Q: I am 64 years old and had hoped to retire at the end of this year. My plan is to move to another state to live near my daughter and her family. The development I want to move into is age restricted (55 and over).

I currently live in a townhome that I paid $327,000 for in February, 2007. Today, townhomes in my subdivision are selling for only $295,000 to $315,000. But the base price of the home in the age-restricted community I want to buy in has also fallen, to about $258,000.

Because of the recession and housing crisis, I’m not planning to work until the end of 2010. If real estate prices have not greatly increased, should I go ahead and sell my townhome here at a loss, because I can buy into the new community at a substantial savings? In other words, should I consider it a “wash”?

A: It’s really difficult to sell high and buy low – unless you’re moving to a different part of the country or from one neighborhood that has appreciated greatly to another that has not. You should consider what’s best for you in the short term and long term. If prices had gone up and you had sold at the high of the market, you might be buying at the high of the market for the new home in the age-restricted community.

Only you can make that decision but it seems that you are basically at an even-trade position for the property you want. You may have to come to the table with some extra money to close if you have a mortgage balance on your current home that’s higher than what you can now get for the property. You might be right in thinking that selling your house now in a down market might also mean that now is a good time to buy a home. You could say it’s a wash. If you had sold your hous when the market was at its top, you also would have been buying in the age restricted community when prices where at their high. Is one time better than the other to buy and sell houses, perhaps. But if you look at your monthly expenses of owning your current home along with the monthly expenses of owning your new home, you might be surprised that the lower purchase price of the new home might mean that your monthly expenses of owning the home might be lower than they otherwise might have been.

But if you can sell your home for just a little less than you paid, but pay a lot less for your new home which seems to have had a bigger drop in price, you may wind up ahead of the game.

I’d try to sell soon. If you try to wait for a better price point, you might find that the property you want to buy has also jumped in price.

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