Project ‘New Home’ continues. I have a buyer who is not in a chain and happy to wait until I have found somewhere I want to live. With not much equity after paying off the mortgage I am restricted to what I can afford. Lots of things need to be taken into account:
- Ease of access to family and friends – so the North of England, Scotland and Wales are out of the question!
- With my health history I really should be near a good hospital – God forbid I would ever need it again;
- I must have some sort of outdoor area, even if it’s a small sunny courtyard for 30 pots at the last count to find a home for and I am happy never having to mow a lawn again; and
- I need to be near the sea. Some things I am not prepared to compromise on.
At the suggestion of my youngest, just to keep her happy, I looked at retirement flats an option I had dismissed out of hand. I know, I thought the same – even though they advertise for the over 60’s I am still not old enough for the communal lounge scenario.
However, exploring all avenues, let’s call this one Plan X, it had to be investigated. I went with a good friend on Saturday to view a ground floor, one bedroom flat just down the road from me. It had a lovely west facing aspect looking out on to lawns and a large patio area, just right for my pots. With a large lounge, small but decent kitchen and the bathroom, although internal, and needed the shower chair removed (!!), had recently been modernised. At a good price with money to spare it ticked all the boxes, despite the age of the nosey residents who where itching to find out who we were, I thought this could possibly suit and it meant not moving far from where I am now. I even felt quite excited at one point.
Then I looked up and saw a large crack right across the ceiling and down the wall. “Oh” said the estate agent, “that’s just cosmetic, the owner’s daughter is arranging for it to be repaired and it will definitely be dealt with before anyone moved in”. He must have thought me totally stupid and gullible, I wasn’t going to accept that. The first thing I did on Monday was ring the Estate Manager of the flats, to be told there was a major leak a year ago from the upstairs flat, the damage had been repaired but the cracks have appeared again and they are monitoring to check it is not structural – eeek! He told me it would be at least until the middle of the year before anything is done as it is an insurance issue.
After reading several articles about the hidden costs of buying a retirement home, I can now fully understand why they are so reasonably priced (cheap) and notoriously difficult to sell.
Leaks leaks and more leaks
- You are in the hands of the retirement company who own the complex and they are responsible for buildings insurance so repairs of any defect can take an age to fix. We spoke to one resident who is still waiting after 3 months for her ceiling to be fixed after a leak from upstairs. Yes, another leak – imagine how often that might happen with forgetful elderly residents upstairs who turn on taps and walk away.
The sting in the tail
- The majority of residential home companies charge an exit fee into what is called a sinking fund. This particular company Anchor Homes charge 2.85% of the purchase price times the number of years you have lived there. So for example if I bought the flat at £115,000 and live there for 10 years, I would pay Anchor almost £33,000 on selling. As well has having paid £3,000 a year service charges.
Whilst a retirement flat rarely makes a good financial investment, they can be a life saver for some – but not for this girl!
Back to Plan A – the Isle of Wight and more about that soon.