What Retirees Want!

You might be surprised at today’s retiree’s choices.

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Most people, when they hear about retirees moving or looking to buy a new home, imagine somewhere sunny, with palm trees, and something small, like a condo or considerably downsized house. According to this survey on Forbes.com, performed in 2015, those antiquated ideas are way off!

So what are today’s retirees into, when it comes to this new phase of home life?

Staying Put

Surprisingly, most boomers choose not to relocate to a new state when buying a new home. And downsizing is becoming a myth! Many of today’s retirees choose a similar-sized home, or even one that is a little bigger. Why? To make room for visitors, family, and even hobbies. In fact, the most popular home improvement project for a retiree is adding on a personal office!

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Less retirees are choosing this scene for their daily lives.

Freedom Threshold

It’s no surprise that the boomer generation rejects the old view of retirement: relaxing in the sun, living in a tiny condo. Today’s retiree has planned meticulously to live their lives to the fullest! They are choosing lifestyles based on the things they like and want, instead of living where they have an easy commute to work or better access to schools for their kids. This mindset is called the Freedom Threshold.

The biggest advantage of reaching the Freedom Threshold? Living longer! Stats show that retirees aren’t just fading away after punching their last time card. Instead, they’re living longer, fuller lives, and choosing dream homes they’ve saved for instead of just settling for something tiny.

So what is the biggest motivator for retirees when choosing their next home? Proximity to family. Retirees who stay in-state do so to be close to family, and 29% those who move away have the same reason: to follow family.

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Survey says: family is the most important factor in retirees deciding where to live.

Not Just Fun and Games

Proximity of family is also on this checklist of things to consider when planning a retirement relocation, on CNBC.com. In addition, if you’re looking to make a major lifestyle change (in addition to retiring!) keep in mind differences in taxes from state to state, and whether keeping your original residence to rent out or selling it outright will be more advantageous.

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Even though schools and work commute are no longer as important, you should still weigh your options carefully.

Medical care is also a major consideration. Even if you plan to snowbird north for the summer or south for the winter, you shouldn’t rely only on doctors in your home state. Even in rural areas, Tennessee has good access to emergency care, and clinics and hospitals are a short drive in most locations. But, still, do your homework and make sure you like the local medical care before committing!

Consider East Tennessee

Here in East Tennessee, the same mild climate, beautiful landscape, low cost of living and pleasant standard of living—including tons of stuff to do!—are good for both young, working families and those looking to retire. In Tennessee, you can get the best of both worlds: staying close to family, and living well on a fixed income!

 

If you’re looking to retire in East Tennessee, and you want to find your dream home, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’d love to help.

Heating Bill Comparison

Let’s take a look at the cost of heating our homes in East Tennessee.

It’s officially Fall, Y’All, and it’s the time of year for lovely leaves (which haven’t reached their peak yet,) gorgeous, bright harvest moons, and crisp nights and mornings. We haven’t yet hit a hard frost this season, and lots of people stay comfy even in the chillier weather by shutting their windows and bundling up in warm sweaters and socks.

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But we know the real cold is on its way! And, since we’re proud of how affordable the cost of living here in Tennessee is, we thought we’d take a look at how much it costs to heat a home in our fair state. Electricity Local is a website that compares the cost of electricity, and how much electricity is used, with the rest of the country. According to them, Tennesseans spend an average of $123 per month on the household electric bill. If you read further, you’ll notice that’s actually higher than the average electric bill in America, by a little over 14%.

But wait, didn’t we say bills are lower, here?

They are! The rate for electricity in Tennessee averages 10.1 cents/kWh, ranking us 37th in the nation. That’s pretty good. Our cost for electricity is about 15% lower than the average in this country. And, because the cost of electricity is more affordable, more people use electric means (like heat pumps) to heat their homes in the cooler months!

If you opt to subsidize your heating needs with gas, or good old firewood, then your electric bill will be even lower. We also have plenty of choices in Tennessee for solar power, which can be purchased on a lease-to-own basis or with a lump sum. Going this route means your electric bills will dwindle down to nil. In many cases, solar power consumers get paid by TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority), because their solar panels produce enough power to sell some back to the grid! That’s a pretty sweet way to put our average of 204 days of sunshine per year to good use.

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But, what about other sources of heat for the home? Around here, natural gas is pretty popular. It delivers heat quickly. In comparing the cost of gas with electricity, we can check out Energy Models, a website that specializes in this sort of thing. The biggest challenge in the comparison is that electricity is measured by kWh, and natural gas rates come in dollars per therm. Those aren’t easily convertible units! We went to this website for a better explanation:

There are 100,000 Btus per therm of natural gas. There are 3413 Btus per kilowatt hour of electricity.

To Calculate The Comparison:

Multiply the cost per kilowatt hour X 29.3 to get the cost of 100,000 Btus of electricity and compare that cost, to the cost of one therm of natural gas, which can be found on your monthly statement.

Example: If your cost of electricity is $.08 per Kwh, then multiply $.08 X 29.3 = $2.34 for 100,000 Btus of electricity, then compare that cost, to the cost of one therm of natural gas, which can be found on your monthly statement.

The upshot is this: natural gas is, actually, cheaper to use in heating your home. BUT, installing a natural gas heater, and maintenance, too, costs more money.

 

If you want to make East Tennessee your home this fall, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com!

Back to School Time!

It may be the dog days, but there’s something else that makes August notable: Back to School!

It’s August already! It’s been a beautiful summer: at times hot and muggy, but we’ve had our fair share of crystal-clear, lovely weather, too. It may be the dog days, but there’s something else that makes August notable: Back to School! Kids and parents all over East Tennessee are gearing up to walk back through those lobby doors, heading to new classrooms, new desks and a new year of learning. Here are a few tips to make the transition from summer to school a little softer.

Snacks!

It’s amazing how far a good snack can go toward cheering a kid (or parent!) up, or just helping them wind down after a day of rules and work. Add a couple of fun snacks to lunches for a little midday boost, and have something healthy and yummy waiting for a just-off-the-bus treat. Here are a couple of ideas: pinch the middle of a baggie of grapes with a twisted pipe cleaner to make it look like a butterfly, or slather peanut butter on celery and stick on raisins for “ants on a log.” Then sneak a few bites for yourself!

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Downtime

Yeah, your older kids probably have a stack of homework already, but a little bit of quiet, unscheduled time (coinciding with the snack, probably!) can set the right tone for tackling those worksheets. Reading a book quietly, building with Legos, imaginative play, even just sitting and daydreaming: all these things help a kid’s brain release after school. Note: screen time, even though it can seem like relaxation time, actually overstimulates kids’ brains, making it more difficult for them to wind down.

Get Out!

Since they’re spending so much more of their days indoors, make sure kids have plenty of opportunity to get outside. Studies show it increases their learning capabilities, reduces stress and can even help them be healthier. Kick the kids out to the backyard during the school week, and go to the park on the weekends. It’s good for parents, too! And, luckily, we have the majestic Great Smoky Mountains practically in our backyard, so a Saturday day hike is a short trip away.

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Healthy Habits

It’s important for both parents and kids to get enough sleep and eat healthy meals during the school week. It can be stressful making sure backpacks and lunches are all packed up and ready to go, the kids aren’t wearing the same stained shirt they wore for the past two days, pick up and drop off happen on time, and a million other things don’t fall between the cracks! Give yourself a boost with healthy habits.

Kids at Home

Does little brother or sister still stay at home? You can do lots of fun things to prep them for the big day they get to go to school, too. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will send free books to your home to help you jump-start your kids’ love of reading. Local libraries have reading programs and story hours that help you get out of the house and help your entertain kids, too.

Good luck with back to school time! Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com for your East Tennessee realty needs.

Fixer Uppers!

We put together a few tips to consider when you’re looking for a fixer upper!

With the explosion of popularity of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” thousands more homebuyers are on the hunt for the gem hidden behind a facade of neglect or just bad design choices from years gone by (ahem: baby food-green shag carpet, anyone?)

Not every house is worth fixing up, though! For every one house that hides gleaming wood floors underneath threadbare carpets, you could view three that have severe water damage or a foundation so bad you’ll want to hightail it out of the house for fear the whole thing will crash down on your head!

How can you get a ride on the fixer upper train? We’ve pulled together a few tips to help you get started. Read on to find out more!

Foundations

We decided to start at the bottom because, arguably, it’s the most important part of the house. If your house has a bad foundation, you’ve got the real estate equivalent of a game of Russian Roulette. It could be easily fixed with the addition of metal columns to shore up the concrete blocks. OR, you could discover it will take upwards of $50,000 to completely jack up the house, remove the unstable foundation and replace it with a working one. The problem is, you might not know what you have on your hands until you start (literally) digging in.

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The solution? Train your eyes to check out cracks and settling in the foundation. Is the roof line less than true? It could be a bad roof, or it could be the result of a foundation sinking on one side, bringing the rest of the house with it. Obvious, big cracks in the mortar of the foundation? Red flag. And always, always, get a professional’s opinion on the state of the house.

Tip: It might be a good idea to view the house after a strong storm. If water is coming into the basement, you’ll be able to see it in action.

Roof

We mentioned the top of the house already. A sturdy roof is very important in maintaining your home. It keeps out the weather and unwanted critters, but a good roof also keeps the house insulated: warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Get up there and look at it! Are the shingles bald? Crumbly? Are there dips in the roof?

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Even if the shingles need replacing, you can sometimes get away with just putting a fresh layer on top of the old ones. If you need a whole new roof, it will set you back thousands. That might not be a deal breaker, especially if you can put in the labor yourself.

Bones

Does the house “speak to you?” Can you see a vision of your future in it? Maybe if you knock down a wall there, add a window in over here … if the layout of the house is absolutely terrible, you might be able to open it all up. Or, you might realize you’d basically have to rebuild the entire structure to get it how you want it.

Feeling inspired to look for your next diamond in the rough? Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com and let’s get started!

How to Seal Your Real Estate Deal

You’re investing lots of time and mental energy into house hunting, and you don’t want all that to be for nothing.

Last week, we talked about some ways to know when to walk away from the real estate deal. This week, let’s flip the coin and look at some of the ways you can sweeten the deal to get your dream house. Read on to find out more!

You’ve done it; you’ve searched countless properties online and in person. You’ve weighed out the pros and cons, double checked your budget, gotten preapproved and now … you’ve finally found the perfect property! The problem is, if it’s a great house, in a great location, with a sweet price, then you might be up against some buyer competition.

Do a little research.

Find out why the seller is selling, if at all possible. Often, this is as simple as asking your realtor to relay your questions to the seller’s realtor. If they are highly motivated to sell because of a death in the family, a job transfer or divorce (for example), then you know you have some negotiating room. If they are certain they’ll get asking price and have all the time in the world to get their house sold, then you’ll have to shift your strategy. Also, find out what the seller’s least and most favorite aspects of the house are. Their answers might direct you to see how perfect the property is for your family, or they might give you reason to move on, plus add to your checklist of things to look out for during your house hunt.

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Compare this home (and the asking price) with other homes in the area.

Even if this is an amazing house, if it’s located in the heart of the city vs. in the middle of the country makes all the difference in price. Be very aware of the market values in all the places you’re searching; house prices can change from town to town. Again, this is something your realtor is well-equipped to help you figure out.

Offer asking price.

If the house clearly has some wiggle-room built into the asking price, then maybe offer a few thousand less. But, if it’s a great price and you’re certain you want the property, go ahead and offer asking price–or even a few thousand above. Your offer is possibly being weighed against other offers, so the more money the better, from a seller’s perspective. Your realtor will be able to help you determine how stiff your competition is, so you can come up with a strategy.

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Get pre-approved!

Your realtor has probably already advised you to do this. It protects you. You’re investing lots of time and mental energy into house hunting, and you don’t want all that to be for nothing because you find out you can’t secure a loan. But, the preapproval letter also communicates your level of seriousness to the seller. It says you’ve already taken steps toward buying a home. It also says the deal is less likely to fall through in beginning stages; you’re a buyer backed by money, so the seller is more likely to get paid quickly for their home and not have to wait around for the bank to approve the mortgage.
Good luck! And visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com for your East Tennessee realty needs.

 

When to Walk Away from the House

How do you know when it’s time to walk away from a real estate deal?

We’ve talked about a lot of considerations in buying a house, such as how to approach buying a house in busy months. But how do you know when it’s time to walk away from a real estate deal?

This article on Zillow gives a few great examples of when not to sign on the dotted line. Read on to hear our take on the subject:

The house appraises for below the contract price.

If it’s really your dream home, in your dream neighborhood, then maybe this doesn’t matter to you as much. But, it can cause a problem with your lender: they won’t want to put up more than the house is worth, so you might have to come to the deal with more cash in hand. If you get the sinking feeling that you’d be paying too much for the house, or if you just don’t have the extra money to pay up front, maybe this is a sign you should walk away from the house.

The house doesn’t pass inspection.

Sometimes, a seller will fail to disclose serious problems with things like the foundation, roof or electrical or plumbing systems. If they are willing to renegotiate the price of the house to accommodate fixing these things, or if they are willing to fix the problems before the signing date, then maybe this isn’t as big a deal. Some buyers still get a bad taste in their mouth when sellers fail to disclose big issues, though. It leaves them questioning: “What else aren’t they telling me about the house?”

If the seller isn’t willing to fix the problems or sell at a lower price to help you finance fixing them, this is definitely a good time to walk away. Again, the exception to this rule is if the house is your absolute dream house, and you’re willing and able to foot the bill for major renovations.

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Keep in mind, if you’ve already signed a contract agreeing to buy the house, you might have difficulty backing out of the deal. The above-mentioned reasons to walk away can be exceptions to this rule: most contracts will state that if the house doesn’t pass inspection or appraisal, the contract is no longer valid. Your realtor will help you navigate the legalities of this.

The house is almost good enough.

Before you put in an offer, think hard about what your gut tells you. Is it a nice house, but nowhere near where you actually wanted to live? Is it in a great neighborhood, but way too small for your family’s needs? Would it be an enormous effort to fix up, and you’re just not the DIY type? Many realtors adopt this philosophy: If it’s meant to be, it will be. Don’t settle for a house that makes you compromise too much. It’s normal to have cold feet before plunging into such a big investment, but if your gut is telling you the house isn’t right, then it isn’t right.

Your partner isn’t into it.

Kinda like the above reason, if your partner’s gut is telling them it isn’t right, then it isn’t! Even if the house checks all your boxes, if your partner doesn’t love it, the house might just become a sore topic for as long as you both live there. It’s just not worth signing on the dotted line if you’re not both on board.

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The house is out of your range.

You’ve already checked your finances and been pre-approved for a certain range. You’ve done your homework, and you know what your budget can bear, but … then you see your dream home, and it’s just out of reach. You could always offer below asking price and see what comes of it, but if you can’t get the house within your league, don’t make yourself house poor. It’s not worth the ulcer your future self will curse you for. Instead, hold out for something you can afford now, and save for a down payment for your future dream home. With the equity you build now, it could be within reach sooner than you think.

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As always, for any questions you might have about this article or other real estate needs in East Tennessee, contact Darlene Reeves-Kline!