If you missed our Forecast this year, don’t fear! You can watch the recap video below.
By Michael Longsdon
For many seniors, there comes a time when the expense and upkeep of a big home no longer seem realistic. All of your kids have moved out, and suddenly, your multi-bedroom house feels excessively large and empty. Plus, it may be difficult to keep up with mortgage payments if you’re expecting a lower income during retirement. Whether downsizing is a financial necessity or an emotional decision, here’s how to tackle the process without getting overwhelmed.
Do Online Research
Before you start looking at houses in person, narrow down your options by doing some research online. Search the local housing market on sites such as Redfin to get a feel for house prices in your desired area. For example, homes in Seattle, Washington have sold for an average of $685,000during the past month. Explore listings in your preferred size range and location so you can come up with a realistic budget for your new home.
Think far ahead as you look at homes, considering the possibility that the needs of you and your spouse may change over time. One-story homes can be much more accessible for you and your friends down the line. You should also take time to research the neighborhood and pay attention to the house’s proximity to grocery stores, leisure centers, and public transportation.
Plan for Your Storage Needs
If you’re moving to an apartment or condo, you may not have the attic, basement, or even the closet space that you’re used to. Look for a nearby for an affordable self-storage unit so you aren’t left crowding boxes and furniture into your new home. Some simple online research can help you find the best deals in your area. In the last 180 days, for instance, self-storage units in Seattle, Washington cost an average of $88.45 per month.
Go Through Your Possessions Methodically
One of the hardest parts about downsizing is getting rid of things you’ve had for decades. Apartment Guide recommends looking at pictures of clutter-free rooms in magazines for inspiration before starting your own purge. This will mentally prepare you for getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need cluttering up your new, smaller space.
As you declutter, go room by room and sort items into no more than five piles: keep, donate, sell, gift, and throw away. Don’t be afraid to let go of things that are useful but not particularly necessary in your own life. Likewise, don’t keep things out of obligation or feelings of guilt. While you’re cutting the clutter, keep a floor plan of your new home nearby so you can plan out your rooms and ensure your furniture will fit. If you’re worried about accurately measuring your space, you can hire a professional to help you out.
Pack Like a Pro
Protect your items during your move and make them easier to unpack later by trying out some expert packing tips. For example, socks make great padding for glasses and mugs, while oven mitts are perfect for transporting knives a little more safely. Secure entire desk drawers and kitchen storage trays with plastic wrap for much faster unpacking later. Also, keep your clothing on hangers and simply slip a garbage bag over them for protection. Remember to pack an essentials box of everything you need during your first day and night in your new house.
Follow a Moving Checklist
There is a lot to remember to do before moving day. For example, you need to update your mailing address with the post office, find a new doctor, and transfer your utilities. Follow a moving checklist (or hire a senior move manager for around $316 per day) to avoid forgetting important tasks. One of your moving tasks should involve researching moving companies at least two months before your move. This gives you plenty of time to find the help you need within your budget. Learn about how to spot rogue moving companies so you can avoid being scammed, especially if you’re moving long distance.
Moving is exhausting for anyone. But moving into a smaller home can be especially emotional as you say goodbye to personal objects that have surrounded you for much of your life. For this reason, it’s important to take things slow while you sort through your possessions and search for the perfect place to spend your golden years.
Mr. Longsdon provides advice to seniors on downsizing and aging in place and can discuss concerns like tackling home accessibility modifications, how to find a great contractor, the benefits of aging in place, and more.
A friend sent me this article yesterday and I thought I’d share it with you all because more and more of us are hoping to stay in our homes forever. This article is a great list of things to look for in a forever home. Enjoy!
10 Services for Larimer County Seniors
Below is a link to a great list of 10 services for Larimer County Seniors. Senior Access Points is a collaboration between Colorado State University, Larimer County Extension and the Partnership for Age-Friendly Communities, with funding from the CSU Department of Human and Development Studies. As a member of the Partnership for Age Friendly Communities I can tell you we’re all working hard to find ways to connect seniors in our community with local, aging-related resources. If you’re up for it, fill out the survey at the bottom of the article to help us identify how to best support Larimer County citizens in accessing critical community resources before a crisis hits.
Older first-time home buyers belong to an exclusive club,
given that the median age of first-time buyers in 2015 was 31.
By JOANNE KAUFMAN
Edith Shapiro was 36 when she and her husband, Nathan, moved in 1967 to a brand-new rental building at 200 East 62nd Street. Back then, $725 per month got them a four-bedroom duplex with four and a half baths.
“It’s a fabulous apartment,” said Ms. Shapiro, who has remained there ever since, raising her daughter, developing her fashion design business — and watching the rent climb.
“It started going up and it kept going up,” she said. “Then, after a while, it zoomed up. Now, it’s $18,000 a month.”
There were two constants in the Shapiros’ long, happy marriage: her pleas, in the face of that skyrocketing monthly obligation, to purchase a co-op or condo already, and his steadfast refusal to do any such thing.
“My husband didn’t want to buy anything,” said Ms. Shapiro, now 84. “He wanted to be liquid.”
Mr. Shapiro died six years ago. Recently, 200 East 62nd went condo, and Ms. Shapiro is now in contract to buy her duplex for more than $5 million, with her monthly costs “in the same ballpark” as when she was a renter, she said.
“My friends ask me why at my age I’m buying,” Ms. Shapiro added. “But I’m in good financial shape and I don’t want to be the victim of any landlord again.”
As a senior debutante home buyer, Ms. Shapiro belongs to an exclusive club. The median age of first-time buyers in 2015 was 31, according to the National Association of Realtors. Only 7 percent of newbies were in the 55-to-74 age group. Less than 1 percent of first-timers were 75 and above.
Later-in-life buyers in New York fall into several categories. Some, like Ms. Shapiro, have grown weary of landlord caprices. Some come into an inheritance and decide to put it into real estate. Still others come to the conclusion that their rent-regulated apartment, while a boon in many ways, is also a trap, the real estate version of golden handcuffs. Then there are those who could have bought earlier, perhaps should have bought earlier and who suddenly bump up against that most ugly truth: They’re not getting any younger.
“There are people who wait their whole lives to buy,” said Kathy Braddock, a managing director of William Raveis New York City. “They sit on the sidelines and say ‘not now, not now, not now.’ But,” she continued, “as Phase 3 of life comes, people see things differently and they’re more comfortable about pulling the trigger. They get to a point where they think, ‘I want to own property before I die — and not just a cemetery plot.’ ”
Better late than never. And better, in many ways, to buy in New York, where real estate values have only increased and where real estate taxes are low relative to many surrounding areas. And buying an apartment, rather than a house in the suburbs or the country, takes a lot of variables off the table — a felled oak tree in the yard, a leaky roof, the snow removal costs of a rough winter. “As a shareholder or a condo owner, you know you’ll have your real estate taxes and your maintenance or common charges,” Ms. Braddock said. “And you know that, historically, maintenance increases by X amount annually. You can budget around those fixed costs.”
Josephine DeMichele and her husband, Gary Inzana, lived happily in the East Village for 10 years in a one-bedroom rented to them by a friend. But in March 2014, “we got the horrible news that we had to vacate in three months,” said Ms. DeMichele, 58, a creative director. “Our friend wanted the apartment for his son.”
In the end, they were given six months to clear out. Even so, the whole thing felt like a bad flashback: A decade earlier they’d been obliged to move out of their West Village rental in a similarly narrow time frame; the apartment had been sold out from under them.
“We could have continued to rent, which was our M.O. in the past,” said Mr. Inzana, 58, a web designer and developer. “But we were tired of having to leave places. We were tired of things being out of our control.”
Coincidentally, he and Ms. DeMichele had just started thinking about purchasing a weekend house that would become a full-time residence when they retired.
“We were already preparing to be in a buyer’s mind-set, so when we were notified by our landlord in the East Village, it was ‘Stop the presses,’ ” Mr. Inzana said. The new headline: “Couple Begins Search for a Co-op.”
After a fruitless hunt in both the East Village and the West Village, they found what they were looking for in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan: a two-bedroom apartment with a gym in the building and access to the roof. The view of the river was a nice bonus. The price was under $700,000.
And while Mr. Inzana is upset that “the weekend place isn’t happening now,” and while the couple are laying out a bit more per month than they did as renters, “we’re getting so much more,” Ms. DeMichele said.
Being homeowners, she added, makes them feel even more connected to the city. “New York is in our blood,” Ms. DeMichele said. “We probably could have gotten a bigger place in New Jersey or Connecticut, but we decided to stay here. And yes, we’re barely in Manhattan. But I can still say we’re in Manhattan. You didn’t kick us out.”
Michelle Beshaw knows all about landlords exercising their prerogatives. She lived happily for 27 years in a two-bedroom rent-regulated walk-up in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The neighborhood was great and she could bike to her job as the manager of the gift shop at the Brooklyn Museum. But two years ago, when the landlord reclaimed the apartment for his daughter, Ms. Beshaw, 53, needed to find a new place to live.
She figured that the new place would be a rental; it was what she could afford. But she was part owner of a family farm in Iowa and it had just been sold. The timing couldn’t have been better.
Ms. Beshaw’s share of the proceeds, plus a small settlement from her landlord, netted a one-bedroom co-op with windows on three sides, in an elevator building in Kensington, Brooklyn. She paid less than $300,000, and her monthly housing costs are half what she paid as a renter.
“Until the situation presented itself, this wasn’t something I was dreaming of my entire life,” said Ms. Beshaw, who is also a puppeteer. “But I’m very grateful to be an owner.
“There’s a financial maturity I have now that I didn’t have earlier,” she added. “Coming to New York from Iowa to be an artist, I think I convinced myself that I didn’t need much as long as I was doing what I loved. That’s sort of true, but it feels good to have a place I can afford that’s really, really lovely.”
According to many in the real estate business, the “must have” and “no way” checklists of older first-timers differ considerably from those of younger buyers making their initial foray into the market. Nicole Beauchamp, a saleswoman at the brokerage Engel & Völkers New York City, said her older clients are less likely to consider walk-ups, anticipating a time when they won’t be able to walk up. And they may put a premium on an apartment with a live-in super or a doorman.
From a broker’s perspective, she added, “there’s more ‘therapy’ involved with older clients. They might find a space that works but they aren’t familiar with the neighborhood and it’s far from where their friends are. You have to help them decide if they want to reinvent themselves at this point in their lives.”
When Mr. Inzana and Ms. DeMichele had to clear out of their apartment in the West Village a decade ago, they had briefly checked out Washington Heights, where they’re now happily settled.
It’s true that many of their new neighbors are either pushing a stroller or a wheelchair, “but we’ve had the late nights and the lights and the hip scene,” Mr. Inzana said. “We were willing to take a step forward and get away from emergency vehicles 24/7.”
Age often plays a key role in the way buyers approach a real estate transaction. “Younger buyers are sometimes looking for a property that will see them through the next 10 years,” said Darryl Nipps, the salesman at the Corcoran Group brokerage who worked with Mr. Inzana and Ms. DeMichele. “Older buyers are looking for something to see them through a much longer period — through retirement.”
Such was the case with Dr. Allen Wilkins, a physician who specializes in rehabilitative medicine and who, with his wife, Erica Wilkins, closed on a $1.64 million townhouse in Harlem this past August, right after his 50th birthday. “If I were younger I might be thinking, ‘So we’ll buy this place, raise our kids and then maybe sell and move somewhere else,’ ” Dr. Wilkins said. “But now I know I want to retire here.”
They are busy renovating. “We’re looking at the big picture of spending the rest of our lives in this place, so we want to get it just right,” he added. “We want to make it special, rather than just making it livable.”
Dr. Wilkins, who had a couple of lucrative careers before deciding to go to medical school, had the resources to buy a place in New York a few decades ago and had briefly considered doing just that. “The thing is,” he said, “I hadn’t yet met my wife.” That situation was redressed when he married Erica, now 35, in 2009.
Similar uncertainty in her personal life helps explain why Elena Castaneda held off buying until last year. “When I was in my 20s and 30s, I was thinking about how I shouldn’t buy an apartment because I might have a partner, and I also didn’t know if I was going to have children,” said Ms. Castaneda, 56, the owner of the e-commerce company Bling Jewelry.
There was also the not-so-small matter of the one-bedroom rent-regulated apartment on East 84th Street that Ms. Castaneda had occupied for almost 30 years. “I used to think it was a blessing, but in hindsight I see it as more of a curse,” she said. “It kept me from aggressively looking to buy something.”
Three years ago, frustrated by her tight quarters and buoyed by the success of her business, Ms. Castaneda began looking to buy. “At 50, your life has its direction,” she said. “I had different needs at that point and it was much more about me and what my needs were than thinking about how other people were going to fit into the scenario.”
She insisted on a co-op rather than a condo. “I didn’t want to be next to an empty apartment that was somebody’s investment, and I didn’t want to be next door to an apartment that some parents had bought for their college kids to live in,” Ms. Castaneda said. “They’d be having parties. While I would have wanted to be in that environment when I was younger, it doesn’t interest me now.”
What she had in mind was an apartment that would make her happy for the long term in an amenity-rich building on the Upper East Side. At this juncture, she said, she didn’t want to pull up stakes and venture to a new part of town. And she wanted “to have an elevator man, having someone bring up your packages, being able to call someone to come fix something,” she said.
A three-year search ended with the purchase, for more than $1.5 million, of a loft-like penthouse with terraces and a skylight in the East 70s. Ms. Castaneda made a substantial down payment, yet another decision driven by the calendar. “When I was younger I would have put the minimal amount down and taken out a 30-year mortgage,” she said. “But here it was ‘O.K., this is my financial portfolio and I need to put a certain percentage of it into real estate. And I get to enjoy that investment.’ ” Now, she’s busily buying art and light fixtures, expenditures she never would have made for a rental.
She’s not the only one. As soon as the apartment at 200 East 62nd is officially hers, Ms. Shapiro is going to convert one of the bedrooms into “a fabulous closet,” she said, and add a Jacuzzi “and all the bells and whistles” to one of the bathrooms. “I’ll make it grand for me.”
Mind you, Ms. Shapiro isn’t thinking just of herself. “My daughter loves the apartment, too,” she said. “She’s going to want it on my demise. But I’m planning to live forever.”
Source: NY TImes
By Kim Slowey |
Growing older comes with a unique set of challenges: increasing health problems, a dwindling bank account, learning to live on a fixed income, loss of independence, decreased social interaction and, for some, an unfamiliar state of vulnerability. One of the most pressing issues facing seniors, however, is that most basic of needs — a safe and affordable place to live.
According to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University, by 2030, the number of U.S. baby boomers aged 65-74 will reach 38.6 million, and the number of 75-84-year-olds will reach 30.1 million by 2040.
Some seniors have the financial resources to pick and choose where and how they will live, but for many, affordability is the issue, according to Alayna Waldrum, senior housing consultant, advocate and former housing legislative representative for LeadingAge, a national senior advocacy group comprised of thousands of nonprofits.
"If you have substantial income, or you have resources, then housing really isn’t going to be an issue," she said. "You can arrange the housing that you need."
Waldrum said the most affordable housing option for very-low-income seniors over the age of 62 has been the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202 program, which provides funding to housing nonprofits in two ways. One method is project rental assistance contracts, through which money is directed to a qualifying senior development to cover the difference between residents’ rent payments and the cost of operations.
The other avenue of assistance is through capital advances. In this scenario, HUD pays for the cost of developing, purchasing or rehabilitating a development, and no repayment of that investment is required as long as the housing remains available to very-low-income seniors for at least 40 years.
However, the bad news for the very-low-income segment of the rapidly increasing senior population, projected to be 6.5 million households by 2024, is that HUD provided its last round of capital advance funding in 2012, with no current plans to re-start that program or anything similar.
"They’re not being built anymore," Waldrum said. "There is no program now that pays for the construction of this type of housing, and that is going to be a major challenge nationally."
In addition, the 40-year obligation attached to the capital advance program is ending for many developments, Waldrum said, and some owners are choosing to either sell the properties or convert them to market-rate housing, further squeezing an already tight national supply of approximately 300,000 units.
The next most-affordable housing option for seniors, Waldrum said, is through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. Simply put, investors receive a sizeable federal tax credit for financing certain types of low-income housing. In addition, resident income limits for LIHTC housing are not as stringent as they are for very-low-income units.
"LIHTC has always played a prominent role in the creation and preservation of affordable senior housing," said Charles Anderson, executive vice president of acquisitions at City Real Estate Advisors, Inc. City Real Estate is a syndicator of affordable housing tax credits and facilitates and manages affordable housing projects throughout the U.S. "In many of those cases," Anderson said, "HUD has played the important role of providing rental subsidy, permanent loan proceeds or both."
Anderson said that while many affordable housing professionals believe seniors and others in need are underserved, most would agree the LIHTC program has been a success, and, in fact, he said, the LIHTC program is where much of the senior housing development activity has been and will continue to be.
"As it relates to current activity forecasts, we are expecting our production level to increase roughly 30% year over year for fiscal year 2016.," he said. "We are on track in accomplishing this goal, and we are generally optimistic about the market supply and demand metrics we are seeing."
New ideas for older residents
However, given the number of people expected to hit senior status in the next 25 years, standard housing options might not be enough. Along those lines, homesharing is an option gaining popularity among seniors.
Types of homesharing range from roommate matching services tomultigenerational housing where younger people move into a senior’s home to give support and day-to-day companionship in exchange for free or low rent.
For example, a nursing home in the Netherlands provides free housing for college students in exchange for 30 hours a week of being "good neighbors" to the senior residents, providing much needed social interaction to combat the sense of loneliness and isolation so prevalent in these types of facilities.
Jeff Salter, founder of Caring Senior Service, said the natural solution is to find ways to allow as many seniors as possible to "age in place" in their existing homes because "there’s no possible way to build enough facilities to house all the seniors that are going to need help" in the coming years.
Salter said his experience has been, and as some studies have suggested, that when people have to leave their homes for a long-term care facility, their life span can shorten. "Dorm living is great when you’re young and want new experiences, and your life is all ahead of you," he said. However, according to Salter, for seniors who are used to living independently, "being thrust into a scenario where you’re now in a dorm setting again at the end of your life is actually quite depressing."
Salter said the biggest obstacle to seniors being able to stay in their homes is the risk of a fall, and most senior homes are not equipped to prevent them. "Simple things like installing grab bars in the bathroom and teaching people how to actually use those grab bars and convincing them that they need to use them — that’s just an education process."
According to the JCHS, 5.5 million older households include someone with mobility difficulty but are without accessibility modifications, such as no-step entryways and ramps. They conclude that there is at least a $13 billion opportunity for the remodeling industry just by installing these features alone.
Waldrum said the nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center is a respected aging-in-place advocate. The Washington, DC, think tank is exploring myriad ways, from smart home technology to urban planning, to help seniors stay in their homes.
Salter said being able to age in place is all about planning before a fall or a crisis happens — "things they can do early on, so as they progress, they have a long-term plan of what the next steps are," Salter said.
Waldrum believes housing solutions for the country’s present and future senior populations are dependent on how much Washington, and the rest of the country, is willing to face the realities of aging. "We have a larger percentage of people than ever before who aren’t interested in the policy of housing, and that makes it challenging for us to get our message across," he said.