Will baby boomers stay put or move?


No one knows for sure what baby boomers will do as they age. I am a baby boomer but on the younger end of the generation. The generation spans many years and I don’t think we will age or retire the same way and if we all wanted to move into some kind of senior housing we couldn’t because there won’t be enough of it. By staying put we are contributing to the shortage or homes for younger generations.

The first time I heard the term “NORC” was a couple of years ago at the West 7th Community Center.  I had to stop the meeting and ask for a definition.  NORC is an acronym for Naturally Occurring Retirement Community.

NORCs are very real estate related and they are not planned communities. Rather, they evolve as people:

  • Age in place. Many communities house residents who raised families there decades ago and never left. They strongly wish to continue living in their homes of long standing.
  • Move into the community. A pattern of in-migration often brings seniors into age-integrated communities, typically in urban centers, where the seniors have access to amenities, culture, and other activities.
  • Move out of the community. Out-migration, typically reflecting the departure of younger residents from rural areas, leaves sizable populations of older residents behind.

I would rather have my own home refurbished or retro fit so I can stay put. I don’t buy into the idea that stairs are the enemy or that doors have to be widened for wheelchairs. I think leg exercises that involve resistance training and yoga are the way to go.

I would rather make my home more energy efficient and add more technology. Yet it doesn’t hurt to have a home with main floor bedroom and a main floor shower that could easily be converted to a roll in shower.

We tend to lump seniors into one group. There can be a huge difference between the over all health of a 65 year old and a 95 year old. There are 70 year olds who are caring for their elderly parents. I see it all the time. I also know people in their 80’s who have full or part time jobs. We have a 70 year old president and senators in their 80’s.

Some tips for getting mom’s home ready to sell

green carpet
Green sculpted carpet

Over the years I have sold three homes for my family.  One of the challenges of selling a home that is or was owned and lived in by an elderly person is making it look as appealing as possible to younger home buyers. Sometimes the homes look as if time stood still.

The first hurdle can be getting the owners to give up some decorating choices they made long ago. My mom doesn’t know that I had the wallpaper boarder removed from the kitchen, and repainted or she would be upset about it.  Often “grandmas” house is in good repair and is an excellent opportunity for first time home buyers to fix some of the cosmetics and build equity.

As a seller I don’t want to put any more money into the home than I have to. Here are some of the things I did that were fairly inexpensive that helped sell grandma’s house:

1. Clean everything

2. Repaint in light neutral colors.

3. Replacing old drapes with sheers in shades of white.

4.  Replacing any window shade or blind that was anything other than white or just remove them.

5. Buy new shower curtains, towels and coordinating rugs for the bathrooms for staging. 

6. Replace light fixtures and shades.

7. Remove wall paper and paint walls.

8. Remove worn carpeting to expose hardwood floors. It is better to have wood floors that need a little work than worn carpeting.

9. Remove worn linoleum and replace.

The list isn’t really prioritized by importance but it is  in order of how much the project is likely to cost. It is important to have budget and to stick with it. If the improvement won’t help sell the home faster or for more money it isn’t worth doing. The smallest improvements that give the greatest payback. Cleaning and painting have the highest ROI.

Removing a wall paper boarder can have a tremendous impact. Putting in a new back splash in the kitchen can also has a high return on investment. Consider new switch plates and don’t forget t clean light fixtures.

It is also a good idea to have furnace or boiler serviced and have any repairs done that are needed. As a rule anything that leaks should be fixed and there are usually other obvious repairs too.  Sometimes small maintenance issues result in low offers.

Buyers expect to haggle a little

Buying a home isn’t like buying most other items. Home buyers expect to negotiate with the seller for acceptable terms. It is actually fairly rare that a property sells for the exact amount it is listed for in the MLS.

Lately sellers have started rejecting offers on their homes without negotiating if they offer isn’t exactly what they had in mind. Last month I had an offer rejected with no negotiation. After a week with no other offers we were able to get the seller to negotiate.  It was a slow painful process but ultimately the seller ended up with close to the asking price and the buyers were happy with the terms.

Last March one of my clients made an offer on an over priced property. The sellers rejected the offer with no negotiations. The property is still on the market and after all these months and the price has been lowered twice. The buyer has moved on and closed on a similar property about a month ago.

It is very easy to counter an offer that a buyer has made. It takes little effort and doesn’t cost a dime. It doesn’t even take that much time. I can not think of any reason why a home seller should not negotiate. I can think of all kinds of reasons why a seller should negotiate if they are interested in a faster sale and a higher offer.

yellow flowers
Brown eyed Susans

They want to buy my house now


We are getting a lot of mail these days from people who want to buy the house. I think the combination of having a household with someone (not me) who is over 65 and no mortgage  triggered the tsunami of offers from people who want to buy our house for cash, now without asking for any repairs.

As a real estate agent/broker I know that the people who want to buy my house can buy it and flip it or rent it out. I also know I can get a lot more money for it if I do some repairs. In fact if I were to sell I think I would open a line of credit against the house and use it to pay for repairs and upgrades, several months or even a year before putting it on the market.

It is also true that no matter what I tell you or what my kind claim, selling a house is rarely easy and hassle free. It isn’t the houses fault. People are unpredictable and even difficult at times and moving is always stressful. Putting some effort into selling a house  and having some patience pays off. People who can plan ahead tend to do a little better than those who suddenly decide to sell.

I know from experience that I can get a lot more for my house if it is in good repair. The smallest repairs can be intimidating to first time home buyers who sometimes do not own a screw driver. Buyers can over estimate the cost of a repair and as a result they will offer less or they won’t make an offer at all.

Snow is rare in June


I write about this every year. There are homes for sale pictured on the internet covered in snow. When I see those pictures I wonder how motivated the seller is and I wonder why the real estate agent doesn’t market the home with new photographs.

At the very least the pictures should be rearranged so that a snow filled picture isn’t the first picture buyers see when they look at your home on the internet.

Internet marketing has changed everything and photographs are more important than ever. Your home needs to make a good first impression.

Pictures of snow in June make the home look neglected and the seller seems unmotivated. First impressions matter.

Do you dream of owning a duplex?

The real estate shortage also includes multi-family homes. There are few duplexes, triplexes and assorted fourplexes on the market at the moment. If you have a multi unit investment type property to sell give us a call.

There was a big sell off in about 2008. Currently rents are high and vacancy rates are low.

multi family homes for sale in Saint Paul

The data on the chart is from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.