The old adage ‘location, location, location’ needs to be modified to ‘location, setting, services, facilities, specification and more’ when applied to the search for a retirement property. It is important to find a property that will tempt even the most reluctant older family members to downsize. Here are a few questions you should ask when searching for their ideal home.
Is the development close to local amenities – including cafes, local shops, medical and dental facilities?
Where are the nearest cinemas, theatres and restaurants for evenings out?
What are the local transport links like? At some stage, they may want to – or need to – relinquish their car.
Do think carefully about this. Retirement developments are designed to suit the over 55s with features that allow the homeowners to enjoy a more relaxed way of life.
New homes on a retirement development are easy to maintain and energy efficient but, equally important, your parents will be living at the heart of a community of like-minded people – and, whilst they’ll be able to maintain their privacy and independence, there will be a whole new social life on hand should they choose to take advantage of it.
Consider what type of property your parents would prefer – an apartment, a duplex/ split-level apartment or a house?
Many older home buyers equate downsizing to moving to a small apartment but, at Beechcroft, we design elegant homes – both houses and apartments – that provide a generous amount of living space but with fewer bedrooms than you would find in a mainstream home of a comparable size.
Would your parents prefer a terrace, a patio or a small garden – particularly one that is maintained for them? Lift access may also be important; even if they don’t need a lift at the moment, they may well do so in the future.
Are there places for your parents to socialise with other homeowners – such as a communal lounge, or even communal gardens with benches?
The older we get, the more likely we are to stay closer to home but socialising is still a vital part of healthy ageing, and the ideal situation is one where we can meet up with other people in a comfortable setting and enjoy coffee and conversation without having to travel.
Research shows that, whilst many over 55s are happy to give up gardening, the majority still miss their gardens so having a beautifully landscaped, fully maintained setting to enjoy is a necessity.
On retirement developments, landscaped settings need to be easily accessible, with level pathways and low-level lighting.
Is there a support system to help your parents with tasks they no longer feel able to manage?
For example, an Estate Manager is employed on each Beechcroft development, taking responsibility for maintaining the communal areas and both landscaped and private gardens.
The Managers also offer help and advice when necessary and keep an eye on properties whilst owners are away.
Some retirement communities do not allow pets – even though pets are good for our mental and physical health.
Make sure you choose a retirement development like Beechcroft, where you’re able to keep a dog, cat or other small animal. Maybe your parents aren’t pet owners as yet, but they may be in the near future.
With rising energy costs, energy efficiency is important in all homes and not just those designed for retirement.
Older people need to live in a warm, comfortable, draught-free environment.
ew homes are far more energy-efficient than their older counterparts.
For information on energy efficient, take a look at the Beechcroft blog on energy efficiency.
Look carefully at the specification of the retirement properties you are researching.
Does the property include carpets and other flooring, fitted wardrobes, vanity units and fitted mirrors in the bathrooms and en-suites, a full range of kitchen appliances?
It is important that the fixtures and fittings are of a high quality. As an added bonus, some new homes are designed to promote good health – easy to clean and with antimicrobial surfaces.
Whilst your parents may be fit and well at present, do think about the future and possible access to care.
Some retirement developments allow an independent lifestyle but offer options for those who may require more specialist care.
On developments with a neighbouring care home, such as Cotswold Gate in Burford, Beechcroft home buyers can benefit from a menu of additional services from hot daily meals and a laundry service to hairdressing and social events – as well as short term respite stays if recovering from an illness or operation.
This is an ideal solution if one of a couple requires long-term care, making it easier to spend time together without having to travel far.
Start with a conversation. In some cases, your parents may acknowledge that it’s time to downsize, whilst others may be reluctant. How do they feel about their current living situation – would a new environment and a more relaxed lifestyle enhance their lives? Would they like to move closer to you and be able to enjoy more quality time with you – and any grandchildren. Have they always wanted to live in a particular area – for example, the Cotswolds? Now could be the best time to make the move.
The earlier the decluttering process begins, the easier it is. Get other family members involved and begin to sort out the attic, the garage or any other storage areas. Even if your parents don’t intend to move home in the near future, decluttering is advisable. It can also be pleasurable giving you all the opportunity to reminisce – to rediscover long-forgotten toys, valuable family photos and other items. Take a look at our blog on decluttering.
If your parents have come around to the idea of downsizing, you’ll need to get an idea of how much equity they have in their property which will be used to pay for their new home. You can do this by checking on house prices in the area on websites like Rightmove or Zoopla or by asking local estate agents for a valuation.
Take a look at what is on offer in the local area. There are a host of property portals that allow you to search online for suitable retirement homes in the areas where your parents would like to live.
Visit the development with your parents – you’ll be able to ask questions they may not have thought about and to discuss it with them after the visit.
Check what is included in the service charges – these cover the running costs and maintenance of the development. They should cover external maintenance including external window cleaning and building insurance.
Ask about exit fees, transfer fees or deferred management fees. Some retirement community developers charge a percentage of the resale price on exit. The reason for these fees is in order to ensure the ongoing service charges are kept at a more reasonable level – subsidised – and provide the village with a sinking fund which can cover the cost of major works. The deferred management fees can vary significantly depending on the retirement developer. Beechcroft has never charged exit fees.
Find out whether it is possible to sell the new retirement property on the open market to a home buyer who meets the age criteria, should you need to do so in the future.
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