Jan 16, 2021

Tomorrow Comes Every Day - Wake Up & Smell The Coffee

There is a saying that tomorrow never comes; but the reality is that tomorrow comes everyday.  I have heard people say that they will do something, like traveling for pleasure when they retire.  The problem is that waiting to enjoy life is a big mistake because we can't predict what life will bring us.  We certainly have seen the best example of this with the Covid Pandemic that has wreaked havoc on families and whole countries.  Many trips were canceled in the last 12 months because of Covid.  Maybe in a few years things will get back to normal; but by then it could be too late for some people.  

By the time someone is 50 years old, serious retirement planning should begin.  It is not just about money; though having enough to last the rest of someone's life is critical.  It is about recognizing that life is precious and putting everything in perspective.  It is about our Bucket List of things we want to do before we die.  Do we need the big house any more now that the kids are gone.   Experiences with family and friends are far more important than things in terms of spending money.  The ability to walk and get around does not last forever.  So anything that requires more strenuous activity should not be put off.  Many senior citizens are just one fall from away from the need to move into a senior community.  And, not everybody lives to be 90 years old.  

There is a tendency to keep buying things that one day will end up in a garage sale.  That money would be better invested for the day when we might need home care, or to pay for health care expenses as we get older.  By the time we reach 50, it is time to start simplifying life.   So many people work at retirement.  They think they have to be busy every day of the week when maybe just reading a book would be more relaxing.  It is amazing how quickly time goes by.  It is important to recognize that the clock is ticking.  We need to make every day count.  But sometimes it is the little things in life that matter most.  Wake up and smell the coffee.  Stop with the Iphone.  It is causing too much stress. 

Jan 14, 2021

Real Estate Values - There Are No Bargains

There is a saying in real estate that the three factors that govern real estate values are Location, Location, Location.  It really is true.  The same home with the same amenities will be worth a lot more in a desirable location.  Generally homes near the ocean sell for a lot more than properties further inland.  Homes closer to business centers nearer to job locations are usually worth more because a shorter commute is worth a lot to many people.  The fact is that there are no bargains in real estate just mitigating factors that impact value.

Since people value peace and quite, homes on busy streets, near airports, train tracks, or freeways usually sell for less than homes that are further away from noise factors.  Homes in good school districts, or more importantly that have good schools nearby in the neighborhood generally sell for more than homes in school districts with low academic scores.  Ratings are readily available on the Internet.  Even if you don't have kids, it probably not a good idea to buy a home in an area with schools rated lower than 7 out of 10.  A higher score would even be better.

People are often willing to give up square footage, which could be attainable with a longer drive for homes with less square footage closer to job centers and with great schools and other amenities.   Buying a home in a master planned community with strict rules is usually a good idea in terms of property values.  The rules are there to protect property values by prohibiting people from doing dumb things that hurt property values like painting a home purple, or failing to maintain the home.  

It is important to realize that when you buy a home, you should always be thinking about resale value.  If you buy a "bargain", there is usually a negative reason that will make it more difficult to sell the home when the times comes.  Homes that have obvious negatives often don't even get a walk through.  And, be conscious of curb appeal.  If the home is a White Elephant in terms of its exterior design no matter how nice it might be on the inside, it will diminish value.  Think before you buy.  Buying wisely will result in a home that appreciates.  Buying a "bargain" could actually go down in value when a downturn comes.   

Real estate is a long term investment.  Generally, over a 5 to 10 year period homes in great areas appreciate based on the rate of inflation and supply and demand.  If you are only going to be in an area for a few years, it might be best to rent, particularly if the area is at the top of the market.  If you have to move sooner, you could get caught in a downturn and lose money, which is never pleasant.  Buy wisely and you will do just fine over time.  

Jan 13, 2021

Moving Household Goods - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Since moving household goods can be expensive often done with a mover charging by the pound and hour, or done with sweat labor in do it yourself moves, moving is a great time to take a hard look at our possessions.  Things of little value, or that we just don't use anymore need to be disposed of either at a garage sale, or by donation to a charity for the write off.  If it cost more to move something than it is worth, unless it has sentimental value, it probably needs to be disposed of one way or another.

Moving often involves life style changes.  Furniture that may fit in one home may not fit in a smaller home.  This is particularly true about large dining room sets with china closets.  Many newer homes just don't have big enough dining rooms to house these large sets.  The real question is how often do they get used anyway.  More and more, new homes have combined a kitchen, eating area and family room, or great room into one space.  Formal living rooms too have just disappeared to be replaced by a den, or home office.  

Homes are being built today, the way people live not the way they may have lived 30 years ago with much more open concept architecture.  In many parts of the country, homes do not have basements, which often serve as the place for junk storage.  As such, buying a home with extra garage space is a good idea.  So when preparing for a move, storage should also be a consideration in getting rid of items that just will not fit anywhere in the new dwelling.  Moving is a time to simplify life.  Possessions often become a weight around our necks weighting us down.  Sell old things that will not work in the new home and buy new things that will work.  

This is particularly true about old washers, dryers and refrigerators that are costly to move because of their weight and may not be energy efficient.  A good rule of thumb is that if a major appliance is more than 10 years old, probably a good time to sell or donate it and buy new after the move to the new location.  Better furniture can be sold at consignment stores; but be advised that used furniture will not sell for anything near the original purchase price.  Moving is a good time to reflect on the next chapter in life.  If you need help, just contact Paragon Home Resources.  We can assist with moves across town, or across the country.

 

Jan 12, 2021

Most Everyone Needs A Will Or Estate Plan

It is very surprising that many Americans do not have a will or estate plan, which should include medical directives in the event someone ends up incapacitated.  While this may not be as important for young single people who own little, it is critical for all people once they buy a home and or start having children.  Sadly, perfectly healthy people can die unexpectedly in accidents.  And or, not everybody lives to be 90.  People die all the time from cancer and other chronic diseases.  Dying without a will is dying Intestate.  That means that since there is no will, it usually requires going to court to have a judge determine the line of succession for purposes of inheritance and guardianship of children.  In addition to unnecessary attorneys fees that will be required, this process can take a year or much longer in cases of complex estates.   

In addition, if two parents are killed in a accident and there are remaining children; but no guardians named,  a legal battle could ensue as family members fight over guardianship, particularly if the kids come with an inheritance.  This situation could get ugly and is completely avoidable by putting a will or estate plan in place.  When naming guardians, it is important to get their approval so that they know that they are named in the event something happens to both parents.  Finally, when someone enters a hospital after asking for insurance and credit cards,  they will ask for medical directives.  These directives indicate whether someone would want to be kept on life support and or when to pull the plug. 

A simple will may cost a few hundred dollars in legal fees to put in place with medical directives.  A complex estate plan could cost several thousand dollars in legal fees; but it is the best way to implement the transfer of assets to the degree possible tax free for most people.   If you don't have a will and or estate plan, the time is now to get it done.  No one knows for sure when he or she will die, but one thing is certain, we all will die.  The only question is when.   If you need help finding an estate attorney, just contact Paragon Home Resources for a referral in your area.   

Jan 11, 2021

Moving A Senior Citizen Across Country Or Nearby

If there is no son or daughter close by to care for Mom or Dad, it may be time to move an aging parent closer to a family member.  This could involve selling the home that may have been in the family for years.  It is important to get this done while Mom or Dad is relatively healthy.  It gets that much harder to accomplish a move if there are serious health issues.  So the question is where.  If there are multiple siblings, it makes sense to move Mom or Dad closest to the one willing to take on primary caregiver responsibilities.  It would be good if the location is a warmer climate; but is not mandatory.  The real issue is proximity to a family member that can take on the responsibility.  This may be across country, or across town.   

Often an aging loved one may have years of accumulation to dispose of prior to a move.  Many people are hoarders.  This can be very emotional since everything acquired over decades is viewed as a treasure with memories; but it must be done.  Better furniture and or antiques can usually be sold through a consignment store.  Even so, it is important to recognize that used furniture usually sells for a fraction of the original purchase price even if it is high quality.  A series of garage sales can be implemented to get rid of things of little value.   Some things just need to be donated to a charity.  Fortunately, there are companies that specialize in donate and discard services to help get rid of things of little value.  

If the family can assist with packing household goods that will be shipped, it will provide some shipping cost savings.  Of course, time is money.  If family members must take off work to pack household goods, it may make more sense to pay the movers to get the job done.  The real question will be is Mom or Dad buying a home in the new location, moving in with a relative, or moving into a Senior Care Community, or 55 or older apartment building.  Most likely the age and health of the loved one will probably determine the housing solution that is the best choice.  

This can be a lot of work, but there are companies like ours, Paragon Home Resources that can manage all the details to make a move as easy as possible.   Whether moving across country or across town, Paragon has all the services in place to make it happen efficiently and cost effectively.   

Jan 10, 2021

Caring for A Loved One

There is an old Italian saying that 2 parents can care for 10 children; but that one son or daughter cannot care for one parent.  It is the Italian version of Jewish Guilt.  In many ways, it can be true.  While many people age 65 or older are able to care for themselves fairly well for years, others struggle with aspects of daily life.  When that happens members of the family need to step in; yet the reality is that many families are dealing with their jobs, divorce, financial issues, drug and alcohol addiction and issues with their older children at a time when an aging loved one needs help.  

Unfortunately, not all families that have the means to buy home care, or to pay for senior care communities so that means regardless of what else may be going on in the family, somebody needs to take responsibility for an aging parent.  In some cases,  Mom or Dad ends up moving into a son or daughter's house because there is no other alternative.  Either way it may require 10 or more hours a week dealing with shopping, doctor's appointments,  managing money and many other issues that require attention.  More and more everything is done on the Internet and sometimes aging parents just don't have the skill set or even a computer to make things happen.  While technology can help monitor what is going on with a parent living alone and there are life alert systems, which are good, there is no substitute for being there a few times a week.  

If there is more than one sibling, it may be possible to divide responsibilities to share the workload.  Sometimes this works; but more often than not, it is one sibling that ends up doing everything.   With people living to be 90 or more, this care giver role can go on for years.  Families need to make the best of a difficult situation seeking out support services whenever needed.  It is not a shame to ask for help.  

Jan 9, 2021

First Time Home Buyers - Do It Now

Anyone who has never owned a home should buy one now.  Mortgage interest rates are so low that with tax deductions that come from making a mortgage payment, it might be cheaper in many markets to own a home than to rent.   Either way, homeownership is the beginning of the wealth ladder for most people.  Real Estate tends to appreciate over time.  And, with each payment, the homeowner is building equity in the home so it is like a forced savings account.  While it is true that real estate does have it cycles, so it is not totally risk free,  over the long haul, it should work out just fine. 

The good news is that first time homebuyers can often buy a home with just a 3% down payment, which should make it easier for many to make it happen.  In making any purchase always look to potential resale value.  Even if you don't have kids, buy in areas with good public schools.  You can check out school ratings on the Internet.  If you can afford a single family home, it will always have the best appreciation and resale value.  If not, starting with a condo in a good area can work too.  If you do buy a condo, it should be at least two bedrooms and two bathrooms with a garage for best resale value.  Buy as much house as you can afford comfortably.   Even if a little big for you now, you will grow into it.  Getting a home with a home office is almost mandatory today with so many people working from home.  

Think about the future.  If later on you can keep your first home as a rental investment property and still buy the next home, that would be ideal.  Having a renter make your mortgage payment, it is a great way to build wealth over time.  The time is right to become a homeowner.  Do it now.