With the tremendous number of online resources (listing and review sites) and televised makeover, flipping, and home shopping programs. buyers are equipped like never before. Still, the services of a licensed real estate sales professional are often sought.
When it comes to aging in place, a few factors come into play with respect to looking for and selecting another home to occupy. For buyers making their initial purchase, they likely are taking an extended period of time to research their local market, determine what features and floor plan layouts exist, evaluate rates of appreciation for various neighborhoods they are considering, review amenities in the area (trails, recreation areas, shopping, roadways, public transit stations), and project how well that home might continue to serve their needs over time.
Many people are doing so much research and taking their time in coming to a decision on whether to continue renting or when is the right time to actually become homeowners, that they quite likely will age in place in that home they select for years. It' not inconceivable that with all of the time they will have spent locating and evaluating just the right home for themselves (of all the dozens or even hundreds of possibilities available), that they could stay in this home long-term (forever). Aging in place takes on another dimension when viewed from the standpoint that people are attempting to pick their permanent home as their one and only home purchase. It may not address all of their future needs because things happen in life, but as far as visitability and other access issues, they are reasonably comfortable that the home they select provides for this.
Of course, people may be looking for and selecting a home to occupy thinking that, either now or in the not-too-distant-future, they will have to bring their aging parents into their home to live with them. They are trying to account for this scenario also in selecting a home.
Real estate sales professionals can help their clients evaluate properties in light of finding a home that will serve their needs long-term or one that will allow them to bring parents or other loved ones to live with them, but they likely aren't as knowledgeable of aging in place solutions, accessibility products (for entrances, kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other areas), and home technology as we are so we have a great opportunity to work with them to show what is available, discuss how to help their clients fine tune a home they may be considering, and make improvements to an otherwise acceptable home to make it more ideal for their needs.
Over time, as the buyers' needs change while they are living in the home, an educated real estate agent (through our efforts or just in tapping us to help them) can help them evaluate their needs and decide upon changes to make without considering the possibility of moving from the home they devoted so much time and effort into finding. occupational therapists, contractors, designers, and other professionals are going to be great resources for the real estate professional and their clients when it comes to adjusting and adapting their homes over the years.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design 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.