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TMFCheeze wrote:

Rayvt posted:
<<How should one modify their retirement asset allocation when they buy a home? How do they interact?>>

Not at all. A home is a place to live, not an investment. If it increases in value over the years, well and good; but consider it frosting on the cake.


That's an interesting and perhaps helpful way to look at it, Ray, and overall it's probably not a bad idea to ignore a large chunk of one's net worth when planning for retirement, and rely on other savings to do the trick. The home, then, would be pure gravy, or as you put it, frosting on the cake, when the time for retirement comes. (Why am I getting hungry all of a sudden?)

The question, though, is more complex, and the answer depends on many, many factors, including the age of the home owner, the assets he or she has already accumulated, and the plans that person has for the future. Many people live in large homes during their working life when they have families to raise and a need for more space, then sell those homes and move into more modest digs when it comes time to retire. In that case, the equity in the home can be an important consideration in a retirement plan. Then there are the reverse mortgages which some people use -- it's another way to take advantage of that equity they have built up in their homes.

I'm not going to pretend I have the answers here, and I'll leave the final word to those with larger brains than mine (Pixy? This is your cue to step in...)

To which Pixy replied:

Surprisingly enough, I agree with both of you. I don't think a home should count as part of one's investment portfolio, but it should count as a source of potential cash that can be tapped in any number of circumstances of which retirement is but one. You highlighted quite well some of the instances where it applies. I would nitpick only on the reverse mortgage issue, which I believe appropriate only for retirees of advanced years (i.e., 85+) in need of income. Otherwise, I really don't like them. And while I appreciate the compliment, my brain ain't any larger than years, so I can't claim to have all the answers either. It's a funny thing about CFPs. Give any five the same set of circumstances and you'll end up with at least three different answers, all appropriate and all justified. It's all in the eyes of the beholder, so "rightness" will vary from person to person.


My Comment:

I wouldn't let the home equity question affect asset allocation, but it would affect the question of how much retirement income you need and how serious it would be to fall short of the goal. If you plan on retiring with little equity, your income will have to cover rent/mortgage. If on the other hand the home will be paid off or have the equite to purchase a smaller home for cash, then you can retire on a much lower income with the same standard of living. That should be taken into account.

My personal opinion is that you can also afford greater uncertainty in your retirement income if the house is paid off, because that is a large inflexible expense. In that sense, even without considering a paid-off house as an investment, avoiding a fixed and inflexible mortgage/rent expense permits a more stock-oriented asset allocation well into retirement.
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