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Seniors Series: Real estate tips for seniors

What older home owners, buyers and sellers should know moving forward

Equity, moving out of the area, and making homes safer and more livable top the list of home ownership issues for seniors.

Nancie Allen, 2019 president of the Bay East Association of Realtors, recommended a process for determining how much money a senior homeowner in Pleasanton may have in their home, plus the potential tax liabilities related to selling.

"Start with a Realtor to determine what your home is worth, tally up all the improvements you've put into your home and take that information to your tax professional," Allen said. "They can give you an estimate of the capital gains taxes when you sell and ultimately how much you'll have available to use to purchase a new home."

For some Pleasanton seniors, the next step on their home ownership journey may mean leaving the area.

Allen suggested, "Make sure you go and visit those areas and stay for a few days to see if a potential new home is close to shopping, medical facilities and other amenities. If you like the theater or playing golf, find out if those activities are nearby."

If considering a move to another community in California, Allen recommended determining if the current property tax basis can be transferred.

"And, if you're considering a move out of state, check and see if that state's tax laws are the same as California. You want to make sure your money is going to go as far as you think it will go by moving out of state," she said.

For a senior homeowner in Pleasanton considering making a move, many must start by dealing with their emotions.

"There are a lot of memories stored up in your home that can be difficult to leave," Allen said. "With those memories also comes a lot of stuff to go through and the decisions on what you're going to take. Deciding what you're keeping, giving away to friends and family or donating can be really difficult. And if you need help with that, there are professionals who can help you pack and clean out your home."

Allen's advice on wrapping your heart and mind around a new home is to "look forward and move forward knowing that this is the beginning of a new adventure."

For Pleasanton seniors who want to stay here but may find themselves in a home too big for their needs or too much of a burden to maintain, Allen said, "Typically what I see seniors moving to are smaller, one-story homes or condominiums, with open floorplans and less space to have to maintain.

Given the number of remodeling projects currently underway in many Pleasanton neighborhoods, it's clear that homeowners like the community and want to stay."

Asked what a senior homeowner should consider when planning a remodeling project, Allen had several suggestions. "There are some easy and fast things that seniors can do; simple things like changing a door handle to a lever instead of one that you have to grab and turn," she said.

More-involved projects can improve a homes comfort and safety.

"Have a licensed contractor add a bench to your shower or some grab bars so when you step in you can sit down or hold on to a bar," Allen suggested. "You can install a lower-pile carpet so there's less of a chance you'll trip and look for flooring that isn't slippery."

Updating a home's exterior provides more opportunities to make it senior-friendly. "Change your landscaping to something more low-maintenance," Allen said. "And adding some extra lighting outside on sidewalks, pathways around your home will make it easier to navigate around in the evenings."

Editor's note: David Stark is public affairs director for the Bay East Association of Realtors, based in Pleasanton.

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