Reader Question: How do I time my move into a CCRC?

Question:

I’d like to move into a CCRC, but all of them have waiting lists of a year or more.  Houses in my area sell in 1-2 months.  Do I list my home now and then move into an apartment or with friends while I wait for an opening?  Or do I get on a waiting list now and then list my home when an apartment becomes available?  I don’t like the idea of liquidating assets to pay the entrance fee and leaving my house vacant until it sells.

Answer:

Unfortunately, there isn’t one good answer to that question.  Obviously, you’d prefer to only have one move: from your home into the CCRC.

Your decision depends on the real estate market in your area.  Homes in some areas sell pretty quickly, so in these places, retirement communities don’t recommend that potential residents list their home until right before their move into the community.

For CCRCs that have a longer wait list and a less active real estate market, my instinct would be to get on a waiting list now, since your worst case scenario is that you turn down an apartment and have to wait for another one.  Additionally, I would begin the process of listing my home since waiting lists can sometimes move much faster than anticipated.

The transition from your home to a CCRC might not be a big deal if an apartment becomes available during the time that you are selling.  However, if that doesn’t happen that way, there are a few options that you might not have considered:

Option 1: Include a leasing provision in the sale of your house.

Depending on the eventual buyer of your home, you may be able to negotiate a short-term lease based on when you plan on moving into a CCRC.  The rate and terms depend on the buyer and their needs.  However, it’s possible that an investor would be happy buying a home from a seller who plans on renting for a short period following the sale.

Option 2: Negotiate for a temporary stay in the guest room at the community.

If your home sells, and the CCRC is still putting some finishing touches on your new apartment, you can always ask if they will allow you to live in their guest room in the brief interim.  It won’t always be an option, but at least you can ask.

Option 3: Find an executive suite.

If your home’s buyer doesn’t want to lease the house back to you, then an executive suite is always an option if you expect only a few months between the sale of your home and your move.  The benefit of an executive suite is that most of them come pre-furnished, so you won’t have to unpack everything more than once.  The drawback is that they can be relatively pricey.  However, if the period is only 2-3 months, then you might come out ahead.

Option 4: Break a lease at an apartment.

While there might be some local apartment complexes that will allow short term leases, you always have the option of breaking your lease and simply moving into the CCRC when an apartment is ready.  The cost of breaking a lease varies, but, at most, you might be out about two months’ rent.  When you consider the savings of living in a one bedroom apartment versus living in a large home, you might even come out ahead.  Of course, your goal isn’t to have to break the lease.  But, it can be done if need be.

Here are a few other things to think about:

Keeping in close communication with the salespeople at the local CCRC is key to timing your move into the community.  They can help you with timing the logistics of your move.

If mortgage interest rates increase, you might have to sell your home at a lower price than you had hoped (or let it sit on the market for longer to get the price you want).  Now might be the best time to list.  Check with realtors in your area and your financial planner to get their opinion, given your location and needs.

CCRC’s will often have moving assistants or other specialists who can help you time your move and find local apartments or hotels that will help bridge the gap between selling your home and moving into the community.

Thanks for the question, and good luck on your move into a CCRC!

If you have questions about CCRC’s, send an email to questions@seniorhousingmove.com!