Helping Your Parents Buy a Home for Retirement - Quicken Loans Zing BlogYears ago, my mother-in-law decided it was time to leave the family’s 60-year-old house in a suburb of Detroit for the beautiful northern shores of Traverse City, MI. My father-in-law wanted nothing to do with this plan. The old house was familiar, held memories and was very close to the Knights of Columbus chapter (bar) he visited nightly.

After much kicking, screaming and complaining from my father-in-law, the lady of the house got her way. And, after a while, everyone was much happier because of her wise decision. Here’s why.

Out with the Old

While the old house may have held many memories, it was also plagued with problems that could have become even more serious in the coming years. It was a two-story house with bedrooms on the upper level. Trekking up and down those stairs could be perilous some day for both of them. And the laundry facility was located in the basement – more up and down the stairs.

But those weren’t the only problems with the old homestead. The house was constructed of three materials: brick, wood and aluminum. The brick may have been low-maintenance, but the wood was rotting and the aluminum needed painting. And the yard, oh my, the yard. It was gigantic. While it may have been perfect for a posse of kids and a swimming pool years ago, it would soon need professional landscapers to keep it in tip-top shape.

Top Dollar in a Popular Neighborhood

My in-laws decided to sell the house and were lucky enough to do so at the top of the housing market. The sleepy suburb they moved into 40 years earlier had since become a trendy town filled with snazzy restaurants and swinging nightspots. Real estate prices were through the roof, so to speak.

In with the New

So, what did they move into “up north” in Traverse City? A beautiful berm – earth-sheltered – house on a small, treed lot about a block from the lake.

The one-level berm house was environmentally friendly. It was partially below ground level, which helped retain heat in the winter and kept things cool in the summer. A heat pump also helped with that.

The laundry room, like everything else, was located on the first floor. And the layout was perfect for folks who expect out-of-town visitors; there were two bedrooms and a bathroom on one side of the house, and another bedroom and bathroom on the other side, ensuring privacy for all. The garage was attached to the house, which helped the couple avoid having to trek through the snow to get to and from the car in the winter. And, because they had the house built, they were able to get nifty leafless gutters, which meant no more climbing ladders to clear the clogs!

Knights of Who?

But what about the Knights of Columbus? Did dear old dad find a chapter up in Traverse City? Yes, but it didn’t have a bar. So, he abruptly joined the Elks, which offered cheap beer and a view of the bay.

What to Look for in Senior Housing

If you’re helping your parents buy a home for their golden years, here are some things you should look for: 

  • A single-level home
  • A low-maintenance exterior (this could include a smaller yard, leafless gutters, or even an HOA that handles all the maintenance)
  • An attached garage (in areas where the weather could be a problem)
  • An efficient heating and cooling system
  • A location convenient to shopping, health care facilities … and cheap beer!

Did your parents recently buy a new home? Was it the “right” home for them? If you have any tips we haven’t covered, let us know and we’ll add them to our list.

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