Q: My husband and I live in Portland, Ore., in a three-level single-family home. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms are on the top level, and we are constantly up and down stairs and use all of the rooms in the house. We are in our late 70s and we’re thinking of installing an in-home elevator to enable us to stay in the house as we age. (Our friends who have done this say elevators are better than stair adaptations, because they can accommodate a wheelchair.) But will installing an elevator for seniors devalue the property and cost too much to maintain?
A: Installing an elevator, if tastefully done, will likely not devalue your property. As the segment of the population age 65 and older gets larger, demand will only increase for housing that allows people to age in place, especially in cities with larger senior populations.
An elevator can be simpler than stair lifts, because you only need one in a house that has more than two levels, and because a bulky stair lift can impede others using the stairs. It can also be an unwelcome visual reminder of physical decline.
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 to work with seniors by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders. So if you’re sure you don’t want to move, think about how long you plan to live in your home and how much you’re comfortable investing.
“Almost never do you get your initial investment back for an elevator,” Ms. Haddon said. But, she added, there are other benefits to consider. One is the cost of the elevator compared with the cost of assisted living, which can run from $6,000 to more than $10,000 a month in Portland. If the elevator allows you to stay in your home for even one additional year, it pays off.
Maintenance is fairly minimal. A one-year inspection is recommended, and some companies have annual service plans you can buy. But do your homework, especially if you have grandchildren who visit the house: The federal government has recalled some in-home elevators because of safety concerns for children.
Ben Richardson, a seniors real estate specialist with Chastel Real Estate in Lake Oswego, Ore., said that an elevator won’t hurt your resale value, and can help your property stand out for older buyers who are looking to age in place. “Even people who aren’t baby boomers love the idea of having an elevator,” Mr. Richardson said. “It sounds luxurious.”
For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here.