Jun 30, 2021

The Problem With Condo Associations - Repairs and Improvements

All condo associations are required to maintain reserves to cover repairs and improvements of common area assets.  So a portion of monthly dues goes into reserves to cover the actuarial life of things like roofs, private streets, club houses etc.  Theoretically, the money is supposed to be there when repairs are needed.  However, what we recently saw with the tragic collapse of a condo building in Florida is that the structure itself needed $15 million in major repairs that were not covered by reserves.  The condo board knew about this problem as early as 2018 and no doubt tried to convince homeowners to vote for a major special assessment. 

Here is where the problem lies.  Generally,  a condo association is limited in the amount it can raise dues each year without a vote of the members.  When these major special assessments come up very often older retired owners will vote NO because they just don't have the money to pay a special assessment.  My guess is that the condo board tried repeatedly to get the votes they needed to get the $15 million to make the repairs.  They apparently eventually must have been successful because the work was supposed to begin in a few months. 

Sadly, is was too late.  The structural issues were so bad that the building collapsed before the repairs could be made.  A 100 plus people are buried in the rubble.  This problem exists all over the country when the need for these major Special Assessments come up.  There probably needs to be some kind of state legislation to deal with this because when significant work must be done to prevent a tragedy, condo boards must have more authority to act.  It is time for action.  


Jun 28, 2021

The Ten Most Affordable Beach Towns

For those of you who always wanted to live near the ocean, but thought you could never afford it, there are the 10 most affordable beach town in the country, some of which you have never heard of.  Of course, none of them are in California or Hawaii, but they are on the water.  They include:

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Daytona Beach, Florida

Rockland, Maine

Swansboro, North Carolina

Chincoteague Island, Virginia

Long Beach, Washington

Matagorda, Texas

Grand Island, Louisiana

Dennis Port, Massachusetts

Some of these places are in winter climates so a very short summer season to actually go in the water if that is your goal.  However, the ocean is always beautiful to look at during sunrises and sunsets.  Naturally, homes right on the water will be more expensive than homes a block to two away with views of the water.  But before you take the leap, know what your are buying.  Homes near water require more maintenance because salt water air is rough on homes.  And, there is the damp season.  Home near water in winter will be damper and colder unless you are in a Southern climate and then far more humidity.  And of course, some of these locations are subject to hurricanes so buy a newer home that is rated for a category 5 hurricane, which means it is probably cement block construction.  In any case, if you have always wanted to live at the beach, it could be possible in some parts of the country at reasonable prices.   

At Paragon Home Resources, we can assist you in finding your dream beach house anywhere in the country.  We help people sell and buy homes at the best price possible.  Just call Paragon to make it happen. 

Jun 25, 2021

Outfitting Your Home Office

Many people who live in small homes or apartments may just have a small desk someplace in a corner of a room that they are calling their home office.   For others that have the luxury of designating a whole room as a home office, it is important to actually set it it up to be effective.  Even if you use a lap top computer when you travel, there is no reason you can't hook it up to a regular key board and big screen monitor to make using it easier.  Next comes the desk, which really needs a pull out for the key board to allow for fastest typing.  

I like book shelves nearby or above the desk or work station to allow for storage of important business items.  In my case, I have two printers, the old reliable one I have had for years that only prints in black and white that is much cheaper to use and the super duper color printer that allows me to print in color and scan documents.  Faxing documents is pretty much gone with the wind.  Instead today, it is all about scanning capability and attaching documents to emails. 

A good speaker phone is a must since conference calls are sometimes necessary; though now with Zoom or other video connectivity, using the computer audio often replaces the phone.  I am big on head phones to get greater audio capability; but they are not altogether necessary since computers now have audio built right into them. 

A storage closet is a nice to have in order to keep materials that may be necessary to work.  I have a big book case in mine with shelves that I use for paper and other items to make my home office fully functional.  If you are going to work at home, it is important to be fully functional.  With a little money, you can make it happen.  

Jun 24, 2021

Big Investment Companies Buying Rental Homes

Wall Street discovered the residential real estate market after the 2008-09 Fiscal Crisis.  As real estate markets in many cities collapsed and values went down by as much as 50%, big Wall Street Investment companies put real estate investment trusts in place to buy thousands of rental homes for cash.  The trend even continues today with home prices going through the roof.  Matter of fact, Wall Street money is helping drive prices up and making it tough for first time home buyers to buy a home.  They just can't compete with all cash offers.  

This trend is good and bad.  These big companies will be able to weather a storm if real estate markets suddenly start to slide as mortgage interest rates go back up.  Since homes are typically paid for in cash, they are not subject to the mortgage market.  And as long as they are collecting rents, which they continue to raise, they can hold on to homes longer until markets recover so no short selling.  On the other hand, all cash buyers distort the real estate market, since most buyers will need a mortgage to buy a home.  All cash buyers tend to result in higher home prices, which makes it difficult for low or middle income people to buy homes at higher prices.

It is what it is.  Now that Wall Street has discovered this investment vehicle as an opportunity for them to makes lots of money, they are not going away anytime soon.  Expect some government regulations to come into play as average people start to complain that they are being pushed out of home ownership.  

Jun 23, 2021

Refinancing Your Mortgage To Consolidate Debt

In some instances since mortgage interest rates are so low, it may makes sense to refinance your mortgage to consolidate credit card debt.  Car loans have been at historically low rates so there may be no advantage to add the car loan to your mortgage.  It is credit card debt that is the real problem, since interest rates are probably 12% or more.  If you owe $10,000 or more in credit card debt maybe it makes sense to refinance your loan; but there are things to consider.  You will probably pay $4,000 or more to refinance your loan.  

And, if you will be moving soon, refinancing may not make much sense.  If you plan to be in your home for 5 years or more, locking in a low interest rate could be a good idea.  But, you have to cut up the credit cards because if you go back to your old buying habits charging monthly expenses on your credit cards, you could end up right where you started from in a year or two.  This is about self discipline.  If you can't change your buying habits, just adding on to your home loan is not the best idea.  

If you are refinancing to renovate your home adding value in the process that could be a good thing.  Remember, kitchen and bathroom renovations have the most return on investment.  Using your home as a cash machine can be positive or negative.  But like any credit facility, it must be done wisely.  

Jun 22, 2021

Pets In The Home & Other Smells

Many people love dogs and cats and some actually have them as substitutes for children, or even spouses once gone.   The only problem is that animals create lingering smells in the home.  Animal lovers don't smell those smells anymore because they get used to them; but anybody else walking into a home will observe the smell immediately.  This is one of the reasons landlords often do not allow pets.  They know that the smell permeates carpets, drapes etc.  

If someone is planning on selling a home best to put pets someplace else and do a deep clean while the sale is in progress including the yard.  There are buyers that will walk right in and walk right out if they smell pets.  

Next, there are certain spices that are very strong.  Cooking with those spices on a regular basis will be in the air, carpets and drapes.  Cigarette smoke is a problem too.  The fact is that any offensive smells are a real negative when trying to sell a home.  Even with a deep clean, it is sometimes difficult to get rid of certain offensive smells.  People have actually had to paint, re-carpet their home and buy all new drapes to end the odors.  Just FYI, listing your home for sale is about dealing with any objections that buyers may have.  Right now, it is a sellers market; but it will not always be that way.  Dealing with offensive smells should be right at the top of the list when getting your home ready for sale.  

Jun 21, 2021

Rental Rates Are Going Through The Roof

Following the trend in housing prices, now rental rates in many markets are also going through the roof.  Landlords who may not have been able to raise rents during the Pandemic are doing it now.  And, the fact that our country is short 5 million or more homes is not helping matters.  Clearly, there is more demand than there is supply, which is driving up both home prices and rents.  Many people that want to buy homes have been priced out of the market and or are waiting until prices come back down, or there is more to choose from in housing market.  

Landlords are taking advantage of these trends as an opportunity to raise rents, which have been fairly stable for quite some time.  This also reflects the inflation that is hitting our country as a result of all the government money sloshing around.  There is a pretty good chance that rents will go up 10 - 20% in many markets in the country in the next year.

This may very well cause renters to rent smaller dwellings, whether homes or apartments than they otherwise might to contain cost.  Real estate is actually pretty predictable in terms of how prices drive behaviors.  Rental rates going up was pretty predictable given the demand for housing.   First time home buyers have been priced out of many markets.  They can't compete with buyers bidding up prices often paying more than list price.  So, these otherwise buyers are forced to rent until the housing market cools down, which could be several years because demand is still outpacing supply.  

Jun 19, 2021

US Housing Market Is Short 5.5 Million Homes

Home prices are going though the roof because supply has not kept up with demand.  In many markets, homes are selling within days of listing and often above list price in bidding wars.  Clearly,  we need more houses of all types across the country.  In places where land is scarce that means more high rise living.  Certainly, 4 or 5 story apartments and condos would be a good solution.  1,000 - 2,000 square foot dwellings would meet the needs of most couples and even young families.  The notion of a single family home on an 8,000 - 10,000 square foot lot may end up being a luxury.  Cities should rezone older areas to allow for higher density housing as a solution to add housing units in desirable locations.  

Obsolete commercial properties should be torn down and replaced by housing of all types.  This will involve rezoning to multi use residential with mixed use commercial so stores and other amenities within walking distance could be the wave of the future.  We have to create more affordable housing for singles, couples and young families.  Government has a role to play too.  Adding so many regulations adds to the cost of building.  We do need common sense regulations; but is time to eliminate unnecessary burdensome regulations, the cost of which just gets passed along in higher home prices.  California is a case in point.  It is estimated that city, county and state laws add $50,000 - $100,000 to the price of a home.  This just is not workable in a state with very high prices anyway. 

We may also see some situations where families actually go back to shared living.  Grandpa and Grandma could end up living with children.  Years ago, extended families always lived together.  It is  not the end of the world if it is needed.  We are going to have to get creative to build the 5.5 million housing units that are needed today.   

Jun 18, 2021

China Impacts Everything In The Housing Market

Aside from all the political interactions that go on with China, it is the one country in the world that has a tremendous impact on daily life.  So many things are made there that any slow down in trade can bring a building project to a halt.  And, if costs go up related to things coming from China, we will see higher building cost in the United States and on most household items.  We needed a new microwave convention oven.  Come to find out that there are only three companies in the world that make all microwave ovens for all the different brands.  And guess what. they are all made in China.  

When there was a blockage in the Suez Canal a few months ago, it made delivery of goods slow down.  So we waited three months for our microwave to come in.    We have friends that are similarly waiting for their new dishwasher to arrive.  Appliances available from a Lowes or Home Depot may very well be in stock so shorter delivery times are available; but higher end appliances are usually not maintained in a company's stock.  They are ordered through a distributor and many things have been on back order for months.  

Things like door hinges, door nobs and a million other things are made in China.  This is the reason 5 million jobs in the US and 70,000 factories have closed in the last 30 years in the United States.  Companies have moved production to China and other countries because of cheap labor and lower environmental standards.  It all works just fine, except the job losses in the US, until there is a bottleneck.  Covid has caused a bottle neck.   So, if you are waiting for some critical things to complete your home improvement project, odds are pretty good China is somewhere in the story.  

Jun 17, 2021

Highest Home Value Increases In The US

Home values are going through the roof all over the country.  It is clearly a seller's market almost everywhere.  It is happening because mortgage interest rates are very low and we are short 4 million housing units in the nation.  So this is clearly a supply and demand issue.  The demand is high.  The supply is low, which is driving up prices.  According to Red Fin, the markets with the highest appreciation this year have been Phoenix, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Austin and Miami.  In all case, homes have appreciated by double digits in these markets.    

So, what is a buyer to do.  In places like Reno, where I live homes are selling in a week or two with multiple offers bidding up the price often above list price.  First time home buyers with little to put down are out of luck because sellers will only accept offers with high down payments and often with no contingencies.  Buyers should get a home inspection anyway just to know what you are buying even if the seller refuses to make repairs. 

Many buyers should perhaps sit it out and wait for sanity to come back into the markets.  The only problem is that eventually mortgage interest rates will go up.  So though the home values may come down a bit, if rates go up the payment could end up being more.  So, this is a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation.  At least once the market cools, there may be more homes to choose from than there are now.  

Jun 16, 2021

Growing Older - Making Your Home & Life Retirement Friendly

During the last three years, we have watched many of our friends deal with serious illnesses requiring hospital stays and or even die.  We too have had minor surgeries that were not as serious.  What we have learned is that people over 65 really need to be prepared for what may come their way.  My grandfather used to say in Italian that growing older was like the bull poking you with his horns everyday.  In many ways, it is true.  So, thinking that life will go on business as usual is not realistic once we turn 65 or older.  

It is time to look around at your home to make it retirement friendly.  It may even be time to move to a one story house preferably in a warm climate if you live in a place that gets a lot of snow.  Falling is the biggest risk for older people that often leads to major health issues and surgeries.  So at all costs everything must be done to avoid falling.  If you live in a two story home, as much as possible, you should try to convert it to one story living.  So bringing the washer and dryer upstairs is a good idea if it is currently in a basement. Not hard to do with stackable units.  

If you can create a master bedroom suite on the first floor that would be good too.  Some people install the stair elevators to allow for going up stairs easier.  That can be done quickly so no real need to do it sooner than necessary.  However, bathtubs should be converted to showers with grab bars and a bench.  You are probably saying, I don't need any of these things right now.  Sadly, we have learned that everything can change in a day.  

Next, simplify your finances.  Make sure that both husband and wife can deal with your finances if the one managing them today is suddenly gone.  There are so many situations where a remaining spouse is clueless about their finances.  And, once the spouse managing their money is gone, it can become very stressful.  It should not be that way and with a little planning it does not need to be chaotic.  The time to deal with growing older is NOW.  So, make a check list of To Do's and get them all done.  

Jun 15, 2021

Quality of Life - Different For Everyone

Quality of Life can mean very different things to different people.  After working very hard their whole lives, we moved my parents to a very nice 55 or older gated community.   They were able to pay cash to buy a new 1,600 square foot patio home, which was actually much nicer than the older 1,200 square foot home they left behind in North Hollywood, California.  This community had an 18 hole putting course and and a great club house and pool for activities.  For my parents, who never traveled except to go to funerals back in Ohio where they were from, quality of life meant paying their bills without worry, having plenty of food, golfing on the putting course for my Dad who never golfed in his life and activities for my mother with new found friends at the club.  My mother used to attend the garden club luncheons even though she never gardened in her whole life.  Oh Yes and they discovered baseball on TV.  That was it.  They were comfortable and content.  They did not need anything else.  My Mom was still cooking until she was 87 years old.  

Most important, no matter where people live, I believe that family and friends are critical to quality of life.  Interaction with people seems to be what makes people happiest.  It is not about money; but rather the ability to share life experiences.  And, this becomes really important when people need moral support to deal with life's challenges; mostly health issues as we grow older.  While family may be there when these life events occur, friends often provide the most support.  

We often hear people say, "when I retire I am going to travel".   Unfortunately, travel often requires mobility.  As we grow older, it could be that many trips that require a lot of walking may not be possible.  So as someone who has traveled all over the world, I would suggest that if traveling is on your bucket list, if you have the means to do it sooner than retirement, go for it.  You can always go on cruises later in life, which require less mobility.  

Everyone needs to define Quality of Life for themselves.  To many, it may be a very simple life.  For others, they maintain a busier calendar in retirement than when they worked.  Not so sure that is the best idea; but if it works for them; then fine until it does not work for them.   

Jun 14, 2021

Buying A Tiny House

We are starting to see a trend especially among younger people to buy  "tiny" homes.  These are usually custom built homes on wheels that can be transported anywhere.   They are a cross between a manufactured home and a mobile home.  These tiny homes are usually between 500 and 700 square feet including second floor space.  The cost can be somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000 depending on amenities.  Sometimes, they will have a pull out deck once parked. 

There is only one problem and that is where to park a tiny home to connect it to electricity, gas and sewer.  Tiny home parks are springing up all over the country and or it is possible to park a tiny home in a mobile home park.  Either way, unless somebody owns a lot to park it on, there will be monthly payments to rent a space.  Those spaces could cost $500 or more a month depending on location.  The good news is that since a tiny home is on wheels, it can be moved.  However, it would usually require a large truck to haul it to a new location and that can cost $3,000 or more depending on distance.  

Even so, this could be a great alternative for a young person, or couple seeking a starter home especially now with home prices going through the roof.  A tiny home is probably not a good alternative for a family with children.  There just is not enough room to accommodate more than 1 or 2 people. It is not "real property" in the sense that it is real estate because it is not attached to the land.  Instead, it would be considerer personal property just like owning a car or truck so that probably means some kind of license fee each year depending on the state.   Tiny homes could be the wave of the future for retired people, as well, just seeking a little space to call home.    

Jun 12, 2021

Fixing Up Your Home

Years ago, when I was a school teacher and had more time than money, I hired some kids and together we landscaped our new home entire yard.  I hired a landscape architect to complete the design, which we followed.  I did have cement poured for the patios in front and back; but otherwise, we installed sprinklers, a railroad tie retaining wall, about 40 trees,  hundreds of plants and sod.  It was a huge job that took two summers to complete.   I was young then and had lots of energy and took the time to learn how to do the job right.  It was a tremendous amount of work; but our yard looked great once done.  Though we don't live there anymore, the home is still there and the yard still looks great; though a little over grown.  We probably could have planted half the number of trees and it would have been enough.  Remember, plants grow.  

I never attempted a major renovation within the home.  And today, I have a guy for everything; electrician, plumber, handy man, gardener etc.  I am just not that handy with tools and I don't have the time or the energy to take on big jobs.  That ship sailed long ago.  However, younger people can save a lot of money by attempting small jobs around the house.  Of course, the trade off is time.   Time you spend doing a renovation is time you don't have to spend with your family.  Years ago, when our sons were young, I hired a gardener to avoid spending my Saturdays dealing with the yard so I could spend more time with my family.  

But be advised, projects always take longer than you anticipate and usually cost more because you will need to factor in screw-up's.  If you don't get it right, most likely it will either need to be done again, or you will call in a professional to get the job done right.  If you are handy with tools, you could find doing a renovation enjoyable.  There is a lot of information on the Internet to provide instructions and or stores like Home Depot and Lowes some times offer classes.  So if you have plenty of time and energy, go for it.    

Jun 11, 2021

Costco & Trader Joe's - Got To Have Them

Far be it for me to do a commercial on this blog for Costco and Trader Joe's, but I love both stores and find them necessary to daily life.  Costco is wonderful for big families because most things they sell come in bulk sizes. If nothing else everybody can take advantage of their paper products, can goods, drugs and many other items that have a long shelf life.  Trader Joe's is just perfect for young couples and Seniors who don't need bulk products. 

We probably would not buy a home in a community that did not have a Costco and Trader Joe's nearby.  Trader Joe's is really good for couples, young or old because the foods they sell are ideal for quick meals with proportions that make perfect sense for two people.  I get lost in a Costco going and down every aisle.  And, since I am an impulse buyer, I end up buying things just to try them. 

There are so many convenience foods, which are great for both seniors and working couples.  Today, it is all about making a meal in 30 minutes or less.  When a single mom or husband and wife come home from work and the kids are waiting to be fed, making dinner happen quickly is critical. However, some of this shopping means having sufficient freezer and storage space to keep purchases.  We have lots of cabinets for our Costco storage and plenty of freezer space for cold items.  The days of cooking things from scratch are pretty much over thanks to Costco and Trader Joe's.  

Flipping A Home - Beware

HDTV has many shows with personalities focused on flipping homes as investment income.  I would tell anyone thinking about doing it, Don't.  Unless you have the skills and plan to do a lot of the remodeling yourself, by the time you hire contractors and deal with all the unexpected expenses that will come up, the odds of making a lot of money are minimal.  Plus in this market, homes are selling for top dollar.  The chances of finding a bargain fixer upper that can be renovated for a profit just got harder.  

Let the professionals with deep pockets work on flipping homes for a living.  They better understand what they are getting themselves into.  And, we are only seeing the ones on TV that worked out for them.  My guess is that they lose money on some number of homes.   So, mind your own business.  

If you want to invest in a nice home in a good location that needs minimal work to make it a rental, that makes better sense.  At Paragon Home Resources, we work with people all over the country to sell and buy homes.  If you need help buying an investment property, just call Paragon.  

Jun 10, 2021

Rooting In A New City - Do It Fast

Many people are moving from areas they may have lived in for years to new areas across the country.  Sometimes these are people retiring moving from cold places to warm places.  In other cases, younger people who can work from home are choosing to move from high cost, high tax states to lower cost, lower tax states.  The reason for the move does not matter.  What does matter is that once moved, people need to root fast in order adjust to the new area.  

Some things are obvious.  If you are on Medicare Medigap or Advantage Plans, your current health insurance may not be applicable in the new state.  You may need to change medical insurance companies.  Once done, you will need to find a doctor, dentist etc. to deal with medical issues.  If you have chronic illnesses, you may also need to identify specialists covered under your health care plan.  But beyond the basic stuff, unless lots of relatives are nearby and even if they are close, you will need new friends to replace the people you left behind in the old location to begin a great life in the new location. 

Friends matter so join clubs, or maybe a church or temple.  If you can, buy in an area with HOA or other Club facilities.  Most important, jump right in and get involved.  As soon as you get your home settled, knock on your neighbor's doors to introduce your family.  There will be neighbors that are not good options; but there will be others that will welcome you with open arms.  Life is what we make it.  Choose to makes yours a great life.  Don't be shy.  Other people are always looking for new friends too.  

Jun 8, 2021

Dealing With Bad Neighbors and Pets

For the most part, people usually have nice neighbors who take care of their homes.   But once in a while, a neighbor and or his pets can be devils from hell.  The first thing to do is not confront someone who is irrational.  Hopefully, you live in a tract with a Home Owners Association.  Odds are pretty good that a bad neighbor is violating some HOA rules.  If so, call the HOA and let them handle it.  They have the ability to fine a resident who is not following the rules.  They can make someone pretty miserable if they don't comply with the rules.  

Next, if you don't live in a tract with an HOA, there could be city or county ordinances that apply to what the neighbor is doing.  Call your city or county if you live in an unincorporated area and demand that they deal with the problem.  You can also call the police or sheriff if you think the neighbor is doing something illegal.  No one is allowed to come on your property and destroy any plants, trees etc.  They are allowed to trim trees that may be growing over the property line; but only up to the property line.  

Hopefully, your HOA or city/county law enforcement can deal with any neighbor that is violating rules or laws.  You certainly don't want to create a situation that could turn violent.  There are many people addicted to drugs or alcohol that could be very irrational.  Do not engage them under any circumstances. At some point, if the problem is not solved, you may need to move.  There is nothing worse than dealing with a crazy neighbor.  You could try chocolate chip cookies and see if that works.    

Reverse Mortgages - Could Make Sense For Some People

Generally people who are retired; but have little money in savings and not enough to live on with Social Security or other pensions, may be able to tap their home equity by getting a Reverse Mortgage.  Initial fees are pretty high; but the outcome could be a monthly check to supplement income to live on.  This option should be a last resort.  What will happen when the owner(s) die is that presumably the home will need to be sold unless the heirs can pay off the debt. 

While most people would like to stay in their homes until the end of life, the real question should be is it a smart thing to do.  Homes require regular maintenance.  Things break and will have to be repaired or replaced, which can be costly.  Just maybe it would be smarter to sell the home and use the equity to live on.  Depending on the persons age, renting in a 55 or older apartment complex, or moving into a senior assisted living community may be the best option.  As people get older they just don't need as much space.  A one or two bedroom apartment may be enough.  And, depending on income, it is possible to get a low income benefit offered in many rental buildings, which will result in lower monthly rents.  And, people with little income may be able to take advantage of Medicaid to pay for assisted living.  

Ultimately, it is about quality of life.  Spending a lot of money to maintain a home may not make much sense for someone over 75 years old.  At Paragon Home Resources, we work with Seniors and their families to assist with life decisions.  If you have a home to sell anywhere in the country, we can help you get top dollar for your home to give you the money you need to live a great life.  

Jun 6, 2021

Are You A Hoarder - Warning Signs

If you have things all over your home sitting on tables, the floor, furniture etc., it could be a warning sign that you are a hoarder.  It has to be one of three things.  First, maybe you don't have enough storage for the things you own.  So, you have a choice, build more storage in the garage or where ever you can put it.  Or, if that is not possible, it is time to get rid of a lot of stuff.  Second, your home is just too small for your family.  If you have more things that can possibly fit in the closets, or cabinets, maybe you need a bigger home to accommodate your family.  Third, you are a hoarder and that will not change if you build more storage or you buy a bigger home because you will just fill the new space.  If that is the case, you may need help dealing with your obsession to keep adding to your things.  

Let's first start with the financial impact of having more things than you need.  If you are still buying things you don't need, you are trading dollars for things that eventually will end up at a garage sale, or donated to charity.  Why do it.  Save the money.  Put more in your 401K or other investments.  Most things don't appreciate in value.  They depreciate.  Whatever you pay for something, it is worth less the minute you turn over the dollars.  Why waste your money.  

Next is the health impact of hoarding.  Clutter attracts mold, dust and dust mites.  Your family is breathing the air in your home.  You could be living in a hazardous waste zone that can impact allergies and infections.   You can't fix this unless you get rid of the piles of things.  The rule needs to be if it does not fit in a closet or cabinet, you have too much stuff that could be impacting your health.  This is also applicable to all the toys kids tend to have these days.  For every new toy that comes in, two should go out.  So, look around.  If I am describing your home, maybe you need to take action.  

At Paragon Home Resources, we can recommend companies that will help you get rid of stuff.  Many things can be donated for a tax write off.  Other things that are just junk have to go.  Trust me, you will feel better if the clutter is gone from your home.     

National Electric Power Grid Is At Risk - The Two Week Rule

Given the cyber attacks we have recently seen,  the odds are pretty good that cyber terrorists will attack our electric grid sometime soon.  All people in our country should count on it.  So, the question is are you ready to do without electricity for days or weeks.   Everything we take for granted will stop if we lose power.  That includes everything in your home, heating, air conditioning, lights, refrigerators, stoves without a match to light the gas assuming the gas is still happening, TV's, computers etc.  Outside our homes, stores, gas stations, banks etc. will all be closed unless they have huge generators allowing them to operate, which is doubtful.  

So, you can only control what you can control.  Maybe it makes sense to buy a generator that will at least power your refrigerator, heating and some lighting.  Short of that have plenty of batteries on hand to power lighting if nothing else.  Canned food, which can include things like Chicken, Tuna etc can provide food for a while.  If you have pets, pet food is pretty easy to have on hand.  Assume at least two weeks of inability to go to a grocery store to buy food.  

And, you should also have two weeks of bottled water on hand.  It is possible that water will be gone too because it could be based on pumps that are not working.   Think through everything you would need to last two weeks in your home without power.  Don't think this can't happen because it already has happened many times related to natural disasters.  Assume the two week rule.  We may be on own for two weeks.     

Jun 5, 2021

Living In A Cold Climate - Not So Good

We moved to California from Ohio when I was 8 years old.  When we lived in Ohio, I remember my father and grandmother arguing over whether to use hot or warm water on my frozen little hands one winter after coming in from outside.  Now that my wife and I live in Reno, Nevada while the weather is pretty moderate, we do experience some cold months usually in January or February, when we can get several feet of snow at our 6,000 foot elevation.  I hate it, so we try not to be there in those months.  If we are there, I usually have to get the guys to come and clear my driveway at least enough so we can get a car out of the garage.  

I don't know how people live in cold climates with months of snow and bleak weather.  At least in Reno, we get 300 days of sunshine a year and blue skies even if it is chilly outside.  I guess this is the reason many people facing retirement move from cold places to warm places.  People in the Mid West seem to like Arizona or Nevada.  People in the Northeast usually head to Florida.   The snow is especially hard and dangerous for older people because of the possibility of slipping on the ice often causing a fall, which is the single biggest source of accidents for older people. 

Getting out of the cold into a warmer place in retirement makes perfect sense.  Millions of people do it every year, which is why states like Florida, the Carolinas, Nevada, Texas and Arizona continue to grow and many cold states continue to shrink.  At Paragon Home Resources we work with people to sell and buy homes.  We are helping many implement this migration with one point of contact assistance, which includes dealing with all the services needed to accomplish a move.  Just go to paragonhomeresources.com to see what we can do for you.  

Jun 3, 2021

The Most Popular Home Styles

A recent study identified the most popular architectural homes styles in the country, which is highly dependent on region as follows:

1. Ranch; 2. Craftsman; 3. Contemporary; 4. Modern; 5. Cape Cod; 6. Colonial; 7. Tudor;  8. Cottage;  9. Mediterranean; 10. Farm House.

In my 40 years of real estate experience, younger people often gravitate toward more modern styles, while older buyers usually want homes with "charm" or more traditional styles.  Most important, buying a home that is out of character for the area may result in White Elephant syndrome.  That is the home might appeal to 1 in 10 buyers if you ever have to sell.  The goal is to buy a home in a great location that would appeal to 9 out of 10 buyers in case the need arises that you must sell the home.  

Like everything else architectural styles can be trendy.  The ones that are more trendy tend to look dated sooner.  You can never go wrong with more traditional styles.  And, the roof pitch matters particularly in climates with a lot of rain or snow.  Never buy a home with a flat roof in an area with lots of rain or snow.  You will eventually have leaks guaranteed.  And, roof pitch adds to the curb appeal of the home.  It does not need to be too steep; but visually having a roof with a nice pitch adds value to the home.  

So, choose architectural style wisely.  One day you may need to sell the home.  You should buy a home that will be attractive to most people.  Curb appeal matters.  

Jun 2, 2021

Homes Selling The Fastest In 10 Markets

Real Estate Markets are crazy all over the country; but homes are selling the fastest in 10 key markets as follows:

Ogden, Utah; Manchester, New Hampshire; Colorado Springs, Colorado: Reno, Nevada; Vallejo, California; Columbus, Ohio; Elkhart, Indiana; Austin, Texas; Topeka, Kansas and Rochester, New York. 

In these markets homes are sold within a week or two and often above list price in bidding wars.  No doubt, there is little inventory in these markets so supply and demand is driving quick sales at high prices.  These location are probably hot for different reasons.  States like Utah, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Indiana are attracting buyers usually moving from high cost high tax states.  These particular inbound states have thriving businesses so they are growing.  

Columbus, Ohio is a great university town with a good quality of life.  Not sure why markets are hot in Topeka or Rochester.  Vallejo, California is less expensive than closer in Bay Area cities.  But here we are.  Could be people downsizing, or maybe first time home buyers since homes in Topeka or Rochester would be relatively inexpensive.  

Many believe we have about 14 more months of crazy real estate markets.  However,  we need 4 million more homes to fill demand, which could takes several years to achieve.  In any case, right now it is a great Seller's Market.  Not so good if you are a buyer.  Be prepared to pay above list price to win a bidding war.  It is happening all over the country.  

Jun 1, 2021

Working From Home - People Can Live Anywhere

The trend of people working from home was happening before Covid; but after Covid when many people began working from home that had not done so before, the trend just further accelerated.  Since the technology is there to allow people to work from anywhere, more and more of them are choosing the life style they want and moving at their own cost.  In many cases, they are moving from high cost cities and states to lower cost cities and states where home ownership is more affordable.  

They are also escaping the high taxes and cost of living in states like California, New York and Illinois, which often provides an automatic salary increase by just crossing a state line.   It just makes sense.   The availability of Zoom meetings making working from anywhere easy.  This blogger recently did a Zoom meeting with client contacts and our employees based in Sweden, France, Singapore, Texas and Nevada.  We also did a Best and Final Presentation by Zoom that went very well.  In the old days, we would have all jumped on airplanes at considerable cost and time resources for an hour or two meeting.  Today, with all of us working from home, we had successful meetings for an hour that achieved our objectives.  Business life will never be the same again.  

If considering a move, it is really important to do your homework.  Make sure the city and state you are choosing has all the amenities that are important to you and your family.  At Paragon Home Resources, we work with families to sell and buy homes all over the country.  We can assist with your life decisions by providing information and an unbiased sounding board to help you choose just the right location and home.