Senior Advocacy all the way, Baby

Standard

I am but one Realtor living in California. No fancy schmancy car, shiny website or major top producing agent, what I DO offer my clients are as such: care, compassion knowledge and an attentive ear. When I first began helping seniors, these characteristics seemed plausible enough: what Realtor DOESN’T care for their clients’ best interest? Yet this past summer, my compassion exceeded expectations far higher than ever experienced before.

The story goes like this:

  • Mid-March I receive an email from a woman inquiring about the possibility of selling her parents’ rental homes. *Mary lives out-of-state and was given my brochure touring a local assisted living residence while visiting her parents.
  • From March until June, Mary and I correspond via email only. The key to her story: mom and dad reside in their own home with 24/7 care, as mom’s Alzheimer’s was progressing. Mary and her brother, *Joe, make the decision to sell one of two rental homes in the same city so as to have enough funds to keep their parents in their own home as long as possible.
  • Tenant who resides in the rental house been living at property over fifteen years. Interested in purchasing the house.
  • Mid-June, three months after our first email, along with my brokers Bob and Kathy, Mary, Joe, Joe’s wife and I finally meet in person at a local coffee shop to discuss specific details on listing the rental house.
  • Upon initial visit, we all proceed to rental house where we meet with tenant. For the first time, tenant meets Mary and Joe in person. Prior to this, Mary and Joe’s parents had been the main contact for the tenant.
  • Tenant qualifies for loan and escrow opens shortly after Mary and Joe head back to their respective homes.
  • During escrow, I remain in contact with Joe, the primary trustee, who had transferred his parents’ trust in his name during our initial meeting.
  • Thirty-plus days later, escrow closes.

IMG_0206

I don’t work alone. All parties rallied together to make this transaction happen. Seller, buyer, Realtor, broker, escrow officers, title rep, et al. Seller, though dealing with the complexities of Alzheimer’s and parents far away, is now able to breathe a little more easily, knowing he can afford the care needed to keep them home until further notice. Buyer, once a former tenant living in the same house purchased, is now a bona fide homeowner. Together, they formed a partnership based on principle, similar goals and a willingness to put their trust in a local real estate chick. That real estate chick never once forgot who was most important in all of this: mom and dad. They are to be commended for the wonderful son and daughter they raised. They are what this is all about. To them, I salute you. Alzheimer’s diminishes the brain, though the love is only a heartbeat away. 

 

Cherish an Antique Day

Standard

IMG_0290

Still have that pocket watch Uncle John gave you on your seventh birthday?  Convinced that circus painting you bought at the flea market must be worth same as your Prius?

On Saturday April 12th, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Kirkwood in Orange will host “Cherish an Antique Day”!

Come and share your family antiques and discover the stories behind them. Bring up to two items and have a free appraisal from Mr. K’s Estate Sales.  Enjoy complimentary refreshments and musical entertainment too!

Where: Kirkwood Assisted Living  1525 E. Taft Avenue Orange CA 92865

When: Saturday April 12th, 2014

Time: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm 

To RSVP or more info: 714.262.4737

 

Dementia, Seniors and Selling a House: Where to Begin?

Standard

Begin where it matters: your parents needs. 

Having dealt with the difficult decision of whether or not to move my dad-in-law from his home, aside from the question of when, eventually the decision was based on what was best for dad more than any other reason. After he’d fallen once, several months before moving out, this was a great indicator of concerns to come. Granted, dad had dementia. It had progressed and his needs were more pronounced than seniors who show no signs of memory issues. This in mind, and in my experience with dad as well as other clients I’ve helped, here are questions to consider before making the decision of moving mom and/or dad from their home to an alternate senior residence, such as independent senior apartments or assisted living. 

  • Has your loved one been assessed by a geriatric doctor, someone who specializes in dementia? What was the outcome? Was a driver’s license in question or taken away?
  • Does your loved one live alone or with someone else? If living with someone, is that person able to care for your loved one or do they too, need assistance from time to time?
  • What is the condition of the home? Is it safe? Can your loved one cook? Should they be near a kitchen stove or do they forget to turn it off after using? Are there ample grab bars throughout the home? How much is your loved one able to care for him or herself without assistance of any kind?
  • What are your financial options? What kinds of financial resources do you or your family have? What resources can you use to care for your parent(s) if you should decide they remain home or move?
  • How are they socially? Do they enjoy the company of others, activities or would they perhaps be more comfortable in a living environment with less stimulus?
  • What are the current rental prices in your neighborhood? Could your parent(s) move, keep the house and use rental income to cover part of the cost for assisted living? Should they consider selling at all?
IMG_0029

Dad in front of his house a few years before moving to assisted living. :)

 

I know there’s a lot to think about. And no two people or circumstances are alike. Dementia is an umbrella term; there are many types, some more progressive than others. With dad, he plateaued a long time – very few serious signs emerged for several years. Nonetheless, keeping in tune with his behavior, spending time doing activities, going places, sharing life with him helped understand and see when those serious signs appeared. In the meantime, we were able to do the research and gain information necessary for when the day came he needed to move out of his house.

Before making the important decision whether or not to sell your parents’ house while dealing with dementia, my hope is you seek the help you need. Please use the resources available to you, be it Alzheimer’s Association or other community resources in the particular county you live in. Look for various senior resources above in the menu under the title called “Senior Real Estate:  Advocacy”.  And I’m always available to help. Contact me anytime. Know that you need not make difficult decisions by yourself. Your parents are in caring hands.

Fall Rummage Goodness @ Orange Senior Center!

Standard

Hey all! Time again for Orange Senior Center’s annual fall rummage sale!  Twice a year, Rita and Company host a array of goodness, including, clothing, handbags, kitchen items, small furniture, jewelry, holiday things and many fun tchotchkes!  As always, every single dollar goes right back into the Orange Senior Center, where seniors love to dance, gather with friends, play bingo with aplomb and partake in our local community events. Hope you can join us either Friday, Saturday or both days!

IMG_0212

Orange Senior Center is at

170 S. Olive

Orange CA 92866

Friday Oct. 18th – 8:00am to 1:00pm

Saturday Oct. 19th – 8:00am to 1:00pm

714.538.9633

Good Decisions and Moving On

Standard

It’s really happened. Mom’s house sold. Escrow was longer than usual, bumps in the road, though buyer and seller were meant to be. Buyer loves the house, seller loves that the buyer loves the house.

And so saying goodbye behind, there is freedom ahead.  It’s weird. I thought saying goodbye to Mom’s house would be far sadder than felt. If anything, it’s like she gave her blessings throughout the transaction, I just wasn’t paying attention. Now it’s clear that selling her house was a great decision. It was the right decision. Funny how strongly the head and heart fuse when the right decision is made.

How does one know the right decision is made when selling a house?

You just know. There’s always doubt. There’s always second guessing. Always. It’s when one is able to move forward, despite the normalcy of doubt. Case in point. Since escrow closed last December, I’m currently living with friends. The transition continues, knowing my time is temporary – new living environment awaits. Just gotta go out and look for it.

I learned so much from the experience of selling Mom’s house and those lessons continue. I’ll take those with me, use them to better help and assist my friends and clients. For now, this moment, a brief video saying goodbye to 1405 W. Bay Ave. Mom’s still there. She’s everywhere, beginning in my heart. She moves with me. :)

 

Buying a House: Just Like Getting Married, It’s All In The Prep

Standard

Here’s the skinny on buying a house in today’s market. It’s not neurosurgery though to purchase a home right now takes a lot of preparation. Kind of like a finding the right partner for a successful marriage. Stay with me.

IMG_0184

IMG_0747

There are 3 stages to the home buying process:

  1. Finding a home.
  2. Negotiating the contract.
  3. Get through the escrow process

Just as there are 3 stages to getting married: 

  1. Find a partner.
  2. Negotiate the relationship.
  3. Get married. 

Get Qualified

Talk to a lender. Talk to a few lenders. Find out what programs are available for your specific needs.  Talk to your partner. How qualified is that partner for your specific needs? Your offer is much more likely to be seriously considered by a seller if you’ve done your due diligence and proper homework completed before even beginning the search. Have that pre-qualified letter handy. Email to your agent, in fact. They’ll keep it in their file for you, usually good for 3 months.  And might even want to write a personal letter to the seller too, reasons why you’d be the perfect buyer. Sellers like knowing a prospective buyer is human.

Interview Agents

Not all agents are from the same ilk. Again, kinda like finding the right partner. Some bond easier than others. You think you’ll marry the first one who asks you out? Perhaps. For the Realtor, ask a lot of questions. Don’t skimp. Ask why he is the best agent for your particular needs? How well does he know the hood? What will he do during the process of a search other agents may or may not do? How does the agent feel about where she hangs her license? Is she ‘eh’ about her company or stand by and share their philosophy? What is an agent’s philosophy? Why is the sky blue and what does it take to get a returned phone call response to my voicemail? Things like that.

IMG_0185

Unlike preparing for marriage, the term timely manner is at one’s discretion. Since this website sticks to matters of real estate, we’ll save a marriage blog post elsewhere.  For a real estate transaction today, motivation to get paperwork done in a timely manner remains paramount to getting an offer accepted. Depending on how motivated a buyer is, get all that fun paperwork done before your search. Have it ready in hand or online, give to your agent of choice and feel the anticipation of a possible acceptance. Maybe, just maybe, the seller will say YES. 

Service Among Us Realtors

Standard

So began my day at preview. Real estate previews are pretty cool.  Who doesn’t like looking at houses? I suppose it depends on what neighborhood one previews. In my hood, here in northern part of Orange County, CA sit neighborhoods, their own distinct character and flair. From high-priced sprawling ranch houses to the more moderate suburban residence , the variation of architecture as diverse as its sellers. In any case, I enjoy the variety of the neighborhoods I work in.  Today I saw some incredibly beautiful houses; some beautiful simply by sheer aesthetics of columns, others, embraced by warmth and stained glass windows. Affluence is something I’m just beginning to take notice of in my business as I currently have a listing priced at $1,485,000, most expensive one yet.  IMG_0665

A conversation took place while driving the neighborhood. In between home tours the subject of leases came up, specifically the amount of work leases require for less money than regular sales. Compensation for doing a lease is usually based on a flat fee versus a percentage from a sale. Depending on each transaction, a lease  might produce as little as a hundred bucks, five hundred or somewhere in between.  From a strictly economical point of view, representing a client with a sale versus a lease is far more beneficial to the agent. But what about the client? Two successful agents complained about doing a few leases they’d done over the last year. They’re busy, busy, busy. Leases are a bother, a nuisance for many top producers.  Listening to their dialogue, I asked myself would I be so busy as to wave aside a low paying lease? Would I be as annoyed with a measly hundred bucks when surely I would make more with a sale? Even if annoyed, what would my client think if they suspected I thought this way?

IMG_0377

To be clear, I am not a top producing real estate agent. I’ve never been part of any Golden Club or won a trip to Hawaii based on my sales track record. Nor is my name embossed on a wall for “Salesperson of the Immediate Future.” I think those kinds of goals are ALL worth attaining and I have the utmost respect for fellow agents who pride themselves as such.  My business acumen is based on one-on-one service rather than sheer volume.

I’m a Realtor. I like making money. This is my career, my livelihood. Someone’s gotta pay for those extra useless television channels. When I work with my clients, I am at their service. It is an honor to be trusted and relied upon for the service I give. Not all will bond with me nor I with them. When that happens (and it has, always will) I’ve learned the skill to thank them, wish them the very best in their real estate endeavors and walk away. Most times, clients understand the service I provide merely by demonstration. Making $5000k versus $500, pretty much a no brainer.  What must be questioned is why that client chose us in the first place. If one ever finds me complaining about the next $100 made on a lease, I’ll treat them to a trip to Target with that money. That’ll probably cover a few t-shirts, beach towels, cleaning supplies, a neon green sports bra with matching leggings and some fancy chocolate candy bars.  Not bad for making someone happy about where they live.