While buying your own home is an incredible feeling, owning it can be pretty stressful. Aside from monthly bills, the upkeep alone can be a lot of work. And we’re not just talking mowing the lawn or shoveling your driveway. Sometimes, it can feel like as soon as you fix one thing, there’s something else in need of attention.
Clogged toilet here, broken garbage disposal there — all up to you to take care of as the homeowner. There are also other problems, like a small water leak, that can turn into a pretty big mess if not taken care of right away.
Yet, a new survey by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab has found that many U.S. homeowners over the age of 50 are neglecting home repairs, in turn jeopardizing their chance at living there long-term.
Ask anyone if they would like to stay in their current home as they grow older and you’ll likely find that they do. According to AARP, about 90 percent of adults aged 65 and up would prefer to stay home as they age. That option may not be there for some, however, as 49 percent of this age group say there are necessary repairs and maintenance needed on their home, but they’re putting it off — mostly because they do not see it as much of a problem right now. Other reasons for not taking care of the problem are homeowners can’t afford it or don’t have time.
Neglecting repairs can, of course, eventually force homeowners to move or undergo major home renovations during the latter part of their lives, when it is even more difficult. Some 52 percent of those aged 70 and older say it is their health that makes it hard for them to do home maintenance or repairs.
Water leaks top the list of home damage experienced by homeowners 50 and up, yet only 16 percent of them say they believe the consequences of the leak can be serious. In fact, water damage from plumbing, heating and air conditioning is actually the most common cause for an insurance claim, according to an analysis of claims data from the AARP Homeowners Insurance Program from The Hartford. The risks of not acting on a water leak are pretty big — including mold and damage to the structure of the home.
“Taking care of preventative home maintenance can be challenging at any age, especially during mid-life when homeowners may have competing demands for their time and money, and in later life as we may experience physical changes,” Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, said in a press release. “Understanding what needs to be done and preparing ahead of time can help prevent bigger problems down the road that may result in significant damage and stress for homeowners and their families.”
If you’ve been neglecting issues in your home, now is the time to start the repairs. Olshevski recommends following the “BEST” system to keep your house at its, well, best. Here’s how it works:
Be House Aware – Know what your house needs, learn how to look for potential problems and keep records of work that has been done.
Educate Yourself – Learn more about what to do to make repairs or conduct routine home maintenance. If you need a professional to help, find out who to call.
Stay On Schedule – Stay current on your home maintenance, act quickly when problems — even minor ones — arise and share your home maintenance plan with your family so they can help.
Think About Tech – Considering smart home technology to alert you to potential concerns.
For tips on home maintenance and smart home technologies, click here.
What if you can’t afford the renovations? While you of course could try to sell your home without doing the repairs, know also that home improvement loans are available and worth looking into if you need major repairs. Click here to learn more about how to apply for a home improvement loan and which one might be best for you.
Do you have any repairs that need to be done on your home?