Do You Need Some Help From the “House-Selling Saint”?

Steve McDonald By Steve McDonald, Bond Strategist, The Oxford Club

Retirement Lifestyle

One of the things I enjoy most about living in the retirement belt is the variety of people you run into on a daily basis.

Florida has become a “catch all” of people from every imaginable background. And most of them have interesting stories to tell.

A recent conversation I had with a new acquaintance yielded a great story about real estate and retirement that I have to share with you…

Greg comes from a corporate sales background and has been living down here in Florida, part time, for three years. But getting here and buying a house took a bit more effort and imagination than he had planned. That’s where the story begins.

He and his better half owned a vacation home in the Midwest, but they had to sell before they could buy a place here on the Atlantic side of paradise. At the time, that seemed like a reasonable goal.

But it took three years to unload what they thought would be an easy sell.

They held their ground on their price, which made it tough. But eventually, they got a buyer, and here’s how Greg said it happened…

A Housing “Hail Mary”

After 35 months and 28 days on the market, a friend told him about something called the “St. Joseph house seller” miracle.

When he told me about it, Greg was quick to explain that he’s not religious, and he wasn’t raised Catholic. But he swears this really happened.

The St. Joseph legend suggests that if you buy a special statuette (like the one pictured below) – which comes in a “kit” with directions on how to use it – you could have some good real estate fortune.

The instructions tell you to bury the statue upside down, facing the property you’re trying to sell, and that’s it. From then on, it’s up to St. Joseph and his skills as a realtor (or a miracle) to move your abode.

I swear I am not making up a word of this!

Back to my acquaintance’s story…

Greg bought the kit and buried the statue as directed. And 58 minutes later, a man walked in the house and gave him his asking price.

To be clear, Greg doesn’t sell St. Joseph packages. And he didn’t tell me this story and ask me if I wanted to go to his church.

This guy was being completely upfront! He swears it really happened exactly this way.

But the house-selling saint system does come with one caveat…

After the house sells, you have to dig up the statuette and prominently display it in your new home.

That seems like a small price to pay.

Greg and his wife recently closed on their dream house 400 feet from the beach, and the statue is on the bookshelf in their living room.

He is now a believer and doesn’t consider it worth the risk to find out what happens if you don’t display it.

Seniors in Need of Divine Intervention?

So why the story about the St. Joseph real estate system?

Because 52% of the $11 trillion in our country’s property wealth is controlled by people over the age of 60. And, on average, their properties account for 77% of their net worths.

That’s right! The average net worth of a person aged 65 to 70 is around $194,000. And home equity accounts for all but $43,000 of it!

And the older we get, the more equity we gain in our homes.

Considering the horrible savings records we boomers have, $155,000 in available equity can go a long way in helping fund our retirements.

That is, if you can sell your home! That’s where the problem begins.

I guarantee that if you wait for an emergency to get the money out of your house, you won’t be able to give it away. Remember 2007 through 2012?

Currently, the U.S. has some hot and cold housing markets. And selling, as my friend Greg found out, is not a guarantee. It certainly does not happen according to our schedules.

Seattle, for example, is on fire. You should have no problem selling a house there. But buying is a whole other problem… There’s nothing for sale on the market.

The story is the same in Denver, San Francisco, Dallas and quite a few other areas.

In our little town, homes are selling for as much as 10% more than the asking prices.

But there are also markets where housing prices dropped last year. Even if your market was positive in 2016, a quick sale (if you need the money) is not a done deal by any means.

And when you do sell your home to get the equity out of it, there’s another big issue…

Where do you live? Campers and the kids’ extra bedrooms get very old, very quickly.

Generating a big chunk of cash from a home sale is a positive, and if you downsize, you might be able keep a portion of it…

But there are other, more reasonable options to get access to the cash. And they allow you to tap into your home’s value at your leisure – not just when an emergency strikes.

Tap the Equity in Your Home

For some, the answer is a line of credit. For others, it’s a reverse mortgage or line of credit based on a reverse mortgage.

All of these options will give you access to the cash in your home, and you’ll still have a roof over your head.

You may never spend it (or, at least, not all of it), but having instant access to a big emergency cash reserve can make sleeping soundly a whole lot easier.

If you’ve got that tight, uncomfortable feeling in your stomach about how you’ll pay for big-ticket items or even monthly bills in your golden years, take a few minutes, and find out how much cash you have in your home.

Just about any lender will provide a “guesstimate” of your equity and the many ways (other than selling) to access it.

But just in case the market turns south again and you have to get out, keep the St. Joseph house-selling saint system in your back pocket.

You’ve got to love the stories out of the retirement belt!

Good investing,