Tale #2: A Cautionary Tale…About Waiting
We all procrastinate, putting off decisions and tasks for a later day or year. But for Seniors – usually defined as someone who has retired from work, has started taking Social Security, or is 62+ years – that later date might not come soon enough, or at all! As Santa Barbara’s Senior Home Sales Specialist, I counsel my clients to think ahead and make plans now to find that special abode for their later years. Here is a recent example – a cautionary tale – of why I strongly advise this.
Meet Sally and Mark*. An attractive, intelligent, and well-traveled couple living in Santa Barbara. They moved here over two decades ago after retiring in their 60s from fulfilling careers back East. Buying a spacious new condo downtown and filling it with the contemporary art and furniture that they love, Sally and Mark said to themselves “this home will do beautifully until we need to move into assisted living in our 80s.” The downtown condo did suit them, with its easy access to all of Santa Barbara’s outstanding cultural events, and allowing them to simply lock the door when they left to travel the world.
Where Does the Time Go?
Fast forward 25 years. Sally is now 88 years old, and Mark is 90. They are still relatively healthy but have slowed down tremendously due to age – definitely requiring some assistance with transportation and house cleaning. Now they are really ready to sell their condo and move to assisted living. But guess what? There are waiting lists for up to four years at the preferred assisted living and retirement communities.
“Why did we wait?” says Sally in exasperation. “We’ve known for 20 years that we needed to visit these places and make arrangements. Now, even if they can find space for us in the next year or two, it’s only a studio or a tiny one-bedroom that is much too small for us and our things.”
As the senior population grows, so does the need for senior housing. Currently, about 16.5 percent of the U.S. population is 65 years or older. That’s expected to increase to 21 percent by 2030. So either more senior housing will be built, or waiting lists will get longer.
People Who Need People
I began by assisting Sally and Mark in researching those senior communities in the area that best met their needs, getting them on waiting lists for “next available.” Their favorite place was a “continuing care retirement community” or CCRC in a beautiful and central Santa Barbara neighborhood. Though the couple would like a two-bedroom apartment in this community, that wait list is much longer – possibly four years for the larger space. So Sally and Mark took my advice to sign-up for a studio apartment with its shorter wait list. “Local storage facilities are readily available to hold your belongings for a while,” I told them. “Once you are already in the assisted living community, you can more easily maneuver to get that larger apartment.”
Simultaneously, we arranged for a home organizer to help them downsize their belongings, and provided recommendations to other local vendors – house painters and handymen – to help prepare their condo for sale. It didn’t take long.
Innovative Solution: Sale and Rent-Back
In this hot seller's market, we sold Sally and Mark’s condo in one weekend! We had two all-cash offers over the asking price in spite of the fact that we asked for a major contingency: rent back to the sellers for one year. This caveat gave Sally and Mark the time they needed to clear the wait list at their preferred retirement community.
“There is an old saying,” said Mark. “He who hesitates is lost. Though Sally and I are by no means lost, we were floundering a bit! We regret not starting sooner to find that desirable home for our final years. Thank goodness for Nancy – always at the ready with her contacts and knowledge – helping us move forward.”