The four components for downsizing

The four components for downsizing

The answer is assessment, examine solutions, declutter and have a written plan. Can you guess the question?

In reality, it’s a question that all of us will one day ponder: When does life require a move to a smaller, safer living space?

Whether that question is being asked by you or a loved one, at some point we all have to stop and look at our long-term comfort and safety. While some people may look forward to the concept of downsizing as they age, others find it extremely difficult to give up the old homestead. Following are four areas to consider in the decision-making process:

• Assessment: Take an honest look at your home and how much of it you actually use. Are you living in a six-room house but only use the kitchen, living room and bedroom on a regular basis? Are the stairs becoming difficult to navigate? Is your home somewhat isolated from family and friends? Assess your living situation honestly by recording your daily activities over an extended period of time. The results may surprise you!

• Examine solutions: If remaining in your home is no longer the best choice, what are your alternatives? There are many options such as a retirement community, condo, apartment or just a smaller house. At this point, it’s crucial to consider your finances and think long term.

• Declutter: Removing possessions that you no longer use can make any home feel free of obstructions and easier to manage on a daily basis. Go through a different room each week and decide if there’s anything that can be sold, donated or disposed of.

• Written plan: Keep a notebook and have a written action plan that helps serve as a timeline for your future. Set some simple goals, such as clean out the garage, interview Realtors or visit apartments. Writing things down can help ease fears and create energy.

By following these four steps, you can take a lot of the stress out of downsizing!

The four components for downsizing

Our country’s senior housing crisis — Part II

Last week we wrote about our nation’s senior housing crisis — one out of six people over the age of 65 living below the federally established poverty line, and the waiting list for subsidized housing in our own backyard and across the country ranging from 12 to 24 months. Today, we’ll look at some possible solutions.

Aging in place: Instead of moving to senior housing, an elderly individual’s current residence is adapted so that it can be used safely for a much longer period of time. In some cases, this might be as easy as turning a first-floor half bath into a full bath and/or relocating the laundry facility to a more accessible place in the home.

Block grant money: Public policy needs to be modified so that community block grant money and deferred loans can be diverted into projects that allow low-income homeowners to retrofit their homes to live there safely and in comfort.

Shared housing. A shared housing center pre-screens and matches people within the community who can share expenses and household duties.

Embrace the village concept. Senior “villages” decrease isolation and allow seniors to maximize their resources by sharing services such as transportation.

The problem in America is complex and grows greater on a daily basis, but it’s obvious that change is definitely needed … and soon! Let’s hope our leaders are paying attention.

The four components for downsizing

Think all millennials live in their parent’s basement? Think again!

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According to the Census Bureau, millennials have overtaken baby boomers as the largest generation in U.S. History. Millennials, or America’s youth born between 1982-2000, now represent more than one-quarter of the nation’s population, totaling 83.1 million.

There has been a lot of talk about how, as a generation, millennials have “failed to launch” into adulthood and have delayed moving out of their family’s home. Some experts have even questioned whether or not millennials want to move out.

The great news is that not only do millennials want to move out … they are moving out! The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released their 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers in which they revealed that 61% of all first-time homebuyers were millennials in 2015!  

The median age of all first-time buyers in 2015 was 31 years old. 

Here is chart showing the breakdown by age:

Think All Millennials Live in Their Parent's Basement? Think Again! | Keeping Current Matters

Many social factors have contributed to millennials waiting to buy their first home. The latest Census results show that the median age of Americans at the time of their first marriage has increased significantly over the last 60 years, from 23 for men and 20 for women in 1955, to 29 and 27, respectively, in 2015.

Those who went to college and took out student loans are finally paying them off, as the terms on traditional student loans are 10 years. This means that a large portion of the generation is making its last loan payments and is working toward saving for a first home.

As a whole, the first-time homebuyer share increased to 35% of all buyers, up from 32% in 2014. Not all millennials are first-time buyers, they also made up 12% of all repeat buyers!

Bottom Line

Millennials will continue to drive the housing market next year, as well as in the years to come. As more and more realize that owning a home is within their grasp, they will flock to own their piece of the American Dream. Are you ready to buy your first or even second home?

The four components for downsizing

Is your house ready to sell?

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You’ve made the decision to put your house on the market … but is it ready to sell? A recent article from Today.com and HGTV’s Nicole Curtis offered some tips for getting the best price for your listing. Here’s a recap:

There’s only one first impression, so make it count! Whether they’re looking at your home in person or on the web, a few updates will go a long way. Update the decorative accents and hardware, and add some fresh flowers, too. And don’t forget to spruce up the home’s exterior as well.

Remove personalized items. You want visitors looking at the house, not all the extras. Make an effort to remove family photos, collectibles, personal keepsakes, etc.

The kitchen is king. Kitchens often make or break a sale, so freshen your kitchen with a coat of paint and new hardware. If you can afford it, add at least one stainless steel appliance for a high-end look.

Clear out the closets. Packed closets can be a negative, so remove half of your belongings from closets to give the appearance of ample storage space. Swapping out cheap hangers for wooden ones also adds a nice touch.

The four components for downsizing

Explaining our country’s senior housing crisis – Part I

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Did you know we have a senior housing crisis in this country? Here’s the dilemma: The number of Americans over the age of 65 grows by 10,000 every day, one out of six people over the age of 65 are living below the federally established poverty line, and the waiting list for subsidized housing in our own backyard and across the country is often 12 to 24 months!

Houston, we have a problem.

Subsidized housing eligibility is determined by income level and qualifying limits are $23,150 for a single person and $26,450 for a two-person household. That’s not much to live on, yet it’s not uncommon. In fact, many seniors at this income level are just barely getting by.

The need for affordable housing is further complicated by the accompanying need for accessibility that comes with advancing age and deteriorating physical abilities.

To sum things up, we have many elders living alone in poverty with no way out except for housing programs that have very long wait times. Next week, we’ll offer some possible solutions and answers. Stay tuned!

The four components for downsizing

You can never have TMI about PMI

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When it comes to buying a home, whether it is your first time or your fifth, it is always important to know all the facts. With the large number of mortgage programs available that allow buyers to purchase a home with a down payment below 20%, you can never have Too Much Information (TMI) about Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

“An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.”

As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. Freddie Mac goes on to explain that:

“The cost of PMI varies based on your loan-to-value ratio – the amount you owe on your mortgage compared to its value – and credit score, but you can expect to pay between $30 and $70 per month for every $100,000 borrowed.” 

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average down payment for all buyers last year was 10%. For first-time buyers, that number dropped to 6%, while repeat buyers put down 14% (no doubt aided by the sale of their home). This just goes to show that for a large number of buyers last year, PMI did not stop them from buying their dream homes.

Here’s an example of the cost of a mortgage on a $200,000 home with a 5% down payment & PMI, compared to a 20% down payment without PMI:

You Can Never Have TMI about PMI | Keeping Current Matters

The larger the down payment you can make, the lower your monthly housing cost will be, but Freddie Mac urges you to remember:

“It’s no doubt an added cost, but it’s enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you have questions about if you should buy now or wait until you’ve saved a larger down payment, meet with a professional in your area who can explain your market’s conditions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.