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Just For Seniors: Moving vs. Aging in Place

 Posted by Ken France on May 15, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Establishing short term and long term housing goals can help families plan ahead for large moving or remodeling projects. It is best to consider changes to home and housing as early as possible in order to avoid situations where last minute decisions may wreak havoc on financial and emotional stability.

Today, individuals are fortunate to have many housing choices, including independent living, assisted living, active adult communities and the ability to continuing living at home with assistance and safety modifications. Reorganizing, remodeling and redesign may also serve to make existing home environments comfortable for years to come.

Moving

While a change in an individual’s functionality often initiates a senior move, many folks simply decide they no longer want to stay in a home that is too large or requires  a great deal of maintenance. Increasingly, older adults choose to move to a residential setting designed exclusively for seniors. This lifestyle choice provides a number of benefits such as safety, security, meal plans and health care services.

Regardless of these benefits, many individuals are overwhelmed at the thought of moving in late life. Fortunately, companies such as Caring Transitions work with closely with Senior Living Communities to help manage the entire move process from start to finish.  A wide range of services are available including space planning, sorting, downsizing, packing, unpacking, plus van line and real estate referrals, as well as liquidation of personal property through professional estate sale and online auction.

Staying at Home

According to AARP, over 85% of older adults prefer to age in their own homes. Today, there are more agencies and tools available that can make your “stay at home” choice a safer and more achievable reality.

Just as with our moving options, older adults need to evaluate their real needs, finances and community/caregiving resources and then formulate a “stay at home” plan.

If you or an older relative decides to stay in his/her own home or apartment but finds household tasks too overwhelming, or needs assistance with personal or health care issues, an array of home care support services are available in most communities. Contacting your local Area Agency on Aging or home health care agencies can help you obtain access to these services.

©Caring Transitions 2000-2014

Five Tips for Family Caregiving

 Posted by Ken France on May 1, 2014 at 10:56 AM

As the Baby Boomer generation moves into their 60’s and their parents move into their 80’s and 90’s,   more attention has been given to the role of the family caregiver.  An increased number of resources are available in communities and online and within that data, it is evident most experts agree on the basic tools adult child require to help them gain control over stressful family situations.

1. Assess the Situation: You can find out how your parents feel about their changing health and household needs by asking simple, open-ended and non-threatening questions. “How was your last visit to the doctor?”  Parent Conversations are important and you adult children should listen to what parents have to say and gauge their response carefully, so not to patronize or antagonize the older adult.

As you learn more about the situation, consider these three primary areas which may require third-party professional assessment: 1. medical concerns, 2. cognitive concerns and, 3. assessment of functional abilities or “Activities of Daily Living” (ADL’s). This last group includes items such as socialization, personal hygiene and the ability to prepare meals, take medications and manage finances.

2. Organize Information: Family members should discuss the location of important medical, legal and financial documents with parents and determine if they willing to release copies of information. If the older adults prefer to keep paperwork in the hands of legal or financial representatives, that is their prerogative.

3. Gather Support: Long Distance Caregiving often involves a team approach. Resources will vary for every family, and may involve medical professionals, social services, care managers, home care providers, attorneys, financial advisors and more. Additional support for parents is available in the form of relatives, close friends, neighbors, religious leaders and other associates.

4. Establish a Plan: As the conversation progresses, you may discuss short and long term options with your parents. Take into account the advice of professionals along with your parents’ personal wishes. Once areas of necessary support have been identified, communicate with local care givers and/or other family members to make sure things are progressing as planned.

5. Recognize Your Limitations: Frequent travel to visit parents can be stressful and creates difficult situations for jobs and immediate family. Budget your travel funds and set up a network of support through family, friends and child care services to help support your new role. Don’t overlook signs of stress, which are quite common for care givers.

As our parents live longer, many of us will need to develop an entire new caregiving skill set. Fortunately, supportive technology, services and professional resources are developing at rapid pace.

©Caring Transitions 2000-2014

More Things to Consider When Closing the Family Estate

 Posted by Ken France on April 22, 2014 at 4:47 PM

In the event a homeowner has died, the family often has many more things to consider beyond preparation and sale of the home.

Typically, a family member or family friend has been named Personal Representative of the decedent.  This role is may be referred to as Executor or Administrator and is the fiduciary put in charge of settling the estate. If there is a Last Will and Testament, a probate judge will typically appoint the Personal Representative named in the will as the Executor.

In general, the decedent’s estate planning documents such as the Last Will, funeral plans and living trust, should be organized for the estate attorney. In most cases, set aside three years of tax returns and locate a 3 month inventory of all account statements, such as checking, savings, cd’s, retirement accounts and brokerage accounts. Stock and bond certificates are required, as well as life insurance policies  and the beneficiary designations for payable on death accounts such as insurance and IRAs, real estate deeds,  titles for automobiles and other recreational vehicles, corporate records, household and utility bills, medical bill and funeral bills.  The Executor must also try and identify all creditors and outstanding debts.

The next step is determining the value of the estate at the time of death.  For all items listed on the inventory, this is typically the fair market value of the asset at the time of death. Bank and retirement accounts are listed per the most recent statements.  Real estate may be listed at its value as assessed for real estate taxes. For other property, fair market value is normally “the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller in the retail market.” Appraisals are often required and the cost of appraisal or advice of accountant in these matters is usually allowable as an administrative cost of the estate.

An account is typically set up for the estate and used to pay estate management expenses and pay the decedent’s outstanding debts. Careful records of all transactions must be kept.

Typically, estate taxes must be filed within a specific time frame. Estate taxes can be very complicated and can have a significant impact on the value of the estate, as well as heirs and beneficiaries.   It is advisable to seek the experience of an estate tax attorney or CPA, who can help determine state and federal liability.

After all else is done,  the executor will distribute the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries named in the  Last Will, or if there was no will, according to decedent’s heirs at law. The estate is closed by filing a “final accounting” with the court. The Executor also files a “closing statement,” that indicates all taxes and debts have also been paid and all property distributed.

©Caring Transitions

You may also be interested in

  • Home Downsizing to Sell
  • Five Reason to Stage Your Home
  • Ten Steps to Home Staging
  • Caring Transitions Blog Series

Ten Steps to Home Staging

 Posted by Ken France on April 1, 2014 at 4:28 PM

According to Real Estate Staging Association statistics, staged homes are on the market 67% less time than non-staged homes.

If you are a skilled or impartial seller, the basic steps to home staging may be familiar to you and easy to apply.  Many homeowners, however, find it easier and more effective to hire a professional s or work with an experienced Realtor to prepare a property for listing. The following steps may help you get started.

  1. Focus on the task at hand. Keep in mind your objective is to sell as quickly as possible and at a good price. Understand that living in a staged home is different than living in your home. Once you list your home, your concern should no longer be about your own comfort or decorating preferences, but all about the home buyer’s perception.
  2. Evaluate the home. View every room from the doorway to determine how it looks. Make sure each room has a clear entryway and a spacious feel. Move or eliminate furnishings that may be blocking entry ways, light or seem too bulky or heavy for the space.
  3. View every room for the amount of natural and artificial light. Take steps to add light, clean windows and open or replace window treatments. If the views of the outdoors are pleasing, window treatments may be minimized.
  4. Evaluate your paint colors, busy wallpaper patterns and any structural damage. Neutral colors are best. Hire remodeling professionals and contractors to make improvements in these areas.
  5. Thoroughly clean everything. Cobwebs, skylights, windows, brick work, baseboards, flooring, carpets, corners of appliances and on and on.
  6. Declutter rooms by removing extra pieces of furniture, item in storage spaces, excess or broken electronics, collectibles and other items that create a “cluttered” feel.  Hold a professional Estate Sale to optimize the value of your possessions and offset some of your household move or staging costs.
  7. Don’t fill your storage spaces to help clear out other rooms. Storage space is often an important selling feature and buyers want to know how much space is available. Portable storage units may help you organize excess, but for a permanent and cost-free solution, we recommend “Downsizing to Sell.”
  8. Depersonalize your home. Removing refrigerator magnets, family pictures and religious items make some homeowners feel sad, but in reality it is best if the home buyer can imagine how their belongings will look in the home, rather than yours.
  9. Address any odors. Whether smells are due to age, people or pets, most houses have their own particular odor. Use air cleaners, unscented aerosols and open windows to reduce unpleasant odors.
  10. Don’t forget the outdoors.  Creating “curb appeal” has been a selling practice for many years. Be sure to trim bushes and plant attractive flowers in warm weather; shovel driveways and remove dead foliage when it is cold.  Discuss the need for other repairs and issues with your realtor or home staging professional.

Preparing a house for market may seem daunting,   yet as long as you focus on your overall objective, which is selling quickly for the best possible price, you may learn to apply these home staging basics and achieve excellent results.  Find more “Reasons to Stage Your Home” in this blog series.

©Caring Transitions

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Five Reasons to Stage Your Home

 Posted by Ken France on February 7, 2014 at 4:25 PM

The concept of “home staging” has been around for a number of years now, but some sellers may not yet realize that preparing their home for sale isn’t just an option, it is a necessity. Similar to sprucing up a used car before listing it for sale, most homes require a good clean and polish before they are placed on the market. Home staging experts agree on several more reasons to stage before you sell:

1. Staging helps sell homes faster. A National Association of Realtors survey found that the longer a home stays on the market, the further below list price it drops. Homes that sold in the first 4 weeks averaged 1% more than the list price; 4 to 12 weeks averaged 5% less; 13 to 24 weeks averaged 6.4% less; than list price; and 24 weeks averaged more than 10% less than list price.

2. Staging investments won’t break the bank. According to other home staging statistics, an average expenditure of $575 for simple cleaning, decluttering, lightening and brightening provides a return of over $2,400 on the sale price of an average home, which is more than a 400% return on investment.

3. Staging provides a market advantage. According to the National Association of Realtors, over 90% of buyers search for homes online before they decide which to visit.  Online real estate videos and photos that reflect nicely staged rooms provide a true advantage over competitors.

4. Staging creates appeal. Residential buyers tend to make emotional decisions when they decide to purchase a home. The potential residence should feel like home as they walk through. Many buyers are simply unable to envision relaxing or raising a family in a home that is dirty, cluttered or in disrepair.

5. Staged homes generate better selling price. According to a National Association of Realtors survey, homes that sold after 4 weeks on the market sold for 6% less than those which sold in the first four weeks. Improving the appearance of your home can help speed up the sale, especially when the home is priced right.

©Caring Transitions 

Home Downsizing to Sell

 Posted by Ken France on January 15, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Most of us recognize that homes that are correctly priced tend to sell quickly, while those that aren’t often languish on the market. Of course, there is more to consider than price when placing a home on the market. Among those factors, it is important to evaluate the overall appearance and condition of a home.

If you are one of many home sellers who wonder why the house down the street just sold at an asking price similar to yours, while yours remains on the market, it may be time to assess the home environment. When a home is in disrepair, too dirty or too cluttered, buyers may not be able to see beyond the mess to effectively compare the home value to other properties.  Is your home appealing to buyers? Can you do more to add “curb appeal” and ‘house appeal?”  Chances are downsizing can help improve the appearance of your home, as well as reduce your moving expenses by eliminating the cost of packing and moving unnecessary items.

Downsizing is often part of the home staging process. The National Association of Realtors states the average home staging investment is between 1 and 3 percent of the home’s asking price, and generates a return of 8 to 10 percent.  For those considering home staging, we have listed “Five Reasons to Stage Your Home” in our next blog.

In those cases where a home is densely cluttered, getting ready to go to market may require more thorough cleaning and aggressive downsizing. Professional estate sale and online auction services can help in these instances. Costs of these services are similar or even less than basic home staging services and produce similar results. Typically, professional estate sale management fees are paid as a percent of sale proceeds. Once those fees, plus any administration fees, have been paid, the net gain on the estate sale belongs to the home owner. As a result, the owner may profit not only from the net revenues of the estate sale, but also the increased value of a decluttered home. Even in situations where the outcome of an estate sale is just “break even”, the seller still benefits from the improved value of the home.

©Caring Transitions 

Real Estate Resources For Mom & Dad

 Posted by Ken France on June 5, 2013 at 3:14 PM

by Nan Hayes for Caring Transitions

When it comes to choosing housing or buying and selling real estate, the needs of older adults and their families can be quite complex. Selling situations may be complicated by issues such as family dynamics, deteriorating health, personal loss and financial constraints. To provide consumers with dedicated support options, two of the nation’s most professional resources work in partnership.

Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES)

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) estatblished their Senior Real Estate Specialist© (SRES©) program in 2007. Realtors who invest the time to earn their SRES credential cultivate a unique view of today’s market, including the sale of older homes, senior housing options and the logistics of relocation. They also understand the implications of common financial concerns, including financing options, reverse mortgage, tax laws, probate and estate planning. Today there are approximately 15,000 SRES Realtors nationwide. All SRES Realtors meet NAR industry requirements and are supported by the SRES Council.

Caring Transitions®:

As the nation’s largest professional resource for household relocation and liquidation, Caring Transitions, is uniquely qualified to serve in partnership with the SRES Realtor network.

With independently owned offices in every major market, Caring Transitions® supports families and business professionals as they downsize, sell, move, pack and unpack. With professional Estate Sale and state-of-the-art CT Online Auction capabilities, Caring Transitions® helps consumers with decluttering. They often assist clients by preparing homes for sale. Moving and storage costs may be offset by professional space planning and downsizing services which are typically delivered in advance of a major move.

Not sure where to start?

It is important for families to understand their options when it comes to secure, knowledgeable and qualified resources. Both SRES® and Caring Transitions® work with teams of professionals who assist with all facets of the home sale and relocation process. Both serve as advocates for their older adult clients.

If listing your home for sale is your immediate concern, contact an SRES® Realtor® today.  However, if you think it is best to begin the downsizing process before you list or if you are ready to move to your new home or clear an estate, contact this local Caring Transitions® office. Both groups of professionals will work in concert to support your needs and help you avoid costly and time consuming mistakes.

 

La Jolla Based Franchisee Highlighted In Press Release

 Posted by Ken France on May 17, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Caring Transitions La Jolla

Will and Suzy Fuller, owners of Caring Transitions La Jolla, were recently highlighted by a local news story in the Rancho Santa Fe Review. The couple, who graduated from their training class this winter, have hit the ground running and taken the local market by storm. With a background in customer service and marketing, connecting with clients and understanding their complicated issues came naturally to Will Fuller.

“Our focus is to minimize the stress and maximize the returns while helping clients through a difficult time,” commented Fuller.

One reason why the Fullers were interested in owning a Caring Transitions franchise are the demographic trends. According to statistics, 79 million baby boomers turned 65 in 2011 which translates to about 10,000 Americans gaining senior status each day.

“It’s a daunting thought that each of those families must face a major change at some point,” said Fuller. “But we have proven systems in place whereby we can remove a lot of the stress – and a lot of times the arguments – out of coping with these often overwhelming major life-changing transitions.”

To read more from this article, head to the Caring Transitions La Jolla website.

Caring Transitions Recognizes Exceptional Franchisees at National Conference

 Posted by Ken France on April 17, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Cincinnati, OH — Caring Transitions (CT), a national franchise specializing in senior moving, household liquidations and estate sales management, recently honored several outstanding franchisees at its annual conference, held at the Riverside Hotel in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

With nearly a hundred franchisees, vendors and home office staff in attendance, the awards were presented at Caring Transitions’ national meeting, during more than two days of informational sessions, networking opportunities, and roundtable meetings.

Sherri Gillette, Caring Transitions of Southern Arizona, received the “Franchise of the Year” award for her contributions to the Caring Transitions system. She and her team doubled their revenue during the past year, rising up to the second largest business in the system. Sherri was also instrumental in mentoring and hosting a number of new owners, serving as an Onsite Training Center.

Donna and Jeff Rea, Caring Transitions of North Dallas Suburbs, received the “Rookie of the Year” award for their exponential growth and great cooperative effort in building a strong Caring Transitions presence in the DFW area.

Janet and Rick Parkinson, Caring Transitions of Upstate South Carolina, were awarded the “Trailblazer of the Year” award for their commitment in helping to develop the Caring Transitions Online Auction site, helping to refine the processes, assisting others by developing and training the CTO model, and making recommendations for software upgrades and improvements.

Also honored at the conference for finishing 2012 in the Top Ten in sales revenue were: Bruce Treadway, CT of Northern Illinois and the North Shore; Sherri Gillette, CT of Southern Arizona; Darcy Inge and Rebecca Cline, CT of Richmond; and Janet and Rick Parkinson, CT of Upstate South Carolina. Others honored for their growth and system involvement by being named to the “Rookie All-Star Team” were Erin Marcus, CT of Chicago and North Suburbs; Cindy and Steve Breck, CT of Las Vegas; and Sue and Mark Fadden, CT of Chicago Western Suburbs.

Chris Seman, President of Caring Transitions, reaffirmed the two main areas Caring Transitions will continue to focus on in 2013: unit revenues and unit profitability.

“Our company’s growth and success is totally dependent upon the interactions of everyone — home office, franchisees, and vendors, working together to build a strong, dynamic, and viable partnership. As each of our individual offices succeeds, so too will our group as a whole,”  - Chris Seman, CT President.

Conference attendees had a chance to share ideas and gain new insight into business practices. Keynote speaker, Jim Ryerson, President and CEO of SalesOctane, delivered the “Science of Selling” to the system and then worked with our franchisees during a breakout session to develop a Caring Transitions Sales Map, outlining behaviors needed to improve the sales process. Caring Transitions’ Ray Rofkar, Director of Operations, reaffirmed the operations team’s commitment to continuous improvement in assisting franchisee’s growth. Nan Hayes, National Marketing and Training Consultant, spoke about national accounts and the need for a strong, cohesive alliance between CT’s individual offices and the home office. Joel Roadruck, CT Operations Manager, led a panel in discussing how to incorporate multiple revenue streams. Joe Lewandowski, CT Operations Manager, led a panel discussion outlining the development of the CT Estimating Program to help franchisees increase profitability by properly pricing and managing each piece of business.

Nationwide, Caring Transitions fields more than 100 franchises serving hundreds of communities.

Founded in 2006, Caring Transitions has been a trusted and highly respected national company leading the way in senior moving, household liquidations and estate sales management in dozens of cities across the United States. Caring Transitions is part of the International Franchise Association, the Small Business Association’s Franchise Registry, VetFran and Minority Fran. For more information call 1-800-647-0766 or visit http://www.caringtransitions.com.

Home Market 2013 – Caring Transitions February Newsletter

 Posted by Ken France on February 4, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Home Market 2013

By Nan Hayes for Caring Transitions

In the past year, sales of existing homes rose by 11% or 4.75 million and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) expects sales to rise to nearly 5.1 million in 2013. Sales have increased across all regions and all price categories.

Despite the positive outlook and improvements in housing market indicators, many remain cautious and lack the complete confidence that consumer spending, employment and lending will fully recover.  The good news is most economists say the majority of these issues will be resolved by the second half of 2013, giving the housing market a chance to continue its positive trend.

Challenges for Buyers

Over the past few years, many potential sellers waited for the market to trend up before listing their homes and during that time much of the home inventory that was out there dried up. As we move into 2013, markets such as Chicago are seeing record lows in inventories. This inventory reduction provides encouraging news for sellers who stand to sell quickly, near or even above list price; however, a low inventory market isn’t so great for buyers, who will undoubtedly face stiff competition for available properties.

The 2013 market may see a rapid increase in prices as an increased number of buyers compete over these low inventories and engage in bidding wars.  Buyers are on the rise in many markets and for many reasons. More buyers will enter the market as the economy recovers and hiring increases. High rental occupancy and rising rents are encouraging renters to move on to homeownership, creating even more buyers and as home prices increase, owners who were in negative equity situations will begin to sell their homes, but they will also become buyers searching for their next home. With so many people looking for properties during a time when home building and financing for builders remains at historical lows, the biggest question  for 2013 may be “Where are the homes?”

Distressed properties are still available in some markets, but even foreclosure filings are expected to dwindle throughout 2013.The number of inexpensive homes for sale  has dropped significantly over the past year. This resulted in an increased number of transactions in the mid to high price ranges and caused dramatic increase in the median home price in many areas.

Fifty cities experienced double-digit increases in home prices, led by Phoenix, with a gain of 28.4% where the properties had become severely undervalued.  Many of the cities that are showing the largest increases are those who suffered most at the beginning of the crisis. They are now on the leading edge of the recovery. Across the board market observers agree that home prices will keep rising in 2013, but they disagree by how much. Forecasters speculate anywhere from a 2% to a 5% increase.

According to Kiplinger’s Report, the following 12 cities report the largest percentage increases in home prices late 2012; Phoenix, AZ, Provo, UT, Ft. Meyers, Fl., Minneapolis, MN., Akron, OH., Youngstown, OH., Seattle, WA., Salt Lake City, UT., Boise, ID., San Jose, CA., Washington, D.C. and Tucson, AZ.

While  these markets experienced the largest percentage decreases in the same time frame; Louisville, KY., Columbia, S.C., Springfield, MA., Baton Rouge, LA., Scranton, PA., Greensboro, N.C., Memphis, TN., Omaha, NE., Knoxville, TN., Toledo, OH., Philadelphia, PA. and Portland, ME.

Challenges for Sellers

Based on the inventory situation, you would think home prices would be skyrocketing and sellers quickly jumping into the market. But it hasn’t really happened.  On one hand desirable homes that are priced well move fast, but on the other hand homes that are too cluttered, in need of serious repair or in poor locations may continue to languish.

And sellers are not yet as optimistic as one would think they’d be. Many sellers entering the market are selling their homes due to affordability problems such as inability to pay their mortgage or finding their investment in an “underwater” position. Others are suffering from job uncertainty, loss of household income or just choosing to move to a more affordable market. These owners’ reasons for selling reflect the hardships that many are experiencing and may explain why sellers are not very hopeful about the future of home prices. According to the Home Buyers Report, only about one in five sellers believe home prices will continue to increase.

Still, the shortage of preferred inventory in the market will still work to the advantage of some buyers, especially those who are well positioned, have a home in reasonably good condition, who seek out the right broker and list at the right price before everyone else jumps in the game.

Let us help you get your home ready for the 2013 selling season! Downsizing, decluttering, estate sale and online auctions from Caring Transitions!

About Caring Transitions

As life changes, it may become necessary to leave a familiar home and part with personal belongings in order to downsize and relocate to a smaller home or retirement community. At Caring Transitions, we help our clients understand the process, evaluate their options and make informed decisions that suit their best interests. We are committed to making each client’s experience positive by minimizing stress and maximizing results.

 

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