Part 1 of 2:
The percentage of our population over the age of 65 continues to explode with 10,000 people crossing into “retirement” on a daily basis. Service delivery systems and living situations for seniors are already strained beyond capacity for those with some degree of need. In most of Western New York, subsidized senior apartments have waiting lists ranging from 6 to 18 months. It is clear that safe and affordable housing will become an even greater issue as our senior population blossoms both locally and throughout our country.
An alternative that reduces isolation and increases affordability is shared housing. This pooling is functional and financially logical, as it gives seniors companionship and extra money in their pockets. Many of us remember Golden Girls, an Emmy award winning series where Rose, Dorothy and Sophia moved into Blanche’s Miami home to share expenses and companionship, and provided laughs to audiences while doing so. The underlying issues of relief from isolation and significantly improved finances were the cement that held the series together.
The 2010 census reported that “the number of shared households increased by 11.7% from 2007 to 2010”. Certainly the recession played a part in this statistic. Indeed, there is no differentiation here with respect to age in these numbers but it’s clear that tremendous benefit would be realized for those seniors with financial woes and/or functional deficiencies. While some seniors may be uncertain about having a “roommate,”doing so would maximize their resources and divide up the maintenance necessary to maintain a safe and clean household.
The National Shared Housing Resource Center (NSHRC) offers a variety of resources to those who might have an interest in either starting a program or using shared housing in their life. NSHRC says that there are three types of shared housing. The first type is a Match-Up Program, which helps locate suitable home seekers for those who register with the center in the hope of finding compatible housemates. The second is a Shared Living Residence and this setting involves 3 or more people living in a larger dwelling in a cooperative manner, and looks something like a “boarding home.” Lastly, there are Information-Only Programs that simply provide referrals to other agencies with a limited degree of advisement. Seniors utilize each of these programs given their needs and ability to navigate the system.
Indeed, seniors have been utilizing shared housing for a number of years as it benefits them, their housemates, and the community as a whole.Shared housing takes seniors off of waiting lists for “elderly” homes and efficiently uses existing stock by keeping or moving seniors into homes. By keeping seniors in their homes longer, it preserves the integrity and history of neighborhoods and provides seniors with a sense of independence.
And housemates don’t always have to be other seniors, which was picked up by Golden Girls. Graduate students and young professionals make good housemates too—some young tenants do household chores for their senior landlords, and the sense of companionship gained by having a housemate makes aging independently much more attractive.
Seniors renting out their homes attain financial benefit too: monthly payments from renters help offset the costs of owning a home, buying groceries, or paying for medical treatment. Compensation can also take the form of performing household chores and duties that may have become more difficult with age.
This summer, home prices rose to 2003 levels according to S&P/Case-Shiller. In July, home prices rose by 1.5%– and while this doesn’t necssarily signal another market boom, it does indicate that the market may be coming out of its bleak period. The prices in 20 major markets have risen for the past three months; foreclosures are down; inventory is also down. This could signal a great change for the real estate market, though Buffalo has been largely immune to the housing crisis.
In California, a law passed on January 1 protects renters from losing their right to “bear sign.” The law prohibits landlords and property managers from banning campaign signs– including signs for political issues that are up for public vote. In multi-family dwellings, signs can hang from windows and doors, while they can be posted in lawns, windows, and doors in single family dwellings. Landlords are allowed to limit the size of the sign and the time frame that it is up. Is this a good thing for tenants rights, or will it place the property owner in a tight position of his or her’s tenants’ views offend others?
So your house is in pristine condition– but why isn’t it selling? Here are some reasons why your home could be unappealing to buyers:
1. Pools: Unless you live in an extremely warm climate, some buyers are afraid that they won’t use the pool as much as they should– and therefore, won’t get their money’s worth from it. Since pools are so expensive, and can be a safety hazard for young children, there is more risk associated with having one.
The Fix: To rectify safety concerns, make sure that the pool has a sturdy fence and cover. If you can afford to, offer to pay for the first year of pool maintenance as an incentive to buyers.
2. Your stuff: While your teacup collection might be impressive to you, it most likely won’t be seen that way by potential buyers. Sometimes, extra clutter around the home can distract buyers from the property itself.
The Fix: Clean up knickknacks and memorabilia so that your home seems clutter-free.
3. Carpet: Buyer’s aren’t just picky about the multi-colored shag carpet in the dining room anymore– many are suddenly showing a distaste for all carpet, period.
The Fix: If you can, replace older, dirty carpets. Buyers are expressing a desire for hardwood floors, but that upgrade can be quite pricey. Consider instead just replacing the living and dining rooms with hardwood or a hardwood look-alike.
4. Gold fixtures: Though only dating back to the 80s or 90s, gold fixtures are seen as dated. Buyers want sleek, matte-finish fixtures that look sexy instead of grandmotherly.
The Fix: Fixtures can be fairly inexpensive to replace, and dong so will help buyers see your home as up-to-date.
5. Elaborate Gardens: Lush, well-planned gardens may be nice to look at, but they can be overwhelming to the new buyer, who may just see them as extra maintenance.
The Fix: Instead of breaking down your beautiful garden, be strategic: find out if local botanical gardens or garden clubs have newsletters you can place an ad in. Put an article in your local newspaper– target your sale to people who would be interested in buying your house for your garden.
As summer winds down, it is a good time to get a head start on fall projects. Fall is the best time to get your home in tip-top shape before those harsh, cold, and long Buffalo winters. Here are some things you can do around your house before the cold settles in:
1. Start with the little things: Check your roof, siding, and gutters for any needed maintenance; drain your hose spigots; change the screens on your windows and storm doors; make sure there aren’t any cracks or leaks in the foundation or windows.
2. Winterize outdoor furniture: If your outdoor furniture can be left outside during winter, it’s still a good idea to winterize it. See this link for the best maintenance for specific finishes.
3. Add seasonal flowers to your garden: Mums are especially perfect for fall: their rich colors match the changing leaves and pumpkins, but they are also hearty enough to remain outdoors in cooler weather.
4. Organize the garage: If you don’t want to spend this winter scraping off your car in the cold, organize your garage now. Doing so will allow you to put or throw away accumulated summer objects and bring out winter essentials: shovels, rock salt, and snow blowers.
5. Have a yard sale: After you clean out the garage and find the inflatable pool you haven’t ever used, host a yard sale. It may even give you some extra dough for Halloween candy!