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A Way for Seniors to Stay at Home for Free

Kristen Hicks
By Kristen HicksSeptember 3, 2018

Many seniors have spent years turning the house they own into a home that perfectly matches their preferences and style. Living at home also provides a sense of comfort, independence and privacy that some seniors feel they may not receive in senior living. In the course of aging, however, home maintenance becomes harder to manage and costly home modifications become necessary to stay safe. The costs of home updates, maintenance and taxes can quickly add up to something that a senior with limited savings simply can’t keep up with.

Fortunately, for seniors who want to stay at home, a new startup may offer a possible solution. Learn more about Irene Retirement and how the startup is providing senior homeowners the opportunity to retire and stay in their homes as they age.

Irene Offers Seniors The Opportunity to Stay at Home for Free

Irene, a New Jersey startup, is offering a possible solution for some seniors who want to stay at home for free. Here’s how it works:

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How Irene Helps Seniors

A senior that owns their home and is struggling to cover maintenance costs or taxes can get in touch with Irene about an offer to buy. If the company’s interested, they’ll make an offer – below the house’s current value.

The tradeoff of getting less than the house is worth is that the senior can continue to live there for the rest of their life.

The home will still be theirs in practice, but Irene will be the technical owner and they commit to covering all maintenance costs and taxes for the rest of the resident’s life. That includes if they decide to move to an assisted living community or a nursing home down the line and rent the house to another tenant.

How Irene Operates

The housing marketing in New Jersey, where Irene is currently operating, is strong. Irene is counting on real estate prices to remain high or even go up in the coming years. If they can buy homes for a low price today, they’re betting that the amount of profit once the home becomes fully theirs after the resident passes will be more than the amount they spend in maintenance and taxes in the ensuing years. It’s a risk on their part, for sure.

How much money they make or lose, as the case may be, depends on what happens in the real estate market over years – something no one can predict – and on how long the seniors they buy homes from live.

But the startup’s confident that they can help seniors solve a problem they have now while assuring themselves a sizeable profit down the line. In theory, it’s a win-win.

Is It a Good Deal for Seniors?

It depends. A senior that has a high-value home but little money in the bank is at risk of losing their home if they can’t afford property taxes. This business model provides them with a practical way to stay in the home they hope to spend the rest of their years in.

For seniors that love their home, but hate dealing with all the ongoing maintenance tasks required – many of which become downright dangerous for aging seniors to take on – this is an easy way to hand over the worst aspects of home ownership to someone else while continuing to enjoy the good parts.

But if a senior was hoping to leave their home to family members after passing, then this takes that option off the table. If the home has sentimental value in the family and someone was hoping to take over ownership and move in down the line, then it makes sense for the family to have a discussion together first about whether they can solve the problem of maintenance and taxes together before looking to an outside source.

For now, Irene is only operating in New Jersey. Whether or not the business (or similar ones) will begin offering deals like this in other states remains to be seen. For at least some struggling homeowners that could use a lifeline, it’s worth looking into.

Are you, a parent or senior loved one considering a stay at home or a move to senior living? We’d like to hear your plans in the comments below.

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