May 31, 2021

Pocket or Whisper Listings Are On The Rise

Real Estate markets are so hot in many areas of the country, that some number of homes are not even making it on to the multiple list to sell the home.  Instead, the real estate agents are working to just match sellers with buyers at a price the seller is willing to take.  This often insures the real estate agent the full negotiated commission if a second agent is not involved in the sale.  This process is not in the best interests of the seller since many homes today are selling above list price in a week or two once exposed to the market.

Sellers do it because they don't want to be bothered with potential buyers walking through their homes.  But since homes are selling so quickly sometimes as result of multiple offers that bid up the price, doing a pocket or whisper listing is short sighted.  Instead, take the buyer with the most money down, mortgage pre-qualification completed an no contingencies.  Sell the home in "as is" condition no matter what home inspections may show up.  Get a healthy deposit so that if the buyer walks for any reason, the seller can keep the deposit.  

We are facing the craziest real estate market we have seen in years.  Eventually, things will cool down and go back to normal.  Prognosticators are predicting 14 more months of crazy.  Nobody knows for sure; but if we see higher taxes or higher interest rates, things will cool down.   Real estate like all investments runs in cycles.  Buyers that can wait for a bit of down cycle should wait.  On the other hand, though the price may be lower, the mortgage interest rate is likely to be higher so the payments could end up being about the same.  The only real benefit of a down market could be more inventory so more houses to choose from at a better price.  

May 29, 2021

Buying An Older Home - Expect Repairs

When buying an older home, if renovations have not already been completed, you should expect to replace basic systems.  If the home has galvanized or plastic pipe, it may be necessary to re-plumb the whole house.  The cost to do so for an average 2,000 - 3,000 square foot home to put in copper plumbing, assuming no complications, is generally about $10,000 - $20,000 depending on location.  New air conditioning and heating another $10,000 to $15,000.   New energy efficient windows $10,000 - $15,000. New electrical $10,000 to $15,000.  New appliances $5,000 to $10,000.  New Composition Roof $15,000 - $20,000.  And, this all assumes there are no foundation or other serious structural issues.  

Of course, all of these things don't necessarily need to be done at once; but odds are pretty good that within five years of buying an older home issues will come up related to the basic systems in the home.  And, this does not include cosmetic renovations like installing a new kitchen, bathrooms, flooring etc.  People generally buy older homes because they are initially cheaper than new homes and or they exist in desirable locations.  

But just know that the sales price of the home is not the whole story.  Renovations cost a lot of money.  And, once you open up walls no telling what you will find.  As Forest Gump used to say, "life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get".  The same is true when buying an older home.  

May 27, 2021

What About The Golden Boys - Not So Much

While more often than not women outlive men and sometimes by many years.   In about 10% - 20% of cases, Mom dies first and Dad ends up alone.  We see instances of women moving in together after Dad dies for companionship and to share expenses.  Men are just not that adaptable.  And, what could be worse are men in very traditional marriages where the man does not even know how to boil an egg or do laundry.   Wealthy men no doubt will hire full time help to take care of them if needed.  But that is not typical.  So then what.  

First, wives or partners while they are alive must teach their traditional husbands, or partners how to be more self reliant.  Cooking a meal once in a while, doing laundry and grocery shopping should be part of Living Alone 101.  Doing everything for your typical middle class husband, or partner is doing him no favors.  

Next, families need to do the what if's.  What if Mom dies and leaves Dad alone?  What if Dad dies and leaves Mom alone?.   The answer to these questions could be very different depending on age, circumstances, financial condition etc.  Moving into assisted living senior communities only works for  people with assets, insurance, or nothing so government pays for it.   Otherwise, it may be necessary for a remaining parent to move in with one of the siblings. It could be about money and or about necessary care.  

Ironically, dealing with Dad will probably be more difficult than dealing with Mom if the times comes.  The notion of the Golden Boys is just not as typical as the notion of the Golden Girls.  Men don't bond the way women do.  In general, Men are more difficult and resistant to change.  I know this is a generalization and maybe a stereo type; but I suspect it is more true than not.  

The Five Mile Rule Related To Home Ownership

When buying a home, it is best to implement the five mile rule.  While you may have to drive further to go to work assuming you are not working from home, all other amenities should be within five miles of your home; so doctor, hospital if possible, shopping, good restaurants and all other amenities.  Some times people move further out to get better home prices and then have to wait often years for amenities to catch up.  Driving more than five miles to get the goods and or services that you want gets old real quick.  If you can help it, don't do it. 

Most important, people facing retirement should NOT buy a home anywhere that does not have good medical services.  This is becoming a big problem because the United States is facing a doctor shortage that will only get worse as many Baby Boomer doctors retire.  As we get older, crap happens.  The odds of having a chronic illness or accident from a fall increases dramatically once we get past 70.  Being miles away from good medical services is just not a good idea.

Next, decide on the amenities that are important to you.  If you enjoy performing arts, buy a home in a town or city that has a thriving performing arts scene within it.   It does not have to be New York City caliber Broadway, but even second tier cities often have good performing arts venues.  And then, there are restaurants.  Obviously, big cities have more to choose from; but you don't need several hundred restaurants to choose from.  As long as there are 10 or 15 good to great restaurants in town, that will be enough to satisfy your culinary needs.  

The five mile rule is really a good idea related to quality of life.  Especially as we get older, the last thing we should be doing is driving miles to enjoy life.   

May 26, 2021

Home Ownership Is Still Part Of The American Dream

Unlike in many other countries, home ownership is still a very big part of the American dream.  Young people are in the market on the hunt for their first homes.  First time home buyers in many instances drive the real estate market as people sell homes to move up to buyer bigger homes needed to accommodate larger families.  Then, as the kids leave the nest some will downsize in preparations for eventual retirement.  When retirement comes others will move from cold to warm places. Through it all, people will own 3 or more homes during their working lives depending on circumstances. 

Home ownership is an important part of wealth generation over time.  Homes is good locations tend to appreciate and also act as a hedge against inflation.  Home equity is like a savings account sitting there for the time when the money may be needed to pay for home care or a move into a senior living community.  In addition, the US tax code has always favored home ownership as mortgage interest and property taxes have usually been deductible. So, there has been a favorable tax treatment related to home ownership that has also driven the market. 

Of course today, home prices in many areas are at all time highs.  It is clearly a sellers market, which makes buying a home harder; but with mortgage interest rates being so low, if someone is able to buy a home at least the payments will be reasonable.  Home ownership is an important  part tp achieving the American Dream. 

At Paragon Home Resources, we work with customer to sell and buy homes all over the country.  We assist with making life decisions that are important to the American Dream.  

May 24, 2021

Phoenix Real Estate Market Is Booming

Phoenix like other real estate markets in the United States is booming.  Prices for small, nicer homes depending on location range from about $400,000 up to several Million Dollars for the most expensive parts of the city.  This is happening despite 4 months of 100 plus degree weather.  Taxes and the cost of living in Arizona are reasonable.  Schools in many areas are quite good.  Amenities, like shopping and restaurants, including top notch medical services are everywhere.  The freeway system in every direction is expanding; though traffic can be pretty bad like in all big cities.  This combined with Sky Harbor International Airport makes non stop service to Phoenix cheap and easy.  

A lot of the growth of Phoenix is being driven by people escaping California's high taxes and regulations,  very high cost of living, bad public schools in many areas, freeway gridlock, homeless everywhere etc.  The Golden State is tarnished to say the least and getting worse by the day.  California's loss is Arizona's gains.  But it is not just California escapees fueling high growth in Phoenix.  Baby Boomers looking for a warm place to retire or semi retire that don't like Florida's humidity, bugs and hurricanes are also flocking to Phoenix.  

Of course, it is a Seller's Market in Phoenix like in many parts of the country.  There are bidding wars going on as homes are selling above list price.  Contingencies are being waived.  Prices are going through the roof, which always scares me; but the demand is there and the supply is low.  Prices typically go up in winter; though this year the warm months are not scaring anyone away.  Phoenix is likely to add another million people to its 4.5 million population in the next 5 - 10 years.  The land is there to do it as builders continue to build tract after tract.  

May 23, 2021

Dealing With Construction Defects

While the laws vary in each state, generally when buying a new home, the builder will make any necessary repairs that come up in the first year after occupancy of the home.  Of course, appliances, heaters, air conditioners have their own warranty periods that could also be applicable.  However, most states have construction defeat laws to cover the major systems of the home like electrical, plumbing, roof, foundation etc.  Usually, those things are covered for 10 years.  

Many builders actually buy construction defect insurance on the home so if something comes up during the warranty period, they are covered to make the repair.  In some cases, a whole tract or condo development may experience construction defects.  When that occurs if there is a Home Owners Association, it is not unusual for the HOA to retain an attorney to represent all homeowners to get construction defects fixed. 

Years ago, this happened for this Blogger.  Our home had galvanized pipe that apparently was defective.  Many homes began to spring leaks.  So our HOA represented all 700 homes in the tract in order to get the pipes repaired.  It took a year or more to settle the case; but eventually all the homes in the tract were re-plumbed with copper pipes.  Actually, it really was not a horrible experience.  The contractor was able to make a few strategic holes in the walls, which were ultimately repaired to put in all new pipes. 

In any case, if you purchase a new home, hopefully you will not experience any construction defects; but if you do, just know that the builder must repair anything deemed a construction defect during the warranty period.  

May 22, 2021

Golden Girls Should Keep It Simple

In the TV series Golden Girls, Blanche owns the home and the other widows rent a room from her and share expenses.  That is the least complicated way to share a home, since there is never an issue related to the homeownership itself.  If things don't work out, one of the renters just moves out.  While a home could be purchased tenants in common, that is a lot more complicated if one of the owners dies, or just wants out.  In the event of death, that person's share would most likely be left to her heirs.  That would mean that the other owners would have to buy out the heirs and or sell the home to pay off the heir.  

This is not the best situation, which is why the rental scenario makes a lot more sense.  Golden Girls need to keep it simple.  With millions of baby boomers turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day for the next 15 - 20 years, it is very possible that many will eventually either need to share living expenses and or once widowed will seek the companionship of living with others.  That is not a bad thing.  

Before doing so, there would need to be house rules to prevent misunderstandings.  So for example maybe no smoking and or pets.  Aside from monthly rent to the owner of the home, how will expenses be shared.  This would work best if each bedroom came with its own ensuite bathroom.  It could be that expenses would include a cleaning lady twice a month to deal with heavy duty cleaning chores.  How about having gentleman friends visiting and perhaps even staying over night.  This one could be awkward; but it is either allowed or not.  

Recently, I assisted my cousin with renting out a bedroom with bath for a 30 day period to a snowbird visiting Phoenix.  The rent included room and board, since whatever was in the refrigerator and or my cousin cooked for meals was available to her boarder.   It actually worked out very well.  Matter of fact, they have become great friends and still stay in touch.  We used a very specific lease to identify the rules.  I don't know if my cousin would do it again, but I think she really enjoyed having the house guest.  

The hit show Golden Girls continues to play on TV everyday.  The show was hilarious and still is very funny.  Communal living could be the wave of the future for many people in the next 20 or more years.  It could be the key to living a longer life because people who interact regularly with other people tend to be happier, which many studies show is the key to living longer.   

May 20, 2021

10 Real Estate Markets With The Most All Cash Buyers

There are 10 real estate markets in the United States that have the most all cash buyers and it is an odd grouping of cities that have little in common and some of which are unexplainable.  With their median values, they are as follows:

1. Reno, Nevada (where we live) at $524,500

2. Racine, Wisconsin at $289,200

3. Greenville, South Carolina at $323,950

4. El Paso, Texas at $240,925

5. Clarksville, Tennessee at $322,650

6. Torrington, Connecticut at $425,000

7. Kahului, Hawaii at $891,500

8. Canton, Ohio at $186,900

9. Claremont, New Hampshire at $327,000

10. Bellingham, Washington at $499,450  

As you can see, these cities don't really have much in common.  Reno is easy to understand as many people are moving over from California to escape the high cost of living and very high taxes.  My guess is that retired people are driving these all cash sales and or we could be seeing a generational transfer of wealth from Baby Boomers to their children and grandchildren.  All cash buyers make it harder for others in these markets to compete because a seller will always take an all cash deal over a deal requiring a mortgage, all other factors being equal.  In any case, there is a lot of money floating around driven by a sky rocketing stock market.  

May 19, 2021

Millennials Buyer's Remorse

6 out of 10 Millennial home buyers are expressing remorse after moving into their homes according to recent surveys for all sorts of reasons.  Some think the location they purchased in was bad; remember location, location, location as the most important element of home value.  If you buy crap you will own crap.  Since this is a seller's markets and some buyers are desperate to purchase a home, in some cases they are making bad decisions.  You never compromise on location because it cannot be changed. 

Some millennials believe the homes they bought are either too big or too small.  This is happening because there are so few homes on the market in many areas.  My suggestion would be to buy as much as you can afford because most people grow into the space.  At least 3 bedrooms, an office and two or three bathrooms with a two or three car garage should be the first purchase, if affordable. 

Many millennials believe they overpaid for the homes they purchased and they are probably right.  It is a sellers market.  Home are selling at crazy prices in bidding wars even above list price.  Some millennials are shocked by the cost to maintain a home.  Of course, they were paying for maintenance when they paid rent one way or another; but home ownership means writing separate checks over and above a mortgage payment.  So all of a sudden, the cost can seem very high. 

At Paragon Home Resources we work with clients to sell and buy homes anywhere in the country.  We can help separate needs from wants in assisting with life decisions.  Ideally, our goal is that our clients would not have buyer's remorse as a result of our consulting assistance.  Spending a little time upfront is the way to be happy about the decision making process after move in.  

Home Is For Friends And Family

Whether you live in a Tiny Home or a Mansion, home is for friends and family otherwise what is the point.  Make your home user friendly so when you invite guests in they feel welcome.   That could mean comfortable indoor and outdoor furniture in warm inviting colors with lots of throw pillows.  If your furniture is stiff and cold looking, it says go away rather than come on in.  People need to feel welcome in your home to enjoy their time with you.  

We often have friends over for heavy appetizers that end up being dinner.  And, of course there is wine; but it could be soft drinks and coffee.  Years ago, we used to have big parties.  We don't do that much anymore.  Instead, we confine our get together's to no more than 6 people so that we can have good interaction.  

And, don't forget about neighbors.  Very often people live in a home for years and don't even know their neighbors.  Neighbors can become really good friends and often when something comes up when you require help, neighbors are nearest by to pitch in.  You won't like all of them; but you will like some of them.  Have an appetizer pot luck and invite them over. 

People who interact with other people whether family or friends tend to be happiest and actually live longer.  You don't need a huge circle of friends; but a big enough group that regular interaction is fun.  Don't be afraid to ask people to be part of your life.  You will get what you give.   

May 17, 2021

Renovations That Pay Off

Everybody knows that renovations of kitchens and bathrooms return the most on the investment; but that assumes that you choose wisely.  We are starting to see people install tiles with wild patterns and or choose cabinets in various colors other than wood tones or white.  These choices can be risky when it comes time to sell your home and they often look dated sooner.  It is best to stay with neutral tones and or tiles or flooring that is not too busy with patterns.  

Ceramic wood looking tile has become very popular.  It looks like wood in various types and colors; but it is easier to care for and definitely more kid or pet friendly.  The cost is about the same as real wood; but since it is easier to care for and will last longer without a major refinish needed, it could be more cost effective.  If buying any kind of ceramic tile make sure the glaze is not just on the surface because the cheaper tiles when they chip will show a clay color underneath.  So spending a bit more is better. 

If you go neutral which is best, you can always express you style and need for color with all sorts of accessories and color in furniture.  These things are not permanent and can be changed easily whenever you feel the need for a refresh in look.  Renovations can be very expensive so it really is best that you choose wisely with tiles and flooring that will stand the test of time.  Spend a little more on upscale appliances to get that gourmet kitchen that everybody loves.  That will be money well spent. 

Buying a Fixer Upper

 After watching HGTV and seeing how various homes are taken from being really horrible to great, many people think, why not buy a fixer upper.  Let me give you a few reasons to be cautious.  First, if you are considering buying a fixer upper especially if the property is more than 20 years old,  You need to get every home inspection known to man or woman to see what you are getting yourself into.  That means electrical, plumbing, roof, foundation, termite etc.  And, even if you get every conceivable inspection, you will not know what is in the walls until they are opened up.  

Odds are pretty good that an older home could have many issues that will need repair before you even think about that gourmet kitchen you want to include in your renovations.  So, whatever your budget is, assume you will spend 25% on remedial work that must be done in many cases to meet current code.  Next, assume that it will take twice as long as the contractor tells you it will take.  I find it laughable when we hear "this job will be done in 8 weeks on HGTV".   Assume at least 3 - 6 months and sometimes longer depending on how extensive the job.

Older homes can be a money pit so be careful.  Yes, you can make any home wonderful; but it will take money and time.  If you have plenty of both, then consider buying a fixer upper.  If you don't have the money to deal with unexpected expenses, then maybe it is better to buy a newer home that needs less work.  The rule for any fixer upper is, it will cost more than anticipated to do the renovations and it will take longer than predicted.  

May 16, 2021

Tough Time For First Time Home Buyers

First time home buyers trying to buy a home for little or nothing down are having a tough time.  Sellers in markets with little or no inventory will not accept offers with little money down because in some cases the home may not appraise for the sale price.  In that instance, the buyer would have to put more money down to get a mortgage.  First time home buyers attempting to take advantage of no money down in the case of a VA mortgage or 3% down in the case of an FHA loan are at a real disadvantage in markets where in some cases homes are selling for more than the list price.    

Certainly, if there are multiple offers for a home, it could end up in a bidding war where money talks.  Obviously the best offers are those with all contingencies waived that have sizeable down payments, or are all cash.  There is no way a first time home buyer can compete in that real estate market.  Perhaps, using 401K money or some other savings will be needed to buy a home in today's markets.  If the first time home buyer has no access to more money, it could be that the timing is just not good, so renting until there is a down market is the only alternative.  

Or, moving to a location perhaps further out of town where perhaps the market is not as hot as is the case today in many areas.  A first time home buyer needs a Plan B because in many real estate markets trying to buy a home with little or nothing down just will not work.   

May 14, 2021

Time To Start Planning For Inflation

Most economists are predicting that inflation is on the horizon because of wild government spending and policy coming out of Washington DC.  This will probably mean higher interest rates and stagflation, slow growth with inflation.   We are likely to see gasoline at $5 a gallon by year end, which will raise the cost of everything.   So now is the time to plan for inflation in your budget.  

If you have a low fixed rate mortgage, whether interest only or fully amortized, you are set.  If you have a variable mortgage interest rate, it is probably the time to lock in at the low fixed rates offered today because those rates will be going up.  If you are planning on buying a car that will require financing, do it now to get the low rates available in the marketplace; because interest rates are likely to be higher next year.  

If we see slower growth, there is a good chance that the stock market will fall particularly if significant tax increases come out of Washington DC that will probably be effective January, 2022.  Could be time to lock in some of your gains by selling now and getting into safer investments.  

The housing market is so crazy right now that homes are selling for more than list price in many areas.  As someone who has lived and worked through many real estate cycles, all of this scares me.  It is a great time to sell a home; but not such a good time to be buying one.  Though inflation should mean even higher home prices, they will be mitigated by higher interest rates, so we may be at the peak for this cycle.  If you will be in your home for 5 years or more probably not an issue; but if you should have to sell sooner than that you could suffer a loss, so be careful. 

Inflation is coming.  A little planning now will make it a easier on the budget.  So, do your homework and do the what if's to best position yourself financially for the years ahead.   

May 13, 2021

Interest Only Mortgages

If you are buying a home and you only plan to stay in the home for 10 years or less, an interest only loan may make sense for you.  The reason is that very little of a monthly payment actually goes to pay down principal in the first ten years of the loan.  So, if you implement a fully amortized loan, you will be paying a higher payment each month and find that after 10 years, you owe pretty much what you borrowed 10 years earlier.  

Right now, you can lock in a 10 year interest only mortgage loan for 3% to 3.5% depending on the amount and your credit score. If you stay in your home beyond 10 years, the loan will convert to a fully amortized loan; but based on then current interest rate.  In the mean time, you will make a very low payment for ten years.  If you have some discipline, you can invest the money you save in a mutual fund and maybe end up better off at the end of ten years. 

Do a comparison to see where you come out.  And, a good loan officer can help you select the right mortgage for your circumstances.  Don't be afraid of interest only mortgages if you know you will not be in the home longer than 10 years.  

At Paragon Home Resources we work with families to sell and buy homes all over the country.  Our Home Resource Coordinators can help you sort through your options to do what is best for you and your family. 

Homesale Disclosures - Tell What You Know

Most states in the United States require a comprehensive home sale disclosure by the Seller as part of the process to sell a home.  In it, the seller will be required to speak to the condition of all appliances, electrical and plumbing, roof, easements, HOA requirements etc.  On pain of death, or really lawsuits that would come later, it is critical that the seller disclose anything and everything you know about the home.  Failure to do so, is dangerous and illegal.  

Many sellers offer a home warranty as part of the deal at the Sellers expense.  Basic policies usually cost $350 - $400 and can be arranged by your real estate agent.  Consider this lawsuit insurance.  So, you said the dishwasher was in working order.  Buyer moves in and finds it not to be in working order.  Unless the Buyer bought the home "as is", the Buyer is likely to come back to the Seller for repairs or replacement.  Home Warranty insurance coverage usually for one year would cover this eventuality.  

Every year, home sale disclosures get longer and longer.  State governments are tired of hearing complaints from Buyers who feel they have been duped.  Expect to spend a bit of time feeling out disclosure forms provided by your real estate agent.  They are different for each state.  This is just part of selling your home.  

May 12, 2021

Preparing For A Natural Disaster or Cyber Terrorism

We have learned over the past several years that we can experience natural disasters like fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes that can make living in our home difficult if not impossible.  Now we have to add to the list the potential for cyber terrorism that can shut down electricity, natural gas and water systems.  We have just seen a cyber terrorist attack by a criminal gang against Colonial Pipeline that supplies gas, diesel and jet fuel to many states in the Northeast that has caused a national emergency in those states until the pipeline is back up.  These gangs demand millions of dollars to remove the malware code from the company's software.  Sadly, we live and die by technology.

The point to all of this is to the degree possible are you ready should your home lose electricity, natural gas and water for a prolonged period of time.  There are the easy things you can do like stock up on gallons of bottled water and batteries for flash lights and lamps.  However, if you live in an area where natural disasters seem to happen every year, maybe it makes sense to buy a generator so that you will have power when electricity goes down.  What they learned in Texas during the recent power outage is that tankless water heaters need electricity to function so they not only lost power, they lost hot water.  Regular water heaters continued to function.  

We can all assume it will never happen to us.  But history says otherwise.  We have seen thousands of people without electricity, natural gas and water for many days at a time.  Generators operate off gasoline or diesel fuels and or natural gas.  Just something to think about.  Natural gas would be the safest, but who knows if it will be available in a natural disaster. In any case, everyone should consider preparing for a natural disaster and or cyber terrorism that could impact daily life.  At a minimum do the easy things.  

May 10, 2021

Safety and Security Are Critical To Home Values

Some facts are undeniable.  Safety and Security are critical to home values.  There is no doubt that homes in areas with lower crime rates sell for more than homes in areas with higher crime rates.  So this notion of defunding the police, no matter what the political implications would have a serious impact on home values.  Without a strong police presence, crime rates go up.  It really is pretty simple.  When that happens, home values go down.  

So aside from feeling safe and secure if you care about your home value, support Neighborhood Watch Programs.  Get involved in your community.  Support the police to the extent that the police have the resources and training they need to get the job done.   The notion that calling 911 could result in having a Social Worker show up when a crime is being committed is ridiculous.  That is not to say that Social Workers may not be needed to deal with various community issues, but if a crime is being committed, we need a cop on the beat.  

Next, do your part. Secure your home.  Get an alarm system.  They are relatively cheap and easy to install.  Make it harder for a thief or someone worse to make you a victim.  Make sure there is good lighting around your property.  Thieves love to work in dark places.  The more light, the more safety.  Safety and Security are Critical to Home Values.   It just as true as the real estate adage that value is determined by Location, Location, Location.   

Real Estate As An Investment

Real Estate should be viewed as in investment just like any other place to put money, however, your principal residence is just that, your home.  Over the long haul, your home if in a good location should appreciate; but in buying any real estate always remember if you buy crap, you will own crap.  So, the rule location, location, location is valid in making any real estate purchase.  Buying in a area with great schools even if you don't have children should be part of the decision.  

If you are buying a home as a rental whether a condo or single family home, ask yourself the question, could I live in this home?  If the answer is no, pass on the purchase.  Don't buy near busy streets, power lines or other eyesores.  Don't buy in a neighborhood where the homes nearby are not well maintained because it will impact the value of your investment.  Single family homes will appreciate more than condos so given the choice a single family home is a better investment.  

Try to buy a home or condo that is 3 bedrooms and at least 2 bathrooms because those will be the most rentable.  Everybody likes open concept so the more open related to the kitchen, living and dining area the better.  An attached two car garage has value.  Indoor laundry has value.  Carpeting in the bedrooms are fine; but most people now prefer hard surfaces like tile or wood flooring in the living areas and bathrooms.  

Remember curb appeal.  Contemporary homes are not as desirable as homes with architectural charm.  The roof matters. Pitched roofs are not only better from an appearance standpoint, they are less likely to leak.  Back yards matter too.  They don't need to be large; but they do need to be large enough for entertaining, since most people like outdoor living when the weather is nice.  Investment real estate currently comes with some nice tax advantages that increase the value of the investment.  But like any investment, choose wisely.  
Paragon Home Resources assists investors with selling and buying homes.   We can help you choose wisely to make your investment pay off in the future.  

May 9, 2021

Happy Mother's Day - Well Deserved

The saying goes, the heart is where the home is.  Realtors like to say, the kitchen is the center and most important room in a home.   The fact is whether someone lives in a small apartment, or a mansion, it is the Mom that makes it a home for the family.  65% of Americans are dual income.  So in many instances, Mom is working outside the home.  This means Mom must focus on both work and family.  As an employer, I really admire our working Mom employees who seem to juggle it all.  

As someone who grew up with my Mother working 6 days a week her entire life, on her feet in a blue collar job until she retired at 65 years old,  I can appreciate how difficult it was for my Mom to care for our family, including my diabetic father, my grandfather who visited for months each year, brother and me, while starting her day at 6 am and ending it at 11 pm every single day of the week except Sundays.  And, even Sundays were used to do the things around the house she could not get to during the week.  Vacations were used for heavy duty house cleaning and special project.  Since my Mom did not get home from work until 6 pm each night, she always made sure there was a sandwich waiting for me when I got home at 3:30 pm to tide me over until dinner.  

I am quite certain that many people living in America share this same story.  And, for single working Moms with children, it is that much harder, since they often have no one else to share the responsibility of raising children.  This is the reason employers must be flexible and family friendly because rigid schedules are not always possible.  For those families lucky enough to have Mom at home, rather than working outside the home, much of the responsibility for raising children tends to fall on Mom because Dad is so focused on work.  That certainly was the case in our family.  

Most countries, including the United States set aside one day a year to honor Mothers.  We call it Mother's Day.  It is usually the second Sunday in May.   This day should be sacred.  All children no matter their age, should use this day to honor their Mothers.  It is a time to say Thank You for all the sacrifice Mothers make to care for their family.  It is just one day a year.  Let's hope all children recognize that there are plenty of other days to do other things; but Mothers Day should be completely devoted to Mothers.    

May 7, 2021

Energy Is Critical To Our Standard Of Living

It is easy to tune out all the political yada yada yada because often it is not pleasant.  But all Americans should stay very tuned into our nation's energy policy.  For the first time in decades, we had finally reached energy independence using an all of the above energy policy.  In fact, the United States was exporting energy.  This was possible because we have abundant oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear power and all the renewables that are coming on line, primarily wind and solar.  

What is clear is that renewables alone today cannot power a modern first world economy.  The technology is just not there yet.  The notion that we are going to move away from carbon energy in the next twenty years is not realistic unless we ramp up nuclear energy.  I for one would like to know where all the electricity will come from to power all those electric cars as manufacturers stop producing gas and diesel powered cars. 

Everybody wants clean energy.  That is why we must make all energy sources cleaner, safer and cheaper to maintain our standard of living.  Creating energy that is more expensive would be an incredible burden on the poor and those on fixed incomes. 

At Paragon Home Resources, we work with families all over the country to sell and buy homes.  We assist with life decisions.  That is all great provided when someone turns on a light switch there is electricity there to make it all work.  

May 6, 2021

Falling A Big Problem For Seniors

Those 65 and older must do everything they can to avoid falling because it is the biggest cause of serious accidents.  That means wearing sensible shoes no matter how they look.  And, specific to the home, it means getting rid of throw rugs and making sure that there are clear walking paths within the home. Showers and baths should all have grab bars to prevent slipping when bathing.  Those are the things that can be controlled in a living environment.   

However, there are many things that can't be controlled outside the living environment that require vigilance.  Cracks in side walks or other surfaces are a real problem.  If not paying attention, it is very easy to trip and fall because of an uneven surfaces.  We can all be distracted; but when walking outdoors in any setting, it is important to look down and survey the surroundings.  When going for long walks for exercise, using a walking stick is a good idea for balance.

Falling can cause a sequence of events from broken legs and hips requiring surgery and sometimes very long painful recoveries.  In a worst case scenario, falling can cause hitting the head on the ground, which can even result in death.  Falling is the chief cause that Seniors end up in assisted living and or nursing homes.  At all cost, Seniors must avoid falling.  It means taking necessary precautions to making falling less likely.  An ounce of prevention can help avoid pounds of pain.  

The Golden Girls Is A Good Thing

On average in the United States men die at 76, women at 81.  The odds are pretty good that a woman will outlive her husband and sometimes by many years.  While there is always a grieving period when either spouse dies, women seem to be more adaptable when they find themselves single again.  Of course, another marriage is always an option; but more often than not Senior widowed, or divorced women often develop very close friendships.  

The Golden Girl modality is real.  Provided a woman is still healthy, this is the time when women take trips together, go out to dinners and generally have a second chance at living a great life.  And, why not.  There are many studies that show that interaction with other people is the key to feeling good.  Certainly, emotional health is improved by being with other people.  

Many women join clubs and find reasons to be with other people.  Since the husband is often out of the picture by the time a woman is 75 or older,  all of a sudden someone else does not figure into day to day decisions.   Women find new freedom once their husbands are gone.  That is not to say that life together may not have been wonderful; but it is to say that maybe for the first time in years, a woman can do what she wants to do when she wants to do it without any other concerns.  

Most important, women, whether widowed or divorced should take advantage of every opportunity to enjoy life.  Why not?  

May 5, 2021

Living With One Car - Other Places To Put Money

In the last 50 years, we have all come to believe that anyone who drives needs a car; but it is really necessary today.  With more and more people working from home, just maybe one car is enough for a family.   This certainly could be true for retired couples.  Aside from the cost of the car, insurance, license, repairs etc. owning a car cost a lot of money.  And, cars depreciate the minute you take them off the lot.  So investing in a car is not going to provide any return unless you need the car to do your job. 

Maybe it is time to rethink the car for every driver strategy and instead focus on other places you can put that money.  Home renovations particularly related to kitchens or bathrooms increase home values so there would be a return on that investment.  Buying a rental property can be a great investment.  Putting money in the stock market in moderate risk investments over time are likely to go up in value so again a return on that investment. 

So, if once and a while you need a ride to go someplace there is always Lift or Uber.  Even if you spent $1,000 a year buying rides, you would be way ahead of the cost of owning a second or third family car.  Pencil it to see what you are spending now.  Subtract $1,000 to buy rides and see where you end up.  You might just find that owning one family car is the way to go.  

May 4, 2021

Remodeling An Older Home

Remodeling an older home can be challenging.  Whatever your budget, you should factor in the cost of updating electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning and even replacing windows and parts of the foundation and wood structure that may have rotted, or be infested with termites.  Once those walls are opened up, necessary repairs will become very apparent.   All of this can cost thousands of dollars.  

If you are thinking of buying an older home because it appears "charming" with the notion of renovation that we often see on HGTV, my suggestion would be don't do it unless money is no object.  Doing the cosmetic updates are easy.  It is the structural repairs that may be necessary that could end up being a money pit.  And, once the jobs starts things will need to be brought up to code to pass local inspections.  

Homes that were built 30 or more years ago will not meet current codes.  Many times, once those walls are opened up, in order to pass inspection,  the home will need to be brought up to current codes.  This could be a very costly proposition.  

If you already own an older home and are considering renovation, just know that the story will not end with the new kitchen or bath fixtures.  The process is like lifting rocks only to find something ugly underneath that will have to be repaired or completely replaced.  It is all fine as long as there is a large contingency budget to deal with the unexpected aspects of the job.  The contractor will not be able to see those things until the wall is opened up and that is when the need for more budget will come into play.  

May 2, 2021

Moving To Second Or Third Tier Cities

Many people are moving to second or third tier cities in the United States to get away from clogged freeways and other big city problems.  This is especially true now because the technology is there to allow people to work from home.  However, in choosing one of the smaller cities, do your homework.  One of the biggest drawbacks is medical services and availability.  There are just not enough doctors in many of these smaller cities and that shortage is likely to get worse as many doctors retire.

Certainly, anyone over the age of 65 will need access to good medical care that will only become more needed as someone grows older.  Any one with a serious or chronic illness of any age may face the same issues.  Shopping is really not a problem, since these days just about anything can be ordered on line.  Access to all foods and medicines are available in most smaller cities.   There will be less things to do in smaller cities.  Generally, there are fewer high end restaurants for those that are Foodie's.

Perhaps the best compromise is to be an hour or so away from a major city.  So that means moving out to suburbs that may be far enough away to avoid big city problems; but close enough that good medical care is accessible when needed. 

At Paragon Home Resources, we work with people to sell and buy homes anywhere in the country.  We can assist with life decisions by providing pertinent information to determine those locations that could work best for the long term. 

May 1, 2021

The Five Mile Rule - Amenities Near Buy

When buying a home or condo, or even renting an apartment, it is a good idea to implement the five mile rule.  That is everything you need for daily living should be within five miles of your home.  First, it cost money to drive further; but also it takes time.  

So, if your favorite stores for food are CostCo and Trader's Joe's, make sure they exist within 5 miles.  It would be very good if medical services and hospitals are within 5 miles, particularly if you are 65 or older.  And also having a Home Depot or Lowes nearby is a good thing too. 

Ideally, the market, drug store and your bank should be on a street corner near you.  Make things easy on yourself.  Sometimes people trade a lower home price moving further out for near by amenities.  Just know that if you do that, it could take 10 years or longer for those amenities to show up. 

In the mean time, you will spend a lot of time in traffic getting to the things you need everyday.  And, there is a cost to doing that.  Don't do it, if you can help it.  

Mom Moving In For Elder Care Assistance

In some cases, an aging parent, usually Mom ends up moving in with one of the children, usually a daughter if there are multiple siblings.  It is usually Mom because more often than not Dad dies first.  As millions of Baby Boomers turn 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day for the next 15 - 20 years, we could start to see more and more of this multi generational living.  

The implications are huge.  Let's start with the home or physical space that may be needed to support Mom.  Generally, Mom's bedroom preferably with private bath needs to be on the first floor because steps are not a good idea.  Builders today are building homes with mother-in-law suites to accommodate this very scenario.  However, if an existing home, it will have to be made retirement friendly to accommodate Mom.  Renovations to get the job done can be expensive, but still much cheaper than senior care communities. 

Next is the care needed itself.  If Mom is still living independently then minimal extra care may be needed.  If not, then perhaps some level of home care could be required.  This can range from assistance with bathing to home health care services.  Again, various levels of home care are likely to be less expensive than a senior living community.

Mom moving in for elder care assistance is a viable option; but without some level of home care, it could be an incredible burden on the family.  In many instances, husbands and wives are still working.  So attempting to take care of Mom at home requires some good thinking as to what is feasible and what could be impossible.