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“I Live in My Home for Free!” Are You Sure?

All too often I hear the phrase, “I live in my home for free so why would I want to move to a senior community or apartment!”

This statement could not be farther from the truth! We all dream about the day we make our last payment on our mortgage and then we truly own our home and owe the bank nothing. When that day comes we are ready to fully enjoy our retirement and coast to our last days. However, as the home ages, cost to live in our homes accelerates. There are other costs we must pay to live securely in our homes.

Based on a 200,000 home, here are typical costs which vary by location:

                                                   Per Month
Maintenance: (Most economists use a factor of 3%)  $500
Homeowner’s Insurance                              $50
Property Taxes (vary by community)                 $400
Utilities (gas, electric, telephone)               $150
Water/Sewer (vary by community)                    $75
Sanitation (garbage pickup)                        $10
Loss of Investment (3.25% per year)                $541
If $200,000 were invested today                    ------
Total Monthly Expense Each Month                   $1,726

If you think you live in your home for free, click here to see the true cost of living in your home

There are also other considerations as to the true cost to live in your home. If prices fall due to the aging of your home or the economy, your home asset is actually shrinking.

Of course, there are the reasons moving may enhance one’s quality of life by living in a safe and secure environment which matches current physical and psychological needs.

So, be realistic about the costs of living in your home. You do not live in your home for free, and a move to safety and security may cost less than you think!

Please call if you need a market update as to the current value of your property. Knowing the current value of your home in today’s market is critical to understanding the true value of living in your home. You can call anytime to schedule an appointment at 262-242-6177.

All the best,

Bruce Nemovitz CRS, CSA, ABR, SRES

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My Real Estate Prediction For 2010

We all are anxious about our present as well as our future. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that crystal ball that would give us some clues as to what our economy will look like next year and beyond! Since no reliable indicator exists, we can only depend on the so called “pundits” who profess to know more than most, but their results are mixed. I am going to take a stab at my own predictions of next year’s real estate market with the risk of missing the mark a bit and having you, the reader, remind me of my well intended attempt! My picture of next year’s market is based on many conversations with banks, appraisers, home owners, buyers and sellers. I have 32 years as a full-time Realtor providing a good base for my insights into 2010’s housing environment. So here goes:

I believe that our economy is not out of the woods, but it is gaining some footing. Americans are feeling that Continue reading

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Listen, Listen, and Listen!

My kids don’t understand! It’s my safety zone. I’ve lived here for 40 years. This home is my memories, not just a building and foundation. It’s hard to think of moving to a community and having to make new friends. What if my money runs out? Will they kick me out? How do I start going through everything — there’s so much. I don’t have anyone to help me and I don’t want to burden my family. What if I move and I hate it?

Help Parents Cope With A Fear Of Moving Out

Sound familiar? Over the course of my career in working with seniors and their families the above questions and comments have been a constant when dealing with a move of a senior from their long time home. Some have described the stress of moving as somewhere between a divorce and a colonoscopy — ouch! As we age, change becomes more and more difficult. As children of seniors, we want the best for our parents. We want them in a safe and thriving environment so that peace of mind can be achieved for both children and their parents.

Communication is so important in a successful move and all too often our best intentions can over shadow the importance of understanding and truly listening to our parents. In visiting with my senior clients, they will tell me how frustrated they are with themselves and their children. They truly love their kids but are upset at the lack of understanding by their children when it comes to their emotional well-being. The older adult is facing a daunting move. The current senior generation that I refer to, ages 75-90, has always been fiercely independent.

The thought of relying on others to make their move is distasteful at best. Their children have busy lives and their own children to worry about. So how to both parent and child truly understand one another when beginning the process of moving?

First and most importantly, listen, listen, and listen! That goes both ways. For the child of the older adult, ask questions as to what emotions they are experiencing when thinking about their move. Find out what are their greatest fears and talk about them.

Seek To Understand Parent’s Fear About Leaving Their Home

Understand the memories and intangibles such as their feelings of deep loss and sadness as they think of giving up their home. For each senior, moving elicits a different set of issues both mentally and physically. As their child, initially try to offer support by truly listening and then suggest solutions after truly understanding their fears and concerns.

If you are the senior considering a move to a senior community or apartment, know that your children love you and want what is best for you. You cannot expect them to truly understand what you are experiencing as it is new to you and to them also. They cannot feel the pain of a loss of spouse or the fears of moving to a completely new environment after so many years in their familiar surroundings. Your kids will someday have to face the same issues, so know that they hold their own set of emotions, fears and concerns.

In the end by intensely listening to each other each party will be more likely to work together for a positive outcome. Both parent and child will better understand the set of issues both are facing throughout this emotional period. Together, it will be easier to obtain important information necessary for this significant moment in time. By listening to each other, a new and even stronger bond between parent and child can occur! Know that a family’s love for one another will overcome the many obstacles faced when starting the process of re-locating to new surroundings. Remember that as you tread through new territory and know that both parent and child have one common goal which is happiness and security for the older adult, and peace of mind for their children!

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Local Market Report

Click here to see what home prices are going for in your neighborhood!

A market snapshot of your neighborhood, every month, for free. Great information for interested buyers and sellers!

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About.com Book Review

Click Here to read a review of my book by Diane Schmidt at About.com

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There’s Still Time!

We’ve all heard about the cash for clunkers program and due to human nature the bulk of the purchasers for new cars waited until the last minute. That created a surge of car sales right up to the very last second prior to the deadline.

The real estate market may experience a very similar situation as the deadline for the $8,000 tax credit is November 30th of this year! In case you missed this incredible buyer incentive, first time purchasers (those buyers who have not owned a home in the past 3 years) will receive $8,000 (provided the sales price of the home they purchase is $80,000 or above. This is money they do not need to pay back! If it is below $80,000 it is 10% of the sales price) when they purchase a home as a primary residence and close the transaction prior to November 30th, 2009. That means they have to have an accepted offer by no later than November 7th or so (unless they are paying cash), as the mortgage lenders need at least 3 weeks to process the loan in most cases.

What does this incentive mean to you as a seller of a residential property? It means opportunity! You know economics 101 teaches us the law of supply and demand. When demand goes up, the product, whatever it is, will sell at a better price in a shorter time period. Therefore, this tax incentive is creating a demand, although short term, for homes that fall into the price range for first time buyers. In most communities, a first time buyer spends up to $250,000 on average. Therefore, if you own a home that falls into this price point, this may be a great opportunity to sell your home at a decent price. We may see a rush of buyers as the deadline approaches, just like the huge volume of buyers that took advantage of the cash for clunkers incentive.

So, if you want to take advantage of this phenomenon, time is short. Call a real estate agent as soon as possible, so that you can get your home ready for sale and get on the market in time to cash in on this government program. Of course, you need a destination, as you don’t want to sell and move into a hotel! If you have had your eye on a senior apartment, condo, or community, call and see if there is a home ready for you. If you sell in September or October, try to have occupancy by December 1st. That should give you enough time to plan your move, and get your new home ready for your arrival. There are great incentives and a healthy inventory so you should have no trouble finding your new residence.

As I have sold several thousand homes, many of those of seniors, the statement I hear most often when I run into them after the sale, is, “why didn’t I do this sooner!”

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Is Your Home Working for You?

We love our homes! Just think back to when you purchased your very first house. Feel the emotions of excitement and the thrill of leaving an apartment for the independence of home ownership. For many, that journey may have begun 30-60 years ago. Those memories are an important component of our life histories. The houses worked for us as long as you kept up with the maintenance both inside and out. But what has changed are the owners of the home!

Over the years our surroundings become a part of us. We sometimes feel that our home and neighborhood are synonymous with who we are and how we view our place in the world. We know the neighbors, the stores, the restaurants and our places of worship, which in most cases are within a short distance of our homes. Thinking of venturing out from our homes to a new environment is daunting. The number one fear holding most of us back from a move to a new apartment or community is the Continue reading

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Watch me on Milwaukee’s own Morning Blend

Please check out my appearance on The Morning Blend which aired on the Milwaukee NBC affiliate TMJ4

Click Here to View the Video

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Romancing Life!

We have entered new territory in the last 6 months. Most of us are left with a feeling of uncertainty not knowing where to turn for guidance. The news leaves us confused, angry, sad, and frightened as we look to others for encouragement and direction. Relationships can be tested and finances can be strained. All we planned for in our later years seems to be surrounded by this fog of the unknown. We must deal with our inner most emotions of fear and anxiety which can affect our emotional and physical well being.

Where do you stand? How are you coping with this great challenge of faith? Is your true character rising to the surface and causing you to be shocked by your own behavior!
I once heard Zig Ziglar who is an accomplished author and speaker say, “you can change who you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind”. You’ve probably also heard the axiom, “garbage in and garbage out”. You are an accumulation of all of your thoughts. Everything in your life happens as an extension of your belief system. Have you ever known people who expect bad things to happen to them at all times and just as they expect, so do they receive! We control much more than we can ever imagine. Our thoughts every moment are laying the ground work for tomorrow’s events. Therefore, be very conscious of what you are designing for your future by your thoughts today!

I have gone down this path because I see too many seniors living life without a plan and without joy. Yes I know that many older adults are confronted with challenges that seem unfair and difficult. As we age, our bodies are designed to wear down and cause us discomfort. We are also tested financially as our earning power diminishes as we enter retirement. A fixed income combined with physical and emotional pain can seem to be too much to endure. But since this is our only life on earth we can choose how to react to these challenges. We decide whether we smile or cry. Only each and every one of us can make the choice of focusing on our bad lot in life, or we can make lemonade out of lemons! Only we have the ability to change our perspective of any situation.

If you are feeling isolated and not knowing how to change your life to a meaningful happy life, here is an observation I have made based on countless senior clients who have made the choice to connect with others to find meaning in their lives. I have been asked to provide my knowledge and expertise to help numerous older adults downsize, move, and find happiness in their new surroundings. When I first meet with many of my senior clients in their homes, the beginning of many appointments start with the statement, “I know it’s time to move but I’m afraid, overwhelmed and confused. I don’t know how to begin to clear out the 50years of ‘treasures’, then whether my home will sell or not, and how to find the right senior community to suit my needs”. Usually procrastination sets in to avoid the issue at hand. Then a change happens. I show them the facts. I help them by connecting them with the many service providers who are anxious to assist them in downsizing, determining how much they can spend each month so that their money will last their lifetime, and to find the right senior community to match their physical and emotional needs. There are so many wonderful companies just waiting to help anyone who has a desire to improve their lives and utilize their assets in a positive way. After my clients have made their moves, what do I hear most often? ”I wish I had done this sooner and why did I wait so long?”

I was recently invited to a lunch by a marketing director at a senior community. Table after table I witnessed vibrant conversations as well as laughter and smiles. Four tables included folks who blessed me with helping them downsize and sell their homes. I visited each of those past clients and found them to be transformed. Before their moves there was sadness and pain in their eyes and now after the move, joy and excitement! They were connecting with others as we are meant to do. They were finding the romance in their lives once again! They found new friends who were also connecting. They were in the game of life again. By sharing the gift of friendship to others, they had in turn given themselves the greatest gift of all…a life worth living!!

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Are You Ready For Some Positive News?

We have been smothered and suffocated in the past 5 months since the economic “melt down”. Do you feel tired and sad from a constant ring of red ink? Are you angry that a very few profited from unethical practices? Have you felt yourself wondering how you will be affected in the long run and feeling the pinch in the short run? ENOUGH!

It is natural to want to protect you and your family from outside forces which at present seem to be knocking at our door. We watch the news to find our bearings but this ever darkening chant from CNN and the other news channels leave us feeling weak and powerless. The only thing we truly can control is how we react to this never ending chant of doom. Only we can decide to go on with our lives and enjoy what freedoms we have and assets we control.

There are and will always be opportunities for all of us to succeed where others fail. These opportunities are here today if we wish to identify them. If we can compliment these windows of opportunity with a realistic view of where we are at this very moment, life can be wonderful and full of promise. How do we accomplish this challenge of optimism in a very challenging period of our history?

First, take a look at what you truly have. Your health is precious and no amount of money can supplant the gift of relative good health. That gift is priceless and we need to acknowledge such an important aspect of our lives. Next take an honest look at your finances. In many cases the difference between your portfolio in September and your current situation is monies you may not have ever spent. We all have a tendency to over-protect and under-appreciate what we actually possess in the way of financial clout. Most folks I know, including me have seen about a 30% drop in total funds, if invested in the stock market. That leaves 70%! I know that can ring hollow, but we must still appreciate what we have and understand that in many cases, all we have lost were funds that artificially increased by the frenzied stock market. If we are mad at Wall Street for their actions, we should also accept the fact that much of what we had was due to those financial transactions.

The same goes for housing. We are fortunate to be in a market that is more conservative when compared to the Wild West and Southeast. Those areas had huge swings from 20% per year appreciation to in some areas losses of 50% in home values. In the Midwest, we never experienced those highs and are thankfully not seeing those types of depreciation. Overall, the Milwaukee-Metro market has adjusted downward by 14% on average. It is true there are many unsold homes currently on the market, but if one wishes to pay attention to the market one can sell their home when the time comes at a respectable price!

There will be a window of opportunity in the next couple of months. Are you ready to take advantage of the Federal Government’s bail out which will come to the housing sector? I believe the government will do all they can to jump start the housing industry by offering discounted interest rates and tax credits to would-be buyers. This may be for a limited time so opportunity may present itself for those wishing to sell. That means you need to be ready for this opportunity in real time! The home should be ready to show when these incentives arrive, which may be in March of this year. If you wait too long, the market may see a huge increase in inventory as the word gets out that purchasers are reacting positively to the government incentives. Be first and you may find you seized on positive as opposed to expecting negative. If you have thoughts of selling your home, begin the process of thinning out the home from some of your treasures and take care of any problem areas both structurally and cosmetically. Don’t wait to hear about the good news, expect it. The worst thing that can happen is that your home will be in better condition and you will be proud to have your family and friends enjoy the upgrades you’ve made in your preparation.

In summary, the market will come back. It may be sooner than you think. Look at where you are today as a gift, not a burden. We are all in this together as Americans, not as victims of a weak economy. We control how we perceive the news we hear and all of us can help to change our situations by looking at reality as opposed to focusing on fear. Begin today by counting your blessings and you’ll find that others will notice the difference in you immediately!

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