Real estate doesn’t have to be condescending

In the last few years, I have been working with a lot of older folks. I went ahead and earned the SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) designation. What I learned through the courses has been helpful.

There is one thing though that I have observed when looking at real estate marketing aimed at seniors. Much of it is condescending.

It is that tone and attitude that if someone is over 70 or in some cases over 55 they need extra help.

Remedial help when it comes to housing. As if people who have been adults for decades and own a home suddenly can’t make wise housing choices without a lot of help from younger less experienced people.

The senior age group is the largest covering an age span of 30 to 50 years. People who are not seniors are the people who are often the experts in senior housing and in all aspects of aging. I am not exactly sure why that is. It would make more sense for seniors to help younger people navigate housing.

My goal is to serve as a resource in any way that I can without being condescending or without assuming there is a one size fits all housing solution for everyone between the ages of 50 and 100. To do that effectively I need to listen carefully.

Buying or selling real estate is rarely driven by age. It is almost happening because of a life change.  Retirement can be that change so can the death of a spouse or a medical condition, the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or changing jobs.

Most life-changing events can happen at almost any age. There is no age at which a person has to move. There isn’t any age at which a person can no longer make decisions about his or her housing.

Your offer is my mulch


I don’t use a lot of paper these days but I still use some. There are actually people living among us who do not use the internet or have email accounts or even a smartphone.

That makes my job a little harder. Instead of using electronic signatures and email, I print paper documents deliver them for signature, and then scan the signed documents and email them to Realtors, title companies, and lenders.

After the documents have been scanned I need to dispose of the paper documents. There are people who keep paper records forever but I am not one of those people. For me everything is digital and everything is automatically backed up.

If you made it this far this is where the mulch happens. I run the paper documents through my paper shredder. The resulting pieces are small and the recyclers do not want them. I hate throwing anything that is reusable or recyclable in the trash which is why I use it as mulch. I have also experimented with composting it.

I don’t use it to mulch vegetables. I use a layer of it around ornamental plants and I add a layer of dead leaves on top.

If you have a neighbor or friend or loved one who doesn’t use the internet or have a cell phone or email or uses some technology but not much and if they live within the city limits of St Paul or nearby. I am happy to help and I can always use more mulch for my hostas.

Multi-generation housing made more popular during the pandemic

According to the National Association of Realtors buyers purchasing multi-generational homes during the pandemic rose to a new high of 15%, The number has been tracked for less than a decade.

Pre-pandemic there was an even split between buyers who purchased a multi-generational home for aging parents and for adult children boomeranging back or never leaving. Now the top reason to purchase a multi-generational home is for aging parents to move into the home.

During the great recession, we saw an uptick in young people moving back home this trend is more about giving the older generations a place to live.

Multi-generational housing is pretty scarce but existing housing can be modified. I grew up in a multi-generational household. My parents had an addition put on the back of the house so that my grandmother could live with us. She had her own entrance bed, bath, and sitting room just off the kitchen.

When my mother was growing up her grandmother lived with them in a spare bedroom.


graph of multi-gen housing gorwth
Multi-geneational housing

18-29 year olds living with mom and dad

It feels like Deja Vue. During the great recession and young people continued to live with their parents because they had student debt and jobs were scarce.

According to PEW research, 52% of young adults (18-29) live with their parents. That is more than half and the largest number since the great depression.

The pandemic is credited with a migration back to mom and dad.

“in July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents, up from 47% in February”

Yet there is no shortage of homebuyers. Homes on the market in the metro area continue to sell quickly and often with multiple offers.

Maple leaf
Maple leaf

Those prospecting letters

This is the time of year when homeowners will get letters from real estate agents who have buyers.

Those buyers want to live in your neighborhood or they want to buy a house just like yours. If there are a lot of real estate agents


“farming” the neighborhood homeowners will get several letters.

Right now there are a lot of people who would like to buy a home just like yours or a home in your neighborhood. The demand for housing is high. Let this blog post serve as my letter to homeowners that we are working with buyers who are looking for a home to buy.

The very best way to attract home buyers right now is to have a house that is for sale.

There are also a few entities that will buy your home as-is for cash with no inspections except here in St. Paul a truth in housing inspection is required before a single-family home can change hands.

I get at least one letter a month from a company that buys houses. I suspect that we are on a list somewhere of empty nesters who own a house.

Yes, this is a very good time to sell a house. I’ll have some January sales numbers tomorrow.

lead letter
Template for seller lead

If you are interested in selling I do have buyers interested in your house in your neighborhood. Please call or write anytime for a free no-obligation consultation.

Will you have a mortgage when you retire?

According to Zillow, 37% of Americans own their homes free and clear. The number went up by 5.5% after the great recession. In 2017 41% of baby boomers owned their homes free and clear. For seventy-year-olds, an estimated 68% are mortgage-free.

I have read tons of advice over the years that suggests paying off a mortgage isn’t a good idea. It makes sense that if paying off a mortgage means using up savings and retirement accounts it probably isn’t a good idea. Other debts should be paid off first especially credit card debt.

Wealthy people may have ways to invest money so that it can earn more interest and they may be getting tax breaks by having a mortgage. For the rest of us, homeownership might be the best way to build wealth.

I can see a lot of advantages in not having a mortgage in retirement. The biggest advantage is not having to make mortgage payments which can lower monthly expenses. Homeowners still have to pay property taxes and insurance and all of the other expenses that come with homeownership.

There are some psychological benefits of not having to make house payments. It can be liberating. Something to consider when planning for retirement.