Dan DeMarchis - Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. | Fredericksburg, VA Real Estate

By the year 2030, the last members of the "Baby Boomer" generation will be turning 65 -- a milestone traditionally associated with retirement, senior citizen discounts, and living life at a slower pace. The Institute on Aging is predicting that one out of every five Americans (20%) will be 65 or older by then.

While many people continue working and staying active well into their senior years, adjustments are eventually necessary. To ease the transition into post retirement, some homeowners are making remodeling or home buying decisions based on expected lifestyle changes.

Simple Adjustments Can Go a Long Way

One of the most basic accommodations you can make to improve accessibility is to replace door knobs, especially outside ones, with straight handles. If arthritis or other conditions make it difficult for you or your spouse to grip a round door knob and turn it to the right, a horizontal lever can be much less of a hassle. Water faucets that have handles instead of round knobs can also provide similar benefits. (If you really want to go for ease of use, there's always the option of installing motion-activated sink faucets!) Elderly parents who visit frequently -- or who may even be joining your household -- will also appreciate accommodations that make daily tasks less difficult.

There are a couple sound reasons to replace old, inefficient toilets with taller units, including the fact that they are easier and more comfortable for older people to use. Some of the newer models are a few inches higher and are noticeably more convenient than standard toilets. An additional benefit worth mentioning is that EPA-certified toilets conserve water and can save you money. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recent advancements in toilet design now allow consumers to use less water and save money on their water bills -- up to $110 a year for the average family. Although a retired couple may not flush that much money down the drain (in the form of wasted water), an updated toilet can still save money on utility bills and conserve natural resources (The "WaterSense" label certifies that it meets EPA standards).

A few other features to keep in mind for more comfortable senior living may include choosing a wall oven instead of a harder-to-reach floor version, and getting other appliances that don't require bending down. Lots of natural light and a sufficient amount of artificial light are also desirable features for a senior-occupied home. For shower safety, grab bars are another modification that can provide extra support without costing a lot of money.

Whether you're planning on buying a new home or doing updates and renovations on your existing home, there are a lot of ideas to consider. Since aging and climbing stairs don't usually go together, many people set their sights on a one-story ranch house for their retirement years. If you now own a multi-story house and want to stay put, there are a variety of stair lifts, elevators, and other mobility aids that may be worth looking into.

How many times have you heard yourself say (or think) something very similar to this: "One of these days, I'm going to organize my closet(s)"? If not your closets, then it's your basement, attic, or garage that needs decluttering, organizing, and/or cleaning.

Question: Are you one of those homeowners (or apartment dwellers) who keeps saving things you don't need, and then finally gets around to sifting through it all when mountains of clutter have taken over your valuable storage space? If that sounds all-too-familiar, then don't worry; you're not alone! Unfortunately, the easiest thing about organizing your home is putting it off until another day.

There comes a point, though, at which clutter takes over your life. Symptoms you're moving in that direction include an inability to find things and the inexplicable disappearance of storage space (actually, there's a perfectly rational explanation for it)! So if the "clutter monster" has been rearing its ugly head in your home in recent months, here are some causes and possible solutions to the problem.

  • You know you have a lot of junk, but you're not sure what to do with it. Well, first of all, "one man's junk is another man's treasure," so things you no longer have any use for may be very useful to charitable groups, community fund drives, or homeless shelters. In addition to giving stuff away, you could also offer free or inexpensive things to people in your social media network, hold a yard sale, or offer gently used hand-me-downs to relatives and friends. If your unwanted stuff is actually junk (by anyone's standards), then it might be worth it to have a local junk hauling service pick it up at your house and properly dispose of it. An alternative is to rent a dumpster for a few days and fill it up at your convenience. The cost may be surprisingly affordable, and the amount of living and storage space you'll reclaim in your home will make it all worthwhile. You never know until you get a quote or two!
  • You just can't seem to motivate yourself to get started! Procrastination is one of the leading causes of household clutter, but there are solutions. One strategy is to announce to your significant other, best friend, or parents that you're going to devote two or three hours on Saturday (or Sunday) to straightening out your closets, basement, or garage. The value of telling someone else of your intentions is that it sort of puts you on the hook and makes you accountable. A similar approach is often used for dieting, exercising, or spending quality time with your kids. Even though two or three hours of work probably won't transform your home into a model of organization, you'll at least have gotten started and made a dent in the project. For most people, the biggest hurdle to getting organized is getting started!
Picking up a supply of inexpensive bins, storage compartments, and shelving at your local discount outlet, hardware store, or even neighborhood garage sale may also give you the nudge you need to get your decluttering plans moving forward!

If you’re a first-time homebuyer you might be worried or anxious about the process of making an offer on a home. After all, negotiating isn’t something most of us look forward to on a day to day basis and we try to avoid it when possible. When it comes to buying a home, however, negotiating is usually part of the process.

One of the benefits of working with a real estate agent is that they have the knowledge and expertise to help you out through the negotiation process. Not only will they help you formulate your offer, but they’ll also present the offer for you and handle the in-person negotiations.

Buyer’s vs seller’s market

Whether or not the odds are in your favor depends on many things. One important factor is the state of the real estate marketing. In a seller’s market, which is what we’re in right now, there are more buyers looking for homes than there are sellers trying to sell them.

However, you can still edge past the competition in a seller’s market if you plan accordingly. This is when negotiation comes into play, and when effective negotiation can get your offer accepted where others are declined.

Time is of the essence

When you’re shopping for a home in a seller’s market, you’ll need to be swift with your offer and counteroffers to stay ahead of other prospective buyers. However, being too hasty with your offers can seem imposing or reckless. It’s better to take a day longer to come up with a more effective offer than it is to make an offer that looks bad to the seller.

Be clear and concise

Just as you’re nervous making offers on a home, sellers are usually nervous fielding them. So, if you want to make things easier for you and your seller, make sure your offer is simple and straightforward.

This involves removing unnecessary contingencies and sticking to the contract basics--inspection, appraisal, and financing. If the seller receives another offer that is riddled with contingencies, they might prefer to work with you since you presented them with a simple contract.

Be prepared

Having your paperwork in order, getting preapproved, and making yourself available as much as possible will go a long way in the negotiation process. Now more than ever it’s important to be well-organized.

Do your homework on the house and neighborhood you’re interested in. Make sure you know if there is a lot of interest in the area and the house in particular. This will let you know how much breathing room you have.

Getting preapproved will not only help you know the limits you can offer but it will also signal to the seller that you’re a serious buyer.

You've decided to sell your home and listed your residence with a real estate agent. Now, you'll need to prepare for your first open house.

Ultimately, hosting an open house can be a stressful experience, particularly for a first-time home seller. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of getting your house ready for potential homebuyers.

Here are three tips to ensure that you can prep your residence for an open house.

1. Get Rid of Clutter

De-clutter your house as much as possible – you'll be happy you did. With clutter out of the way, homebuyers should have no trouble assessing every nook and cranny of your residence.

For those who possess a large assortment of clutter, it may be worthwhile to donate items to charity or host a garage sale. Also, you may be able to sell your excess items online.

Don't forget about family members and friends, either. If you have excess items, family members and friends may be willing to take them off your hands for free. By doing so, they'll be able to help you de-clutter your house and ensure that it looks great during an open house.

2. Clean As Much As Possible

There may be only a few days before your open house, but you should try to take advantage of any free time at your disposal.

Use your time wisely and clean up your home as much as you can. You can clean rugs and carpets, wipe down walls and floors and much more. If you need extra assistance, you can always hire a professional cleaning company to help out as well.

For home sellers, it is paramount to make a positive first impression on homebuyers. And if you commit the necessary time and resources to clean your residence, you may be able to boost your home's chances of making a long-lasting impression on homebuyers.

3. Consult with Your Real Estate Agent

Your real estate agent is available to help you before, during and after an open house. As such, he or she is happy to provide tips so you can get your residence ready for an open house in no time at all.

With an expert real estate agent at your disposal, you'll be able to prioritize home maintenance and repairs. This real estate professional will be able to explain the importance of an open house, along with the steps that you can take to transform your ordinary residence into an unforgettable one.

Plus, your real estate agent will help you minimize stress in the days leading up to your open house. He or she will be ready to answer your open house concerns and questions and ensure that you can set realistic expectations for the event.

Getting ready for an open house may seem like a time-consuming and exhausting process. Fortunately, your real estate agent will make it easy for you to plan accordingly and ensure that your open house is a resounding success.

You may see homes listed as in a search for a home that are denoted as a “Homepath property.” You may wonder what this means and if you’re even eligible to buy the property. It is a specialized program, so you’ll want to be informed on what it means to use it and what the process is. 

Fannie Mae Programs

What was formerly known as a Homepath property is now known as The Home Ready Mortgage by Fannie Mae. With the Homepath program, people are able to find and purchase homes with a bit more ease and less financial risk. If you’re buying your first home, this could be the perfect way to get it. This program offers a list of foreclosed properties with really good deals on them. Repeat buyers can also find some great deals through this program, so it has something for everyone. It has so many benefits for anyone who is looking to buy a home.     

How To Get A Homepath Property

Fanie Mae does require that you place a bid through a realtor. The program is designed for buyers to better understand the risks with buying foreclosed homes, while giving them a better opportunity to purchase a foreclosed home. Since foreclosed homes are sold as-is, there’s a risk that the home actually has some serious damage that needs to be repaired at a high cost. This is where a realtor comes in, as they can help buyers to understand ho much work a property may need and the exact risks involved.  

Low Down Payment

  Even if a home through the Homepath program requires extensive repairs, it’s not an opportunity that you should should shoot down right away. Unlike traditional mortgages where you’ll typically need 20% down to purchase, Fannie Mae only requires that buyers place as little as 3% down. This means that with the low cost of the available homes and the small down payment required, buyers can save thousands of dollars in total. Of course, this savings can help buyers to make the required repairs to the home. 

Eligibility Requirements

There’s not many stringent requirements to be eligible to buy a Homepath property. Most people actually can be found to be eligible for these purchases. The biggest requirement is that before buyers reach the closing table, they’ll need to take an education course. This allows buyers to get assistance with the closing costs.  

Learn More About Homepath

If you’re looking to buy a home at a low cost, you should definitely talk to your realtor about the Homepath program. They can also explain more about specific eligibility requirements. It’s easy to make use of this program, so start saving right now and search for a Homepath property.