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Homeownership

Boomers are downsizing, leaving unwanted heirlooms

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) As baby boomers downsize and capitalize on senior management, heirlooms and antiques are falling to the wayside (they just don’t spark joy).

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There’s nothing quite like moving to make you realize how much stuff you have. When every single item in your household has to be boxed up and carted elsewhere, it’s easy to be startled by the sheer volume of material possessions you own.

Often, when we move, we end up taking an opportunity to purge our belongings. Bags and boxes are donated to thrift stores. Hand-me-down clothes are passed to the neighbors. Keepsakes are re-gifted to friends.

This can be a painstaking process at any age, but a particularly emotional one for aging retirees.

The numbers show that, between the ages of 18 and 54, we tend to move into ever bigger houses. It makes sense – you start out with an affordable one bedroom place. You get married, have kids, and need to move into something bigger.

Retirees are on the opposite tip.

Their grown children have moved out, they are getting older and would like to lighten their load of housework and maintenance. After age 55, people typically move from larger dwellings into smaller ones.

A growing “senior move management” industry has arisen to fulfill the particular needs of the older set. The trade group, the National Association of Senior Move Managers boasts 950 member companies.

These companies handle everything from hiring the moving trucks to changing your address to renegotiating your cable contract for your new home.

Industry insiders say that one of the trickier aspects of their job is managing those precious items that won’t fit in the new home, but that the mover would like to keep “in the family.” Parents and grandparents often hope that their children and grandchildren will adopt their treasured heirlooms and collections. But the younger set isn’t having it.

The adult Millennial children of the Baby Boomer generation have their own style and taste that may not match their parents’. Many are living in small dwellings themselves with minimalistic aesthetics. An antique oak hutch simply isn’t going to mesh with a twenty-something’s Ikea-inspired bachelor pad.

The younger set also doesn’t entertain in the same formal style as the older generation, making silver flatware and fancy china obsolete. It’s not about being ungrateful, it’s about wildly different styles between generations.

What it boils down to is: just because mom thought it was precious, doesn’t mean that daughter gives a damn.

Says Kate Grondin of the senior move management company Home Transition Resource, “We can help soften the blow if the kids don’t want anything but are afraid to tell their parents.” Sometimes the kids flatly refuse to inherit items like furniture, art, or dishware that their parents have held onto for decades, or even generations.

Other times, in order to avoid hard feelings, the kids might take items, only to turn around and throw or give them away.

When moving elders ask senior move manager Anne Lucas of Ducks in a Row, “‘What do I do with my crystal and china?’” she tells them “‘Drink your OJ out of it. Who cares if the gold comes off? The kids don’t want it.’”

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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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Homeownership

Researchers point to the government as source of California’s housing shortage

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) California is in the middle of a housing crisis with ongoing shortages. The Governor has a plan, but many have pointed to the government as the source of the problem with no end in sight.

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These days, California ranks #2 as the state with the highest cost of living in the United States, second only to Hawaii. The average home price in the The Golden State is over $1 million. Your monthly energy bill will be over $200.  And still, it’s one of the most desirable places to live. Small wonder that people flock to California, because the state ranks worst for doing business thanks to taxes and regulations.

It’s no secret that California has a housing shortage. It’s not even that the housing costs are sky-high. It’s that there simply aren’t enough homes to go around. Gov. Gavin Newsom says he plans to build 3.5 million new homes over the next few years to fix this crisis, but it may take much more to bring housing to the homeless and under-employed.

In a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, James Broughel and Emily Hamilton suggest that California is overregulated when it comes to housing.

The average state has about 137,000 restrictions in its housing code. California has over 395,000.

Although many of the regulations are necessary to protect the environment and to ensure safety, it can contribute to higher construction costs, which it turn are passed on to consumers.

The California Code of Regulations contains over 21 million words. (Forbes estimates that the US tax code was about 4 million words in 2013). At a reading speed of 300 words per minute, for 40 hours a week, it would take 29 weeks or more to read the thing. And that doesn’t take into account comprehension, which requires a legal degree.

California’s housing shortage is a man-made problem that will take years to undo. One builder in Orange County planned a new community in Santa Clarita that would provide almost 22,000 homes.

The project has been stalled since 1994.

As the project ages, each home being constructed faces new regulations, increasing the cost of the home, making it near impossible for average families to obtain the American Dream.

It’s been suggested that California’s housing shortage is a political choice.

Bureaucrats are choosing to restrict housing by placing regulatory burdens on builders instead of helping the population find affordable housing to be more stable. Families are leaving California to find a more affordable cost of living and housing which will continue to hurt the state.

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Homeownership

American marriage is happening later and it’s not why you think

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Marriage is happening later and later with Americans and economists believe it’s not just about the changing face of relationships; it’s also about money and wanting to wait for financial stability.

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As we know, homeownership is a cornerstone of American family life. Homes provide long-term financial stability as a major investment for homeowners. Furthermore, they also provide a strong environment in which to raise a family; so many of us have fond memories of running around our backyards, or cozying up in the family room.

So, it stands to reason that homeownership and marriage are tied together; many couples will buy a home soon before or soon after they get hitched.

With all that said, some of the following statistics may be alarming, as it points to a trend that may play into the delay of homeownership.

Lots of data gathered over the past few years shows Americans are marrying later and later, if at all, according to a report from The Guardian. Today, Half of American adults are married, compared to 75 percent in 1960. The disparities are mostly consistent with class divisions.

Per the Guardian article, “26 percent of poor adults are married, compared with 51 percent in 1990.” That same study found 39 percent of the modern working class of adults are married, but that number was 57 percent in the 90s.

Education is closely tied with financial status, so an education disparity is also present. Today, 50 percent of adults with a high school are married; that rate was over 60 percent 25 years ago.

As the Guardian puts it, “Young people are increasingly seeing marriage as a “capstone” rather than a “cornerstone” event, a crowning achievement once other goals have been reached, rather than a launchpad for adulthood.”

That achievement is financial stability, and many more Americans are feeling a financial crunch.

There’s data to back this up, too. For example, a poll found “nearly half of never-married adults with incomes under 30k say being financially insecure is a major reason” behind their lack of marital commitment to a partner.

Part of steady income is a steady job, and past Pew Research found 78 of never-married women wanted a future partner to have a steady job.

A decline in manufacturing jobs is contributing to this as well, per some economic research on the subject, which may help to explain how the steepest drops in marriage rates come from the lower and middle class.

It’s not unreasonable to speculate that major living costs factor into that decision as well. For example, with real estate prices going up around the country, especially in major cities with strong job markets, the capstone that is owning a home is pushed farther away from the average American.

If marriage and homeownership are so closely tied together, the delay of one may also contribute to a delay in the other.

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Homeownership

A definition of the term Starter Home and why no one should use it

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) You see the term in the MLS for fixer uppers and you hear it when Realtors are working with first time buyers but the term “starter home” shouldn’t be in anyone’s vocabulary.

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Just words

Collins English Dictionary defines a starter home as a “small, new house which is cheap enough for people who are buying their first home to afford.” You won’t find the phrase too often outside of the real estate industry.

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There isn’t much about the etymology of the phrase, but most likely, it’s a marketing ploy to get people to buy into the idea of purchasing another home in a few years.

Grind your gears

Mark Greutman, husband to Lauren Greutman, believes that the term “starter home” should bother people. The phrase implies that you will upgrade later.

Your starter home isn’t good enough for the rest of your life. And not to get into how well Americans have it, what about people who will never be able to afford anything more? Is it an insult to them?

Do You Really Need Two Living Rooms?

Older generations bought one home and lived in it until they could no longer be independent. In today’s world, we buy a starter home, then upgrade to have more space, to live farther away from our neighbors, to have rooms that are only used once or twice a year, and to make sure you have a two or three car garage to hold your vehicles and more stuff, some of which isn’t taken out very often.

But consider this – You could pay off your starter home in 15 to 20 years, if you budget right.

You could be out from under a mortgage and have money to travel, send the kids to college or even retire early. When you think about what led to the financial crisis in 2008, isn’t it better to have a smaller house where you can make the payments than worry about losing your house?

Be Content Where You Are

Realtors are motivated to make sure that they have customers. If people buy one home with the intent to stay, will the market dry up? Probably not, because people move and a new generation will be ready to purchase homes for their own family.

Let’s think about that phrase, “starter home.” It fuels consumerism and discontentment. Don’t call cheaper houses starter homes, but just a home.

#StarterHome

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