Updating Your Home’s Accessibility Features When Aging in Place

Claire Wentz is creator of caringfromafar.com and author of the upcoming book, Caring from Afar: A Comprehensive Guide for Long-Distance Senior Caregivers. Claire is a former home health nurse and recognizes that our aging population means many more people will become senior caregivers over the years. Specifically, she is interested in providing assistance and support to those caregivers who do not live near their loved ones. She hopes her writing will inform them, uplift them, and give them peace of mind when they need it.

Image via  Pexels

Image via Pexels

According to the AARP, 87 percent of adults age 65 or older wish to stay in their community and current home as they age. Unfortunately, about 1.4 million seniors have needed to leave their homes in order to enter assisted living care. If you are lucky enough to be able to stay in your current living situation as you age, you may want to consider investing in modifications that will make your home more accessible so you can continue living on your own as you age in place.

Doors and Handles

As we age, our bones, muscles, and joints begin to deteriorate. As our body mass decreases, common things that used to be simple become more and more difficult. If your home features any heavy doors, they may become almost impossible for you to open on your own in the coming years. Replacing the doors with lightweight versions can preemptively solve such a dilemma.

Another thing to consider is the handles on your doors. Changing out door knobs for levers can help make it easier to get in and out. It’s a simple and inexpensive fix that can make a big difference down the line.

Steps and Stairs

Ramps are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Even if you don’t end up needing a walker or wheelchair, putting ramps over steps and stairs can make your home easier to navigate as your reflexes slow down with age. Plus, if you have friends come over with accessibility issues, they will appreciate the modification.

While you may be able to get up and down your steps without trouble today, you may find yourself taking longer and longer to do so as the years go on. Eventually, the stairs you once skipped up with ease become fall hazards. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Ninety percent of hip fractures occur as a result of a fall, as well. So while it may seem silly and unnecessary to get ramps today, installing them can prevent a much bigger problem in the future.

The Bathroom

The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. Every year over 235,000 people in the United States visit the emergency room because of an injury sustained in the bathroom. To make yours safer, be sure to use non-slip rugs in and around areas where water is used. Consider installing a shower bench that allows you to clean yourself while sitting so you are less likely to fall. Another smart option is an adjustable shower nozzle that allows you to control the pressure and heat. The maximum temperature your water heater should ever be able to reach is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Fix your water heating settings if you notice it is able to go any higher than that.

Is Remodeling the Best Choice for You?

If the accessibility modifications your home needs require a loan to complete, it may be worth your time to consider selling your current place in favor of a home that’s more accessible. Many seniors choose to downsize their places for a house with one story or a place closer to amenities they use. If you are able to sell your home for a profit and you don’t want to hang on to it for sentimental reasons, this may be a better option than going through with home renovations. How much you can get for your house depends on your particular market. According to Redfin, the average listing price for a home in Rochester, NY is $115,950.

Seniors lucky enough to stay in their homes in order to age in place may want to make some modifications around the house to make it more accessible. Things like lighter doors and safety ramps can make daily life easier as your body ages. While remodeling your home may be the best option, some may be better off selling their current home in favor of moving to a smaller place that is already accessible. It all depends on your situation.

What you need to know if you have been issued a Lis Pendens

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The What, and Whys of a “Short Sale.” If you're facing foreclosure, you need to read this!

I could never understand what it feels like for a family to lose their home, or deal with the stress of a pending foreclosure, however, I can sympathize with loss.

I know what it's like to lose a father at a young age, I watched my grandmother slowly deteriorate with Parkinsons Disease and my grandfather slowly forget who he is. Raising a family in a home is the American dream, and sometimes life happens, loss of employment, death, sickness; no matter the cause, I want you to know that you don't have to bear that burden alone. I am guilty of this myself, often times we like to forget, sweep all our problems under the rug, but the longer we wait, and ignore the problem, the worse it gets.

 

Short Sale

Short sales are one way for a homeowner to avoid foreclosure, it provides an opportunity for a homeowner to avoid foreclosure, minimizing damages, allowing the homeowner to remove themselves from a burdensome mortgage they can no longer afford.

A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the net proceeds from selling the property will fall short of the debts secured by liens against the property. In this case, if all lien holders agree to accept less than the amount owed on the debt, a sale of the property can be accomplished.  A homeowner will have been issues a Lis Pendens, also known as notice of pendency, “lis pendens” is Latin for “suit pending.” In judicial foreclosures, this is a “notice to the world” of a foreclosure action. It is filed with the county clerk .  A Lis Pendens is issue when homeowners have been falling behind on payments and can no longer afford the property,  due to some type of hardship.

The first thing you want to do is call your bank right away, banks may offer some type of loan modification or forbearance programs that would prevent the home from foreclosure.   In many cases homeowners often find themselves months, or even years behind on payments, left with a home they can lo longer afford, and even maintain.  However unfortunate, in many instances a “short sale” is the only remedy to prevent foreclosure.  So what’s the downside if you do nothing, numero uno, you lose your home, and numero dos, your credit score will be reduced by 350 points and will take 7-10 years before it is removed from your credit.  Poor credit is like a silent killer it will affect how, and even where you live, your ability to take out a loan, obtain lines of credit, and even apply for a mortgage in the future.  After a foreclosure is satisfied it will take up to 3 years to obtain an FHA mortgage, as they are the most forgiving, and 7-10 years for a conventional mortgage, if  in fact you qualify at the time.

So what’s the good news, what if the bank was willing to pay you $7,000-$10,000 on a bank authorized short sale?!  Sounds too good to be true right, it isn’t!  

What if there was a way to prevent such a devastating blow to your credit!? Well, that can be remedied with a short sale as well!!

 

What are the requirements?

  • The property must be in pre foreclosure
  • A homeowner must be issued what is know as a Lis Pendens, also known as notice of pendency, “lis pendens” is Latin for “suit pending.” In judicial foreclosures, this is a “notice to the world” of a foreclosure action. It is filed with the county clerk.  If you or someone you know received such a letter from your bank, there is a possibility that if you don’t come to terms with your bank, you will lose your home
  • Must be listed by a realtor
  • Must have a purchase offer
  • Has to be an “Arms Length Transaction”
  • Allows the market to ensure that both parties in the deal are acting in their own        self-interest and are not subject to any pressure or duress from the other party. It also assures third parties that there is no collusion between the buyer and seller.

 

Homeowner Benefits:

  • No up front or out of pocket costs
  • Realtor and Attorney fees paid by the bank
  • Junior lien holders discharged
  • No deficiency judgement or promissory note
  • Shown as “Paid as Agreed” on credit report
  • No mortgage payment required during this process
  • Possible relocation incentive up to $10,000 if primary residence.









 

9 Strategies to Prevent Foreclosure

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Short Sale

Short sales are one way for a homeowner to avoid foreclosure.   A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the net proceeds from selling the property will fall short of the debts secured by liens against the property. In this case, if all lien holders agree to accept less than the amount owed on the debt, a sale of the property can be accomplished.  A homeowner will have been issues a Lis Pendens, also known as notice of pendency, “lis pendens” is Latin for “suit pending.” In judicial foreclosures, this is a “notice to the world” of a foreclosure action. It is filed with the county clerk .  A Lis Pendens is issue when homeowners have been falling behind on payments and can no longer afford the property,  due to some type of hardship.

Benefits of a short sale include, a reduced mark on your credit, allowing you to qualify for a mortgage within 12-24 months.  Homeowners living in the home are also eligible for a relocation bonus of up to $10,000.00!

 

Reinstatement

A reinstatement occurs when a homeowner can pay in full the past due amount, including any late fees to the lender.  Although this is the simplest solution,  in most cases homeowners have fallen behind due to a hardship, and is most difficult for homeowners to satisfy.

 

Forbearance or Re Payment Plan

You may be surprised at the willingness of banks to negotiate a payment plan, however, keep in mind they will do all that they can to protect their asset.

In this case the mortgage company will allow the homeowner to repay the back payments, or an agreed upon payment schedule.  The owner is required to remain current on the mortgage, additionally paying a portion of the back-payments owed.

 

Mortgage Modification

Depending on your situation and bank, you may may allow a mortgage modification. A mortgage modification does require bank approval, give them a call right away find out if this is an option for you. The bank will offer either a reduction on the interest rate of the loan, the principal balance of the loan, the term of the loan or a combination of all three.

 

Rent The Property

Although being a landlord does not sound attractive, it can in some cases save your home.   It is necessary that your rents collected cover the monthly mortgage payment as well as any additional expenses such as your taxes, waste removal, etc.  An owner should consider there will be routine maintenance needed, possibly vacancies and/or unavoidable expenses, for example, if you need a new roof or furnace.

 

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

Lender approval is required, this process allows the homeowner to return the property to the lender,preventing the foreclosure from taking place. Additionally the homeowner must vacate the home, in light of surrendering the property, a deed in lieu can potentially lesson the damage to a credit score and future loan eligibility.

 

Bankruptcy

Additional Debt/Hardships other than a mortgage  are required to qualify and must be proved.

The law varies state to state, do your due diligence to make sure bankruptcy is a solution for a pending foreclosure.  Results from bankruptcy include 200-250 points taken off your credit score as well as remaining on your credit for the next 7-10 years and can be very costly.

 

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

*Only Applicable for Military*

Upon deployment, if a member of the military is experiencing financial distress, and that person can prove the debt was entered before deployment, he/she may qualify under this relief act.

Please contact the American Bar Association who at their disposal can provide you with a network of attorneys that will help service members qualify.

 

Sell the Property

If you have enough equity in your home to cover the existing debt,  selling your home is the best option.  Unfortunately most homeowners, have little to no equity, and owe more than the home is worth.