Are you planning to welcome an aging parent or in-law into your home? While you may be worried about how your immediate family will adjust, the move will most likely be toughest of all for your Mom or Dad. Keep in mind that giving up one’s independence is one of the most difficult decisions a person can make. And no matter how unsafe or untenable their current living situation may be, it’s still home, and parting will be extremely emotional.
Here are some ideas for smoothing the transition for everyone involved.
- Choose a space carefully. While you may think you picked out the perfect room for your parent, consult with them first. They may have needs and preferences you haven’t even considered, such as an attached bathroom for privacy. In just about all cases, an entry-level room is a must, even for the healthiest of seniors.
- Make room for what matters to them. You may think that spiffing up the room with a new flat-screen TV or walk-in closet would be something your parent or in-law would love, however, a sunny spot for your Mom’s orchid collection may be way more important to her. Being able to continue the small pleasures from their former life will go a long way toward making Mom or Dad happy under your roof.
- Enlist caregivers. While you may be gung-ho to step up and start caring for your parent, it may be the last thing they want. For many seniors, privacy and dignity is paramount and they would much rather have an aide tend to their needs instead of their child. Discuss this openly with your parent and make the necessary arrangements.
- Be clear about money matters. Make no assumptions about the financial arrangement that will take place once Mom or Dad moves in. If they are able and willing to contribute monthly, set up a finite amount in advance. This will help you avoid uncomfortable discussions about paying for groceries, chipping in for rent, etc. In addition, make sure all of your parent’s personal bills are in order and scheduled for automatic payments before they move in.
- Remember, everyone needs space. You may be looking forward to being one big, happy family under the same roof, but remember that everyone needs their private time, most of all your parent. Don’t be shy about retiring early to your room to settle in with a good book, going for a long walk, or out for a date night. Mom or Dad will most like welcome the chance to have their own alone-time, too.
Homeowners may be totally unaware that their home has an unpleasant odor. It can be unrecognizable to them but immediately apparent to visitors on entering the home.
Candles, aerosol spray or even chocolate chip cookies can’t get rid of the smell. To eliminate the odor, the source of the smell first has to be removed and then, the affected areas can be treated.
Cigarette smoke is particularly offensive to people. It is very common for buyers to refuse to even consider looking at a home where smoking is allowed. This odor permeates the air in a home and soaks into carpets, furniture, drapes, clothing and even the building materials like drywall and cabinets.
Pets may be considered part of the family but it is still a problem when the animals are not adequately house-broken. Urine isn’t just absorbed by the carpet but also the padding and in some cases, the subflooring. Sometimes, walls and floors have to be treated and sealed before painting and new floor covering can be installed.
If a casual friend doesn’t want to hurt your feelings about the jeans you’re wearing, you can bet the ranch that they won’t tell you about the odors in your home. You’ll need to rely on your closest friends to tell you the truth or maybe your mother-in-law.
- Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.
- Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.
- Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.
- Start saving. Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.
- Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.
- Determine your mortgage qualifications. How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.
- Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.
- Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.
- Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.
- Contact a REALTOR®. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the process.
Are you ready to be a landlord? Before renting your home, you should answer the following questions to make sure this is the right course of action for you and your family.
10 Questions to ask BEFORE renting your home
- How will you respond if your tenant says they can’t afford to pay the rent this month because of more pressing obligations? (This happens most often during holiday season and back-to-school time when families with children have extra expenses).
- Because of the economy, many homeowners cannot make their mortgage payment. What percentage of tenants do you think cannot afford to pay their rent?
- Have you interviewed experienced eviction attorneys in case a challenge does arise?
- Have you talked to your insurance company about a possible increase in premiums as liability is greater in a non-owner occupied home?
- Will you allow pets? Cats? Dogs? How big a dog?
- How will you actually collect the rent? By mail? In person?
- Repairs are part of being a landlord. Who will take tenant calls when necessary repairs come up?
- Do you have a list of craftspeople readily available to handle these repairs?
- How often will you do a physical inspection of the property?
- Will you alert your current neighbors that you are renting the house?
Renting out residential real estate historically is a great investment. However, it is not without its challenges. Make sure you have decided to rent the house because you want to be an investor, not because you are hoping to get a few extra dollars by postponing a sale.
1. Price it right. Set a price at the lower end of your property’s realistic price range.
2. Prepare for visitors. Get your house market ready at least two weeks before you begin showing it.
3. Be flexible about showings. It’s often disruptive to have a house ready to show at the spur of the moment. But the more amenable you can be about letting people see your home, the sooner you’ll find a buyer.
4. Anticipate the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you’ll find acceptable.
5. Don’t refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, you should be prepared to at least consider lowering your asking price.
As warm weather rolls across most of the country, it’s time to start thinking about how to protect and care for your home when the mercury soars. What can you do to ensure the summer sun doesn’t cause damage to your home?
Heat stays out, cool stays in.
That’s the general idea, right? Check the weather stripping around doors and windows to make sure you don’t have a leak where your air conditioning can escape. This is a good time to assess the state of your insulation as well. Many power companies also offer home energy-efficiency assessments — often at no cost — to help you pinpoint places where the heat is creeping in, and often they’ll supply solutions too.
Perform an A/C checkup.
Don’t wait until you really need the air conditioning to make sure it’s working properly! If something goes wrong at the height of summer, it could be weeks before repairs can be made. Replace your HVAC unit’s filters, and consider having your air ducts and vents cleaned out and the seals checked.
Turn it around.
Your ceiling fan, that is: Many types have a way to reverse the direction they spin. In summer, the blades should rotate counterclockwise in order to maximize the fan’s beneficial effect on your home’s temperature.
Scout the perimeter.
Most people spend more time outdoors when temperatures rise. Check the boundaries of your property for damage to fences, security lights, and gate locks. Clear away any long grass that may have grown up next to fences as they can harbor fleas and ticks. Reset timers on sprinklers and outdoor lights in consideration of the longer hours of daylight.
Paint: It’s not just for looks.
Although we generally think of a new coat of paint as a cosmetic indulgence, it actually helps to protect the home from the effects of strong heat and sun. While you’re at it, check the deck to see if it needs a fresh coat of sealant as well. Washing the windows will ensure you can enjoy the summer sunshine. And speaking of windows, check screens and shutters for damage too.
Prepare to party.
If you love to entertain outdoors, or you want to live off barbecue for the next few months, your summer fun equipment will need a good once-over. Hose down patio furniture and check cushions to see if they would benefit from a good wash and a chance to dry in the fresh air or if they’ll need to be replaced. Clean off the bbq and fill the propane tank [or stock up on briquettes].
Scale the heights.
Before it gets too hot, an inspection of the roof and attic is a great idea. Check outside for missing shingles or other signs of damage. Trim back tree branches that could be used by local critters as stepping stones to get onto and then under your roof. Check out the gutters while you’re up there too. Then head inside to examine the attic for leaks, holes, and signs of animal trespass.
We may think of summer as a time for vacations, but we never really get a vacation from taking care of our homes. I hope these tips help you have an enjoyable summer!