Choosing a Retirement Property

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Are you looking to buy a retirement property, but don’t know where to start?

The following summary concentrates on the basic requirements when choosing a retirement property.

Of course, choosing a new property and making the right decisions associated with moving home can be daunting at any age; for older people considering retirement properties, this assertion is particularly true.

Bespoke Retirement Property – a Growing Trend

Choosing a purpose-built retirement property (as opposed to merely down-sizing on the general property market) among the 55+ age group is becoming an increasingly popular option for Britain’s ageing population. Just take a look at the property section in any national or local newspaper and you will find an impressive selection of retirement properties for sale . and so many different types of retirement homes to choose from.

Demand for retirement-style property is high. Consequently, this sector of the property market has expanded significantly, in recent years, with an increasing number of retirement property developers, now offering a wide range of retirement properties for sale from small developments of flats and bungalows to large scale retirement villages.

What are Retirement Properties?

Retirement properties are normally considered to be homes targeted at people looking for easy to manage places to live as they get older, possibly within a retirement ‘village’ environment.

Retirement Property Special Facilities

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The amenities that you can expect with most custom-built retirement properties may include some or all of the following items:

• alarm system linked to a central hub with 24 hour two-way communications so that help can be requested at any time, if required
• warden who supervises the retirement complex
• communal lounge and/or launderette
• communal garden and/or courtyard
• guest bedroom that can be hired for use by visiting friends and family

Retirement Property Regulations

By their very nature, retirement villages and other retirement property developments are usually subject to a number of conditions that don’t apply to other properties. For example:

  • people must be a minimum age (usually 55 or 60) before they are allowed to occupy retirement property;
  • properties are usually leasehold rather than freehold;
  • after a retirement property development has been completed, responsibility for administering the retirement property complex normally passes from the retirement property developer to an independent management company, which will charge annual management fees;
  • annual service charges are also payable to cover the costs of alarm systems, warden service, cleaning and maintenance of communal areas, insurance, etc.;
  • when selling a retirement property, minimum age restrictions may apply to potential purchasers.

The Association of Retirement Housing Managers (ARHM)

The ARHM has created a Code of Practice which is followed by reputable retirement property management companies. Potential purchasers would be wise to confirm that these guidelines are followed in the retirement properties that they are considering. For more information, visit the ARHM website: www.arhm.org.

Before making a final decision, buyers should consider the effects of any restrictions, the level of annual service charges and other costs such as council tax and utility bills, not just the initial purchase price of the retirement property.

How to Choose a Retirement Property

The decision to relocate to a retirement property is not one to be taken lightly. Moving to a smaller, more manageable home is tempting to many people but a number of factors need to be considered, not all of them financial.

Retirement Property Location

First and foremost, when looking at any retirement property for sale, geographical location is critical. Potential purchasers should ask themselves a number of questions:

  • Is the retirement property development easy to access? Is the topography of the area around the properties reasonably level and suitable for people with mobility difficulties? Is heavy traffic a problem close to the development?
  • What amenities should be available locally – how close are shops, post office, restaurants, pubs, doctors’ surgery, day care centre, parks or other open spaces?
  • How good is the transport infrastructure? Are there adequate parking spaces for residents and visitors? Is there a bus stop nearby? How frequent is the bus service? How easy is it to get to the train station?
  • Is there a risk of becoming physically isolated from friends and family?

Retirement Property Internal Features

For many older people, especially if they have disabilities or infirmities, choosing a retirement property with the optimum internal layout and adequate facilities is vital:

  • Are doors (internal and external) wide enough for people with mobility difficulties to manoeuvre easily?
  • Are alarms, electric switches and sockets easily accessible?
  • Will the property be big enough for your needs, particularly if you have tendencies to be a hoarder?
  • How noisy are the rooms; is there any soundproofing?
  • Is broadband internet access available?

Retirement Property Vital Communication

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Increasingly, just having a telephone as the sole means of communication with the outside world is not sufficient for the current generation of senior citizens. Email and web access offer improved communications with widely scattered family and friends, not to mention the benefits of online shopping and other internet-based services.

The Final Decision When Choosing a Retirement Property

Before you make the final decision to purchase a retirement property, consult your friends and family to help ensure that all questions have been answered to your satisfaction.

Legal Aspects of Choosing a Retirement Property

The legal contracts associated with retirement property developments are often more complex than for other property sales. So, be sure to obtain independent, specialist legal advice if you don’t understand all the contract details.