Anthony and his wife found themselves in a Catch-22 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. They needed to move into an assisted living facility but they had no cash to pay for the transition. They did have one important asset, though - their home’s value.
This is an increasingly common scenario for individuals facing high debt to income ratio. The average American over age 65 has about $800 in their bank account, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Medical bills, regular monthly payments, and high-interest rates can make it hard for seniors to continue living the American Dream.
But while many seniors may be “cash poor,” that does not mean they do not have assets. Most seniors find that nearly 85% of their net worth is tied up in the value, or equity, of their home. This is where the term “house rich, cash poor” comes from.
Building equity is an important factor in creating wealth and it can be challenging to tap into equity when you need money quickly, especially when there is little or no money to bridge the gap.
Cash poor but asset rich
The reality of being house rich cash poor really underscores the important difference between cash and assets. Both increase your overall monetary value but are different when it comes to long term net worth.
Cash can be very fluid (you have probably heard of a cash “flow”) and is often referred to as liquid.
Cash can generally be spent and accessed immediately. Most cash is kept in bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, or stored in safe places in the home. The bonus of having cash on hand is you always know its value.
Assets such as a house or an investment account can be converted to cash, but are only worth what the market will bear at the time of sale.
Turning assets into cash can take time, and to get the best price, you must clean up the asset, present it in its best light, and, ideally, sell it to the highest bidder or when the market is hot.
Investment accounts are a slightly more liquid asset since it takes only a few days for the sale of stocks or bonds to clear.
With a house or other real estate property, the process can take weeks or months. The more time it takes to make the sale, the less profit you will probably receive because you continue to pay taxes, insurance, and interest on the home loan while waiting for the sale to finalize.
Sell quickly for higher profits
The key to funding a move or house cleanout is to find the best way to convert the house into cash.
For example, when we met Anthony and his wife, they had been offered $475,000 for their house, and the sale was contingent on the house being completely cleaned out. Although Anthony’s wife hoped to be able to clean out the house herself, she realized that would easily take months, postponing the move while they still had to continue mortgage payments, and pay taxes and insurance.
Because the couple had equity in the house, we were able to finance a house cleanout with our crew that took only a few days. We sold the house shortly afterward, and the clients paid us only after the house was sold. Their house value meant they were able to finance their move with the proceeds from the house sale.
Find the hidden assets
Even if a homeowner is able to move quickly to empty a house before a move, there is still a risk of overlooking valuable assets.
With cluttered or hoarded houses, families may go through the house to pick out a few personal items they want to keep or deem valuable, and then hire a trash company to come to haul away the rest, overlooking potentially valuable documents.
For example, when Nina’s mother died suddenly, she thought all she had been left was a house full of junk. Still, she hired us to go through the property and create an asset summary report to find out just what was in the home before we emptied it out.
We uncovered valuable documents that Nina had no idea existed, including bank accounts and the deed to a farm that her mother owned in another state. When we were complete, we found more than $700,000 in assets that Nina did not know about.
In both of these examples, emptying the house quickly and staging it to look its best commanded top price for the property.
So never assume that you have been left with nothing but a house to empty out. It is important to manage this transition carefully to ensure that you or your loved ones get the most value from this important asset.
Helping You Maximize The Value Of Your Estate
At WayForth we work with families in transition. We can empty an entire house within days, sorting what items to keep, sell, donate, and discard. Our employees pack and move everything, then prepare the house for sale.
Whether you are buying a house on the other side of town, looking to make a profit off your property, or trying to find the equity in your house, we can help.
Contact WayForth today for a free consultation on our moving solution services.