One of my projects lately is helping a Snohomish couple downsize their home as well as some rental properties they have collected over the years.
The one that just closed is a well-maintained duplex that has a view of Lake Stevens out of one of its units, and is in easy walking distance to downtown. Another great feature is that these folks had managed their property well, and the rents were such that the income from one unit almost made the entire mortgage payment for the property!
Lake Stevens is a suburb NE of Everett by about 5 min. It used to be mostly recreational property, but as transformed in the last 20 years to a suburb with many nice waterfront and water view homes.
We anticipated that the best buyer would be either someone starting out, or possibly downsizers who liked the idea of living in the view unit while enjoying a very low housing cost. Turns out there were several buyers interested as soon as it hit the market, and the buyer who got it was a young person who saw the value, lifestyle, and opportunity to build equity fast. They acted fast as opportunities like this do not come along often.
If you think a scenario like this would fit your downsizing strategy, contact me and we can begin to look for another one like this.
Wandering Creek is a neighobrhood in Bothell that is mostly made up of manufactured homes…large ones, with nice yards, some even have lake waterfront.
It first caught my attention when I saw a search with a waterfront 1782 sf mobile home priced around $289,000. That is the most expensive mobile home I have seen, so I had to see the neighborhood it was in.
This 55+ gated community features just right sized lots (5000 sf range), one level homes, nice landscaping, and a great active community. The dues are reasonable too. All of the lots are owned, so that is part of the price. It looks like some of the homes are stick built too.
I know not everyone likes the ideas of mobile homes, ahem, manufactured homes, but when I saw the quality of life apparent there, I would recommend that anyone on a budget should at least take a look.
In Seattle and the Northwest, “Rambler” refers to a one-level home, generally built during or after the mid-century period. Ramblers are a favorite of both first-time buyers because of their affordability, and of downsizers because of their lack of stairs. Many Seattle area ramblers are located in areas with water views as well as in dynamic urban neighborhoods and quiet suburban areas.
In the current market, statistics for the sub-market of one-story homes show very brisk activity as more downsizers enter the market. Just this month, I am noticing that developers in close-in areas are acknowledging the huge market for quality one-level homes, and are beginning to build them again, in the 2000+ SF range.
If you have a one-level home you are considering selling, please contact me, as I do have buyers!
In the market for a rambler? You can use the links below to browse the MLS for Ramblers in different areas.
A favorite downsize solution for many is to move from urban areas to a nearby small town. The advantages are lower home prices, a slower pace of life, less traffic, cleaner air and tight-knit community. Not all small towns are the same, however. The more desirable small towns have many of the big city cultural amenities such as performing arts, museums, historical societies, and professional sports teams. but in a smaller scale. Many have colleges or universities. Most have gentrified neighborhoods of older homes with walkable neighborhoods. If you dream of retiring with a view or waterfront property, smaller towns have those too, but at affordable prices.
Larger desirable small towns in the area include Edmonds, Everett, Tacoma, Bellingham and Olympia. Smaller towns that are popular include Laconnor, Snohomish, Bainbridge, Langley, Squim, Port Townsend, and Lacey. You may recognize many of the above list as places for your favorite weekend getaways. Why not live there?
Contact me if you find any of these interesting. I go to many of them, and for the ones too far away i can refer you to other Realtors who specialize in working with downsizing buyers.
By the way, can you guess which small town these photos were taken in?
I am getting more and more calls about reverse Mortgages lately, for both refinancing and purchases.
Here is a link to a website at Colbalt Mortgage that is very user friendly and explains the reverse mortgage process.
One of the most frequent questions I receive from downsizers who are considering condos is about HOA (Homeowners Association) Dues.
The second most frequent question has to do with the associations themselves. That one is more difficult to answer because there are so many different kinds of HOAs, and many different focuses. Most are set up by the condo developers to create the kind of community that they think would be desired by their target market. Therefore the structure and features of a HOA and assosciated bylaws for a high rise urban condo would be quite different from a golf resort community, and neither would be the same as a co-housing community.
Here’s a blog post from Top Retirements.com that gives a good look at the subject of HOAs.
The relatively new occupation of Senior Move Managers is a growing trend. I have worked with a couple different ones in Seattle, and am happy to provide a list.
Following is a recent article on Realtor Magazine.
Senior move managers help older adults and their families with the often overwhelming process of downsizing and moving to a new home. How did this profession come into being?
The Internet made it possible. In the late 1990s, a few people around the country were already quietly helping older adults move from their longtime family homes into assisted living facilities or apartments. They found each other online. In 2002, 22 of them got together for a meeting in one of their living rooms in Arlington, Va., which led to the formation of the National Association of Senior Move Managers [of which Buysse now serves as executive director].
How do clients typically end up working with a senior move manager?
About half the time our members hear directly from an older adult or his or her adult child. The other half of the time, it’s someone else like a family physician or a geriatric care manager or elder law attorney. Without a senior move manager, the first instinct of some adult children is to grab a box of garbage bags to get rid of things over a weekend. That’s not serving a parent with dignity. People have a lifetime of possessions. They should be disposed of with the same sort of thoughtfulness with which they were acquired.
Who’s really the client of a senior move manager?
The client is the person in transition, even if the adult child makes the call or is the one paying. When possible, we want the older adult to do all the decision-making.
What are the misconceptions about this industry?
That it costs a lot of money to hire someone. The bulk of our member companies charge between $60 and $80 an hour. The total bill is usually no more than $2,500. Families determine which parts of the job they need help with. They might only want help donating stuff they’re not bringing with them or selling it at an estate sale or on eBay. Another misconception is that older adults think their grown kids want all their stuff. But kids typically don’t want the porcelain Lladró collection or those kinds of valuables. They may only want a childhood blanket or a school yearbook.
How large is NASMM and what are the backgrounds of members?
We’ve grown to about 700 members in 10 years. Most come to this work through the personal experience of moving a family member. We have engineers, MBAs, social workers, and professional organizers. It’s a great opportunity for real estate professionals who can offer this kind of one-stop shopping to their older clients. Our members must set up a company and carry liability insurance. They get involved in any part of the process except packing; we recommend they leave that to moving companies.
What’s hardest about the job?
Managers have to develop an unusual degree of intimacy with clients. They get into the nooks and crannies of clients’ lives that even close relatives may not see. Often, they’re called in during a time of crisis. The job isn’t primarily about what happens on moving day. It’s about getting ready for that day and helping people get established in their new home.
This work requires both creativity and enormous sensitivity. Do you have an example of how move managers have solved a tough problem for a client?
One woman in New York had a collection of 82 teapots that she cherished. She was moving from her 3,000-square-foot home to a 400-square-foot assisted living facility. The manager had the client pick her three favorite teapots to take with her. The manager took photos of the rest and had them printed and framed. And now the whole collection hangs on the client’s wall in her dinette.
Contact me for a current list of Senior Move Managers in the Seattle area.
Are you getting ready remodel you home, and know you are not getting any younger?
The nice thing about remodeling is that it’s your chance to have the details in your home just the way you them. The practice of universal design is growing, and we are seeing architects, designers, and contractors who specialize in this.
At the link below is an article in Senior Housing News that explains the options available for kitchen remodeling :
These are for SERIOUS downsizers! Houses/sheds/spheres from 89 to 500SF, Plus a unique bed that rises to the ceiling to create living space underneath. Includes links to manufacturers if you want one
I think this one from local Modern Shed is the best looking, and the Zero House (#7 in the slide show) is amazing in it claims to be completely self-contained off the grid, including water and waste.
AARP does a good job covering housing choices for retirement living.
Visit their housing page here, and check out “Gimme Shelter” a high-quality video report that covers it all: Co-housing, aging in place “village” movement, interest-based retirement communities, and remodeling for the long run.
Moving to a smaller home can shift your financial picture in a variety of ways.
You can lower or eliminate your house payments, reduce future energy or maintenance expenses, and convert your equity to cash for other investments or expenses without going into debt.
Here’s an example:A couple sells their home in Ravenna for $550,000 and buys a 2 br condo in a well maintained nearby older building for $280,000. After paying off their underlying mortgage of $89,000, less closing costs and fixup costs of $18000, they netted around $488,000 at closing.
They paid cash for their condo plus closing costs totaling $284,000, leaving them $204,000 in cash. Their previous monthly payment inculding mortgage, taxes, insurance, and long term maintenance was $1671/month. Their new monthly outlay for taxes, insurance and $248 monthly condo HOA dues is $448/mo. They have and extra $1223 per month to do with as they please, plus the extra time from no more yard work or maintenance.
This is one scenario. I am willing to help you fill in the numbers to develop yours.
Great news for downsizers! As I was showing homes the other day I noticed that builders are now offering build-to-suit opportunities on infill lots.
For many years now, downsizers who wanted new ramblers have found they have to travel far from Seattle to find them. All of the infill construction close-in has been multi-level homes because builders needed to build larger houses so they could pay competitive prices for land and still make some money.
This has changed with the re-set economy, and builders are realizing that offering flexibility and choices sells more more new homes now, plus downsizers are a big part of the current market. The result is opportunities to have a custom home in an established neighborhood in a close-in area. Imagine the possibilities! If the lot is big enough, a detached accessory unit is possible.
Another option for rambler buyers in this market is to look at rehabbed ramblers. Many of yesterday’s builders are now buying foreclosed homes, rehabbing them and reselling them. I realize the “flippers” do not have the best reputation, but some of the builders are producing product of very high quality and design.
If you are interested in these possibilities, let me know and I can send you some listings.
Do you have a mobile lifestyle? Travel frequently, or live in two or more locations? Many downsizers do, and are faced with the challenge of making their home secure when they are gone.
An obvious solution is a condo, especially one with inside hallways. The main entry door and its security system provides a big first layer of protection from the outside world.
You’re not a condo person you say? How about a townhouse? Townhouses usaully do not provide that double layer of security, but there are neighbors close by who can still keep an eye out for your place.
Even with a single-family home there are lock-and-leave options. One solution is to have an accessory apartment in your home. That way some one is there when you are not. Another answer is to hire a house sitter for when you are gone, or even do a house swap. House swaps are easy to do now with websites that specialize on matching people up.
Whatever lock-and-leave option works for you, I would be glad to help you find it!
TED video by Graham Hill
Writer and designer Graham Hill asks: Can having less stuff, in less room, lead to more happiness? He makes the case for taking up less space, and lays out three rules for editing your life.
Investment Alert!!! Vulcan is doing a project in downtown Bothell. Seattle Times story.
Bothell is determined to re-invent itself and has the talent and will to pull it off. It’s always attracted couples who work on both sides of the lake, has 2 colleges including UW, lots of tech and biomed employment, and with its new riverfront work will attract the downsizers too!
Want to get in on the ground floor but don’t have Paul Allen’s budget? Call me, I know the area and have lots of ideas!
See listings in Bothell: