No place like home: City’s longest-running residents often least likely to move

The 55-plus Kenwood Isles Condominiums see high demand, according to one realtor.

Rose has lived in her Lyndale neighborhood home since 1965. Solicitors constantly send mail suggesting she sell the house, and her son often asks where she’d like to live in the future. But she’s in no hurry.

“There’s no place I want to live except my house,” said Rose, who declined to share her last name. “…I don’t think I’d feel very comfortable anywhere else.”

Although home prices are high today, Rose said she’s uncertain about the moving process.

“It’s kind of tempting, but I don’t know what that entails,” she said. “It’s kind of disgusting too. … I think it looks crazy. Everything has gone up, up, up.”

A Colfax Avenue resident visiting Lyndale Farmstead Park last week said he bought his house about 50 years ago for $29,000. Now he’s watching houses in the neighborhood sell for “terrible” prices.

“I think we should be downsizing right now,” said his wife.

But he’s not quite ready.

Residents ages 65-74 are the least likely to move of any age group, according to census bureau data, with just 5.3-5.5 percent moving each year. As people age they are increasingly less likely to move until they hit age 75, when the percentage of annual movers increases to 7.6 percent.

John Patterson, director of planning, research and evaluation for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, said three-quarters of the state’s homes are valued at $250,000 or less, often considered an affordable price for first-time homebuyers.

“There are a lot of homes out there, but no one’s moving,” he said.

According to census data analyzed by the MHFA, most seniors remain homeowners until age 85. The agency reports that moving patterns are consistent with rates of disability and the inability to live alone, with a slight decrease in homeownership after age 74 and a large decrease in homeownership at 85-plus.

A recent national AARP survey found that three out of four adults age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. Fewer said they think that’s possible, however.

The MHFA found that the majority of the state’s low-income seniors are homeowners, and more than 16,000 of the poorest senior households face major expenses in the coming years, such as a new water heater or roof.

Rose said it takes a lot of money to keep up her house. She was skeptical of a plumber’s $600 bill to fix the toilet, and she said chore services can charge a lot.

“I think about my taxes,” said the aforementioned Colfax resident. “…They’ve gone up over the years. But everything else has improved. Look at how nice they keep the park here. … Somebody’s got to pay for all of this. Not us retirees though.”

Bill Lehman, co-owner of Gentle Transitions, a moving company for seniors, said he doesn’t notice the real estate market impacting clients’ decisions to move. But with houses selling very quickly, he sees clients forced to move in a very short time frame.

“Things move pretty quickly if they’re in good condition and priced right,” said Jodi Williams, a senior real estate specialist. “…I think there are a lot of great options out there, and sometimes you just have to be ready to jump on them when they present themselves. Being prepared is half the game.”

She’s worked for senior clients who weren’t in a hurry to downsize, but asked her to watch a particular building for a spot to open up. Popular destinations include single-level townhomes and the 55-plus Kenwood Isles Condominiums, she said, located close to Uptown and Lake of the Isles.

“Because the population is growing in this cohort, I don’t think the market has quite caught up to them,” she said.

Senior real estate specialist Kyle Litwin said he has clients waiting it out in their houses while they sit on wait lists for senior buildings they like. Applewood Pointe is one popular choice, he said.

Kenny residents Felix and Barbara Perry plan to live at Village Shores Senior Community in Richfield when the time is right, but they’re happy to stay in place for now. The couple bought their house for $11,400 about 70 years ago; one neighbor sold a house last spring for $580,000.

“It’s a huge decision,” Barbara said, adding that she’s a bit tired of cooking.

“Surprisingly, McDonald’s makes an excellent breakfast,” Felix said.

If they need help with chores, they call the local organization TRUST.

“Having a wife or husband makes a vast difference,” said Felix. “That’s the reason we’re able to stay in the house.”

Another Kingfield homeowner of 30 years said he and his wife have different ideas about when to sell and move to a nearby townhouse.

“I’m thinking about selling in three or four years, and my wife is thinking about selling after she dies,” he said.