How Reverse Mortgages Can Help Australian Seniors Struggling with Strata Levies

By Darren Moffatt

July 11, 2023


interest rate reverse mortgage

The unfortunate experience of an elderly Earlwood couple, Nitsa and Spiros Tzavellas, has raised awareness on the significant burden that strata levies can impose on Australian seniors, particularly those living on limited incomes during their retirement years. 

Strata levies are payments made by property owners to cover the costs of shared expenses in the building or complex. These payments are usually made every quarter, but the frequency can change based on the property’s needs. 

In New South Wales, the average strata fees can range from 0.3% to 1.2% of the property’s value. These fees are calculated and decided upon during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Owners Corporation. 

As strata levies rise to as high as 45%, seniors find it increasingly difficult to keep up, putting a strain on their finances and ability to maintain their desired quality of life.

Many retirees rely primarily on pensions and savings as their main sources of income during retirement. However, these funds often prove inadequate to cover the mounting strata levies. As a result, financial stress builds up, leaving seniors struggling to make ends meet and potentially compromising their ability to meet essential expenses.

Thankfully, there is a potential solution that can provide relief to Australian seniors grappling with strata levy challenges: the Reverse Mortgage. By accessing a portion of their home equity through a Reverse Mortgage, seniors can alleviate the financial burden imposed by strata levies.

In this blog post, we will explore the different scenarios where a Reverse Mortgage can help Australian seniors who own strata properties. 


Funding repairs and maintenance for strata properties 

By keeping up with regular repairs and maintenance, you ensure that your property retains its value and provides you with a high quality of life, especially as an Australian senior.

Examples of important strata repairs and maintenance are the following: 

  • Plumbing maintenance
  • Building exterior maintenance
  • Landscaping and groundskeeping eg; pools
  • Electrical system maintenance
  • Common area maintenance
  • Lift upgrades 
  • Replacing ‘concrete cancer’ in older buildings 

These tasks are crucial in keeping your property in excellent condition, addressing any issues promptly, and preventing potential deterioration that could lead to more significant problems down the line.

However, it’s understandable that the costs associated with these repairs and maintenance can create an additional financial strain, especially for seniors on limited incomes. 

Many retired seniors face the challenge of having limited savings, making it difficult to cover both the regular strata levies and the unexpected costs that come with essential repairs and maintenance. It can leave you feeling unprepared and struggling to find the necessary funds when these unexpected expenses arise.

Balancing strata levies, daily living expenses, and maintenance costs can have a significant impact on your financial well-being and overall quality of life. That’s why it’s worth considering a solution like a Reverse Mortgage.

By leveraging the equity you’ve built up in your home, a Reverse Mortgage allows you to access a portion of its value. This provides you with the funds needed to cover the costs of necessary repairs and maintenance, ensuring your property remains in good condition while retaining its value. It’s a way to alleviate the financial burden and maintain the high standard of living you deserve.


Keep your strata property with a Reverse Mortgage 

Strata properties offer advantages over aged care homes or downsizing for seniors

Unlike aged care homes, strata properties allow for independent living, maintaining privacy and autonomy. Strata living also fosters a sense of community and social connection, while aged care homes may lack that vibrancy. 

Additionally, strata properties offer the convenience of a familiar neighbourhood and established social networks. 

Compared to downsizing, strata properties provide a more affordable option, with shared maintenance costs and access to shared amenities. 

Seniors can enjoy the benefits of strata living, including a supportive community, without the significant lifestyle changes associated with downsizing or entering aged care facilities.

Rather than selling your property or downsizing to access funds, a Reverse Mortgage provides seniors with a way to unlock the value tied up in their home while still retaining ownership.

Unlike downsizing, where you may need to sell your home and move to a smaller property, a Reverse Mortgage will allow you to stay in the familiar surroundings of your strata property. This means that you can continue to enjoy the benefits of strata living, such as shared amenities, a supportive community, and the comfort of staying in your neighbourhood. 

A Reverse Mortgage will give you the flexibility to make future plans without the immediate pressure of downsizing. 

Whether you want to age in place, pass the property on to heirs, or explore other housing options in the future, a Reverse Mortgage will allow you the freedom to make decisions on your terms and timeline.

Check your eligibility for Reverse Mortgage. Answer a few short questions to find out if you qualify for a Home Equity Loan. 


Factors to consider before using Reverse Mortgage 

As you consider a Reverse Mortgage as a potential solution for your strata payments, it’s essential to take a closer look at the implications and determine if it’s the right financial strategy for you. Let’s explore some key factors you should consider:

Financial assessment

Take the time to conduct a thorough financial assessment. Evaluate your current income, savings, and expenses. Consider potential changes in circumstances such as healthcare costs or other retirement expenses. Understanding your overall financial picture will help you determine if a Reverse Mortgage is a suitable option for covering your strata levies.

Long-term financial impact

Consider the long-term financial impact of a Reverse Mortgage. While it offers immediate relief, keep in mind that the loan balance will accrue interest over time. This could potentially reduce the equity available in your home. Assess how this will impact your future financial security, inheritance plans, and any potential care needs that may arise.

Eligibility and loan terms

Familiarise yourself with the eligibility criteria and loan terms associated with Reverse Mortgages. Understand the age requirements, property eligibility, loan limits, and repayment options. Seeking guidance from a qualified financial advisor will provide clarity on these matters and help you make an informed decision.

Property ownership

It’s crucial to consider the ownership of your property. With a Reverse Mortgage, you retain ownership while the loan balance increases over time. Understand the implications for your property, including any potential impact on future sales or transfers.

Future plans and lifestyle

Evaluate your future plans and lifestyle goals. Consider factors such as downsizing, relocating, or other changes that could impact the suitability of a Reverse Mortgage. Align the financial strategy with your long-term goals to ensure it supports the lifestyle you desire.

By carefully considering these factors and seeking professional advice, you can make an informed decision about whether a Reverse Mortgage is the right choice for your strata payments. It’s important to ensure that the financial strategy aligns with your overall goals and supports your desired lifestyle.


Alternatives to Reverse Mortgages for strata levy challenges

If you find yourself struggling with strata levies, it’s important to know that there are alternative options available to you. Before making any decisions, consider exploring these alternatives:

Negotiating with Strata Management

Take the initiative to engage in open communication with your strata management. Discuss your financial situation and see if there’s room for negotiation. They may be willing to work with you to create more manageable payment plans or explore alternative arrangements that can alleviate the burden of strata levies.

Government Assistance Programs

Research and explore government assistance programs that are specifically designed to support seniors with housing-related expenses. These programs can provide additional financial support and help relieve the pressure of strata levies. Take the time to understand the eligibility criteria and application process for these programs to see if you qualify for any assistance.

Seek Professional Advice

When faced with strata levy challenges, it’s crucial to seek guidance from qualified financial advisors. These professionals have the expertise to provide personalised advice based on your individual circumstances. They will consider factors such as your income, assets, and long-term financial goals to assess the feasibility of various options, including Reverse Mortgages. Seeking their assistance will help you make informed decisions that align with your unique needs and aspirations.

Call National Debt Helpline

Additionally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about the best course of action, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The National Debt Helpline is a valuable resource available to you. 

By calling 1800 007 007, you can connect with experienced financial counsellors who specialise in providing guidance for individuals facing debt and financial challenges. They can offer support, advice, and information on a range of options to manage your strata levy issues. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out and take advantage of their expertise. Remember, you’re not alone, and there are professionals ready to assist you on your journey to financial stability and peace of mind.

Explore Reverse Mortgage with Seniors First 

When it comes to making important financial decisions, it’s crucial to have a reliable partner who understands your unique needs and guides you through the process. 

Seniors First offers personalised guidance, tailored solutions, and a commitment to putting your interests first. We have the expertise to help you navigate the complexities of Reverse Mortgages, ensuring you make informed choices that align with your goals and aspirations.

With Seniors First, you can benefit from their extensive knowledge, access to a wide range of lenders, and a supportive team dedicated to helping you overcome strata levy challenges. We’ll assist you every step of the way, providing clarity, peace of mind, and the confidence to make the best financial decisions for your future.

Don’t let strata levies compromise your retirement plans. Trust Seniors First to be your trusted partner in exploring the potential of a Reverse Mortgage and finding the right solution to alleviate your financial burden. 

Take control of your finances, preserve your strata property, and enjoy a comfortable and secure retirement. Call Seniors First today on 1300 745 745


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