Downsizing: consider your living options

Research your options when downsizing.
Research your options when downsizing.

AS people get older, their housing needs are likely to change and they may look at finding a new home to better suit their lifestyle, however the array of housing options now available for retirees can seem confusing.

Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said working out what was the best choice for you could be tricky and it was important to weigh up the positives and negatives.

“The Seniors Housing Advisory Centre (SHAC) operating out of Consumer Protection provides free information and advice to seniors and their families so they can make an informed choice when deciding to make a housing change,” he said.

“While SHAC does not directly offer housing, or provide financial and legal advice, the type of housing you choose affects the consumer rights and responsibilities that you need to know about.”

Three common options for retirees are retirement villages, residential parks and strata title units.

“Each of these come under different laws, so it is highly advisable you seek independent financial and legal advice before deciding which one is for you and entering into any major contract,” Mr Hillyard said.

“It is also important to understand that housing offered under some commonly used names, such as “lifestyle villages”, can fall under different types of contracts depending on what is actually being offered.

“Many products on sale to retirees do not include home ownership, but this is not always apparent.

“For example, in some cases you can purchase or lease the building but only lease the land.

“Or you may believe you have bought a unit, but may have purchased a lease for life rather than any real property.”

Mr Hillyard said before making a decision on making a move, there were some key questions you should consider including:

• Why are you thinking of moving? Have you considered getting assistance or making modifications to allow you to stay in your current home?

• Is this a good time for you to consider a big lifestyle change – should you wait or is now the time?

• Where do you want to live? If you are moving to be close to family or friends, have you asked them about their future plans – what if they move?

• How will you finance the move? What will be the financial implications?

• If you are considering selling your home, have you checked the state of the market? Is it a good time to sell?

• Have you talked with family, friends and other people with whom you usually discuss important matters?

• If you are considering a community lifestyle option, are you ready for the compromises of community living?

• Are you looking to release equity? If so, will you be able to fund future needs such as if you need to move to aged care? How will any windfall affect your pension entitlements?

SHAC team members are available for presentations to groups of any size or age to empower all attendees to make knowledgeable decisions about living well in retirement.

For more information, contact SHAC on 1300 367 057, email seniors.housing@dmirs.wa.gov.au or visit the website at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au.

If you would prefer, you can also make an appointment to visit and speak with SHAC staff at 140 William Street in Perth.

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