KEY THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- Are there any deferred payment fees?
- Will you need to refurbish your home before you move out or before you sell?
- Are there any restrictions on who you can sell your unit to?
- Who decides if renovations are needed?
- What happens if you sell your home at a profit?
- What happens if you sell your home at a loss?
- Will the village operator buy back your home, or do you need to sell it privately?
- What happens if you are going to residential aged care?
- Where do you stand if the village ownership changes?
- When will you receive your money?
- What happens to your home if you pass away?
- Who can live in your home after you’ve left?
Leaving the village
SELLING YOUR HOME
Just like other property transactions, there can be costs associated with selling your home, such as the need to renovate, meet marketing expenses and sales commissions.
The big difference in the retirement sector is that village operators can be required to buy back the unit from you after a certain time (this will vary subject to the legislation of your state or territory).
When you leave the village, you usually pay a deferred payment fee as well as:
- any outstanding general service charges
- any outstanding personal services charges
- a share of expenses from reselling the unit
- costs associated with reinstating the accommodation unit
- any other costs covered in the residence contract
Your village operator will provide a statement that outlines the total fees and charges after the sale is finalised.
SOLD! Do not fear. Help is at hand
Village management will either take responsibility for the sale of your home or assist you (or your estate) in the resale or re-letting of your property.
Under leasehold and licence tenures, your entry payment will generally be refunded when you move out of the village, less any deferred payment fee. Refunds are usually reliant upon a new occupant purchasing a new lease or licence, so your refund may not occur immediately. There can be a legislated buy back period in case no new resident is found after a certain period. The length of this period can vary, so check what applies in your state or territory.
Under strata, community and company titles, you will not receive any money back until the property is actually sold.
Key things to think about when selling your retirement home:
- village operators’ right to refuse certain buyers
- marketing costs
- engaging a real estate agent and commission costs
- property valuer
- legal and administrative fees
- home reinstatement costs
- capital gains or losses
- outstanding fees or charges payable to the village operator
The cost of selling a unit is usually shared between you and the village operator, and ‘who pays for what’ or the proportion of fee paid by each will usually be outlined in your contract. If you can’t agree with the village on the unit’s resale value and a valuer’s opinion is needed, you may also have to pay a share of this cost.
Using a real estate agent
If you engage a real estate agent (independent of the retirement village operator), you will need to pay the real estate agent’s costs relating to the sale, and their commission. When you engage an external agent to handle the sale, the retirement village operator:
- Cannot seek a commission for the sale, but may be able to charge other costs or fees associated with the sale (depending on your contract and the state or territory in which you are located)
- Must decide whether to approve the buyer as a resident. If the operator does not approve of the buyer, the sale may not go ahead.
Village operator must approve buyers
Because the village operator essentially has a form of ‘veto’ over potential buyers, it will be important to check your obligations to pay commission to the real estate agent if a buyer is deemed not suitable. You want to be sure you aren’t going to be hit with a fee if the buyer doesn’t pass muster for any reason.
Some of the valid reasons for refusing a buyer may include:
- The buyer is not within the age limit for the village
- The village operator believes the unit is unsuitable for the buyer’s needs.
Village operators may also have waiting lists of people wanting to buy in to the village. If you are using an external selling agent for your home you are not bound to sell to those on the waiting list. At the same time, the operator doesn’t have to provide that waiting list of potentially ready-made buyers to your selling agent.
However, hopefully, none of these things will be an issue if both you and the village operator are keen to achieve a swift and positive outcome with the sale of your home.
You should also expect a few other costs relating to the sale of your home. These could include legal costs and administration fees. Your residence contract should outline any costs you will be required to pay.
Even if you have left the village, you may be charged some fees to cover costs, such as ongoing maintenance fees, until your home is sold or occupied. Generally, there is a maximum amount of time that former residents are liable for fees after leaving. Regulations regarding this vary from state to state.
CAPITAL GAINS AND LOSSES
Depending on the terms of your contract, you may be entitled to all, a share, or no share at all of any capital gain when you sell your home. Similarly, you may be responsible for all or a share of any capital loss if the property sells for less than you paid for it.
Contracts can vary greatly on this point so check carefully how much capital gain you will receive, or loss you may be responsible for, when you come to sell.
The amount you receive (or loss you absorb) can affect your exit payment calculation.
Having said that, many villages do share capital gain with residents.
A common ratio is 50% being retained by the operator and 50% being passed on to you, but as this can vary depending on the operator, it’s always a wise move to double check.
When you move out of your village, you generally need to account for any wear and tear to your home by covering the costs of a basic refresh or update. This typically involves new carpet and painting throughout, servicing the appliances to make sure they are in working order, and a good solid clean to make it as appealing to buyers as possible.
The cost of reinstatement will depend on how long you have lived there and the condition of your home. If your home is older, more work may be required to update it to appeal to buyers. Check your initial contract and talk to your village operator about how any of these works should be managed.
If you have lived in your village for quite a while, a buyer might expect a little more than a fresh lick of paint and new carpets to meet your ideal sale price. If more than just a basic update is required, talk to your village operator and work together to decide what’s most appropriate. A kitchen or bathroom reno might be just what’s needed to get the sale price you want.
The decision whether to do extra refurbishment is always yours. You should not agree to take on more extensive refurbishments if you don’t want to. But you should also have realistic expectations of what the market is willing to pay for your unit upon sale.
RIGHTS OF A SPOUSE OR RELATIVE
Spouses or relatives who live in your home, but who are not named on the contract, may also have rights to residency, but this will vary from operator to operator.
Some contracts outline that if the ‘owner’ or ‘resident’ (i.e. the person/s named in the contract) passes away, their successor – even if they are a partner or spouse – loses the right to reside in the home without the written approval of the village operator.
In other cases, a spouse or relative who has lived in the unit for a specified period of six months or longer, but was not named in the contract, has the right to continue living in the unit for three months after the resident leaves. During that period, the spouse or relative has all the rights and liabilities of a resident.
If the spouse or relative meets certain conditions, they may then enter into their own residence contract for the home.
But these conditions vary from state to state and village to village so it’s very important to compare your expectations against what’s provided for in your contract. And should your circumstances change at any time, speak to your village manager.
Make your wise move