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Is your house holding you back?

Why postponing your retirement dreams could cost you

Created date

September 21st, 2009

Sell now or wait it out? That is the burning question on many homeowners minds these days. The decision is as personal as your house. On one hand, home sales are steadily climbing. This July, sales in the Baltimore metro area were up 10% over the same period last year. Home sales also rose across the suburbs over the summer, with Howard County topping the list with a 27% increase. However, if you re still expecting to make an inflated profit, experts predict you ll be waiting for quite some time. In June, economists at Deutsche Bank listed Baltimore as one of the metro areas with the largest expected future depreciation. They predict that Baltimore prices will continue to drop to nearly 29% before we see the market level off. And experts at Moody s, an economic research and forecasting company, expect prices in the Baltimore metro area won t stabilizeuntil the end of 2010. Whether or not we ve hit the softening bottom, it s hard to tell, says Penny Noval, a sales associate with Long & Foster in Timonium, who has been working in real estate for more than 30 years. When people say to me, I ll just wait a few months, I remind them that the chances things will dramatically improve that quickly are remote.

Significant gains

Noval reminds her clients that even though selling prices are off from a couple of years ago, those who have owned their houses for 10, 20, or 30 years will still generate a large return on their investment.She says most homeowners would be hard-pressed to find as good an investment as their home, but they just don t realize it. Many people who have lived in their homes for a number of years have doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their investment, says Noval. What else could they have invested their money in and made that kind of profit? According to Oak Crest Retirement Counselor JoAnn Huebler, olderadults are increasingly choosing to cash out on the hassle of their house sooner rather than later. Our clients sell their houses because they want to experience the liberating lifestyle and new opportunities that Oak Crest offers, she says. For many people, the benefits of taking advantage of this lifestyle now, while they re still young enough to enjoy it, outweigh the alternative of waiting it out in their house for a few extra dollars.

Carpe diem

Nelson and Gloria Horan recognized those opportunities this April when they sold their Timonium home and moved to Oak Crest. We knew people who lived here at Oak Crest, and I have some friends who also live at Charlestown, says Mr. Horan. Everyone seemed to be happy and like living there. We were ready to enjoy that kind of lifestyle too. Now we don t have to worry about mowing the lawn or shoveling the snow. Instead, we are enjoying ourselves and all the wonderful things there are to do here. The Horans sold their 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath ranch home with the help of Erickson Realty & Moving Services, a program established to help people sell their houses quickly and move easily. After choosing their two-bedroom, one-anda- half bath apartment home at Oak Crest, the Horans met with a personal moving consultant from Erickson Realty & Moving Services. An expert on the local market, she offered suggestions for getting their house ready for sale. She also provided them with a list of reliable real estate agents and movers. The house sold within just a few weeks, says Mr. Horan. The sale price was a little under what I had hoped for, but I had lived there for 50 years, so I still made out all right. The Horans were also able to take advantage of Oak Crest s Move on Us program, which reimburses new residents up to $2,000 in approved movingrelated expenses for using Erickson preferred real estate professionals. As the Horans settle into their new lifestyle at Oak Crest, they say they re happy with their decision to move and offer this advice: After living in your house for a long time, you really aren t familiar with the process of selling and moving, says Mr. Horan. There s a lot that goes into it. Take advantage of the Erickson Realty & Moving Services program. They can point you in the right direction and help you find a reliable mover and Realtor. They can also answer any questions you might have and help you with any problems you might encounter along the way.