Friday, October 13, 2017

"Living For The Next Owner Isn't Necessarily The Best Idea"

We love our homes and enjoy living in them. That's one of the chief reasons we have elected - consciously or just by letting it happen - to remain living in our homes long-term. We want and expect that our homes are going to treat us well and not give us a lot of grief as both we and our homes continue to get older. They may need a few tweaks here and there and some timely renovations or updates, but most of that is cosmetic - affecting how we view and interact with our homes - not serious fundamental concerns.

Nevertheless, when there are deeper issues - steps that are too many or very hard to negotiate, hallways that are narrow, kitchens that barely have enough room for one person at a time to be present and not much room to even turnaround while there, bathrooms that are unusually compact, poor lighting distribution, outdated cabinets and closets, or entrances that don't provide shelter from the elements - we are not opposed to finding solutions. Our budget might not allow us to undertake everything we would like, but we understand that our homes can provide more comfort to us than perhaps they do presently.

When it comes time to consider and then undertake a sizable renovation - in terms of budget, amount of the home involved, time to complete it, or the amount of research we do prior to making the commitment to move forward with it - there are two main approaches. The first one, which was the prevailing viewpoint until the past view years, is to evaluate the improvements in light of what they will mean to our potential resale value.

Resale value is still important, but not to the exclusion of function - the second way of looking at improvements today. As we are making our homes ready to continue living in them long-term and making safety, accessibility, or comfort upgrades, we are concerned more about how the homes are going to allow us to use them effectively than with what they are going to mean to some undetermined future owner that we have no idea who it might be or what they really will want.

Rather than rolling the dice so to speak and guessing what might be appealing to someone a few years from now when we might want to sell or home - or hopefully much longer than this - shouldn't we serve our own needs? How are we going to be able to guess what the marketplace wants in a kitchen layout or which appliances might be important in ten years - maybe some of them haven't even been invented, created, or re-styled yet? What about flooring colors, styles, finishes, and materials? Look at how this industry has evolved? Do we pick neutral colors of countertops, backsplashes, wall tile, and cabinets - or do we select what we want?

In short, we can get caught-up in trying to outguess the marketplace and spend a large sum of money trying to appeal to someone else when the opposite approach is more what we need. Let's design and improve for our own needs and those of our household. Let's make our home aging in place friendly. There's a real good chance that some house shopper years from now will like what we've done anyway - particularly if we have been able to stay within universal design and visitability suggestions.

There's also a good chance that we really won't care what the market thinks about our home when we no longer need it. It must serve our needs now, and then someone else can be concerned about how it meets theirs. There are many homes on the market today that need visitability and accessibility improvements, yet they still sell. People see the location, the overall layout, or the potential in these homes. Let's live for ourselves and not focus on the next owner - whoever and whenever that might be.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.