Older homeowners are more safe and secureby Marcie Geffner
The report, “A Profile of Housing and Health among Older Americans,” examined the housing, functional abilities and health status of two groups of individuals:
- Those aged 55 through 64
- Those aged 65 and older
“Owning a home provides the single largest asset in most Americans’ retirement portfolios, while renters have far more difficulty modifying their living space to adapt to any of the myriad physical ailments that tend to affect older people,” said Michael D. Eriksen, a professor at Texas Tech University and one of the authors of the study.
Some of the findings:
- Housing was the dominant asset in older Americans’ investment portfolios
- Older Americans’ median housing equity was $125,000
- Housing wealth comprised 50 percent of the typical older homeowner’s investment portfolio
- Forty-four percent of older renters spent more than 30 percent of their annual gross income on rental payments. That suggests the availability of affordable rental housing was a concern for older Americans.
- Older renters had almost twice as many limitations in their ability to conduct daily activities as homeowners did
- Thirty-six percent of older individuals had fallen in the last two years, and one-third of those who’d fallen had sustained a serious injury
- The likelihood of a fall occurring rose steeply as the older person’s housing quality declined
- Thirty-one percent of older Americans had residences with special safety features
- Thirteen percent had modified their home to be more accessible or safer between 2008 and 2010, and approximately half of those who reported a modification did so with their own funds. The median expenditure was $800. The average expenditure was $2,260.
Mike Fratantoni, vice president of research and policy development at the Mortgage Bankers Association and executive director of the research institute, said the aging of the U.S. population will have a significant impact on housing demand in the next 10 years.
“Real estate finance must also evolve to meet these changing needs, whether older Americans age in place and continue to own their homes, or whether they rent,” Fratantoni said.
The report was released by the Research Institute for Housing America, a trust fund sponsored by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents real estate lenders.
The report was written by Eriksen, Gary V. Engelhardt, a professor at Syracuse University, and Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley, a professor at Kent State University.
The report utilized the latest data from the Health and Retirement Study, a joint product of the National Institute on Aging and the University of Michigan.