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Selling house your retirement plan?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 20, 2013 07:13 AM

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If you plan to cash in on your house to pay for retirement, you have lots of company.

Nearly half of Americans 50-70 found say they are relying on the sale of their homes in order to come up with money for their Golden Years, according to a survey by Ameriprise Financial.

And given the survey came out in February, before latest jump in home prices, that number is probably even higher now. (Here's a Times blog post on the survey.)

In fact, more people are counting on sailing into retirement with help from a big real estate payoff than ever before.

That number, now at 47 percent, represents a big increase from before the Great Recession, when 39 percent said home equity would help pay for their retirement.

OK, there is an obvious disconnect here given that housing prices remain far below their peak in many parts of the country.

Yet part of me wonders what all the fuss is about. After all, people have been using their homes to help pay for retirement and college education for decades now.

Yes, if you bought your house a decade ago, live in a housing market where prices are 30 percent below their peak (Ohio and Las Vegas come to mind), and plan to retire in the next five years, well you may very well be cooked.

But Greater Boston is one of a handful of markets out there where prices didn't completely collapse. And now some towns and neighborhoods have either passed their bubble-years highs or are within striking distance.

So a lot of it depends on the location and how long you have owned your house. If you bought and stayed put for twenty or thirty years here in the Boston area, you are likely sitting on some substantial equity.

But if you bought five years ago and hope to flip your house for a big gain, well good luck to you.

Sorry, this is not rocket science.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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