Older adults struggle with housing costs, study shows

Aly J. Yale
The Mortgage Reports contributor

High-cost housing

Older adults are struggling with housing costs. According to new data, many are even willing to forgo retirement or share their space with strangers in order to stay afloat.

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Housing costs a hurdle for aging adults

According to a new study from real estate data provider PropertyShark, about a third of adults 45 and up is struggling with housing costs. This rate is even higher on lower-income brackets. Out of older adults  earning $20,000 to $40,000 per year, 42 percent say they’ve had a hard time covering housing costs.

To make matters worse, aging adults are overwhelmingly unaware of assistance programs that can help with these expenses. Just 3 percent say they’re familiar with government senior housing programs. Nearly half say they’re not familiar with them at all.

As PropertyShark’s Eliza Thiess explains, “this means that the overwhelming majority of adults who have already retired or are nearing retirement age are not prepared to make use of government programs.”

Boomers shy away from downsizing, focus on making home improvements instead

Getting creative with housing costs

To deal with the housing cost struggle, many older adults are thinking outside the box. 

About 20 percent have explored monetizing extra space in their homes. Another third would consider sharing their home with housemates their age. Over 40 percent would share with a younger, paying roommate.

Nearly one in three older adults doesn’t plan on retiring at all, saying they plan to work at least part-time or seasonally as they age.

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Aging in place

Housing costs aside, most adults are planning to age in place. According to the data, 56 percent plan to stay in their current homes. About 30 percent say they’ll downsize, while one in 10 will head to a retirement community.

The majority wants a home that’s 1,500 square feet or smaller. Only about 10 percent has started making home modifications to prep for aging in place. Nearly three-quarters say they plan to wait and see what’s needed.

According to Thiess, most adults will “need to implement home modifications compliant with universal design practices, such as zero-step entrances, wide doorways and hallways, and single-story living.”

Senior sales: Where older homeowners see their house values jump the most

Get today’s mortgage rates

Are you looking to downsize and lower your housing costs as you age? Then shop around and see what mortgage rates you qualify for today.

Verify your new rate (Jul 14th, 2020)