Selling

After Losing A Spouse, A Senior Should Downsize

Losing your husband or wife was more difficult than words can convey. There is no way to describe the sudden loss you experienced, and living in the old house you two shared can make the healing process even more difficult. Not only does the place remind you of your spouse, it’s now too big for you. There are too many rooms to clean, and you have space that’s going unused. That’s why it can make sense to downsize after losing a spouse. By moving into a smaller home, you can save money and move forward. You can also use this as a time to declutter by only keeping what you really need. Why Seniors Should Downsize In This Case When it comes to downsizing your home, there are two main reasons why you should: finances and moving forward.   Bakerate.com shows why making a move to a smaller home can be a great financial decision for seniors. Take a big house that costs $250,000. By moving into one that costs $150,000, you can end up saving over $6,000 each year. When you’re a senior in retirement, the savings can really make life better for you. When you have recently lost your spouse, there’s another consideration. Staying in that old home can be a constant reminder of who you lost. This can delay or stop your grieving process and prevent you from moving past the mourning. When dealing with such a loss, moving forward is more important than ever. Remember that you’re not trying to forget the spouse — you’re only trying to move past the pain. Tips To Help Seniors Move More Easily After some thought and exploring your options, you’ve decided that downsizing has enough benefits to warrant trying it. You teamed up with a realtor and found the right home. It’s smaller, cheaper, and a great place to build new memories. Now you just have to pack.   Before you begin, you need to sort through your belongings. After all, you’re moving into a smaller place. You can’t bring everything with you.   When it comes to deciding what to pack and what to give away, an important key is to start early. Going through all your possessions takes time. Not only will you spend time reminiscing, you likely have many objects that you don’t need anymore. Donating these items can help you fit into your new space — and make moving easier.   Yourstoragefinder.com has some great tips on how seniors can pack for a move: Break packing into smaller jobs. This way, you don’t feel overwhelmed with having to box up everything in your kitchen at one time. Ask friends and family for help. Not only does this help make packing easier on you, it takes less time this way. This can be very helpful when trying to go through the possessions of your late spouse. Create an “Open First” box. Include all the things you’ll need immediately in your new home, such as medication, reading glasses, documents, and toiletries. The Problem With Alzheimer’s Deciding to downsize and sorting through your belongings are both daunting tasks, especially after the death of your spouse. But if you have problems with Alzheimer’s or dementia, these can become especially stressful. Change is not a friend of Alzheimer’s.   To help make this transition successful, the Mayo Clinic says to place familiar objects and photos around your new home. This can help remind you that you’re home if you get confused, and it also helps you feel at home. You Can Make This Move Moving to a new home is stressful. When you’ve lost a spouse, it can also lead to feeling bitter or afraid. But there are solid benefits for seniors who downsize their home. After you’ve decluttered your possessions, you can live more simply — and you can move forward with your life.  

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Time to Downsize? Consider These Important Tips!

Facing the prospect of downsizing to a smaller, more accessible home can seem insurmountable. From carefully going through every treasured item you’ve accumulated for the last 20 or 30 years, to organizing and packing. Even picking a moving company feels like a monumental task. Add the emotions that come from leaving your long-cherished home and downsizing can quickly feel like a big downer.   There are plenty of upsides to consider, though. For example, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, by cutting your housing-related expenses you can free up income that allows you to draw down your savings at a slower rate. And don’t forget, a new home can also help eliminate things that have become burdensome as you’ve aged, like stairs, lawn maintenance and too much space to keep clean.   While plenty of sites offer a detailed checklist of all of the essential steps for downsizing, we’re going to take a look at a few specific tips to help you get started now.   Selecting a Moving Company   When selecting a moving company, it’s wise to remember the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” Oftentimes, the finest moving companies won’t be the least expensive. It’s important to avoid fly-by-night companies or companies with new names, and to be wary of moving scams. Keep these tips in mind: Research moving companies you’re most interested in using and set about doing an initial screening of each one. Look at various review forums, like the Better Business Bureau or Yelp.com. You’ll also want to check out the consumer advocacy site movingscam.com. Make sure you end up with estimates from a minimum of three companies. Always ask for a written binding estimate or a not-to-exceed-estimate so as to cap moving costs. Before you make that final decision, call the FMCSA’s Safety Violation and Consumer Complaints hotline at 888-368-7238 to check for any complaints.   Understanding How Your Animal Will Handle The Move   It’s never too early to start to thinking about how your pet is going to handle the transition. Here are some things you should do to help keep your animal settled during the process. Condition your pet by getting out a few boxes and suitcases in advance so your pet doesn’t associate those items with you leaving them. Train for any necessary behavior modifications in the smaller space. Talk to the vet about medication if your pet is displaying signs of anxiety. Either board your pet or leave them with a pet sitter on moving day. If possible, have a few of their items in place at the new home before they arrive so they have a familiar scent.   Don’t Try To Do It All   As you familiarize yourself with the various tasks of making the move, consider carefully what you want to take on versus what you may be able to outsource. The National Association of Senior Move Managers offers services that will step in where you want to be less involved, say packing for instance, or they’ll take you through the whole process from laying out your new space, deciding with you what you’ll keep and move, sorting, packing, moving, and setting up your new home.   Take Care of Yourself   Let’s face it, moving is stressful so there’s a few simple things you can do to make things easier on yourself. Give yourself plenty of time. Get plenty of sleep Listen to relaxing music as you sort, clean, or pack. Take time to enjoy things other than your move, such as exercise or reading. Eat healthy.   As you set about downsizing, try to focus on the positive outcomes of your move, like less yard work, making new friends, fewer cleaning chores, and so on. And remember, getting settled in the new spot will take time just as it did when you moved into your current home. Allow yourself some downtime to recoup from the stress of the move, then get out there and make the most of your new neighborhood.

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HUD/EPA Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Regulations

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 (Title X of Public Law 102-550) directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to jointly issue regulations requiring disclosure of certain information about lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in residential real estate transactions. After considerable delay, those regulations (which appear at 24 C.F.R. Part 35 and 40 C.F.R. Part 745) were issued in final form on March 6, 1996, and are summarized below. NAR has developed a publication describing the requirements of the Regulations and how to comply with them entitled Lead-Based Paint – A Guide To Complying With the New Federal EPA/HUD Disclosure Regulations. This publication is available for $5.00 per copy (with discounts also available on larger orders), and can be ordered by calling NAR Customer Service at (800) 874-6500. Overnight or next day delivery is also available. 1. Properties To Which the Requirements Apply. The Regulations apply to sale or lease transactions of “target housing,” that is, residential property completed before 1978, with certain exceptions: Sales at foreclosure; Leases of property which has been inspected and found to be lead-based paint free by an inspector certified by a Federal or Federally accredited State or tribal certification program; Short term leases of 100 days or less where no lease renewal or extension can occur; Renewal of existing leases, so long as no new information about lead-based paint on the premises has come into the possession of the owner, and the required information was disclosed when the lease was originally created. (In the case of leases which automatically convert to “month-to-month” after a expiration of a fixed term, disclosure must be made when the lease first converts (if not made at the time the lease was created), but not each month thereafter); 0-bedroom dwellings; Housing designed for the elderly or disabled, but only it no children under the age of 6 reside or are expected to reside in such housing. Housing completed before 1978 has been interpreted to mean not only that which was completed and/or occupied before January 1, 1978, but also that for which a building permit was issued before that date, or if no permit was required, where construction began before that date. 2. Effective Date. The effective date of the Regulations is September 6, 1996 for owners of 5 residential dwellings (apartment or condominium units, as well as townhouses or single-family homes), and December 6, 1996 for owners of fewer than 5 dwellings. HUD has announced in Mortgagee Letter 96-29 that the form presently required to be signed in the case of properties financed by FHA-insured mortgage loans will not be required after December 6, 1996.   3. Obligations of Sellers, Lessors and Real Estate Agents. Sellers and lessors of housing to which the regulations apply must provide the information and perform the other duties described below to purchasers/lessees. Any agent hired by a seller or lessor to market the property must insure the seller or lessor’s compliance with the requirements of the Regulations. (a) The agent must specifically inform the seller/lessor of his disclosure obligations, described below. (b) The purchaser or lessee must be provided the following: All information the seller or lessor may have regarding known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards on the property; Copies of any prior reports of testing for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazard evaluation of the property; A copy of the EPA publication Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home, or a federally-approved equivalent publication; (c) Sales contracts and leases must include specific lead-based paint warning” language, which is specifically prescribed in the Regulations. (d) A “Disclosure and Acknowledgment” statement confirming that the disclosures have been made, signed by both parties to the transaction and the broker(s) involved, must be included as a part of the contract for sale or lease; (e) Property purchasers (but not renters) must be provided an opportunity to have the property tested  for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards during a ten day period prior to the time when the purchaser becomes obligated under the contract, although that period may be modified by agreement between the seller and purchaser, or waived by the purchaser entirely.   If a purchaser or lessee makes an offer to buy or lease prior to receiving the required disclosures, the seller or lessor may not accept the offer until the information is provided and the purchaser or lessee has the opportunity to review it and, if desired, to change the terms of the offer. Sellers, lessors and their agents have no duty to conduct testing of the property for lead-based paint of lead-based paint hazards. Their only obligation is to provide known information, as described above, regarding lead-based paint or lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards on the premises. Copies of EPA’s publication Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home may be purchased by calling (800) 424-LEAD. The publication is also available on NAR’s Website at REALTOR.com, on both the EPA and HUD Websites (EPA.gov and HUD.gov), as well as that of the National Safety Council (nsc.org.nsc/ehc/ehc.html) A copy was also published in the July, 1996 issue of Today’s REALTOR®. It is not copyrighted and may be photocopied freely.   4. Who Is An Agent? The Regulations define an agent as “any party who enters into a contract with a seller or lessor, including any party who enters into a contract with a representative of the seller or lessor, for the purpose of selling or leasing” a property to which the Regulations apply. The duty of an agent to insure the seller’s or lessor’s compliance with these disclosure requirements is imposed on any agent hired by the seller or lessor to market the property, including both listing agents and selling agents (whether they are buyer’s agents, subagents, or, it would appear, “facilitators” or transaction brokers), and excludes only agents retained and compensated exclusively by the buyer. 5. The Ten-Day Testing Period. Although the Regulations do not explicitly so provide, EPA and HUD have indicated that they intend that the 10-day testing period be conducted much like home inspection contingencies operate. That is, pursuant to language incorporated in the sales contract, the purchaser is permitted conduct such lead-based paint testing or risk assessment as he deems appropriate and, if the results are unacceptable, can

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Solar Boosts Home Values But Selling Can Be a Trial

Posted in sustainable energy, by Robert Freedman on May 15, 2017 Homes with solar panels tend to sell for higher prices than comparable homes with conventional energy, studies show. One study, released two years ago by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found solar homes selling for a 15 percent premium. But selling these homes can require extra preparation if you’re an agent in the transaction. The biggest issue is how the panels were financed. If the owner simply bought the panels and the accompanying inverter, there shouldn’t be any problem for buyers. But if the panels and inverter were financed or leased, some hurdles can arise and you can provide the greatest value by understanding these hurdles so you can help your clients avoid getting snagged. If the panels were leased, then you will need to make sure the lease contract is in order and transfers properly to the buyer. That shouldn’t pose too much problem if the seller has the contract in order. But if the panels were financed using public assistance, the hurdles can be higher. There are different forms of public assistance for solar panels but the one you need to be the most aware of is PACE, a federally funded state and local program that stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. The challenge with PACE is the lien that’s placed on the home. Homeowners use the assistance to finance the purchase and installation of the panels and pay the assistance back over time, typically through their property tax bill. If the borrower defaults on the PACE loan, the lien that’s placed on the home is in a super-priority position, which means it must get paid back first, just liked a tax lien. That can pose a problem for homebuyers trying to obtain mortgage financing to buy the home. Loan programs differ, but under some programs, including some that rely on federal backing, lenders aren’t able to make loans as long as that lien is in place. This is where you can help, because knowing what loan programs allow funding to go forward when with PACE funding attached is a time- and money-saver. The possibility of financing hurdles in some loan programs shouldn’t obscure what’s good about homes with solar panels. First, the home’s energy bills can be lower, because each kilowatt of power the panels generate is one less that has to be paid to the utility company. Second, homeowners can get a federal credit each year on their taxes. The state might offer its own credit as well. Currently, about 1.2 million homes have solar panels and the trend is pointing steeply up. According to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost of solar panels and their installation has dropped 70 percent over the last decade or so and the growth of solar panels has risen by a similar percentage during that same period. Bottom line: More homes will have solar panels in the years ahead and that means the chance of you having to list or sell a solar home is increasing every year. The panels pose a challenge but they are also a big business opportunity. Homes are more valuable with them and many people want them because they like the idea of using renewable energy.

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What to Know About Selling a Home With a Reverse Mortgage

Posted in Consumers, Financing & Credit, Mortgage Financing, Sellers, Selling, Working with Clients, by Blog Contributor on June 5, 2017 By Greg Geilman Photo credit: Morguefile.com/jonathan11 It’s difficult to understand how a reverse mortgage works and how selling a home with one differs from the standard procedure. The truth is that it’s very similar; the major difference is the way the lender manages the loan amount if it exceeds the home price. If you’re working with a client who has a reverse mortgage, here are four questions to help you better understand the process. What Is a Reverse Mortgage? It’s much like a regular mortgage, but the way in which the money is paid out is a little different. With a reverse mortgage, your client is leveraging the home equity they’ve built up, and the loan is paid out in a lump sum, line of credit, or set monthly payment. Your client can use this money to pay medical expenses, finance home improvements, or even subsidize their monthly income. The amount your client can get from a reverse mortgage depends largely on their age and the equity they have in their home. As the bank pays out the reverse mortgage to your client, the interest on that principal grows. How Is a Reverse Mortgage Paid Back? Unlike a traditional mortgage, a reverse mortgage may not have a set maturity date, or the date the loan must be repaid in full. The standards are set in the loan and may define maturity as the date that: The borrower dies. The borrower sells the property. The borrower moves out of the home. The borrower fails to provide reasonable upkeep or pay property taxes. Once your client sells their home, the lender has first right to the proceeds to recoup any outstanding balance on the reverse mortgage (unless there is also a lien on the home for unpaid property taxes). If the outstanding loan amount is less than the sale price, your client or their next-of-kin will receive the difference. Are There Limits on Selling a Home With a Reverse Mortgage? The maturity date of a reverse mortgage is most often when the borrower sells their home. So the sale of the home is the most common part of the reverse mortgage process. With a traditional mortgage, you expect your client’s home value to exceed the remaining balance of their mortgage at resale. But because the borrower of a reverse mortgage is typically being paid in installments, the mortgage principal increases rather than decreases. That makes it quite possible that the loan amount could eventually exceed the resale value of the borrower’s home. Therefore, when working with a seller who has a reverse mortgage, you should focus on factors that can impact their home value the most, such as renovations, property condition and maintenance, and the status of property taxes. What If the Home Has Lost Value? For a client whose property value has fallen below the amount they borrowed on a reverse mortgage, you may need to conduct a short sale. Fortunately, reverse mortgages are known as “nonrecourse loans,” which means the lender cannot go after your client or their heirs for the difference between the outstanding loan amount and the final sale price of the home. But short sales require the lender’s buy-in before you can list the home at a lower value. So the lender may require an appraisal to confirm the value before agreeing to the listing. Greg Geilman, e-PRO, is managing partner of the Freedman Geilman Group at RE/MAX Estate Properties in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

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