Every year the cost of senior care seems to go up. According to Genworth’s recent survey:
- Nursing homes cost an average of $92,387 a year for a private room, and $82,125 for a shared one
- Assisted living homes cost an average of $43,539 a year
- Home health aides cost an average of $46,332 a year
That’s more than sending a kid to college. Few families can comfortably shoulder those costs, but when seniors start to need that level of care, they have to find a way.
For seniors that already own a home, the investment you made in your house can be the solution to helping you cover these costs. You have a number of options to choose from that allow you to use the equity in your home to pay for senior care, this post looks at two of the common options seniors consider and how they compare:
- Renting your home out
- Selling your home
Renting Out Your Home to Pay for Senior Care
If you want to hang onto your home after a move to assisted living, renting out your house offers a good way to earn some consistent income in the meantime. You’ll have to remove all your stuff to make room for the new tenant and may need to fix up the house to make it attractive to potential renters. Once you’re out, the home can make you money in your absence.
Renting out your home isn’t as simple as moving out and collecting checks though. You have to do the work of finding the right tenant, make sure things that break get fixed, and you may need to put some effort into getting paid if you end up with a tenant that’s unreliable.
The best part of renting out your home is that the money will come in consistently for as long as you have a tenant and you get to keep the house you’ve put so much money into already.
The worst part is that doing so comes with ongoing maintenance expenses and the work of being a landlord. You can hire a property management company to help with that part, if you can afford it.
Pros of renting out your home:
- You keep your house and it becomes an asset for your kids to enjoy.
- You get a set monthly amount each month for as long as it’s occupied.
- You can raise costs over time if the market will bear it (but may have to lower them if not).
Cons of renting out your house:
- Being a landlord requires work. If no one in your family is nearby and willing to take it on, you may want to hire a property management company, which will eat into what you make on it.
- If the amount you’re able to rent out your home for monthly comes out to less than the monthly cost of assisted living care, then you’ll have to figure out how to afford the difference.
- What you can make is dependent on the whims of your local market. If supply of homes to lease starts to overtake demand, you’ll have to lower how much you charge.
- You may end up with bad tenants who don’t pay or destroy things.
Selling Your Home to Pay for Senior Care
For some seniors, selling your home will be the better move. You don’t have to deal with the ongoing work involved in renting a home out. You do some work once, you get a nice lump sum you can put toward your senior care expenses, and you’re done. You will probably need to put some work and money into fixing up your house so it’s ready to sell, but if you’ve kept it in pretty good condition over the years, it might not take much.
The possible catch that could come with selling your home is that if you end up spending a long time living in an assisted living facility, that lump sum could run out and you no longer have your home equity to tap into. Of course, if you hang onto the house and then the value of the home goes down, then you’ll end up with less at the end of the day.
A lot of figuring out if selling a house is the best choice depends on the particulars of your local real estate market. One of the best steps you can take is talking to a local real estate agent to get their opinion on the value of your home right now and what the trends in the market suggest about the value of your home in the years to come.
- Selling your home only requires short-term work – no ongoing work or worry required.
- A real estate agent will take on much of the work and effort.
- You’ll make a large lump sum all at once that can help you pay for assisted living for years to come.
- You don’t have to worry about taxes or ongoing maintenance costs.
- You don’t have to worry about losing out if the home decreases in value over time.
- There’s a chance of running through the money you make on the sale if you spend a long time in assisted living or a nursing home.
- You won’t be able to leave your home to family members when you pass away.
- You may lose out on potential money if the house gains in value over time.
Which is Better for You?
Which option makes the most sense for you and your family depends on your particular situation and the real estate market in your area.
You should be sure to consider a few things before making a definite decision:
- Find out what the estimated value of the house is now.
- Determine how the costs of your assisted living home will compare with the amount you can get from renting the house out. Keep in mind the ongoing costs of taxes, maintenance, and potentially hiring a property management company.
- Consider if you’re willing to do the work of being a landlord, or if someone in your family is up to the task.
- Think about what the home means to you and your immediate family members. Would anyone be upset if it doesn’t stay in the family?
Once you work out the details of each option and do all the math, you should be in a solid place to make a smart decision on which option is best for you.