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Blog › June 2014

Home Staging Worth the Money, Effort? Yes.

Nearly every home seller hopes to get their property sold quickly and at top dollar.

Staging may be just the thing to help in that quest, according to the National Association of REALTORS’® 2017 Profile of Home Staging (http://bit.ly/2tGmtXe).

Using things like furniture, color, lighting, and accent pieces, professional stagers transform for-sale homes from ho-hum to oh-ah and work to make a property appeal to the largest number of prospective buyers

And their work has an impact: 39 percent of sellers’ agents said that staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time the home is on the market, according to NAR’s report.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:

 

Additional findings include:

  • The most commonly staged spaces include the living room (83 percent), kitchen (76 percent), master bedroom (69 percent), and dining room (66 percent).

  • Staging the living room was found to be most important to buyers (55 percent), followed by staging the master bedroom (51%), and the kitchen (41 percent).

  • Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for buyers to visualize a property as a future home.

 

TO BE OR NOT TO BE...


PROCEED WITH CAUTION: EXECUTORS DO SOME HEAVY LIFTING

Sure, the duties of an executor seem fairly straightforward. The job includes gathering, cataloging, and protecting a deceased person's assets, paying off his or her debts and taxes, and divvying up what remains.

But the process tends to get complex and time-consuming.

So choosing who will do that job requires clear thinking and planning. So does agreeing to serve as someone's executor. 

Here are eight considerations when choosing an executor.

1.  Conscious choice.  Frequently the default executor is the oldest child. But it shouldn't be the automatic choice, especially if that child doesn't have the skill or desire to do the job. After all, maybe your oldest is a forest ranger who is living 1,000 miles away and whose idea of tax preparation, for example, entails handing his account a shoebox full of receipts. And maybe the youngest child is that accountant, who lives nearby and is methodical and familiar with business and finances. So choose the best person for the job. That person could be a friend or it also could be a trust company. 

Tip: Another natural choice as executor is the surviving spouse. But keep in mind that a spouse likely will be grief-stricken. Taking care of a will could prove too burdensome. 

2. Choose a backup. If your first choice can't or won't do the job, be certain to have an understudy or two lined up.

3. Review your choices. Maybe that beloved son-in-law is no longer beloved. Or trustworthy. Or maybe he's no longer even in the family. Be sure your choice of executor is up to date.

4. Ask first.  Being named an executor can come as a nasty surprise to those who don't have the time, desire or skill to do the job. So be certain that your pick is willing to serve.

5. Personal qualities: Assess your prospective executor's financial stability, suggests  Lynne Butler, a senior will and estate planner with Scotia Private Client Group, Edmonton, Alberta and author of "Estate Planning Through Family Meetings (Without Breaking Up the Family)". She says that it can be too tempting for someone to "borrow" money from the estate and pay off his or her own bills, particularly for someone who is strapped for cash.  Also look for someone who stays calm under pressure and who can withstand what Butler characterizes as "a constant barrage of requests."

6. Head off feuds.  When you do choose an executor, discuss the decision with the family members you didn't choose. A simple explanation of your rationale can smooth ruffled feathers.  By saying, "We asked Joe because we don't want to burden you" or "Joe is a financial planner and it would be an easier job for him," can go a long way in easing survivors' angst that you didn't love or trust them enough to manage the task.

7. Anticipate complexities: If you have assets, such as a large real estate portfolio that require special knowledge, be sure the person is capable of managing them and finding the right people for advice.

Or, for instance, if you have expensive hobbies or an oddball collection, consider whether your executor has the skill to both value and manage the assets, whether it's a collection of vintage clocks or a fully-equipped pottery studio.  After all, the executor is responsible for babysitting the assets until the estate is settled.

It's one reason some opt for a trust company to settle their estates. Butler works for one and says that among the advantages are that such companies are experts in settling estates. They also can tap a cadre of professionals, from accountants, lawyers, and real estate agents, to experts who can properly value and sell off everything from coin collections to vintage Jaguars. And given that it's a neutral party, it doesn't get embroiled in petty family squabbles.

8. Make peace. When someone dies, long-buried feelings and sibling rivalry often emerge. In many situations, the bickering over a Hummel figurine or an ashtray isn't about the value of the object, points out Butler. It often stems from unresolved conflicts and a family's emotional baggage. So any steps you can take while you're alive to resolve those long-simmering disputes can head off potential trouble for your executor.

Tip: Wills often state that personal and household goods will be divided equally among the heirs. That's a recipe for squabbles that an executor will need to referee, Butler observes.  Ease your executor's burden by specifying who will get specific pieces of jewelry, furniture, and sentimental objects.

5 Things to Consider Before Saying Yes

If someone asks you to be an executor, here are five things to consider before saying yes.

1. Do you have the stamina? Consider the impact that taking on the job of executor can have on your health, particularly if you're in your senior years. Given the time involved and the stress, you may not be cut out for the job. "It can be a huge strain," comments Butler. "You're dealing with many unhappy and sometimes greedy people." 

2. It's a commitment. Determine whether you have the time to do a good job. Butler says to anticipate spending six months to one year to settle an estate. Some can drag on longer. She knows of clients who have taken leaves from their jobs to settle an estate. It can be especially taxing if you live in a province far from where your parent or relative lived. So if you're a medical resident or have some other demanding profession, really think about whether you can add a string of additional duties to your schedule.

3. Understand the landscape. Ask to see the will or at least get a good feel for what it contains. You want to get a sense of the complications you could face. Will you be responsible for selling off a vacation house in France? Will you need to manage 5,000 acres of wheat fields while you're settling the estate? Or is one kid being punished in the will? Look out for red flags that could create complications and turn your life into a nightmare. Also keep in mind that heirs sometimes accuse executors of mismanagement and sue them.

4. Family feuds: Are you or your siblings at war with one another? Or if you're a neutral third party, are you ready to place yourself at the center of a family firestorm? Consider declining if you know that you'll be stepping into a minefield. 

5. Know thyself: Finding documents, getting papers notarized, and having patience to, for example, organize snow plowing for a house located in another province, could all be part of the job. Are you a methodical, task-oriented person who has the patience to deal with small details? Honestly assess your skills, ability, and commitment before saying yes.  

Related resources:

 



DECLUTTER TIME!


Tender, Loving Care of Your Home’s Value

Spring cleaning usually means scrubbing walls, washing curtains, and so forth. Add a few extra tasks – purging, decluttering, and organizing – to your spring cleaning routine to make your efforts pay off for the long term.

For one, a big purge helps you live better today and prepare your house for the market if downsizing is in your future. Decluttering can be daunting physically and emotionally, especially when you’re already stressed about selling a family home, so some advance footwork could ease your life later on. Moreover, by eliminating clutter, especially papers and clothes on the floor, you eliminate fall hazards and create a safer house.

For some, tidying up just doesn’t come naturally. But if you’re committed to making a dent in your piles of stuff and need help, look to some online programs and step-by-step help. You’re likely to find methods that fit your personality and style. Here are some starting points.

www.Messies.com– The Messies Anonymous site features both free and for-sale decluttering and home organization advice and offers up two—the Mt. Vernon and Mt. Vesuvius—methods of cleaning.

The former is a methodical, marathon approach, requiring you to do three to seven tasks each day. Through those tasks, a tidier space and new habits eventually emerge. Then your job is just maintaining the new habits.

The Mt. Vesuvius method is more of a big dump that entails loading the stuff into labeled boxes and then dealing with the items box by box.

See messies.com’s six-week program at, http://messies.com/images/simplesixweeksrev.pdf and look at the site organizer’s blog, http://theorganizerlady.blogspot.com/ for reminders, quotes, questions, and habits of the day.

* www.Zenhabits.net– This site feels like something geared to those who are more advanced in the decluttering process.

Think minimalism. If that’s your goal, do head here.

It takes a philosophical approach to creating a minimalist environment and Zenhabits also addresses issues – rethinking your whole life -- that go well beyond just your physical space.

See: http://zenhabits.net/archives and http://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home.

* www.FlyLady.net– Flylady has a folksy, practical tone and delivers a comprehensive, long-term strategy for organization and cleanliness.

FlyLady’s philosophy: “Your home did not get dirty in one day, and it will not get clean in a day either.” As such, the information is organized so that you can choose your own pace and not get completely overwhelmed. You can do a 15-minute-a-day route, pick one task a day (you can sign up for daily e-mails), or speed walk through your house and dump 27 items into the trash at a time.

The foundation of FlyLady’s approach is “establishing little habits that string together into simple routines to help your day run on automatic pilot.”

Thus, one daily task for everyone entails cleaning your sink. It’s a way for you to develop one regular habit and also see evidence—a small clean, gleaming space—that you’re making progress. To a naturally neat person, it may seem ridiculous. For a messy person, it can provide hope and a sense of accomplishment.

FlyLady’s Home Maintenance Control Journal is especially helpful if you’re getting your house ready for sale. It asks you to pretend that you’re a real estate professional who is walking through your house and assessing what needs to be done.

You end up with a list of items that need fixing, cleaning, painting, replacing, and so forth. By completing those upgrades, you end up with a cleaner, tidier, better environment for living and a house that is more ready to put on the market.  As FlyLady puts it, it’s “tender loving care of your home’s value.”

Designers and home organizers often recommend looking at magazines and websites for design inspiration and as a way to envision your ideal space.

So check out http://www.remodelista.com/issue/8/17/north-country  The issue is focused on Canadian design.

Here are some articles where you can find more decluttering and downsizing advice.

http://www.canadianliving.com/health/mind_and_spirit/6_ways_to_clean_up_your_home_life.php

http://www.carp.ca/2014/04/15/spring-downsizing-tips/

http://www.chatelaine.com/tag/declutter/

http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/earthwatch-the-green-approach-to-organizing-and-decluttering/



Vancouver Coastal Health - Senior Services


VANCOUVER COASTAL HEALTH - SENIOR SERVICES

You can find health care services offered by Vancouver Coastal Health including, hospital, emergency, outpatient, inpatient, public health, envoronmental health and more in their regular website (www.vch.ca). But they also offer a Senior's section which includes featured services that are designed to meet the needs of Seniors.  If you're a Senior click on the link below and save it to your 'favourites'.

http://www.vch.ca/seniors



SRES Newsletter - June


 

SENIORS REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST

Consumer Newsletter – June 2014

www.sres.org

 

Age-friendly Cities

By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

Between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the world's population over 60 years will double from about 11 percent to 22 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). During that period, WHO expects the number of people aged 60 years and over to swell from 605 million to 2 billion.

How well those seniors will live depends greatly on the environment both inside their houses and outside. By incorporating universal design principles, people can prepare their houses for aging in place. But if the larger community doesn’t provide an environment and services that are conducive to ageing in place, seniors’ quality of life can be diminished. 

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities Initiative has established comprehensive guidelines to help cities assess their age friendliness and make certain that they’re providing an environment where seniors can live a full, engaging, and high-quality life.

WHO’s program addresses eight categories:

  • Housing
  • Outdoor Spaces and Buildings
  • Transportation
  • Community and Health Services
  • Civic Participation and Employment
  • Communication and Information
  • Social Participation
  • Respect or Social Inclusion

Across the globe, cities – including New York City, Udine, Italy, Ponce, Puerto Rico, Ponce, and Himeji, Japan -- have embraced WHO’s concepts and have developed programs to ensure that their cities are ready for an ageing population. 

They’re working to eliminate barriers--whether those are related to housing, medical services, infrastructure, or social activities--to ageing in place.  

Some efforts are broadly supported and funded and managed by cities and provinces and others start with small grassroots efforts through an aging-related community group, for instance.

Across Canada, cities and towns have established age-friendly initiatives. Among them are Alberton, P.E.I., Gimli, Man., Halifax, N.S.,   Lumby, B.C., and Sherbrooke, Que.

Staying ahead of the curve

The city of London, Ontario, for one, has developed a comprehensive program that started in 2010, when it applied for and was accepted to WHO’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities. It was the first Canadian city to do so.

 “We learned that older adult demographic for London is growing at a higher rate than any other demographic.  We’re also a top destination point for retirees in North America,” comments Paul D’Hollander, London’s Manager of Area Services. 

To service that population and keep them coming and staying, the city of London saw that it needed to deliver a more livable, walkable, senior-friendly community.

Community engagement, bottom-up strategy

 In developing its strategy, London took a bottom-up approach. So rather than the government identifying the needs and dictating projects, the city turned to residents to assess seniors’ experiences, uncover age-friendly features they’d like to see, and where the environment was falling short. “It was important for us to engage the community in building our plan,” comments D’Hollander.

 Based on those interviews and focus groups, the city, in 2013, developed a three-year action plan.

It included addressing strategies from all eight of WHO’s categories, and the city established working groups devoted to identifying and planning projects in each category.

Some goals of the groups include:

  • Improving pedestrian safety at crossings by installing countdowns and longer crossing times in areas where older adults live or access services.
  • Boosting affordability of public transit.
  • Investigating new housing opportunities, such as co-housing or shared housing.
  • Delivering better home support, especially for isolated seniors. That could entail check-in services and seniors-helping-seniors initiatives.
  • Making businesses, such as restaurants and retailers, friendlier to seniors.

 Success on a shoestring budget

 Because of budget constraints, London started with small initiatives.

 One recent project, for example, entailed improving the age friendliness of parks by increasing number of washrooms open all year and increasing the number of benches in park and along paths.

 The park accessibility project is an example of a no- or low-cost project that improves lives without busting budgets.

 Moreover, participants on task forces are encouraged to tap their professional networks to find donation of goods, services, and advice.  In light of budget constraints, D’Hollander sees such donations as essential in moving the plans ahead. Moreover, it benefits everyone who lives, works, and has a business in the city, he points out. “It’s all about making London a better place,” he comments. 

 Ensuring economic vibrancy

 Later on, D’Hollander expects to tackle some big-ticket items, such as an improved transit system that features accessible buses and more stops. He thinks every Canadian city would benefit from examining how to become more age-friendly and says, “To stay economically vibrant, every province needs to pay heed to this phenomenon of ageing.”

“Also, Canada has long been a country of social programs, equality and fairness and has had a focus on inclusiveness. So it’s not a jump to move the bar on helping this ageing demographic,” he comments.

D’Hollander envisions a future for London that one day doesn’t entail an age-friendly strategy at all. “My hope is that at some point all of this isn’t a plan but that it’s just part of regular business and that seniors’ needs are fully integrated in London life.”

Additional resources

If you’re interested in making your hometown more age friendly, you don’t need to start from scratch, nor do you need to create a comprehensive plan that addresses all eight WHO categories.

“Maybe just pick the top two categories that are important to your community and something that works for your residents and budgets,” suggests D’Hollander. 

It doesn’t necessarily require government leadership either. Academic, health and community groups all can collaborate to launch a program.

There are vast resources, networks, and guides to help you get a program off the ground.

They include:

WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities (http://www.who.int/ageing/age_friendly_cities_network/en/) – Learn about WHO’s age-friendly initiatives. Also download the guide, “Global age-friendly cities: a guide,” at http://www.who.int/ageing/age_friendly_cities_guide/en/

 

 

Gary Born
Prudential Sussex Realty – Gary Born

604-990-6464 direct

gary@garyborn.com

www.garyborn.com

 

 
 
     

 

 



TITLE FRAUD


Title fraud on property owners does happen.  Please read the following article and if you would like an instance check on your title, please call me.

 

TITLE FRAUD

Although relatively rare, one of the most devastating frauds for property owners is title fraud. This type of fraud starts with identity theft. The scammer will use false documents to pose as the property owner, registers forged documents transferring a property to his or her name, and then gets a new mortgage against the property. After securing a mortgage or line of credit, the criminal takes the cash and leaves the owner on the hook for future payments.

While an identity thief may get a forced discharge of an existing mortgage, it is generally held that fraudsters are more likely to go after homes that are free and clear of mortgages: these have fewer complications and they tend to be held by older people who may be less aware about how to guard against identity theft. Criminal Services Intelligence Canada notes that homeowners who rent out their homes or who have no existing mortgages on high-value properties are more vulnerable to being targeted in title-fraud schemes as a large mortgage can be secured with the property.

 “Title Insurance” is the best protection against this type of fraud. As well as protecting against title fraud, it also guards an owner from existing liens against a property’s title.

More information at

http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/eng/resources/publications/fraud/Pages/ProtectY-Protgezv-1.aspx#Protect