Q: My husband and I live in Portland, Oregon, in a three-level single-family home. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms are on the upper level, and we are constantly going up and down stairs and using every room in the house. We are over 70 years old and are thinking about installing an elevator at home to allow us to stay at home as we age. (Our friends who have done this say that elevators are better than stair adaptations, because they can accommodate a wheelchair.) But will installing a senior lift devalue the property and cost too much to maintain?
TO: Installing an elevator, if done tastefully, is unlikely to devalue your property. As the 65 and older segment of the population grows, demand for housing that allows people to age in place will only increase, especially in cities with larger senior populations.
An elevator may be simpler than stairlifts, because only one is needed in a house that has more than two levels and because a bulky stairlift may prevent other people from using the stairs. It can also be an unwanted visual reminder of physical deterioration.
Of course, installing an elevator isn’t cheap: It can cost between $85,000 and $140,000 in Portland, according to Jackie Haddon, who is certified in working with seniors by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders. So, if he’s sure he doesn’t want to move, think about how long he plans to live in her house and how much he’s comfortable investing.
“You almost never make back your initial investment in an elevator,” Haddon said. But he added that there are other benefits to consider. One is the cost of the elevator compared to the cost of assisted living, which can range from $6,000 to more than $10,000 a month in Portland. If the elevator allows you to stay in your home even one more year, it’s worth it.
Maintenance is quite minimal. An annual inspection is recommended, and some companies have annual service plans you can purchase. But do your homework, especially if you have grandchildren visiting the house: The federal government has recalled some indoor elevators over child safety concerns.
Ben Richardson, a senior real estate specialist with Chastel Real Estate in Lake Oswego, Oregon, said an elevator won’t affect its resale value and can help your property stand out to older buyers looking to age in place. “Even people who aren’t baby boomers love the idea of having an elevator,” Richardson said. “It sounds luxurious.”
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