home to your children is important to you, you may be able to sell it to them now and then pay rent so that you can continue living there.

Pros: You get to stay in your home and ensure that it remains in the family.

Cons: Your children have to agree to the deal and have the cash to make it work. You’re also setting yourself up for potential conflicts with your children if you ultimately have trouble paying the rent or need them to take care of repairs or other issues.



lawnHomebuyers pay as much attention to the exterior of a home as the inside. They want to envision their kids playing in the yard, friends coming over for barbeques and lazy afternoons laying on the lawn.

Sure, bring in flowers, trim the bushes and paint the deck. But don’t forget the lawn. It’s important to get it in shape before showing your home.

Consistent care is key. Failure to invest in long-term turf care can cause a number of problems with your lawn. Give your grass the fertilizing and seasonal treatments it deserves:

  • In the spring, keep the grass high—removing more than a third of the total blade height when mowing can remove the food-producing parts of the blades resulting in a brown lawn.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn to help recycle important nutrients.
  • Water deeply (down to a depth of 6 inches) and less frequently, than lightly and more often.
  • If your lawn dulls in color or begins to wilt, then your lawn needs water.

Grass also acts like a natural air conditioner that cools the air as it releases water vapor through its blades. Lawns are a safer surface for children to play on and provide the cool comfort we desire on hot days. Those are selling points that can help any home sale.



Curious what your home is worth? Get your “Bestimate” from Berskshire Hathaway HomeServices Abbott Realtors. For more detailed information, call one of our offices and we’ll be happy to help you. Just scroll down and enter your info…


springEvery year at this time we talk about the Spring market beginning; however, due to the cooperation of the mild winter, our Spring market has already begun! As reported, home values have begun to increase and mortgage rates are still incredibly low. This makes it a great opportunity to buy up or downsize. ​For these same reasons it is the perfect time for first time buyers! Their purchasing power is still strong with these low rates. They are able to afford more house for the money.

Should you, your friends or family be thinking about a move, please contact any of our experienced, market savvy agents.


Patience is a virtue for just about any circumstance including selling your home. Yet sometimes you must sell quickly when a job opportunity arises or you face an abrupt lifestyle change. Assuming your home is in good condition and free of liens, here are several tips to help expedite a sale:

Ask for a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA): Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agent can prepare an informal estimate of your home’s value based on comparable sales in the neighborhood. This includes detailed comparisons of the home’s size, age, location and features to determine a reasonable price range for your property. You can then adjust the price based on variables in home and lot size, upgrades, condition and location. The amount may not be what you had envisioned, yet when priced slightly below comparable sales you should attract serious buyers.

Ask about our Progressive Value Range Marketing (PVRM): Many Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agents use PVRM as an additional pricing resource. Instead of setting a specific price, a value range is selected enabling sellers to entertain offers in a defined range.

Be flexible: Know your bottom price and don’t be offended by offers within those parameters. Consider negotiating housewares and fixtures that may appeal to prospective buyers—such as those expensive new drapes you just installed, the dining-room chandelier or that new washer-dryer combo. Determine what you can and can’t live without.

Remove the clutter: This must be done regardless of time frame. Throw away anything you won’t be taking with you and pack storage items that you won’t miss during the selling process. Rent a storage pod that can be picked up and eventually moved to your new home.

Offer incentives: One popular incentive for a fast closing is to share or pay for your buyer’s closing costs. You may also offer higher commissions for a fast sale, which may lead to even more showings.

Rent to buy: If there’s interest but no one is willing to meet your timeline, offer the chance to rent with the right to buy it in six months or a year. Both parties win, as buyers can experience the home and neighborhood firsthand while you transition with cash flow to cover expenses.

Indeed, selling a home requires time and patience yet there are several things you can do to help expedite the process. With flexibility and creativity, you can increase your chances of a quick sale.