Mother had often lamented that I had no children so who would help me move in my old age. Bates Moving and Storage did. My brother and his wife were too old as were my friends. Besides it was so comforting to know that professionals would be packing up and that they would do it better than I. Which of course was proven out by finding the things I packed had cracked or chipped enroute and everything the movers packed arrived safely. I have noticed that many other new arrivals do have their families move them in.
I spoke once to the staff that I’d be moving in at the end of the week and the padding on the elevator was up without any further todo. Then a big dumpster was moved outside my door for all my empty boxes and when full, it was emptied and returned for more trash. Friends helping me unpack one day expressed doubt that I had enough room for all that I had packed, but surprise, it fit.
The trash and recycle containers are closer to my door now. I don’t have to get the trash can to the curb and back either! Some things didn’t work correctly, I called for help. The cost was so modest they must not start timing the visit until they arrive. Sometimes I’m not at home and I leave the door unlocked for the maintenance people. They lock it when they leave. One time I started the automatic cleaning element in the oven and left it going while the housekeeper was there. It smoked so heavily she turned it off and called maintenance for me. They came the next day and did their magic while I was working. This I am getting used to very quickly!
I’m terrible with names, and there are lots of new people to meet and remember. But they seem to have the same problem and so we all muddle along together. One day I was opening boxes and looked up at lunchtime and wondered what to fix. Then I remembered it was downstairs waiting for me. I grabbed my iPad for company and headed to the Pub. I took a table for one and opened the iPad. The people at the next table looked over and said to me, “won’t you join us?” I moved to their table and we all introduced ourselves. After lunch another woman from across the room came over to me and said, “Loudell, don’t do that again. Don’t sit by yourself. When you arrive either at lunch or dinner, ask anyone if you can join them, and they will say yes. It’s another way we all meet each other.” I have done that many times now and am always welcomed. And whether they are younger than I or much older, everyone has an interesting story to tell.
(more to come…)
Even though Phil, my nephew and financial advisor, said I could afford it, I kept running the numbers in my head and on paper. They came out the same way. Yes, I really could afford it! What I did: I made a list of expenditures for the house and put that list in the middle of the page. On the left side were my actual expenses (not guesses) and on the right anticipated expenses.
Some anticipated expenses at Mallard Landing are:
Meal Plan: $180 per person each month. Dinners are served Mon-Friday. Lunches daily. Dinners specials range from $10-$15 with an entrée and two sides. Dessert is $1.50-$2.00.
HOA Fee: Includes meal plan above, condo services based on total square footage of your unit or the flat fee of $275 per cottage, and Community Service fees to cover costs of staff, maintenance of public rooms, and events and more is $509. Fees are tied to the size of the condos and range from $130 to $344 per month. As an example, my monthly HOA fee is a Recurring basic fee of $451 + a Recurring Community Service fee of $509 = $960 + meals at $180 = a total of $1140 per month.
Condo Fee: $295 per month. This could fluctuate depending on whether you use additional services such as, housekeeping for $22/hr. Maintenance is $10 per 15 minutes. Upon request preventive maintenance service is available for $40 and includes inspections of plumbing, home exterior, smoke alarms, replacemenet HVAC filters, kitchen equipment, refrigerator, condenser filter cleaning, locks and doors.
Personal Transportation: Within 10-mile radius, each round trip with a 5 minute max wait time is $12. For other rates, ask.
Utilities: So far this winter my gas heat has run around $45 per month. Electricity has been around $48 per month. Summer has yet to come, so don’t have an a/c bill yet. Water in the condos is lumped together by building and then divided by the number of units, so my first bill from mid-Nov to mid-March was $53.
Taxes: City, County and State taxes range from $1900-$2600. Each unit is different so check it out.
Lawncare: $0 out of pocket at Mallard Landing. What do you spend on fertilizer, landscaping, maintenance, equipment, etc. at your house?
Insurance: One needs condo or cottage insurance, which will probably be less than what you pay for house insurance since the fire department is just down the street.
Food: You will need fewer groceries at Mallard Landing because most of your meals will be covered by the monthly fee. Many people take “doggie” bags home from dinner. (I’ve noticed that lots of people have trouble using all their meal allowance, so invite guests for dinner.) Don’t like going to the dining room all the time? You can order your meal for pick up at the Pub and eat it in your own home or it can be delivered to your door for a $3 delivery charge billed at the end of the month. There is NO tipping at Mallard Landing.
General Maintenance at the house: Each year my house was getting older, just like me, and needed more upkeep. The last several years I added a new roof; new pipes from the well to the house; then new pipes under the house; the plantings were getting overgrown and I couldn’t handle them anymore; the driveway needed re-sealing and so on. Add it to your list!
Each time I went over my numbers I reassured myself that the numbers were close, so I should be alright. But what I found when I moved into Mallard Landing was that I didn’t even care any longer about what needed doing…it was someone else’s headache, both here and at my former house. Yea!
(more to come…)
In the grand scheme of things, I had planned to retire when I was “much” older and move to our local active adult/assisted living complex in Salisbury, MD, known as Mallard Landing. My brother had been urging me to move up the schedule to immediately, but I was resisting. And I had my excuses ready.
For one thing, I wasn’t ready to retire.
For the second thing, there was a lot of fixing up I needed to do before putting my house on the market.
For the third thing, my vision of retirement was me sitting in my robe all day reading and listening to music or TV. No one around to stop by and see me because they would still be working, where I really wanted to be.
And finally, it was probably too expensive anyway.
Last summer I had a health issue, not serious but it had sapped a bit of my energy. At the urging of my family, my childhood friend and college roommate called and invited me to see her new apartment at Mallard Landing that day. As expected, her unit was lovely. Then she said there was another one like hers available in the next building, so off we went to see it. Well, it wasn’t the same floorplan and it was a bit smaller, and it was half furnished. I saw no socially redeeming characteristics that would make me want to buy it. We moved on to Happy Hour.
Now we’re talking. As I stood there looking around the room it occurred to me that people were what I was missing in my vision of retirement and here they were! I even knew several people who were laughing and waving me over to talk.
The next day I stopped by the unit and sat alone for 45 minutes thinking. Finally, I said to myself, “You can make this work. And if you want this unit that you’ve now decided is a good size and in a good location, then you had better not wait.”
Next, I called my financial advisor (my nephew) who said, “Yes, you can afford it.” I asked my family to check it out the next day. They approved….just as I had expected them to.
I wrote an offer the next day and, as I was on the golf course the following day with my friends, a call came in saying my offer was accepted! Well! I guess I was moving….
(more to come…)
In a tight housing market, the sooner you can ready a house for sale, the better prepared you’ll be to beat comparably priced homes to the punch. That may seem like an expensive and work-intensive proposition, particularly if you need to sell quickly or if you’re on a budget, but there are many upgrades that won’t cost a fortune or take weeks to complete. Some of the most effective home improvements are those that spruce up your home without making major renovations that may or may not suit a prospective buyer’s tastes.
Clean and Tidy Closet Space
This one is a neat trick that’ll make your home look well-organized and decluttered and appeal to those discriminating buyers who like to pry into every closet and drawer and draw conclusions based on what they see. Storage is almost always a priority item for home buyers, so try removing half the stuff from each closet and carefully organize what remains. You’ll get points for cleanliness and for making the most of your available storage.
Space flow, and lighting are all popular features for homebuyers. Enhancing the lighting in each room is a great way to make your house look bigger and more spacious. There are many ways to light it up. For example, you can add track lighting or a floor or table lamp to brighten a space that doesn’t get much natural light. Take down those heavy drapes, give your windows a good cleaning, and prune the bushes and trees outside each window. Remember, a bright and cheerful interior is far more sellable than one that looks dingy and musty.
A Classy Kitchen
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in any house. Much of the value in your home is tied up in this showpiece room, which is why even simple upgrades can make your kitchen such a valuable asset. This is one part of your house where you can rely on recouping a majority of your investment when you upgrade. However, be wary of overdoing it. A relatively simple improvement like replacing dated countertops with a faux granite or even a clean, butcher-block look can add significantly to your asking price. Consider repainting your kitchen cabinets if they’re showing some wear and tear, and add new cabinet hardware while you’re at it. Remember to go with a neutral color scheme if you do repaint.
The appearance of your front door and entryway makes a lasting impression on potential buyers, so be sure it’s a good one. Consider repainting a front door that’s seen better days — it’s a major point of emphasis for most buyers. Add some nice shrubs or flowers around the front door and put down a new layer of mulch along the front of the house. Add a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint in the front hallway, and make sure to repair any scratches, dents or holes. Keep those shoes, galoshes, jackets, and loose papers out of sight and replace them with fresh flowers, scented candles, a decorative wreath, and a new side table.
Keep It Clean
Act like a buyer could drop by at any time by keeping everything clean and well-ordered. Get rid of any mildew or buildup, remove clutter and keep the floors clean. That means keeping the kitchen floor sparkling and the carpeting vacuumed, so make sure to have a reliable, yet affordable, vacuum cleaner on hand. The good news is that you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get a quality unit.
A realtor can help you identify improvements that will help attract a buyer without going overboard on the spending side. Bear in mind that a clean, decluttered, and well-lit space will attract a lot of potential buyers, so focus on the basics.
Photo via Pixabay by TaniaVdb
For many seniors, aging in place is important, since it helps them stay in their own homes for as long as possible while staying safe. It’s not always easy to do, however, especially when the senior has health or mobility issues. Even a relatively new home may not have all the resources they need, such as doorways that are wide enough to fit a wheelchair or other equipment, and it can be costly to make those kinds of modifications on their own dime.
One of the best ways to make your home safer is to start small with cost-efficient methods that will be easy to take on yourself, without hiring a contractor. This might include adding grab bars and non-slip mats in the shower, painting the walls behind appliances a contrasting color to make them easier to see and changing out door knobs for easy-to-grab handles. The easiest change you can make is to your lighting, which can help tremendously when you have a vision impairment. The right light can help prevent falls and allow you to take care of your daily activities without stress or fear of injury.
Keep reading for some great tips on how lighting changes can help you age in place safely.
Exposed light bulbs can cause a glare, making it more difficult to see even when the light is bright, so always use a lampshade or fixture. Try to keep light levels consistent in each area of your home so there won’t be dramatic changes as you move from room to room. If possible, have a skylight installed in the living area of your home, as natural light is always best.
Install task lighting
Task lighting is a huge benefit for seniors, as it makes daily activities and chores much easier. This kind of lighting is usually found in the kitchen, where you can see to chop vegetables and prepare meals much more easily. You might place it beneath tall cabinets, and it’s a good idea to use LED lights, as they last much longer and will save you money in the long run.
Since stairways can be a serious source of injury for seniors, it’s a good idea to add lighting to these areas as well. Have an electrician come out and install bright lighting at both the top and bottom to keep things safe.
Having a dimmer switch in the rooms you use the most can help you adjust the lighting to whichever task you’re currently working on, and it can be a real benefit on the days when you aren’t feeling well and want to rest but still need lighting.
Lamps can be your best friend
While natural light is best, lamps can also be utilized around the house to add extra illumination in the areas you need it the most. If you’re an avid reader, or if you have a hobby such as sewing or working on puzzles, having portable light can be a huge benefit. Look for floor lamps that have some height, as well as smaller ones that can be moved around to your favorite spots in the house.
Do some research
No matter what kind of lighting you choose for your home, it’s important to do some research and learn all you can about wattage and how different bulbs work. Some are more energy efficient and will last longer; others are better suited for only certain tasks.
Making small changes to your lighting can make a big difference when it comes to getting daily tasks accomplished and staying safe. Go from room to room in your home and look for ways you can improve the illumination in each area. Think about your chores and daily tasks to get an idea of what your needs will be.
Whether due to age, disease, or accident, it is sometimes necessary to make home
modifications to account for mobility issues. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most
beneficial upgrades to make life easy when moving isn’t.
● Lower cabinets. Those confined to a wheelchair can still provide for their own dietary
needs by installing 28-inch counters. This is low enough to see food cooking on a stove
top and to reach the kitchen sink without standing.
● Front-controlled stoves. A front -controlled cooktop is a safer option for the
mobility-impaired. It eliminates the need to reach over a hot burner to adjust
temperature. Kitchen Aid offers an assortment of accessible ranges to fit most 30” – 36”
● Slip resistant flooring. To reduce the chance of slip and fall accidents in the kitchen,
one of the most dangerous rooms in the home, choose a slip resistant flooring. The
AARP suggests bamboo, wood, cork, and linoleum.
● Grab bars. United Spinal Association Editor Tom Scott notes that bathroom safety for
people with disabilities is of the utmost importance. He encourages adding grab bars
and safety transfer seats to offset balance concerns.
● Walk-in tubs/no profile showers. A walk-in bathtub or no profile shower eliminates the
need to step over an obstacle onto a potentially slippery surface. As an added benefit,
many walk-in bathtubs offer hydrotherapy for relaxing and stress-busting bathing
experience. No profile showers are more accessible for people in wheelchairs.
● Eliminate rugs. Area rugs pose a significant threat for people who have difficulty lifting
their feet more than a few inches off the floor. It’s best to remove these from the home
completely or secure them to the floor using a no-slip vinyl pad.
● Low-lying bed. Platform beds may be best for people who have difficulty reaching a
● Stair lift. It is possible for mobility-restricted individuals to remain in their multi-story
homes. A stair lift is an electrical device that eliminates the need for climbing. It is a chair
attached to a durable, secure riser system. Most models offer a lift capacity of 300 to 400
pounds to accommodate persons of all sizes.
● Door widening. Widening interior and exterior doors to accommodate wheelchairs is a
pretty simple project that can have a huge impact on a wheelchair-bound individual. The
carpentry work is pretty straightforward but, as HGTV suggests, wiring or hidden
plumbing should be moved by a professional.
● Wheelchair ramps. A Wheelchair ramp can increase a mobility-challenged person’s
ability to easily enter and exit their home. According to the Family Handyman, a
wheelchair ramp can be purchased in prefabricated sections for around $100 per linear
foot. Most experts recommend a slope of 1:12 to 1:20.
● Adaptive playground equipment. Children with disabilities have many of the same
needs as their same-age peers. Play included. Install a few pieces of adaptive
playground equipment for children who cannot run and jump. There are a number of
accessible swing sets suitable for both commercial and residential use. If these are not
in your budget, consider adding a sand and water table or tetherball pole.
No matter which projects you choose to tackle, leave the electrical and plumbing work to the
professionals. Depending on the number and type of additions, it may be necessary to have an
upgraded electrical panel or new wiring installed. In the Baltimore area, a licensed electrician
typically charges between $606 – $1,544 for the service, which can be completed in one or two days. New plumbing should likewise be handled by an experienced contractor to ensure its safety and longevity. Before hiring anyone to work in your home, check out business ratings and reviews on HomeAdvisor.
Thanks to Eugene Williams at DIYDad.info for this article!
It is not unusual for a Realtor to hear a seller say, I now I purchased the house for X but I’ve added a lot of improvements to it. I now have nearly $50,000 more in my house than I paid for it. So why isn’t your analysis of my home reflecting this additional expenditure?
Even if the changes are in good taste, just what the market is looking for, that doesn’t mean you will always get your investment back. So when you do the work, do It because you will enjoy it, not because you want the buyer to pay for it down the road. That might not happen. Here is an accounting of how much different investments in your home help its re-sale value.
5 Home Improvements that Pay Off—and 5 that Don’t
By Suzanne De Vita
RISMEDIA, Saturday, January 23, 2016— Favorable economic conditions have long triggered investment in home improvements—more money, more upgrades—and progress on the housing front is set to spur the next wave of homeowner spending on both necessary and discretionary projects.
How should homeowners invest their remodeling dollars this year? By and large, homeowners can expect to reap the highest returns on projects that cost relatively less, according to REMODELING magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report.
On a national scale, the top five projects with the greatest return on investment (ROI) in the report’s “midrange” cost category are:
1. Attic Insulation (Fiberglass) (116.9% ROI)
Average Cost: $1,268
Average Resale Value: $1,482
2. Manufactured Stone Veneer (92.9% ROI)
Average Cost: $7,519
Average Resale Value: $6,988
3. Garage Door Replacement (91.5% ROI)
Average Cost: $1,652
Average Resale Value: $1,512
4. Entry Door Replacement (Steel) (91.1% ROI)
Average Cost: $1,335
Average Resale Value: $1,217
5. Minor Kitchen Remodel (83.1% ROI)
Average Cost: $20,122
Average Resale Value: $16,716
On a national scale, the top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s “upscale” cost category are:
1. Garage Door Replacement (90.1% ROI)
Average Cost: $3,140
Average Resale Value: $2,830
2. Siding Replacement (Fiber-Cement) (78.1% ROI)
Average Cost: $14,520
Average Resale Value: $11,342
3. Window Replacement (Vinyl) (73.3% ROI)
Average Cost: $14,725
Average Resale Value: $10,794
4. Window Replacement (Wood) (72.1% ROI)
Average Cost: $18,087
Average Resale Value: $13,050
5. Grand Entrance (Fiberglass) (69.6% ROI)
Average Cost: $7,971
Average Resale Value: $5,545
On the whole, regional data mirror these national findings, but variations exist in markets abuzz with real estate activity. Homeowners in the Pacific region (California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington), for instance, can expect to see six of the 30 projects analyzed in the report recoup over 100 percent of their cost.
At the other end of the spectrum are projects with the lowest returns on investment—improvements generally not in demand by the market.
On a national scale, the five projects with the lowest ROI in the “midrange” cost category are:
1. Bathroom Addition (56.2% ROI)
Average Cost: $42,233
Average Resale Value: $23,727
2. Backup Power Generator (59.4% ROI)
Average Cost: $12,712
Average Resale Value: $7,556
3. Master Suite Addition (64.1% ROI)
Average Cost: $115,810
Average Resale Value: $74,224
4. Deck Addition (Composite) (64.4% ROI)
Average Cost: $16,798
Average Resale Value: $10,819
5. Major Kitchen Remodel (64.9% ROI)
Average Cost: $59,999
Average Resale Value: $38,938
On a national scale, the five projects with the lowest ROI in the “upscale” cost category are:
1. Bathroom Addition (56.7% ROI)
Average Cost: $79,380
Average Resale Value: $45,006
2. Master Suite Addition (57.2% ROI)
Average Cost: $245,474
Average Resale Value: $140,448
3. Bathroom Remodel (57.5% ROI)
Average Cost: $57,411
Average Resale Value: $32,998
4. Deck Addition (Composite) (57.7% ROI)
Average Cost: $37,943
Average Resale Value: $21,877
5. Major Kitchen Remodel (61.5% ROI)
Average Cost: $119,909
Average Resale Value: $73,707
The 2016 Cost vs. Value Report compares, across 100 markets, the average cost of 30 popular remodeling projects with their average value at resale one year later. Average resale value is calculated based on estimates provided by real estate professionals. View the full report, including project descriptions and city-level data, here.
This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for winning real estate tips and trends.
Home flippers are returning. Here is a helpful video with key points to keep in mind when buying a flipped home.
Earlier this year, the CFPB issued one of its regular bulletins, announcing a range of financial rules that financial institutions may sometimes “ignore” or outright defy, to the detriment of the public they serve. Just by knowing the rules, you can learn how to take care of yourself. Below are some of the highlights.
Regulation Z Reins in Mortgage Originators
This regulation “prohibits a loan originator from receiving compensation based, directly or indirectly, on the terms of a consumer credit transaction secured by a dwelling.” This isn’t new; it’s been around since 2011. But recently government investigations have found evidence that some institutions have ignored this.
Regulation Z is one of the homeowner’s best friends, requiring lenders to reveal a range of details about a loan.
Getting Serious on Good-Faith Estimates
And then there is Regulation X, which requires loan originators to generally stick to the settlement charges and terms listed on the good-faith estimate provided to the borrower, unless it issues a revised GFE before settlement. And it has to document a reason for that second GFE. Again, investigations uncovered situations where poorly trained lenders with inadequate compliance procedures overcharged.
There’s a timing issue as well. Lenders have only three business days after they receive an application to provide a GFE. Lenders don’t always correctly log in the correct day an application is received, thus improperly extending the time they have to provide the GFE. So homeowners should keep records of what they send and when.
Take a Close Looks at Ads
The fine print is serious. You have a right to see the details — the essential disclosures — in any advertised loan product. This is true even with social media posts. Again, investigators found instances where “loan originators advertised the length of payment, amount of payments, numbers of payments and finance charges without providing the required disclosures, a violation of Regulation Z.”
For further advice, you can access the full CFPB document online.
When your kitchen opens to your living room, you can’t really use opposing décor in each space. Your entire home needs to flow. Here are some tricks to creating a space that is both cozy and functional.
- Choose coordinated color palates: Decorating your kitchen in bold primary colors while keeping an autumn palate in your open living room will be torture for the eye. It is critical that you choose colors for each of these spaces that coordinate with one another. Choose one color to tie everything together and coordinating shades to blend the rooms together.
- Create rooms within rooms: Not everyone loves large, open floor plans and sometimes it is important to create visual breaks. Use design tricks to create rooms within rooms. Use a rug, a love seat and two chairs to form a conversation area in one corner of the large space. Set your primary sofa with the back to the center of the room to break up the space and create a walking path.
- Match your lighting: If you have a large crystal chandelier over your dining room table but your living room has a series of modern lamps, this can be confusing. Do what you can to create symmetry in lighting throughout the open space. Match the colors or the design aesthetics of lamps and light fixtures to tie the entire area together.
- Add personality with accessories: Of course, you don’t have to have one design concept for the entire house. You can use accessories to personalize each space. Maybe you would love to have owls in your kitchen. This doesn”t mean you have to extend that décor into the living space. Use different accessories around your house to separate the functions.