Tuesday, July 7, 2020

SRES Consumer Newsletter - July 2020

Consumer Newsletter – July 2020

US Edition; By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau


Get Serious about Post-Pandemic Retirement Living

The Covid-19 crisis most certainly has caused people to reconsider all sorts of things in their lives – how and where they live, what’s no longer a priority, and the lifestyle changes they’ll make in a post-pandemic world.

And for many of those over the age of 55, the crisis has solidified their pledge to avoid any kind of group living setting – assisted living or continuing care – in retirement.

After all, Covid-19 deaths were rampant in many such facilities. According to the New York Times, more than 40 percent of U.S. deaths from Covid-19 were linked to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Moreover, residents who paid handsomely to buy a certain kind of lifestyle were all but held prisoner in such facilities and with no in-person contact with family members.

Consider what’s happened as a wake-up call and give some serious thought to your retirement housing – envisioning your future, weighing your options, looking at what’s available, examining your finances, and making a plan.

Though thinking about such topics is easy to put off, making such big decisions is best done in a calm, thoughtful way well before you’re forced to do so because of a health crisis.

If you know an institutional setting isn’t right for you, consider some of the non-traditional living options that have emerged.

Roommates – Who in your circle of friends would make good future roommates? Could you invest in a property together and hire shared care to help you as you age?

Tenants – Would you consider renting part of your house to college students or recent graduates, who could do tasks around the house in exchange for lower rent?

Village movement – Would you like to join an existing Village or start a Village Movement (a grassroots program in which neighbors volunteer to help neighbors age in place) in your community?

Communal living – Would co-housing, featuring a mix of ages, people, and communal spaces be your speed?

Campus retirement – Is lifelong education central to your life? If so, a university-based retirement is another option. Housing is located on or near a college or university campus, and residents are allowed to take classes and participate in campus life.

Still, the vast majority – 75%, according to AARP – of people prefer to age in place. If you’re among them, take a hard look at your home’s flaws and start exploring ways to make upgrades using universal design principles. Universal design addresses the needs of everyone and allows a property to be accessed and used by all people, regardless of their age or disability.

Some basic questions to address include:

·        Where are the home’s potential dangers?

  • How can you best adapt your house in a way that will keep you safe and active?
  • How can you eliminate stairs?
  • Is it possible to widen doorways to accommodate a walker or a wheelchair?
  • How much can you afford to spend on upgrades?
  • What are your financing options?

Consult with professionals – universal design experts, architects, and contractors -- who can help you develop and execute an appropriate plan.


Resuming nursing home visits

Leave it to the design community to respond quickly and creatively to a crisis.

Scott Brownrigg, a London-based architecture firm, came up with an idea to allow visits to nursing facilities to resume.

Its Social Contact Pod (https://bit.ly/2ULBNRs) lets people see and hear one another, but a clear protective barrier separates the parties and protects against transmission of Covid-19. Other innovative solutions likely will emerge too.

In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued guidelines  about easing nursing home restrictions and making visits possible.

If your loved one is living in an assisted living or continuing care facility, familiarize yourself with the CMS guidance (https://go.cms.gov/30LI03A) and ask the facility management the timetable for restarting visits, how they’ll keep residents and visitors safe, and what protocols you’ll be required to follow.




Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for the Mature Market

Coldwell Banker Premier Group

2203 S. Big Bend Blvd.

St. Louis, MO 63117

Matt Wroughton  -  SRES, PSA





Tuesday, June 9, 2020

SRES Consumer Newsletter - June 2020

Consumer Newsletter – June 2020

US Edition; By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau


Rethinking Home

After spending so much time at home during this pandemic, you’re probably seeing all the flaws in your house. Sure, there’s the normal stuff, including that dripping faucet, the cracked bathroom tiles, and that carpet that needed replacement years ago.

But there are often bigger issues. Maybe the house no longer fits your needs, especially if you anticipate spending vast amounts of time at home even after the stay-at-home orders expire.

Others also have noticed their homes’ shortcomings, according to a REALTOR.com survey (https://bit.ly/2WulKIN). It looked at consumer preferences and how the Covid-19 lockdowns have changed their perception about their wants in a home.

Though survey participants were based in the United States, the feelings likely are shared by people well beyond the U.S. borders, given that so many also have been hunkered down for weeks or months.

It’s no surprise that with parks, restaurants, and other gathering places shut down, people are treasuring outdoor space. That’s reflected in the survey. When respondents were asked about the features that have gotten more important to them during the pandemic, a wish for a patio or yard took the number two spot, accounting for 13.2 percent of responses. A quiet neighborhood topped the list (13.4% of responses).

One in five respondents said that more space is the most desired change in their current living situation. Updated kitchens (13%) and home gyms (11.3%) ranked second and third.

Wished-for amenities vary by age, gender, parenting status, and whether respondents were renters or owners.

For instance, renters would like a quiet neighborhood, storage, and a spare bedroom.

Parents with young kids value flexible space like craft areas, game rooms, a home office, and workout space. They’re also interested in either an in-law suite or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).  

Kitchen updates, house style, and more space ranked higher with those over the age of 55.

With so many working from home, consumers also say they’d appreciate better technology like faster WiFi and smart home features.

Respondents in the 55-plus age group were the most likely to be content with their current home, yet in a future property, they’d value a bigger house, an updated kitchen, and better technology.


Getting connected

One of the most challenging aspects of the stay-at-home orders during this pandemic has been the isolation and separation from family and friends.

Perhaps no group has experienced these feelings of isolation more acutely than seniors.

It’s made worse when seniors’ access to and ability to operate technology is limited.

Though jumping on a Zoom (the free video conferencing platform) meeting is a cinch for younger people, it can be an enormous challenge for some seniors.

There’s help for seniors who want to learn to better understand and use Zoom.

Planet Seniors offers a written step-by-step guide in English, Spanish, and Chinese,  (https://bit.ly/2LvclKE) that you can use to walk the senior in your life through the set-up.

This video (https://bit.ly/3burNkR) provides simple, easy-to-understand directions

Visit the Zoom help center (https://bit.ly/3dIOxz9) for details about getting started with and navigating Zoom.

Smart ways to invest $1,200 stimulus check

If you’re lucky enough to not need the Economic Impact Payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) – more commonly known as the  $1,200 stimulus check -- for immediate expenses, treat It like a windfall and use it wisely.

Here are three ideas.

1.     High-interest debt. Pay off all or some of your credit card debt.

2.     Emergency fund. Stoke your emergency fund. It’s smart to have three to six months’ worth of living expenses in savings.

3.     Fund your IRA.  Now that the tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15th, you have until then to add money to your Roth or Traditional IRA. For those over the age of 50, the maximum contribution is $7,000 for 2019.







Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for the Mature Market

Coldwell Banker Premier Group

2203 S. Big Bend Blvd

St. Louis, MO 63117

Matt Wroughton - SRES, PSA


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

SRES Consumer Newsletter - May 2020

Consumer Newsletter – May 2020
US Edition; By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

Caremongering Spreads Goodness, Not Fear

As news of Covid-19 started gearing up, Allison Bradley felt heartbroken when she spotted seniors running errands and grocery shopping around her town, Kelowna, B.C.

“My goodness, you are risking so much by being out here. It’s so unnecessary.” she recalls thinking. She then stopped by a senior service center and volunteered to help out during the pandemic.

“But I was still frustrated and upset. I kept seeing more of these seniors and felt I wasn’t doing enough,” she says.

Surrender to kindness

She and her partner, John Scott, responded by launching Caremongering  Kelowna (https://bit.ly/2RyJyZf) on Facebook.

It’s dead simple. Local residents post their needs – groceries, protective masks, and medicine pick-ups -- and local volunteers step in to fulfill those needs.

The idea also has taken hold in the United States. Caremongering sites have emerged in Joplin, Missouri (https://bit.ly/2RysdPU), in Tampa, Fla. (https://bit.ly/3emigPv), and in Chicago (https://bit.ly/3eiaPZO), for  instance. In addition, hyper-local groups have popped up, including those in Chicago’s Edgewater (https://bit.ly/3el44Gi) and Logan Square (https://bit.ly/3egBfuM) neighborhoods.

Ensuring community well-being

“When we created Caremongering Kelowna, it was, ‘Oh, this will be good for the community, and we’ll be picking groceries and stuff like that.’ But it's blossomed into so much more,” says Scott.

In addition to helping neighbors with the basics, people in Kelowna also have stepped up to deliver good cheer and maintain their community members’ physical and emotional well-being.

Groups have decorated their cars with balloons and streamers to do drive-by birthday parties.

Kevin Negoro, a local chef, cooked an entire meal (https://bit.ly/2yON8Yz) and dropped it off to help a family celebrate a birthday.  

A property owner with an empty Airbnb near the local hospital is letting nurses stay for free.

Someone else wanted to learn how to play the guitar and a guitarist offered to sanitize one of his instruments and drop it off.

On other caremongering  sites, the stories are much the same. People have been dropping off cake mixes, answering questions about making homemade yeast, delivering Easter meals to seniors, offering advice on starting gardens, and giving others a heads-up about where to get supplies and find doctors and home repair experts.

Still, it’s been challenging to find and serve the needs of seniors because many aren’t on Facebook, and Bradley and Scott still are looking for ways to get the word out more widely to seniors and their families.

From the heart 

The two also encourage others to create their own caremongering sites.

Set-up is a cinch, and there’s minimal management, other than establishing a few ground rules and moderating the site.

Scott created a basic Facebook page and made it public. Beyond inviting some friends to join, there was no marketing involved.

Word got out through friends sharing the page with friends. In addition, the media picked up on it and did a couple stories, and within a few weeks of its March 17th launch, the site had over 1,700 members.

“We've got no organization over us, and we don't take direct control of anything, other than encouraging people and saying, ‘Hey, you've got abilities and talents that nobody else has that you can contribute,’” says Scott. “Everyone has a neighbor and every neighbor has something that they can offer to one another.”

It starts with you

The main thing they monitor on the site is businesses trying to promote themselves or others looking for financial gain.

“It's got to be, ‘How can I help?’ It has to be from the heart,” says Bradley.

For those who feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by stay-at-home orders, fears for the future, and dismay about the global political scene, Scott’s message is: “This doesn’t start at the top, but at the grassroots with you. You're in charge of your household, you're a part of a community, and you really are your own leader who can set an example.”

Visit the SRES blog to find tips on setting up your own Caremongering site.

Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for the Mature Market
Coldwell Banker Premier Group
2203 S. Big Bend Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63117
Matt Wroughton - SRES, PSA


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

SRES Consumer Newsletter - April 2020

Consumer Newsletter – April 2020
US Edition; By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

IRS Extends Tax Payment Deadline
The Coronavirus is changing almost everything about daily life in America. That   includes federal income tax too.

Tax day is now July 15, 2020.

That means all taxpayers can defer federal income tax payments that normally are due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, no matter how much is owned.

You also don’t have to file an extension or fill out any forms to qualify for the automatic extension. 

However, if you’re expecting to receive a refund, file on time because those payments are still being processed.

For complete information, see: https://bit.ly/2wmoZYL

Keep in mind that the change applies to federal tax payments, not to state tax payments.

That said, some states, including California and Oregon, have extended the deadlines too. Check with your state to see if the deadline has changed.

Additional information on state taxes:

·        American Institute of CPAs -- https://bit.ly/2J5kBjv
·        Federation of Tax Administrators: -- https://bit.ly/33zkA0w

5 ways to use your social isolation time

With most dining and entertainment options shut down because of the Coronavirus,  Americans are spending oodles of time at home these days. Use your period of social isolation wisely. Here are five ideas.

1.     Finish up the undone home maintenance projects that you haven’t had time to get to.
2.     If you’ve been planning a Marie Kondo-style purge, now’s the time to do it.
3.     Pull out the programmable thermostat, LED bulbs, and low-flow showerheads and faucets that you stashed away. Install them now to start saving money on your utility bills.
4.     Think about your current estate plan and any modifications you may want to make. And if you don’t have one, start planning one and get a future appointment with your lawyer on the calendar. See: https://on.wsj.com/3a7Wmgj  
5.     Plan and design your spring garden. For tips, see: https://bit.ly/2Uj1SWQ 

How much time does $1 million nest egg buy in major cities?

Even for those who have been diligent savers, there are always nagging questions.  Can I afford to keep living in my house and will I be priced out of my city? How long will my money last?

GoBanking has answers.

It looked at 50 cities, examining things like average annual expenditures in each city for those 65 and older. It also factored in the average annual Social Security benefits and other data to estimate how long a $1 million nest egg would last in each place.

San Francisco provides the least mileage, and that $1 million nest egg would be used up in 8 years, 3 months, and 19 days. In San Jose, Calif., you’d get a little longer -- 10 years, 9 months, and 20 days.

Other California cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach, and San Diego, also are pricey, especially when compared to places where your dollars can stretch for a really long time.

Memphis, Tenn., is one such place, and $1 million can last 45 years, 4 months, and one day. Similarly, in El Paso, Tex., those dollars will carry you 40 years, 3 months, 22 days.

In Tucson, you can buy 33 years, 4 months, 1 day in the sunshine; and in Jacksonville, Fla., you get 32 years, 3 months, 16 days.

See exactly how the figures were calculated and check all 50 of the cities in GoBanking’s study: https://bit.ly/2U48yt0

Aging checklist

While you’re planning your downsizing strategies, it’s also worth taking a look at Forbes magazine’s aging checklist, http://bit.ly/37F8h3k. 

It offers some crucial to-dos six crucial categories. The categories and some of the advice are:

1.     Estate planning documents. Include up-to-date wills, durable power of attorney for finances and healthcare, and a healthcare directive.
2.     Finances. Provide contact information for financial advisors, lists of all accounts, and up-to-date beneficiary designations.
3.     Insurance. List insurance policies, review health insurance coverage, and other policies – homeowners, auto, umbrella liability – to be sure they’re still appropriate, and provide the contact information for your insurance advisors.
4.     Housing. Consider whether your house is suitable for aging and what modifications need to be made. Think about whether you should downsize and when such a move would be appropriate.
5.     Health. Keep an updated list of your doctors and medications.
6.     Technology. Keep a list of all your online logins for banks, investment accounts, social media sites, and so forth.
7.     Business. Create succession plans, if you own a business.
8.     Personal.  Specify in writing who will manage your financial, legal, and personal tasks.

Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for the Mature Market
Coldwell Banker Premier Group
2203 S Big Bend Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63117
Matt Wroughton -  SRES, PSA

SRES Consumer Newsletter - July 2020

Consumer Newsletter – July 2020 US Edition; By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau www.sres.org Get...