A lot of homeowners assume that their homes are going to continue to increase in value and that, eventually, this will compensate for a lack of retirement savings. There is a substantial retirement saving crisis in the United States, and a lot of people are banking on their homes to get them out of it. Even if appreciation continues, using your home as your only retirement savings is risky and something experts recommend against.
This is, in part, because home values are increasing faster than wages, which is why some people see their homes as their biggest source of wealth. It’s worth remembering, though, that home values don’t always rise.
Before the extended growth period beginning in early 2012, the opposite happened. Between 2004 and the end of 2011, home values dropped more than 25 percent, according to Case-Shiller. Anyone in that period who was counting on their home as a source of retirement income was likely in trouble and had to delay retirement.
As we said, some Americans depend on their homes for retirement income because they don’t have enough in their retirement savings. Contributions to retirement funds have stagnated for those nearing retirement over the last few years. Ideally, by the time you hit 60 years old, your retirement account should hold eight times your retirement salary. Most people do not hit this milestone, though, and the trends are concerning.
Rather than relying solely on your home value to get you through retirement, it’s important to diversify. There are a few reasons for this. First, you have no idea what your home is going to be worth. Second, your home is not a liquid asset. It takes time to find a buyer, and you can’t be sure you’ll have access to money when you need it.
It’s usually not a good idea to buy a home solely for the investment value and have that be the only source of retirement income. When planning for the future, consider that your home should only be between 20 and 30 percent of your total net worth. Beef up your savings and retirement accounts to make sure you have what you need available to you when the time comes.
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