Guy Mossop, non-executive director of retirement property specialists Cognatum, offers his top tips for finding the retirement property that suits you:
DEFINE YOUR CRITERIA
“The most important thing to start with is a clear idea of what your needs and wants are and what is most important to you. Is the location right for you both? How close will your family be? Is there easy access for friends and family to come and see you? Are you considering moving away from a long-term commitment to a particular area?
“Many people move to a new area and then regret it. Try, therefore, to choose a retirement property close to the area you know rather than moving into unknown territory. Involve the whole family in the decision if you can, but ultimately you should decide what is best for you and where you want to live.
“People nowadays have a far greater choice of where they want to live than ever before and in a sense the word ‘retirement’ hardly exists as so many people now work well over the age of 65. Do you want independent living or more serviced accommodation? Do you want a resident Manager? Much will depend on your age and state of health. Resident managers will often provide a greater level of neighbourly service simply by being there, even if not on duty. Remember, retirement developments are not nursing homes.
CHECK THE FACILITIES
“Does the development suit you? Does it have the facilities you need or want? Does it have like-minded people? Choose a development that has that something extra, whether it’s a garden, a lake to fish in, a swimming pool, restaurants, personal care that satisfies a wish or answers a need.
“In choosing a development, consider your interests and hobbies. Do you want access to the theatre? Do you want a lock up and leave for holidays? Do you play golf or like watching the cricket? All this should determine the type and style of development for you.
UNDERSTAND THE RULES
“Are you happy with the property? You can’t make external alterations as easily as you can with a freehold property in the ordinary housing market and internal alterations might be difficult too. It’s not like buying your own individual property in isolation, you’re buying into a scheme as a whole and this comes with obligations and covenants. Does the development have an assortment of properties so that you can move within the same scheme at a later date?
SEEK FINANCIAL ADVICE
“Does the retirement development sell long leases? Are the service charges for the services provided reasonable? Are there any ground rents? Are there any exit fees? How easy will it be for you to get a mortgage in the future? Does the development allow letting in case you wanted to consider renting in the future? Always seek independent financial advice.
TAKE YOUR TIME!
“Finally, take your time, there’s no hurry. When you’re young you can afford to make a mistake in choosing where to live as you know you’ll be moving in three to four years as children come along and you go from a two-bedroom property to a three and then four. This is different as with luck you should be able to stay here for the rest of your life so getting the decision right is important. Visit as many prospective locations and properties as you can before choosing one.”
For more information, go online at: www.cognatum.co.uk