When it comes time to retire, you might want to buy a home in a retirement community. Many options are available, in cold and warm weather climates. Narrow down where you want to live and then research nearby communities. Retirement communities usually place detailed restrictions on residents, so make sure you understand them before submitting an offer to buy.
Part 1 of 3:Researching Retirement CommunitiesDownload Article
1Identify which type of property you want. Retirement community housing comes in all shapes and sizes. Consider the following options:
Single-family homes. These probably provide the greatest privacy. Generally, you're responsible for upkeep and maintenance, so it could be more expensive to own a single-family home.
Townhouses. These are single-family homes that share a wall. You will probably also share a lawn area.
Condos. A condo is like an apartment that you own. There are multiple condos in a condo building. Generally, the retirement community will hire a property manager to take care of the lawn and common areas.
2Pick where you want to live. Retirement communities exist all over the world, in small towns and in large cities. You should decide where you want to live based on the following:
Weather. Many people prefer a warm, dry climate, especially as they age. However, everyone is different. Maybe you enjoy the cold and want to find a community that lets you ski during winter.
Entertainment. If you want to spend your days going to museums and the theater, you should probably choose to live in a city. However, if you want to play golf or tennis, then a community in a suburban or rural area is better.
Transportation. If you can drive, then you can live anywhere. But as you get older, you might need public transportation. Living in a city can be easier for someone who doesn't drive.
3Find available properties. Once you narrow down where you want to live, you can find properties quite easily. Look online or contact a real estate agent in the area. You can find agents listed in your phone book.
Some websites that host listings include 55places.com and homes.com.
4Visit properties. Visiting allows you to see the property first-hand and check out the surrounding community. Check how close the community is to public transportation, grocery stores, a bank, and the post office.
You should also visit during different times of the year. For example, you might love Florida in the winter but hate it in the summer. One option is to rent a place in an area where you think you might like to live. This allows you to experience the weather off-season.
5Talk to residents. One benefit of visiting is that you get to talk with people who currently live in the community. You can meet residents by asking if you can attend a community meeting and then asking questions there. Find a few people to talk to and ask them any questions that are on your mind. For example, you might want to ask the following:
What do they like about living at the community? Are they considering moving?
How quickly do homes sell for in the community? Have homes been sitting on the market for a long time?
What would they change about the community, if they could?
6Find out the rules ahead of time. Living in a retirement community is a lot like living in a homeowners association. There might be rules limiting how you can decorate your home, where you can park, etc. You should know these rules ahead of time. If you don't, you could be in for a nasty surprise when you move into your new home.
Rules can be quite detailed. Many communities limit smoking, outdoor grilling, and talking outside when it is dark.
Retirement communities also limit who can live in the property. For example, they might prohibit any children from staying with you.
Part 2 of 3:Comparing PropertiesDownload Article
1Look at the programs offered. Retirement communities usually have an activities calendar. Ask for the recent calendars to see what has been offered. Some communities offer typical fare, such as swimming, golf, or tennis. However, offerings can vary widely.
2Compare the medical services available. Some retirement communities provide on-site health care facilities. For example, they might have a registered nurse on the premises. As you age, you might find it helpful to have medical care available in the community.
If there's no on-site care, check where the nearest doctor or hospital is located. Also check if doctors are willing to make house calls.
3Consider the caretaker services offered. If you travel or fall ill, you'll need someone to look after your property. Some retirement communities offer repair or caretaker services. Someone will stop by your home to check up on it and fix any problems that have arisen.
Compare how frequently caretakers will visit your home and how much it will cost.
4Analyze the retirement community's financials. You should have access to the community's financial records. Check how stable the finances are. Some were hit hard during the most recent recession.
Find liens on the property at the county clerk's office. If the properties have liens, then the community might be in financial distress.
You should also request to see the meeting minutes for the community. They will let you know whether the community has been worried about its finances.
5Compare prices. Any property you buy must fit into your budget. Remember that you will probably have less money to live on when retired, so consider that fact as well. You can estimate your mortgage payments using an online mortgage calculator.
Make sure you understand the entire cost of living in the community. Some communities require that you buy a membership. You'll also might be charged for community management, landscaping, and other expenses. Get a list of all expenses from the seller.
6Factor in the cost of living. Some places are much more expensive to live in than others. You should factor in the cost of living as well as state and local taxes. Depending on where you choose to live, you could save tens of thousands of dollars.
Find information on taxes and the cost of living online. Bankrate.com performs an annual survey of all 50 U.S. states.
Part 3 of 3:Purchasing Your PropertyDownload Article
1Ask about the approval process. Buying into a retirement community is a little like buying a condo or co-op in a big city. You can expect to have your finances scrutinized. Ask the retirement community about the exact process.
For example, you will probably have to turn over banking records and the names of references.
2Decide how to pay for the property. You might want to take out a mortgage, or you might be able to pay with cash. For example, you might sell your current home first and then buy into the retirement community.
Consider whether you need the cash to live on. If so, there's no reason to spend all of the cash buying the property. Instead, you can make a down payment but cover the rest with a mortgage.
There are tax implications, which you should consider. It might be beneficial to get a mortgage so you can deduct the interest from your taxes. Consult with a tax professional so that you understand what is your best step.
3Get preapproved for a mortgage. To see how much you can borrow, contact a lender and ask to be preapproved. Often, you can get preapproved online. You'll need to provide information about your income, assets, and debts. The lender will then tell you how much you can borrow.
Shop around for the best deal. Get preapproved by different banks, credit unions, or online lenders.
Your preapproval is good for only a limited amount of time, typically 60-90 days.
4Time your buy. Try to buy when the local high season is ending. In warmer climates, this might be the end of June, when the weather starts to get more humid. Often, sellers start to get nervous if they haven't sold their homes before the high season ends, and you might have more bargaining power.
5Price your bid. You want to make a competitive offer based on the housing market. If the market is slow, you can offer less than the asking price. However, if the market is hot, your first bid should probably be your best offer. Talk to your agent about what will be a competitive bid.
Take a look at how long properties in the retirement community have been sitting on the market. If they've been on the market for several months, then the seller might be willing to negotiate.
6Make your offer. Your agent can submit your offer to the seller's agent. If you are making a bid below the asking price, you might want to explain why in writing. For example, you can share the comparable properties you used to price your bid.
The seller might make a counteroffer. Review it with your realtor. You might want to cut to the chase and make your best offer. If you have—and they've rejected it—then you should move on.
If the seller rejects your offer, then ask if they will make other concessions, such as covering some of the closing costs.
7Wait for approval. Even if the seller accepts your bid, you probably need approval from the retirement community. You might even need to interview with the community board. Once they approve you, then you can schedule and attend your closing.