Cobb County Real Estate and Community News

Oct. 3, 2019

Caring for An Aging Parent When You’re an Only Child

 

Caring for An Aging Parent When You’re an Only Child

(Old Age is a Blessing That Should Never Be a Cause for Fear)


Your parents kept you safe when you were a young child until you were ready to take on the world yourself. They taught you to be self-dependent and provided the necessities of life at the same time. Your parents were the one constant in life that you thought would never change.

One Day You Open Your Eyes and Your Parents Are Old

It’s difficult seeing how much your parents have changed over the years and to finally realize how much they now need you. As life moves through the full circle, a role reversal happens. Your father, who once walked you down the aisle on your wedding day, can no longer climb the stairs without help. Your mother, who cooked three meals a day and cleaned up after everyone else, no longer has the energy to do any more than microwave a frozen dinner.

Mom and dad seem to be doing okay when you visit occasionally but their health is constantly on your mind. Still, you live three hours away and have your own children to raise. You realize that they are rapidly becoming more frail every time you visit. You’re ready to face reality, begin making some long term plans for their advancing age, and need for help. 

Now it’s your turn to give your parents the level of care that they need from you. It will be a challenge! 

You Have Many Options to Help Your Aging Parents

Depending on your parent’s age and physical condition, you may want to consider a series of transitions for their living arrangements. Their living arrangements are at the heart of how active their lives will remain for years to come but you may need to face the prospect that soon they will need daily assistance and eventually nursing care. So where do you start?

Maybe the first step is helping them down size out of the family home into a single level home without any stairs. Or maybe your parents are still very active and what they would enjoy most is an active community with plenty of recreation, social, and outdoor activities. As your parents become less mobile, their quality of life real does revolve around their local community. Fortunately, today we have communities designed for active seniors. Here are some resources that you will find useful.

Senior Housing: There are Lots of Options

Tips for Buying a Condo

Downsizing and Part Time Care Could be Your Answer

It’s pretty common for the elderly to go into denial that they need to make lifestyle changes. You may be the more mature adult in the relationship at this point in time. It could be time for you sit down and have that open and honest type of conversation they once had with you. Be prepared to express your concerns in a meaningful, helpful, and loving way. Don’t expect praise and flowers for caring about how they will get along during the years to come. Instead, be prepared for some denial and anger. Keep the conversation short but leave them with resources to consider once they realize you have their best interests at heart.

Top 10 Blogs for Seniors to Follow

Aging In Place: Will Your Home Work for You?

Downsizing is a Step-By-Step Approach

Space Planning When Downsizing

Top 10 Tips for Downsizing

Listen to What Your Parents Have to Say

You always wanted to be listened to and heard when your parents gave you advice and suggestions. Show them the same respect during these difficult conversations. They have likes, dislikes, pains, fears, and other emotions that can be hard to verbalize. Be patient and ask questions to help them express what is important to them as well as help you understand what will make them the most happy.

Even take notes that you can look back at later. Be prepared with a list of topics you want to discuss. Discuss all known medical issues and financial concerns. This may be a multipart conversation that needs to occur over weeks or even months. Make sure you have their attention during the entire conversation. Leave them with a list of what was discussed and any decisions made. They may need more reminders such as any signs and symptoms of aging that you have observed. Also a list of topics that you want to discuss the next time that you visit.

The transition will be easier and everyone will come away happier when you get your parents talking to you. Not only will things go more smoothly all around, but you may also learn some things about them that you never knew. Never make decisions without consulting them unless you are sure their thinking is not clear enough to add value to the conversation.

After this conversation is out of the way, with some input from your parents, you can put a plan in action allowing them the best life possible and your peace of mind that you have done as much for them as they once did for you.

 

I encourage you to continue reading our blogs. If you need more information or have questions, please contact us. You can also  reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you! 

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Sept. 16, 2019

What is the Difference Between a Buyer’s Market and a Seller’s Market?



What is the Difference Between a Buyer’s Market and a Seller’s Market?

(Real Estate Has Cycles)

 

A Bankrate survey shows that many Americans (especially millennials) are developing a “skittishness” when it comes to real estate investing. We know the real estate market goes through cycles that eventually include a down market. Could this be the earliest stages of a down market that presents both homeownership and investment opportunities for the astute buyer?

The survey found that 32% of all Americans think the stock market is the best place to invest savings that will not be needed for at least 10 years. Another 24% say they prefer “no-risk” cash liquid investments for the long term. Only 22% now prefer real estate. This is the first time in 4 years that the survey did not prefer real estate. That’s a total of 78% of people surveyed. The remainder mostly preferred gold, bonds, and bitcoin. 

The Real Estate Cycle

Buying low and selling high isn’t necessarily a primary goal when buyers are looking for their next home but it doesn’t hurt when the low point coincides with a buyer’s needs. And high points can motivate sellers into the market when they are on the fence. The real estate market follows the basic market rule for supply and demand. 

The major phases of the real estate cycle are the bottom, which is a good time for buyers/savvy investors to buy low. The middle is when many homeowners hold tight while waiting for prices to appreciate in value. And there is the high point, which is the time to sell for a profit before the cycle dips back into a new low cycle. Sellers sitting on the fence want to make their move before the high cycle turns towards lower.

The last low cycle roughly lasted from 2008 to 2011. Since 2012, we’ve been in the middle of the cycle characterized by rapid appreciation in property values and rising rents. Although no one can accurately predict it, we are past due for a down turn in the cycle. Slowing sales volumes and more houses on the market for longer periods of time are strong indicators that the market might be shifting.

However, just because general investor sediment is beginning to turn away from real estate does not mean we are near the low point of the cycle or that this is even prime time to make big decisions. It is noteworthy that we may have turned from the top of the cycle and are beginning to dip lower. Another market characterization is prices first plateauing and then staying on the market for longer periods of time before decreasing (if prices even do decrease).

Whether this is actually happening and how significant any decreases become is anyone’s guess at this time. What the survey shows is a strong indicator that investment money is beginning to steer away from real estate. 

None of this should overly excite buyers or sellers because real estate prices have a very long history of going up over time. Cycles are merely trends that are often short term although last high cycle was exceeding long. What history tells us it that prices occasionally plateau and then again trend upward at a rate exceeding inflation.

Other Indicators the Cycle Might be Turning

One fact is difficult to disagree with. High prices have simply made it very difficult for potential buyers in the market to afford a house by qualifying for a loan. A saving grace that has sustained the market was the retreat in interest rates after briefly shifting higher. We remain at historically low interest rates and indications are rates will remain affordable. That places the focus squarely on home prices. 

According to a recent ConsumerAffairs Report, a combination of lower interest rates and slowing price increases is working in favor of buyers. However, Millennials are now the largest demographic of homebuyers. A different survey by Bank of the West shows 54% of Millennials believe the American dream of homeownership is no longer attainable. 

Affordability is a very real problem. Adding to the financial problems of Millennials is the huge amount of college debt that they owe, which no previous generation has ever held. According to the Federal Reserve, Millennials held a median average savings of only $2,600 in 2016 (most recent data). This has led 3 out of 10 Millennials to currently say cash is their favorite long-term investment.

The growth and high point of the real estate cycle has enjoyed a long and vigorous run. But it always goes through the full cycle. Almost certainly, this isn’t yet the time to be searching out bargain homes. However, as we enter into the slowing autumn and winter seasons, look for more indicators that buying sentiment is also changing. This is likely the time for well-informed buyers to be getting their finances in order for future opportunities. And for those considering selling to decide if the best market timing is now.

 

If you need more information or have questions, please contact us. You can also reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!

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Sept. 6, 2019

Bennett Woods is Where Life is Enjoyed

 

 

Bennett Woods is the neighborhood you want to explore for your next home in the suburbs close to Atlanta. Bennett Woods in Smyrna is a neighborhood easily described as having your cake and eating it too. This charming neighborhood of more than 300 homes features mostly southern traditional brick ranch houses from the 1960s and 1970s with some new construction. 

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Bennett Woods Overview

Homes for sale in Bennett Woods are ranging from $250,000 to $350,000. Besides very well-maintained homes, you’ll also find luxury new construction. All are within a short commute of downtown Atlanta. This friendly Smyrna neighborhood is between North Cooper Lake Road and Concord Road.

Here you will appreciate and adore the many quiet, and open green spaces. Nearby is the Silver Comet Trail with 13 miles of strolling, hiking, and cycling through the surrounding countryside for your viewing pleasure. You’ll also enjoy North Cooper Lake Park with the Smyrna Community Garden.C:\Users\user\Documents\Astral Services\Elance\Active\Chad - Real estate Article & Blog Writing\Ref and Photos\silvercomet.jpg

Within a mile are the Tolleson Park that features Swim and Tennis.  It has six tennis courts, a pool, and a diving area. Other nearby parks and amenities include Lake Court Park featuring a playground and off-leash dog area. 

The Heart of the Village

Smyrna (the Jonquil City) made Money magazine’s List of Best Places to Live in 2018. The Market Village in Smyrna is walking friendly to fully experience the landscaping and open feeling of more than 40,000 square feet of retail space with many restaurants. The Market Village is pedestrian oriented with an emphasis on streetscapes, landscaping, and openness. This is the place you stroll while shopping and deciding whether to next enjoy the atmosphere of Atkins Park Tavern, Moe’s Southwest Grill, The Corner Taqueria, Zucca Bar & Pizzeria, and others 

Downtown is also an Urban Land Institute Award of Excellence winner for the mix of gracious living and work. This where you find the City Library, Community Center, and City Hall. All part of an amazingly beautiful downtown with a fountain, and an arboretum. 

Recreation and Entertainment Goes On and On… Near Bennett Woods

The outdoor and community life extends to include 25 parks, trails, playgrounds, golf courses, sport fields, swimming pools, dog parks, and obviously much more. All with a wealth of scheduled and unscheduled activities and entertainment for people of all ages.

The Spring Jonquil Festival is an annual highlight when the abundant Jonquil flowers are in full bloom. Friends and family come to be entertained at more than 175 arts & crafts booths, 15 food booths, an entertainment stage, and a variety of children's activities. It’s all about the family playing, eating, drinking, shopping, and just having a great day together. Artisans congregate from all parts of the southeast to show off hand-made crafts, paintings, clothing, furniture, jewelry and much more. It wouldn’t be a festival without cotton candy, candy apples, corn dogs, hand-dipped ice cream, snow cones, polish sausage, chicken sandwiches, and BBQ. The kids and young at heart enjoy the interactive area with large and small inflatable activities, sand art, and more.

The golfer will not be disappointed with Bennett Woods. Fox Creek Golf is a Par 62 course designed by famed designer John LaFoy. This is the course surrounded by towering Georgia pines for golfers of all skill levels and ages wanting a fun place to play and practice. More golfing enjoyment is found at the Par 58 executive Legacy Golf Links.

Within nearby vicinity of your new home are even more parks and trails.

  • Askew Park

  • Brinkley Park

  • Chuck Camp Park

  • Church St. Park

  • Cobb Park

  • Creatwood Park

  • GB Williams Park

  • Jonquil Park

  • Rose Garden Park

  • Taylor Brawner Park

  • Tolleson Park

  • Ward Park

  • Whitfiled Park



Visit Bennett Woods – You’ll Stay for a Lifetime

If you want location, location, location, this is the place to be. Besides being ultra-close to Atlanta, it is a crossroads for I-75, I-20, and I-285. For distant travelers, Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport is only a 30-minute drive away. Within an 18-mile radius, you’ll also find 4 smaller airports and 2 major railways.

The social interaction is fun and free flowing. Here is where you still find families walking to the local shopping centers as well as the many trails. At the same time, it enjoys being an art and entertainment hub with the likes of the Cobb Performing Arts Center. People are sincere about keeping it a mixed use community that is welcoming to all.

As you look closely at Bennet Woods for your new home, be sure to ask Total Atlanta Group for more information about the neighborhood association, organized activities, and social gatherings in the neighborhood, along with city organized activities downtown. We’ll happily guide you through deciding how to proceed with your home purchase.

At Total Atlanta Group, we enjoy being part of your move into the next chapter of your life. If you need more information or have questions, please contact us. You can also reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!

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Sept. 4, 2019

Top 10 Tips for Downsizing (Downsizing to a stress-free and simpler life)

 

 

 

Top 10 Tips for Downsizing

(Downsizing to a stress-free and simpler life)

 

Is keeping up with cleaning the size of your house causing you stress? Or maybe it’s the maintenance and yard work? Or maybe it’s being too far away from family? At some point in our lives, it becomes time to simplify things and do some downsizing. For many baby boomers, that time is now.

Downsizing can actually move you closer to your dream life and more happiness. You’ve probably accumulated a lifetime of kids’ artwork, paperwork, kitchen gadgets, and a lot of stuff tucked back in the corners of closets that you don’t even know is there. You may have formal rooms in your home that you keep clean but haven’t used in years. Or a mosquito-filled backyard where summers are too unbearably hot to be outside anyway. 

All of these and other reasons are telling you that life will be much simpler if you downsize. As overwhelming as it may seem, downsizing creates a simple, safe, and stress-free home so you can enjoy living again. 

Here are the top 10 senior downsizing tips for minimizing stress and maximizing living.

  1. Be clear about why you are downsizing. Do you need to reduce your monthly cost of living? Do you want to be in the city near more culture and entertainment? Do you want to be in a community with people your own age? Do you want to be closer to family? Do you want help with daily chores? All are good reasons and there may be more than one reason. You may need to prioritize your reasons. But you do need to be clear about what you will gain by downsizing.
  2. Downsize while you’re in good health and a good frame of mind.  Even if you’re not quite ready to make the big move, start the process while you have your health.  Start with the least-used room in your home. Make a routine of spending one hour a day or three hours a week on this.  Take a break when you become overwhelmed or tired. Create your process and schedule long before the big day comes.
  3. Work with a realtor to find your perfect new home. When you’re ready to downsize, you need a realtor knowledgeable about the type of home and mortgage that’s the best fit for your retirement plan and makes sense for this phase of your life. Perhaps by using your home equity line of credit as a down payment so you can move now and sell your current home afterwards. Have a realtor explain and demonstrate factors like stairs, hallways, doorways, and interior spaces. Not only what they mean while you still have full mobility but also what these can mean in 10, 20, or even 30 years into your future. Realtors are about connecting you to a network of other professionals. These can be professionals who help with downsizing-related issues, such as financial advisers who consult on purchase affordability and long-term savings. It can also be a realtor willing to work closely with family members helping to make the right decisions. The right realtor is an important person in the downsizing process.
  4. Test downsizing. Don’t immediately donate and give everything away. First, box things up and put them out of sight and out of easy reach. Test if you can actually live without somethings you think are indispensable. You may be surprised that you no longer think about them. You’ll learn how much you enjoy living with less stuff.
  5. Make this your opportunity to redecorate. Now that you’ve done some major decluttering (including furniture), you can try any new decorating ideas that you have. If you’ve decided on the smaller place you’re moving to, visit it several times to get the feel of it. Redecorate your current home in the manner you think you want your new place. Maybe you can test drive some new furniture or appliances. You will further identify what you can and cannot live without. Use this as an opportunity to update and try a new lifestyle.
  6. Categorize your stuff. As you go through the process, identify what you will take with you, what goes into storage, what you’ll give away, what you’ll donate, what you’ll sell, and what is headed for the landfill. Box it, stack it, and store it accordingly. You’ll begin learning the pleasures of living with less clutter while still being able to retrieve anything you find you can’t live without.
  7. Go over the details of where you are moving. Give serious thought to what your new life will be like and how it will be organized. Have a loved one or close friend go over how you are thinking this will work. What amenities do you have now and what changes will be made? Are your physical or security needs changing and what does this mean to how you’ll be living? Size does matter. Now that you’ve categorized everything, consider how the stuff you’re keeping fits into the new space. If crafts are important to you, make sure you have a plan for your craft table no matter how much smaller the space is. Take another inventory. If it’s not all going to fit, further identify what needs to go to storage. Make a plan for this stuff to be easily retrievable from storage.
  8. Take your time. Embrace your memories as your sort through all of your belongings. Go through old photo albums and journals. If you can’t take them all with you, this is the time to have some of it digitized. You’ll also find that some stuff has truly become old clutter that you no longer need.
  9. Consider professional movers. The time you could bribe friends into helping you move with a rented truck, a case of beer, and a couple of pizzas is in the past. Hiring professionals eases the packing and moving process tremendously. Your realtor or storage facility can recommend trusted and experienced movers to do the heavy lifting. Many offer discounted prices for seniors.
  10. Have fun! This is your chance to celebrate items you haven’t enjoyed for many years as well as get rid of the stuff that is nothing more than a cleaning chore, trip hazard, or storage frustration. Involve your friends, family, and loved ones as much as you can, and pour a few glasses of wine if it suits you. Cheers to this next step in your life!

 

At Total Atlanta Group, we enjoy being part of your move into the next phase of your life. If you need more information or have questions, please send us a note. You can also reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!

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Posted in Home Improvement
Aug. 24, 2019

Simple Ways to Improve Your Credit Score (Nudging Your Credit Score Higher)

 

 

 

Simple Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

(Nudging Your Credit Score Higher)


It happens – people have damaged credit reports. But it’s easier making big strides towards improving your credit score than you might think. These techniques won’t overcome major problems like bankruptcies and foreclosures. However, you can fix errors in your credit report and even overcome a few late payments that may be holding you back from qualifying for a better interest rate. This might be all it takes for you to become pre-approved for a mortgage.  

Even if these tips don’t solve all credit problems, these are known to move people’s score in the right direction

Removing Errors and Derogatories

Errors happen that you probably don’t even know about. Derogatories are any negative marks on your credit report dragging down your score. Derogatories show up in codes that you probably don’t understand. These could be valid or have nothing to do with how you’ve managed your credit. The credit industry wants you to think that you are responsible for proving any mistake they make.  If you read the consumer laws, the responsibility firmly sits with this massive industry. All you are doing here is making them follow the law by validating the codes they entered onto your credit report.

Maybe there is a 30 day late pay because you or the lender made an error but it has been brought current, contact the lender to ask that they remove it. They almost always will because they know how damaging it is to your credit score. 

More Than One Missed Payment

Every time a payment is missed, another derogatory is added. Another one is added at 60 days, 90 days, 120 days, and so on up to 180 days. At about 180 days, the lender charges off the money as bad debt. This is when they add a derogatory saying they charged off the bad debt.

As you can imagine, getting multiple late pays and charge offs removed is more challenging but there are a few simple ways it can be done.

First, you can dispute the derogatory for several reasons. Federal law requires all information on your credit report to be accurate and complete. So begin by looking for inaccurate and missing information.

Sometimes, late pays do not have a date associated with them. This is important missing information. Send the credit bureau a letter saying, “I dispute the undated late pays on account [XXXX]. Delete the account immediately.”

Notice, you don’t ask them to update the information or give them the correct information. There might be six late pays listed on the account but only one has a missing date. You want to make them delete the entire account because of a single missing or inaccurate piece of information.

Maybe the account has been charged off but shows that it is still open. A charged off account cannot still be open and active. Write saying, “I dispute account [XXXX]. It is not an open account. Delete it immediately.”

These types of errors are made all the time and consumers pay for it with higher interest rates and denied credit. All because lenders don’t keep accurate records.

Credit bureaus can verify or update the information instead of deleting the account but first they have to find the correct information. This can mean going back to the lender to find it in their records. That is a lot of work. Sometimes, they will or sometimes they will just delete the account. 

Credit Information Must Be Accurate

Something else you can do is review the reports from all three bureaus for consistency. If different bureaus are reporting different information, you might really be on to something that can help your cause.

It might be different account balances, different dates for the same late pay, different status of the same account, or one of many other reasons. 

This time you want to contact the lender to ask them for the correct information that appears differently on the three reports. Hopefully, the reason it is different is because the lender no longer has a file on you and the bureaus cannot verify the information.

When this happens, what you do is write to all three bureaus demanding that they validate the account. Again, this comes under federal law. They must contact the original lender to obtain and provide you with a copy of the file they have on you. You already know there is no file. When they cannot validate the debt, they are required to delete it.

In fact, if the account has been charged off, there is a very good possibility that the original lender purged the account and cannot document any of the negative information. If this is the situation, it’s probably a good idea to ask to have the account validated at the very beginning.

Other errors on their part to keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Delinquencies or late pays after charge off.
  • Delinquencies or late pays for $0.
  • Delinquencies or late $123.
  • Balances that are above the “high balance” or “balance limit”.
  • Accounts that have been transferred from one collection agency to another but the balance at the old collection agency is not “$0”.

Often you will find accounts with incomplete information. Remember the information must be both accurate and complete. All you need to do is send a letter say “You are listing an incomplete account. Delete it immediately.” Unless they want to go to the trouble of figuring out what is missing and finding the missing information, they have to delete the derogatory account.

Debt to Credit Ratio

This one is very important. Those with a good payment history will find this is probably the best technique for quickly raising your score even higher.

You may find it amazing but you can often improve your score by taking on a little more credit. Credit card companies make money by charging you interest on the borrowed money. They want to see you borrowing and repaying in a responsible manner.  Your debt to credit ratio may not be something you pay attention to but lenders find it very important. 

Lenders like to see you borrowing between 10% and 30% of your credit limit. That means if your Visa account has a $1,000 limit, you should have a balance between $100 and $300 on the account. 

Paying off the account in full each month is counter rational to what the credit bureaus are looking for. They want to earn interest from you but they don’t want you borrowing near the limit because that indicates you might be out of control with your credit.

This is where you might want to open a new account and transfer part of the balance from any accounts that are above 30%. If you have a card with a $10,000 credit limit, and have borrowed $8,500, your debt to credit ratio is at 85%. You should move $3,000 to a new card with a $10,000 limit and pay part of the first account off to get both cards down to 30%.

It sounds crazy but that is how the scoring models work.

Make this work best for you, find a new account that offers 6 months or a full year interest free when you transfer the balance from an existing account.

All of this is about managing your credit report so that you are pre-approved for a mortage.

I encourage you to continue reading our blogs for more valuable information about becoming a homeowner. A blog you might be interested in is: Top Ways to Develop Money Saving Habits.

 

If you need more information or have questions, please send us a note. You can also  reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!

 

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Aug. 22, 2019

Gorgeous Ranch Home For Sale in Smyrna

 

 

Gorgeous renovated ranch by award winning Longo Custom Home Builders. This house is truly a custom home. Open floor plan with high ceilings and exposed beams, custom cabinets, and high end appliances. This home boasts a beautiful  master suite, a spacious patio that overlooks a large back yard. It is only a few blocks from Smyrna Village, short drive to I75, I285, and Atlanta Battery/Braves Stadium.

Features:
  • Master on Main
  • Double Vanity
  • Award winning design home
  • Highend appliances 
  • Close to shopping and entertainment

Disclosures and Exhibits

Check our Latest Newsletter

Aug. 22, 2019

Stunning Home for Sale in Lakestone, Woodstock!

 

 

Fantastic two story home in sought after Lakestone subdivision. This home has an open floor plan, with two story great room with wonderful hardwood flooring. The kitchen  is stunning with island, tile floors, and granite. Bedroom on main has own bath. Upstairs features spacious bedrooms, and an oversized master suite with separate vanities, large shower. Outside features two screened porches and gorgeous patio with covered area that leads to a large level fenced backyard. Close to 575, shopping and dining!

Features:
  • Open floor plan
  • Two story great room 
  • Swim and Tennis Community 
  • Fenced backyard

Disclosures and Exhibits

Check our Latest Newsletter

Aug. 21, 2019

Space Planning When Downsizing - Making your home fit your lifestyle!

Space Planning When Downsizing

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Collecting and owning too many belongings for a lifetime sometimes results in our belongings owning us. We change our lives to make room for all of our things instead of fitting them neatly into our lives.

At some point in our lives, almost everyone can improve their lives by downsizing to what is still important. It’s a big and life changing event that certainly deserves some serious planning. When you move from a four-bedroom and two-story family home into a single story and two-bedroom home, you probably don’t need that dining room table that seats eight people anymore.

Planning Tips for Your Downsized Space

Maybe you already have your new home picked out or maybe you’re just beginning to consider downsizing. Regardless, this is a very personal process. There certainly isn’t a one-size fits all approach. However, there are some practical tips that most people find useful when planning their golden years.

  • A single-story or ranch style home with a large master bedroom that includes a full bath. Specifically look to be sure there aren’t any step-ups or step-downs between rooms or at the entry of the home. 
  • Rooms (kitchen, living room, master bedroom) with furniture and appliances sized and spaced for about 5 feet of navigating room. This accommodates walkers and wheelchairs but also reduces trip hazards even if no one uses a walker or cane.
  • Hallways and doors that are 3 feet or wider. Flush room entryways are best (without thresholds).
  • Connected garage or covered walkway from parking to the house. It’s good when a garage or other parking accommodates a wheelchair.
  • Both low maintenance yard and low maintenance exterior of the house (brick or no-paint exterior siding).
  • Not common, but a separate living quarter for a live-in caregiver may have a future use.

Create a Visual Plan for Your New Space

This may sound extreme but you’ll be glad you did it once you move into your new place. You need some type of floor plan. This can be as simple as a hand drawing or complicated as a professional blueprint. Here, we’ll go with a simple hand drawn version.

You want to keep your floor plan drawing to scale. A ratio of 1 inch = 1 foot works well. You’re going to need paper bigger than a standard piece of 8 ½ x 11 paper or legal paper. Butcher paper works well or even some unused gift-wrapping paper if the stock’s heavy enough to draw on. Graph paper is a smaller option you might consider. There are certainly computer and phone apps that will do the job.

Begin by drawing the rooms you want a plan for. Use a ruler, tape measure, or sewing tape to draw it to scale. If you make it 1 inch = 1 foot, a 10 foot wall is drawn 10 inches long. Draw in everything in the empty room (doorways, electrical outlets, telephone plug, TV cable, windows, etc.). 

Then, make cutouts of all the furniture you want to put into the room. Your 8 foot couch becomes an 8 inch cutout, the 4 foot writing desk becomes 4 inches. Keep everything proportionate. If the 8 foot couch is 4 feet wide, the cutout is 8 inches by 4 inches. The drawing isn’t 3 dimensional (although you could make side views of the rooms if you have some drafting skills). You’ll need to use your imagination for things like light switches. You don’t want to place a 6-foot-tall hutch in front of a light switch, but a 3-foot-tall hutch might work there. You could draw your furniture into the floor plan but by using cutouts, you can easily try different arrangements of the furniture.

Using 1 inch = 1 foot, measure the distance between furniture. If your living room furniture is arranged to watch TV and there is only a ½ inch opening to get in and out of the sitting area, that is only a 6-inch opening in real life that certainly won’t work. Keep in mind, the best practice is about 5 feet of navigating room. Also, look at what might be blocking doorways. Is that dining room table for 8 people blocking the doorway into the kitchen? Is that 6 foot hutch in front of a window? 

A Few Tips as You Work on Your Layout

  • Before buying new furniture, try a scale cutout on your floor plan to decide how big the new furniture can be before you purchase it.
  • Consider a love seat and two chairs as an alternative to a large couch.
  • Smaller side tables and living room table can solve space problems.
  • Count and measure kitchen cupboards in your current home to compare to what you’ll have in your smaller home. Maybe a pantry in the garage will help.
  • Bedroom closets will probably be smaller. Try on all of the clothes you have now. Decide to get rid of those that don’t fit or that you’re no longer fond of. Consider a shoe storage rack on the wall or door.
  • Consider other storage options like a long under the bed box on wheels, storage benches, storage ottomans, and kitchen organizers.
  • Start using storage you already have in night tables and end tables.
  • Wall mount the TV.
  • Sleeper sofas in guest rooms, enclosed patios, a walk-in closet as a small office. Your imagination will find lots of solutions.

Think outside the box by starting new. Don’t limit your choices to the way you have your current home organized. 

At Total Atlanta Group, we enjoy being part of your move into the next phase of your life. If you need more information or have questions, please contact us. You can also reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!

 

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Posted in Home Improvement
Aug. 14, 2019

Top 10 Blogs for Seniors to Follow



Top 10 Blogs for Seniors to Follow

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As baby boomers experience retirement, they have a lot to look forward to. We all know the internet is a treasure trove of resources, and boomers have been on the internet since its earliest days. Today, the internet is a vital tool as boomers celebrate the joys of aging. Besides using social media to stay updated with friends and family, blogs have become an integral source of tips for maintaining an active lifestyle as well as information to navigate topics paramount to their golden years.

There are blogs out there catering to pretty much everything of interest to the senior crowd. Just a short list of subjects you’ll find on blogs with the senior in mind is:

  • A humorous view of aging.
  • Navigating the complex healthcare system.
  • Managing financial challenges.
  • Encouraging a positive approach to aging.
  • Tips for an active lifestyle.
  • Today and tomorrows changing housing needs.
  • Tips to help adult children of aging parents.
  • Senior travel.
  • And much more.

Some blogs specialize in one or only a few of these subjects, but many cover a variety of subjects on a rotating basis. There’s certainly something from everyone. The list and links below aren’t listed with any type of ranking because everyone has their own preferences. Still, we hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

1. The Roaming Boomers: https://www.theroamingboomers.com/blog/

Travel became a lifestyle when David and Carol Porter took an early retirement. Although this is technically a travel service business, the more than 1,000 articles and blogs have found a loyal readership since 2004. The focus of the blogs is luxury boomer travel but you can still dream of faraway places if you can’t get there yourself.

2. Time Goes By (what it’s really like to get older): http://www.timegoesby.net/

This blog by Ronni Bennett covers a wide section of subjects since she became one of the original bloggers helping aging boomers navigate social issues and interests. On any given day she might blog about Medicare, and then entertainment, humor, grief, mortality, and yet another day about love and sex. Ronnie had a long career as a network television producer and writer. Her generalist approach comes from a background on TV shows like The Dick Cavett Show, Barbara Walters Specials, 20/20, and documentaries. 

3. Baby Boomer Magazine: https://babyboomer-magazine.com/

This is another general interest blog with the mission of being a complete digital magazine for the baby boomer generation. The categories covered are retirement living issues, real estate, healthcare (insurance, health, and products), fitness and diet; retirement businesses and job opportunities; and travel and vacations (travel mates and dating). Also thrown in are nostalgia and baby boomer retirement stories. Each general category has several deep dive posts.

4. Senior Living.com: https://www.seniorliving.com/journal

This is a good resource for people seeking senior housing and other senior appropriate services, both for themselves and their loved ones. While some senior living communities are featured on the site, it also shares information about aging in place at home. Other topics covered are home health care, caregiving, home modification, and home technology.

5. A Place for Mom Blog: https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/

This is another one with the commercial purpose of helping find appropriate housing for the aging. However, it also has a lot of useful blogs and articles. You’ll find articles about leading an active lifestyle and information for family members caring for a loved one. Blogs and articles include Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia news, retirement finance and legal issues, and general aging and health news. If you do want to learn about some senior living communities in the Atlanta area, you can follow this link: https://www.aplaceformom.com/assisted-living/georgia/atlanta

6. Boomer Café: https://www.boomercafe.com/

This is an original digital magazine for baby boomers. It has been providing tips, information, insights, and opinions for more than 20 years. Here, the emphasis is on baby boomers with active lifestyles and youthful spirits. Along with the obligatory information about health, money, and travel, you’ll find a selection of personal stories and a place to submit your own story. Overall, it’s a well-rounded website for still active boomers.

7. Graceful Aging: http://www.gracefulaging.com/

This site features video blogs rather than traditional written blogs. It also breaks other traditional boundaries by seeking to entertain and instruct along with being informative. Along those lines, it tackles less traditional topics like driving safety, home safety, and personal safety. One goal is maintaining your dignity as an older adult.

8. Senior Planet: https://seniorplanet.org/

This is another good resource for seniors remaining active and young at heart. Much of the coverage is about health, sex and dating, art and design, senior style, travel, news, and entertainment. Although it does appeal to seniors nationwide, it is based in New York City and you’ll find some blogs have an NYC leaning. But there are plenty of posting for everyone and no topic is off limit.

9. Justice in Aging: https://www.justiceinaging.org/blog/

This one is pretty specialized to serve people with an interest in fighting senior poverty through law. Along with blogs, it has videos and webinars on government safety net programs like Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and SSI. Also published are issue briefs, reports, and advocate guides for on-the-ground advocates.

10. Can I Retire Yet?: http://www.caniretireyet.com/

This blog isn’t only for those who have already retired. It began as a blog serving baby boomers but is useful to anyone wanting to save, invest, or retire. It is written from an older perspective. This is not professional investing or retirement advice, but it is educational and entertaining. You won’t be told what stocks to invest in or how to plan your estate; rather, you will learn something about retiring early. 

Here are two other Total Atlanta Group blogs of interest for baby boomers and those nearing retirement:

Downsizing is a Step-By-Step Approach

Senior Housing: There are Lots of Options

 

If you need more information or have questions, please contact us. You can also reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!

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Aug. 14, 2019

Tips to Improve Your Chances as a Buyer When Multiple Offers Are On the Table - Making Your Offer the Winner

Tips to Improve Your Chances as a Buyer

When Multiple Offers Are On the Table

(Making Your Offer the Winner)


Today’s market is healthy for both sellers and buyers. However, it still favors sellers slightly because the available inventory of houses for sale is only a little more than 3 months. It’s generally considered a fully balanced market when there is a 6-month supply of houses. In today’s market, houses at the right price draw the attention of several buyers within a few short days of being listed for sale. But serious buyers shouldn’t be discouraged. With the right strategy, you greatly improve your chances of making the successful offer.

  • Your first move is being pre-approved for a loan. Being pre-qualified isn’t going to cut it when the seller has three other offers from pre-approved buyers. Always get pre-approved or even conditionally approved.  Conditionally approved means that you are approved for the loan based on certain conditions such as the house having to appraise for the purchase price. The stronger qualifications you have, the stronger of a buyer you are.
  • You should be familiar with the market as well as heavily relying on us. We gladly share the most up-to-date information so you know what the most recent comparable homes sold for. When you truly want a home that is likely to receive competitive bids, you need your bid to be based on the most recent market information available. 
  • Submit your best offer from the beginning. It’s not likely you’ll be negotiating the price down so your strategy should be to create a clear gap between your offer and other offers that are trying to negotiate downward. Sometimes sellers deliberately set a price below comparable sales in an effort to generate multiple offers, so paying a little extra doesn't necessarily mean you are paying over market value. 
  • Offer a large earnest deposit. Your earnest money applies to your down payment at closing. You don’t pay the earnest money until the seller accepts your offer but putting higher than customary earnest money in your offer tells the seller that you are a serious buyer. 
  • Be careful to minimize the contingencies. Most due diligence contingencies are between 7-10 days to have the home inspected and for you to accept or reject the inspection. Shorten your inspection contingency to 5 or 7 days. The advantage to the seller is that if you reject the house based on the inspection, they can quickly turn to offer number 2. If the home does need repairs to meet your needs or for your lender to approve the loan, be careful what you ask the seller to pay for. 
  • Be flexible about the closing date. The sellers could have multiple deals in work. The sellers might be buying another home contingent on selling their current home. The sellers could need to take possession of their next home quickly or they might need to stay in their current home a little longer. Or the seller might need cash quickly from the sale for another reason. In a competitive situation, being flexible about the closing date can swing the deal in your favor. Be prepared if the seller asks to change the closing date after the final purchase agreement has been accepted. 
  • Of less importance but helpful in some cases is writing a personal letter to the seller telling them why you love the home, how much you appreciate any upgrades they made, and how you’ll take good care of the home. The seller might love the home as well and want it to go to the right buyer.

Every home purchase is unique. At Total Atlanta Group, we build relationships by making sure that everyone is on the same page. With us, you always come first. I look forward to meeting you.

If you need more information or have questions, please contact us. You can also reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!