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Homeownership

As more Boomers downsize, valuable heirlooms are being rejected

(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.’”

This story was first published here in June, 2017.

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

Hilarious things left behind when people move out of their house

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) People often forget what changes and additions they’ve made to a house until it is too late. This Twitter thread is a hilarious reminder to take everything with you when you leave.

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hidden in house

There are moments when social media brings people together and gives us comedy gold. Have you ever left something behind when you moved, something that while maybe not so crucially important to you, will definitely offer an interesting insight into your life? Such as a message written behind a wall, or a note hidden in an air duct? Well a twitter thread posted earlier this week opened up Pandora’s box for amusements on this topic and some of these are just getting stranger and stranger.

The original poster, @KaylaKumari, brought it up originally when she asked her mother, who had just recently moved out of her last home, if she’d uninstalled the special fire alarms that she recorded in her voice yelling, “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE BECAUSE MOM’S CANDLES CAUGHT THE HOUSE ON FIRE”. A perfect line, short and succinct. Now some poor family is going to have a fire and some woman’s voice will be ushering them out instead of an alarm. Hopefully there won’t be too much confusion there.

kayla kumari upadhyaya on Twitter: “My parents sold their house like a month ago but my mother JUST realized she did not uninstall the special fire alarms she had put in that are a recording of her own voice screaming at me and my sister to “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE BECAUSE MOM’S CANDLES CAUGHT THE HOUSE ON FIRE” / Twitter”

My parents sold their house like a month ago but my mother JUST realized she did not uninstall the special fire alarms she had put in that are a recording of her own voice screaming at me and my sister to “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE BECAUSE MOM’S CANDLES CAUGHT THE HOUSE ON FIRE”

After that, the tweets and retweets just kept coming. Some of them mostly relating to habits or forgotten moments. In four days, the post has gotten over 17K retweets and/or comments and some of these are gems.

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A lot of people seem to enjoy feeding wildlife as well. Lots of fun shocks to go around. I would recommend however, to disclose that upon sale of the house so you don’t get sued. But this just goes to show that social media can be nice sometimes. A nice uplifting moment in our days.

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Homeownership

Why realtors shouldn’t use the term ‘Starter Home’

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

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starter homes debt existing home sales

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.

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 2 or 3 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.

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Homeownership

Geothermal energy without a volcano: Austin’s intro to Green Energy Living

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Finding alternate energy sources that work hasn’t been a clear path, but this Austin neighborhood is trying to break new ground with geothermal energy.

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EcoSystem showing geothermal energy and solar energy for home system.

For decades humans have been chasing the next great energy source. Despite the push from certain oil and gas companies to keep fossil fuels as the main sources of power, innovators have been pursuing new ways to keep us powered. Over the years we’ve found a number of alternatives, such as solar, wind, nuclear, wave, and geothermal energy. But each comes with their own issues and possible dangers.

Solar energy isn’t fine-tuned enough yet. The required number of solar panels to keep a home running at top power outputs isn’t reasonable except in certain climates. Deserts with few cloudy seasons are the only possible places that it is reasonable. Some areas of Texas get enough sun to supplement their power grids but nothing close enough to run their homes. Unless we can make the interface between solar energy and energy conversion more efficient it will never fully replace anything.

Wind power, yet another energy source that would change the face of our planet to supply us with enough energy to keep us going. The geography necessary for wind turbines to create anything worthwhile is hard to come by. Yet again we have something that won’t work.

I could go on for a long while. I could even drag out a discussion about Chernobyl. But that’s not where we want to go here. Human ingenuity can turn to the better. It takes time and patience as well as some learning.

In Austin, a small 2000 acres, a little valley by the name of Whisper is starting something new. Eco Smart Solutions has gone and used the shotgun method. After inventing a new type of geothermal energy distribution, they then combined this with other forms of green energy. Using the natural heat of the Earth they are using thermal conduction to help produce energy. To help supplement this they are also installing solar panels on all houses to increase energy output.

The new system, referred to as a Geogrid, is established and connected throughout the community. Typical geothermal homes are used for one house alone but in this community that’s the difference. Running specially made pipes throughout the community and also through a central monitoring center allows a computer the keep track of the issues and abnormal temperature changes. This connectivity also allows for more savings and monitoring. Any imbalances between locations can be balanced out with other geographical locations.

Of course, one way we start monitoring the effectiveness of things is to do comparisons. The HERS Index is a Home Energy Rating. Typical homes these days rate at a 100 on the scale. These are the homes with typical energy connections that rely on power grids. The Whisper Valley homes have actually gotten down to a 7 on the scale.

The difference between these homes and previous forays into green energy is that the geothermal index that is being used exists in almost every part of the planet. The pipes are drilled down approximately 350 feet and that is all the temperature difference that is needed for the Austin area. This geothermal gradient is different across the world depending on mantle thickness and distance from the equator. However, the change in temperature is more related to the pressure associated with matter on top as you go deeper instead of geographical location.

We’ve got some new opportunities coming down the pipeline. Personally, I can’t wait to own a home where I don’t have to worry about a power grid. I’ve now lived through a Texas blizzard in Houston, surviving huddled on my couch with my animals and some candles. Here’s to the future.

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