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Selling your home

There are many reasons why individuals of retirement age have reached a point where they want to sell their existing home and move to somewhere new

They may want to downsize from the family home they raised their children in or purchase a cheaper property and use cash from the sale to help supplement their pension. They may also be suffering from medical issues that mean they are no longer able to walk upstairs or navigate around their property safely.

For any retirees currently debating a house move, Richard Eagling, Senior Personal Finance Expert at NerdWallet, has compiled factors to be aware of when making the decision whether to sell their property and move somewhere new:

Get your property valued properly 

With the average house price in the UK topping £250,000 for the first time ever in April 2022, it’s important to get a good idea of what your house is worth in its current condition before you start the process of adding it to the market, especially if you’ve owned it for a significant period of time.

The Land Registry keeps records of housing transactions, which is free to use; you can break down the results by different criteria to get a rough idea of what similar homes in your area have sold for.

This same information is also used by property portals, such as Zoopla and Rightmove, to give you an indication of what your home might be worth. However, this is only a guide.

Some people opt to get their homes valued by two or three different estate agents, taking an average of the valuations. If you only get your home valued by a single estate agent, there is a danger it could be over or undervalued. But by getting a few different valuations, you can calculate an average.

These valuations tend to be free ‒ estate agents view it as an opportunity to convince you to use them to sell your home, and it’s important to feel comfortable with the person and company you choose to sell with. Always take your time in choosing the right agent and expect each one to be very keen for your business.

Look at the best ways to sell your existing property 

Once your home is on the market, there are some things you can implement to ensure your property looks as desirable as possible to prospective buyers.

Firstly, declutter any rooms that may not have been cleared for years. Not only will this make the space look bigger, it will also help buyers visualise themselves living in the property.

It’s also worth improving the ‘kerb appeal’ to give the very best first impression of your home to potential buyers.

There are plenty of things you can do to improve that kerb appeal, and therefore boost your chances of securing a sale. Ensure the windows and roof are in excellent condition, hide the bins, tidy the front garden by removing weeds and mowing any grass, and make sure your driveway is well maintained.

Look at whether it would be more cost effective to adapt your current home 

If you are thinking about selling your current property and moving due to mobility issues, it may be worth looking into the alternative option of making disability adjustments to the structure of your home, rather than putting yourself through a house sale and move.

If you or another family member living in the home is registered as disabled, you may be able to apply for a grant from your local council, which would allow you to accommodate your specific needs and requirements. These can include – but are not limited to – the widening of doors for wheelchair access, the installation of wheelchair ramps, installing stairlifts, constructing a bathroom in a downstairs area of the property, and moving lighting and heating controls to a more accessible location.

For those who are unable to access a grant, a home improvement loan is another alternative option for those hesitant to move from their current home but want to make additions or adjustments within the property.

Research whether equity release is a sensible option for you

Although you may be looking to raise extra money to fund your retirement you may be reluctant to sell and leave your family home, in which case equity release could be an option to consider.  Simply put, equity release refers to a range of products that let older homeowners access the money (equity) tied up in their home without having to move.

There are two forms of equity release options, a lifetime mortgage, and a home reversion.

A lifetime mortgage is a loan secured your property, and you can choose to make repayments or let interest build up. The loan amount and any subsequent interest is then paid back when your home is sold once the last borrower either dies or moves into long-term care.

Those who opt for home reversions ​​sell either part or all of the property and receive either a cash lump sum or payments made to help them with outgoings and the cost of living. You have the right to continue living at the address until you die, on the agreement you continue to insure and maintain it.

Equity release products can have a significant impact on your financial standing, inheritance, tax and benefits and should only be considered alongside qualified professional advice.

For more information, please visit nerdwallet.com/uk/pensions

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