Finances as it Affects Seniors Housing Decisions

By Rusty Blix, Founder
Alderman Oaks Retirement Center

Today, as I am writing, the stock market is down over 3%, about 900 points   In my last blog I wrote about the accepted model that financial advisors always preach, “less and less risk as investors get older”.  I understand that there are those fortunate people who have plenty of money so that risks to a large extent will have minimum affect on their quality of life.  Most of us are not that blessed.

Most financial advisors are more focused on stock and bond portfolios, and not on the biggest financial asset for most people, their home equity!  Most of us remember how home prices fell dramatically in the 2008-? Recession.  Some are acutely aware that supposedly safe equity vanished in some cases. 

Last week I had the privilege to be in a Sertoma (a national service organization) meeting by zoom.  Our speaker talked about the current status of the housing market in Sarasota.  Everything was looking rosy.  prices were up, inventories were down, the time it takes on the average to sell was way down.    Just what sellers wish for.

This speaker did however speak of a “V” movement in housing, starting when the Covid Virus first hit.  The market almost stopped for a short time.  When the initial fear of the Virus dissipated, the “up part” of the “V” took place.  This all happened in so short of a space that only professionals were aware of it. 

My technology skills failed me when I was not able to register a question.  The question was going to be “what went through your minds during the down part of the V?”  Having been involved in real estate most of my life, I think I knew what the speaker would have thought during that scary time.  “How far and how long is this going to keep going down?”.  Most old-time real estate people remember, as most seniors do, how in 2008, housing dropped dramatically for a relatively long time period. 

All this is to ask, as I wrote about in my last blog, “can you really afford to gamble with funds either in the stock market or with your house when the time that you will really need your money is fast approaching”? Please don’t take the position “I am going to ride the good times as long as I can”.  Successful investors all talk about the truth that it is more important to know when to get out than when to get in.  Most investors tend to be a little greedy and as a result, in the end, are not successful.  Investments while they are good, tend to go up over a long period of time.  But when markets go down, even some of the best investments drop like a rock!

That speaker on real estate would have answered my question by saying, “I was scared to death, the memory of the 2008 recession is still very fresh in my minds.” 

The stock market today seems to be worried about a much longer Virus experience than originally hoped for and a potentially long, major recession that could result from more shutdowns.  One never knows for sure what is going to happen in the future, but home prices falling is certainly part of that recession thought process.  Please don’t fall into the trap that many do fall into.  If you are thinking that you might be looking into senior housing soon, take heed that you are not one of those who hang onto risk in investing too long.

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