For many seniors, finding a way to safely age in place — or stay at home for as long as possible — can be difficult. There may be health or mobility issues involved, or the home may not be a viable living space anymore due to the presence of stairs or because it’s too large. For those who don’t have long-term care planned, it can be a scary and stressful thing to consider not living at home anymore, so it’s important to find ways to modify your home that will make it safe and accessible.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can do this, especially if your home is one level. In some cases, you may need the help of a contractor who can come in and do an assessment of your home. While this is a pricier option, you may be eligible for assistance with funding. Look online for information specific to your state, or start here.
Go room to room
Assessing your home for safety issues is important, so take a look around with a discerning eye. Think about not only your present needs, but your future ones as well. If you have health issues at the moment, consider how they will affect you four or five years from now. Will you have trouble using the stairs? Will you be able to use the bathroom safely? Walk through your home and look for potential issues so that you can get a feeling for what needs to be done and how to create a budget.
Eliminate the potential for injuries
Eliminating the potential for injury is imperative. According to the National Council on Aging, roughly one in every four Americans over the age of 65 falls each year, and many of those falls occur in the home. The bathroom is one of the rooms with the most potential for injuries because slick surfaces and stepping in and out of the bathtub can lead to a serious fall. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make the bathroom safer, from adding grab bars and a shower seat to refinishing the tub with non-slip flooring. You could even remove the bathtub altogether and install a zero-entry shower.
Look for an accessible home
If staying in your house isn’t an option, it’s important to look in your area for accessible homes that you can afford. These are homes that already have a senior’s specific needs in mind, from open floor plans that allow a wheelchair to move about unrestricted, to wider doorways and lower countertops. Remember that in many cases, location is just as important as the home itself.
Use color and light to your advantage
Color and lighting can make a huge impact in your home, especially if you or your spouse have vision issues. You might paint the wall behind the toilet and sink a contrasting color than the rest of your bathroom, for instance, or add new lighting to pantries, closets, and hallways to help prevent stumbles and allow you to find things more easily.
Finding ways to make your home safer will not only benefit you now, but also for years to come. Aging in place is important to many seniors who don’t have a plan for long-term care or who want to spend their post-retirement years at home, but it’s imperative to make sure your house is up to par. Consider all your options and talk to your loved ones about your plans so you can garner their support. With a good plan and the right help, you can make sure that your golden years are everything you hoped they would be.
Image Source: Shutterstock
Every component of your home has a lifespan. Common questions asked by homeowners include when to replace the flooring or how long to expect their siding to last. This information can help when budgeting for improvements or deciding between repairing and replacing when the time comes. We’re all familiar with the cliché: They just don’t build things like they used to. And while this may be true when it comes to brick siding or slate roofing, lifespans of other household components have increased in recent years. Here are the life expectancies of the most common household items (courtesy of NAHB):
Appliances: Among major appliances, gas ranges have a longer life expectancy than things like dishwashers and microwaves.
|Oil-burning Furnace||20 years|
|Heat Pump||16 years|
|Gas Range||15 years|
|Electric range / Refrigerator / Dryer||13 years|
|Electric / Gas Water Heater||10 years|
|Garbage disposal||10 years|
|Dishwasher / Microwave / Mini Fridge||9 years|
Kitchen & Bath: When choosing your countertops, factor in the life expectancies of different materials.
Kitchen / Bath Item
|Wood / Tile / Natural Stone Countertops||Lifetime|
|Toilets (parts will require maintenance)||50+ years|
|Stainless steel sink||30+ years|
|Bathroom faucet||20+ years|
|Cultured marble countertops||20 years|
|Kitchen faucet||15 years|
Flooring: If you’re looking for longevity, wood floors are the way to go. Certain rooms in your home will be better suited for carpeting, but you can expect they’ll need replacing within a decade.
|Wood / Bamboo||Lifetime|
|Brick Pavers / Granite / Marble / Slate||100+ years|
|Carpet||8 – 10 years|
Siding & Roofing: When choosing roofing and siding for your home, climate and maintenance level factor into the life expectancy of the material. However, brick siding and slate roofing are known to be dependable for decades.
Siding / Roofing Material
|Brick Siding||100+ years|
|Aluminum Siding||80 years|
|Slate / Tile Roofing||50+ years|
|Wood Shingles||30 years|
|Wood Siding||10 – 100 years (depending on climate)|
Are extended warranties warranted?
Extended warranties, also known as service contracts or service agreements, are sold for all types of household items from appliances to electronics. They cover service calls and repairs for a specified time beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty.
You will have to consider whether the cost is worth it to you. For some, it brings a much-needed peace of mind when making such a large purchase. Also consider if the cost outweighs the value of the item. In some cases it may be less expensive to replace a broken appliance than to pay for insurance or a warranty.
I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season and were able to take a break from work for a few days to relax and re-group! Now, let’s jump right in and look at a summary of the homes sold on Queen Anne for 2019. This data comes from the NWMLS and does not include condominiums or multi-family dwellings and contains only single family homes on the Hill that sold in 2019.
In looking at the data above, the first thing you will notice is that statistically there was no average appreciation during 2019 from 2018. I am flabbergasted at that number because I know many homes did appreciate last year. I know my raw data from the NWMLS is correct and complete. One factor in this lower average appreciation number is there were 65 homes that sold for less than $1M which is 28% of the total annual sales; a number larger than most previous years. This larger percentage has worked to counteract any increase in the average sold price of all homes sold. It is related to the significant number of price reductions homes have had this year before going into escrow. Another indicator is to look at the median sold prices between the two years. The median, as you probably know, is the price that an equal number of homes on the Hill sold for above and below that $1.265M median. This number does indicate a small gain of about 1% in price over last year. Please see attachment for all of the 234 homes that sold on the Hill last year with the details of each. (The computations have been made by the MLS computer so no chance of mathematical error on my part if you happen to be wondering that!)
At present, we have only 5 active homes listed for sale on the Hill. This number will be increasing over the next three months as we approach spring and prices begin to rise once again with increasing demand. BTW, the grand prize for the home that sold for most over list price in 2019 goes to 2120 2nd Avenue West, a fixer on a large lot in a wonderful location listed at $1M and sold for $1.250M. Last year, 45 homes sold for more than list price although many of them sold for just slightly more. With a strong local and national economy, I am confident we will see more appreciation in prices this year. Also, the state excise tax on the sale of a home has actually gone down for homes at $1.5M or less. Over $1.5M it has doubled. “A man’s money is never safe when the legislature is in session”-Mark Twain.
And that’s the way Steve sees it… Don’t forget to have a little fun every day.
You’ve worked hard your whole life, so now it’s time to relax in style. Like many retirees, you’ve had a vacation property in the back of your mind for a while, but you aren’t entirely sure how to go about making that dream a reality. It’s not easy, as the average cost of owning a second home is $700 a month — and that doesn’t even include the mortgage. But if you’re ready to commit to owning a second home in Seattle, here’s some advice to make sure you end up with a sound investment, not a money pit.
Settle the Financing
Before getting started, it’s important to know how much house you can actually afford. Now is a great time to take a close look at your financial situation. Afterward, you can get down to business. If you can pay cash up front, that’s great, but if not, consider borrowing against your primary residence, in which case it must be worth more than you owe the bank. There are other ways to finance, but they may mean more risk than you’re willing to take.
And don’t forget those other expenses. There’s routine maintenance, such as heating, air conditioning, and plumbing, and if your home needs professional work done, you’ll also need to tack on the cost of hiring a contractor. There are some jobs you can do on your own, but keep in mind that if you start a project you’re ultimately not qualified to do and need a pro to complete it, you’ll end up spending more than if you’d hired a specialist in the first place. You could offset these costs by renting out the home when you’re not there, but keep in mind the costs of utilities and property management services if you take this route.
Find the Right Area
Once your budget is set, it’s time to take a look at your schedule. You want to make sure you’re at your vacation home often enough to justify the money you’re spending. You may get the most out of the house if it’s within striking distance of your primary residence or accessible to other family members as a place to gather for reunions.
Seattle, of course, is a wonderful spot for a second home, and there a number of different neighborhoods to choose from, depending on what you want. Ballard, for example, is considered one of the city’s “hippest neighborhoods,” according to Turnkey. Although the area began its life as a fishing village, it’s now the home of coffee shops, cafes, and a number of renowned restaurants. Queen Anne, meanwhile, is more historic and picturesque, and it offers a number of Victorian homes that might catch the eye of those looking for a property with character. Regardless of what you’re after, Seattle has a little something for everyone.
Rent It First
You’ve found the right area… maybe. You may want to consider renting for a while before buying so you can be sure. For starters, how was the travel? If it seemed a bit too long (and you’re not a fan of cramped airline seats), then that’s a sign you’re too far from home. And the weather? It may have been unusually warm when you came here on vacation for the first time, but now you get to see what it’s really like. Does it have all the amenities you want to be close to, like shopping, bars, and restaurants?
Cut Insurance Costs
Insurance is one of those hidden costs for second homes, but there are ways to keep your premiums low. First, shop around for the best coverage option, and don’t just go with your mortgage provider. There are also adjustments you can make to the property to reduce payments. These include actions like installing burglar alarms (which start as low as $29 per month, but can save you hundreds in insurance premiums over the year), as well as fireproofing and removing tall trees near your home.
Plan for Maintenance
This may not be necessary if you’ll be making frequent visits throughout the year. If not, then you’ll need to look into other options for upkeep, according to HouseLogic.com. You could hire a property manager, who will normally find suitable staff to open and close your property while handling guests and payments if you’re renting it out during your absence. Hiring a caretaker, on the other hand, will save you money. You’ll need to check references, though, as they’ll be going in and out of your place to check on the utilities and inspect for damage.
Hopefully, at the end of all this pondering and planning, you’ll have found a place in Seattle to call your home away from home. Just make sure to plan and prepare wisely so you can really make the most of every moment you spend at your vacation abode.
Image via Pixabay
By Suzie Wilson
Looking to list your home this fall or winter? If you’re feeling anxious about doing so, you should know that these can be the perfect seasons to sell your home and can even help it sell for more profit. You just need a few fall and winter home selling tips to maximize your listing.
Winter Plants and Holiday Decor Can Boost Curb Appeal
Just because it’s fall or winter doesn’t mean your yard has to look drab. In fact, you can easily add a winter garden to your property, in order to spruce things up and attract potential buyers. Some beautiful shrubs that can withstand the colder seasons include witch hazel, Japanese pieris, and holly. If you have flower beds, you can always add these cold weather plants, or you can use containers to add pops of color to your front porch. While adding some winter plants will draw potential buyers to your listing, you may also want to add some touches to help visitors feel at home. Fall and winter offer plenty of opportunities to deck out your outdoor spaces with holiday decor. Just keep decorations simple and sleek, so your home will appeal to more potential buyers.
Special Touches Can Help Make Staging Homes Easier
Staging your home’s interior can be fairly simple in the fall and winter months as well. You’ll want to start by clearing out any excess clutter to make the inside of your home look as spacious as possible. Next, take a look at any leftover pieces of furniture or decor. Update any older items with modern touches that will help shoppers feel cozy. Those modern changes can be as simple as adding a throw rug to set spaces apart or repainting your walls in more neutral colors to create the illusion of space. Lighting is key during the darker months as well, so use a mixture of lamps and fixtures to create the perfect ambiance in each room.
Fall and Winter Open Houses Can Be Fairly Simple to Pull Off
Just like the inside of your home, preparing for open houses typically involves the same basic steps throughout the year. Since open houses are meant to attract a lot of people to your property, though, you will need to work with your realtor to create a marketing plan and to time your open house just right for prospective buyers. In fall and winter, you may need to add some extra steps to keep those visitors comfortable and safe as they explore their potential new home. If your area gets a lot of snow, be sure to shovel driveways and any other walkways. It’s also a good idea to keep all areas well-lit and warm to give your listing that cozy feeling buyers crave in a property. Good smells can add to that coziness and attract offers on your property.
Homes Listed in Fall and Winter Can Give Sellers Some Advantages
Most people would tell you that spring and summer are the best times to list a home, but that all depends on what your goals are as a seller. Selling in the winter can actually have some perks for savvy sellers, so as long as you are willing to put in the extra work to help your listing stand out, it may be best to list it during the off-season. For one, when you list your home after the peak selling season, you will be competing with far fewer properties. Fewer properties can help attract higher offers on your home, but you are also more likely to get those offers from serious buyers. So when you look at all of these benefits, this may be the best season to list your home!
Selling a home in the fall or winter shouldn’t stress you out. This can be the perfect time to sell a home, and you may even net some higher offers. There are so many cozy and warm touches you can add to help attract those fall and winter home buyers. So if you need to list your home in the off-season, don’t despair and use the tips above to help your listing sell faster!
Photo Credit: Unsplash
In addition to providing shelter and comfort, our home is often our single greatest asset, and it’s important that we protect that precious investment. Most homeowners realize the importance of homeowner’s insurance in safeguarding the value of a home. However, what they may not know is that about two-thirds of all homeowners are under-insured. According to a national survey, the average homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild only about 80% of his or her house.
What a standard homeowners policy covers
A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.
The policy likely pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by disasters, such as fire or lightning. Your belongings, such as furniture and clothing, are also insured against these types of disasters, as well as theft. Some risks, such as flooding or acts of war, are routinely excluded from homeowner policies.
Other coverage in a standard homeowner’s policy typically includes the legal costs for injury or property damage that you or family members, including your pets, cause to other people. For example, if someone is injured on your property and decides to sue, the insurance would cover the cost of defending you in court and any damages you may have to pay. Policies also provide medical coverage in the event someone other than your family is injured in your home.
If your home is seriously damaged and needs to be rebuilt, a standard policy will usually cover hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are temporarily relocated.
How much insurance do you need?
Homeowners should review their policy each year to make sure they have sufficient coverage for their home. The three questions to ask yourself are:
· Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?
· Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?
· Do I have enough insurance to replace all my possessions?
Here’s some more information that will help you determine how much insurance is enough to meet your needs and ensure that your home will be sufficiently protected.
Protect your assets
Make sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit due to injury or property damage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage. With the increasingly higher costs of litigation and monetary compensation, many homeowners now purchase $300,000 or more in liability protection. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the average dog bite claim is about $20,000. Talk with your insurance agent about the best coverage for your situation.
Rebuild your home
You need enough insurance to finance the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs, which vary by area. Don’t confuse the amount of coverage you need with the market value of your home. You’re not insuring the land your home is built on, which makes up a significant portion of the overall value of your property. In pricey markets such as San Francisco, land costs account for over 75 percent of a home’s value.
The average policy is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home using today’s standard building materials and techniques. If you have an unusual, historical or custom-built home, you may want to contact a specialty insurer to ensure that you have sufficient coverage to replicate any special architectural elements. Those with older homes should consider additions to the policy that pay the cost of rebuilding their home to meet new building codes.
Finally, if you’ve done any recent remodeling, make sure your insurance reflects the increased value of your home.
Remember that a standard policy does not pay for damage caused by a flood or earthquake. Special coverage is needed to protect against these incidents. Your insurance company can let you know if your area is flood or earthquake-prone. The cost of coverage depends on your home’s location and corresponding risk.
Replacing your valuables
If something happens to your home, chances are the things inside will be damaged or destroyed as well. Your coverage depends on the type of policy you have. A cost value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.
There are limits on the losses that can be claimed for expensive items, such as artwork, jewelry, and collectibles. You can get additional coverage for these types of items by purchasing supplemental premiums.
To determine if you have enough insurance, you need to have a good handle on the value of your personal items. Create a detailed home inventory file that keeps track of the items in your home and the cost to replace them.
Create a home inventory file
It takes time to inventory your possessions, but it’s time well spent. The little bit of extra preparation can also keep your mind at ease. The best method for creating a home inventory list is to go through each room of your home and individually record the items of significant value. Simple inventory lists are available online. You can also sweep through each room with a video or digital camera and document each of your belongings. Your home inventory file should include the following items:
· Item description and quantity
· Manufacturer or brand name
· Serial number or model number
· Where the item was purchased
· Receipt or other proof of purchase / Photocopies of any appraisals, along with the name and address of the appraiser
· Date of purchase (or age)
· Current value
· Replacement cost
Pay special attention to highly valuable items such as electronics, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles.
Storing your home inventory list
Make sure your inventory list and images will be safe in case your home is damaged or destroyed. Store them in a safe deposit box, at the home of a friend or relative, or on an online Web storage site. Some insurance companies provide online storage for digital files. (Storing them on your home computer does you no good if your computer is stolen or damaged). Once you have an inventory file set up, be sure to update it as you make new purchases.
We invest a lot in our homes, so it’s important we take the necessary measures to safeguard it against financial and emotional loss in the wake of a disaster. Homeowners insurance is that safeguard, be sure you’re properly covered.