As with most children, mine would get upset and whine about doing "chores." What they might not have realized until they left home was I was trying to teach them some life skills that would later on become important. Here are a few things to teach your kids before they leave home:
1. Laundry. Ever have pink underwear when it was supposed to be white? Kids can begin early with helping to separate the bright colors from the whites from the darks. Have kids start looking at labels when they buy clothes to see if some items need to be dry cleaning, handwashed or hung up to dry instead of using the dryer.
2. Bank Account. It has shocked me throughout the years of raising kids that many have no idea how to balance a checkbook. Many banks offer free checking and savings accounts for kids as well as basic classes in that regard. Let kids learn how to use an ATM, how to save money and make deposits, and how to read bank statements. My children also needed to learn how to use a debit/credit card on-line. Show them how and where to enter the security code, the expiration date, and credit card number.
3. Cooking. Kids can begin with stirring items and work up to an entire meal with a main course and sides. My children tend to eat healthier when they can make their own meals. Pizza can get old after a while in college.
4. Table Manners. My mom and I used to have fun with this one. The use of utensils is usually pretty easy since you started from the outside and worked your way in but what about napkins, how to properly eat soup, passing food, and when to start eating? Miss Manners was a staple in our household. My dad used to always ask me, “What are you going to do when you have dinner with the President.” I would always reply that I was never having dinner with the President. Guess who I had dinner with when I was 23 years old? I certainly thanked my parents then as well as when I now have dinner meetings and formal dinners with clients.
5. Vehicle Maintenance. Once my kids get their permit, I make them start to put gas in the car. I also make sure they know how to check the oil (and know how important it is to get oil changes), where to refill their washer fluid, and possibly even how to change a flat tire.
6. Travel. Although I traveled all over the world with my kiddos, I realized that I had done all of the planning, the check-ins, and made sure we were able to get around. Let the children do their own check-in at the airport. They can also help in finding flights and pay for them.
7. Talking. My children would sometimes tell me about an issue with a teacher. I wasn’t in the class. If they had a problem with a teacher (for the most part) I would have them go discuss it themselves. Eventually when they are in college and/or working with a boss, they will probably have an issue they will need to discuss.
Do you have other things that you feel are important to teach before they leave home?
No, I am not talking about your mother-in-law, people. Nice try. And no, this is not about that solicitor who always seems to come up to the door no matter how large the “NO SOLICITORS” sign is in your front window…and rings the bell the moment the cranky baby finally gets to sleep for a nap…because she did not sleep all night…and neither did you…but I digress. This is about those neighbor’s dogs that tend to use your yard as their personal bathroom and the ants who think that you should be sharing your sugar in the pantry.
1. Deer in the Garden. This one may not apply to all, obviously, but here in Colorado and in many other states it does. For some reason, deer do not like eggs and chili. Deer also do not like human hair, moth balls, blood meal, or dried blood, but I think I will continue to pass on the blood-letting in favor of eggs and habanero. Blend two eggs and 1/4 cup of habanero chili to every 4 cups of water and spray/sprinkle on the plants early in the season before the buds come out. Reapply once a month and after a hard rain.
2. Dogs in the Yard. I would watch my neighbor’s dog come over every day and poop in my yard. I would yell, scream, talk to my neighbor, anything and everything, but nothing worked. My own dog sniffed some black pepper one day (at this point I don’t remember how that even came to be) and I noticed he backed away immediately and started sneezing. Hummmm…..I bought a few containers of black pepper at the store and dumped it about a foot wide around the perimeter of my yard…and waited…I watched that dog come over toward my yard the next day, saw him sniff, and he never came into my yard again. Be sure to make the area fairly wide, spread it on thick, and reapply when you water or there is a heavy rain. Another item you can use is red pepper.
3. Ants in the House. Not sure how I discovered this one either, and may have been my mom with her infinite knowledge, but I remember living in a home in the middle of nowhere and ants decided it was their home as well. I was a clean person too, but once they get in, ants can be hard to get rid of. I found ants would not cross a line of vinegar. It does need to be 100% strong, though. Another common household item to use are coffee grounds. If you can see where they are coming from or even better, find their hole, put some coffee grinds down and after a few days they should be gone. The coffee is fatal for ants.
4. Squirrels in the Flowers. I always thought squirrels were so cute and could not understand why my mom did not like them…until they got into my attic. Grrrrr…They also ate all of my flowers! I was fine when they ate the pumpkins in the fall because that meant less for me to toss and I am not a great pumpkin carver anyway. Great excuse. “It looks bad because the squirrels ate on it! I swear!”
I never cared for marigolds growing up. They didn’t smell very good and I never really cared for how they looked but my mom planted them every year. I discovered that squirrels did not like them so in order for my childhood home to have flowers and not just greenish stems all summer, this is what my mom planted. Maybe mom did know something about life! Shhhhh….Don’t tell her I admitted that.
5. Mosquitos in my Veins. Yes, I do know about a little thing called DEET, but if I can keep from using it, I will. Witch Hazel is a good alternative. Mix one ounce Witch Hazel to three ounces of water and spray away. The little pests also don’t tend to like lemongrass, eucalyptus, or peppermint either. Add several drops to your witch hazel spray to add an extra repellant. Mosquitos also are attracted to darker clothing which is a sad thing for me since my favorite color to wear is black.
Obviously, none of these remedies are “fool-proof” but they have worked pretty well for me. If you have some other great homemade remedies for pests, post them in the comments! I would love to hear what works for you!
If you would like to explore your options with regard to buying or selling your home, you are welcome to text, email, or call. You may also click on the "Homes For Sale" tab at the top of the page and explore homes that may be available and then contact me to arrange for showings.
I was in my appraisal class the other day when a Millennial started to bash on her generation. “They are embarrassing,” she said. Honestly, I think she was just repeating what her parents have been saying or trying to brag about her “work ethic.” Here are three things that I think they have gotten right:
1. They Buy/Rent Smaller Homes.
Millennials tend to go for a simpler, smaller home. Homes are actually getting smaller in size and that is not a bad thing! Smaller means less stuff, less energy (especially with the new homes with their energy efficiency), and less of a carbon foot-print on the environment. You can use less materials so fewer trees are cut down, you use less paint, and your utilities are less.
2. They Use More Public Transportation.
Although many states allow you to get a driver’s license around 16 years-old, Millennials are showing a pattern of waiting until they are closer to 18 before getting what my generation considered a “requirement.” I lived in a small town with no public transportation so mine was a given, but I digress. Millennials like to live, work, and play near public transportation and, at least here in Denver, the Government has noticed. Rail systems are getting more and more common even to take passengers to our airport (DIA). Again, less carbon-footprint on the environment and it saves them a lot of money not having to have car payments, gas money, insurance, and upkeep.
3. They Tend to Have Roommates.
When I was younger, you might have had a roommate in college, but never had one once you started working. Millennials are much different. It is fine now to get a two-bedroom condo (on the bus line, remember) and share the kitchen and living area with another couple. This, again, saves money and people with friends tend to be happier.
I am a bit envious of the Millennials today. They seem to have decided to have a simpler life with smaller living spaces and less to worry about. I don’t think that they are “lazy,” but that they are going to do what makes them happy. Having a huge house payment (and all of the yard work and maintenance that goes with it), the expensive car, and lots of privacy are not what seems to be important to them. It seems to be having the freedom and money to travel, having less restrictions, and being able to work at a job that they enjoy. They want to be happy and isn’t that what we all are striving for?
If you would like to explore your options with regard to buying or selling your home, you are welcome to text, email, or call. You may also click on the "Homes For Sale" tab at the top of the page and explore homes that may be available and then contact me to arrange for showings.
I recently decided that I would downsize. No, I am not really retired yet and not even able to be a member of AARP for many more years but I was ready. I had a 6500 square foot home on 2 ½ acres. Divorced and with all but two of my kids out of the house (and those two I only had every other week), I decided it was time to downsize. With that much land, house and things to fix and work on, my home had become my life both in terms of time and money. My weekends had become mowing the grass, cleaning (I had a housecleaner but it never ends), trimming trees, doing home maintenance, and constantly working on some home improvement project. It didn’t help that I also was training for Ironman triathlons to add to my exhaustion. So here are six big reasons why I decided to downsize:
1. You may get some time. I know – time is time but I got time back to have some fun with my kids, travel, play golf, etc. Basically I did not have to spend my free time working on that large house and large yard but doing things that I liked with my kids, family and friends.
2. You may get some money. The market in the Denver metro area was just right for me to sell. I had recovered what had been lost in value around 2009 when the housing bubble burst and drove home prices into the dumper. I had not only gotten that back, I had paid off a lot more of the mortgage based on payments over time and refinancing a few years prior at a great rate and the value of my home had gone up.
3. You may get debt-free. I had always had good credit, but selling my home and moving into something smaller allowed me to be entirely debt-free. All of my income became mine to do with what I wanted. I had no car payment, no mortgage, and no other debt. I had always been very good at always making my payments but my credit score went even higher.
4. You may get to know your family again. Like I said, all of my time was focused on the house in one way or another. A lot of my money was focused that was as well so I sort of lost touch with my brothers, parents, and kids who had already left the house. I had no time to go visit them.
5. You may be able to help others. I always tried to do some kind of volunteering, but with more energy and time, I could do more. I wasn’t burned out on doing my own home improvements so I started helping with a group called “Helping Hands” which helped those in need with work around their home. It was great to be able to help others and also make some new friends.
6. You may start a new career. I have always loved school and learning. No, I was not the straight “A” student but learning was always fun for me. I became a real estate agent because I found it interesting and fun. I decided to also become an appraiser because it was interesting and I finally had some time.
If you would like to explore your options with regard to downsizing including buying or selling your home, you are welcome to text, email, or call. You may also click on the "Homes For Sale" tab at the top of the page and explore homes that may be available and then contact me to arrange for showings.
The market is rocking and it seems like a no-brainer that your home will sell quickly. The neighbor's home was under contract within a week so yours should go as well...for even more, right? You put your house up for sale and wait...and wait...and...wait. What is wrong? Why is your home not selling?
1. Your Home is Priced too High. This is usually the number one reason why you are not having movement on your home. Many sellers have an emotional attachment to their home however buyers are not bonded to your home. It is an investment to them. Many times sellers think if they list higher then they will be able to negotiate the price when a lower offer is made. This tends to backfire on the seller. It is often better to list at or even a bit below the true value of the home, especially in a seller's market. Let the buyers raise the price and they often will.
2. The House Needs Work. Even in a "seller's market," buyers who want to a fixer-upper are not that common. Most buyers want a "turn-key" home with no or just a few things to fix up. Even small fixes can make a huge difference in the view of a buyer. If the numbers on the front of the house merely need a nail to fix the "6" from falling down and being a "9," buyers might wonder what else has been neglected in the home. Fix fixtures, make sure the lightbulbs all work, and make sure the front yard looks good. First impressions do matter.
3. Your Home is Too Personalized. You want the buyers to see themselves living in your home. If you have family photos all over the house, the buyers still picture you living there and not themselves. Make the house neutral. Colors should be basic and not extreme. Often times, fewer is better with regard to decorations on fireplace mantels, shelves, and nightstands.
4. You Refuse to Be Flexible. Sellers need to be flexible with showing times and days. The more people who see your home, the more likely your buyer will walk through the door. Some people only have weekends and evenings to see a home. Plan somewhere to go to take the kids, pets, and get out of the home for a bit when there are showings. The less flexible you are in allowing potential buyers into your home, the more likely your home will stay on the market longer. The longer on the market usually means less money.
5. Your Home is Cluttered. You want the buyer to see the home and not the "stuff." Just clearing things out can make a home seem bigger and brighter. The clutter also goes back to how the buyer may see how you have taken care of the home - if you have clutter did you ignore the home and any issues that may have come up? Decluttering is one of the least expensive things you can do to get your home ready to put on the market. You will need to clean up and get rid of things before you move. Why not do it before it is listed?
If you would like to explore your options with regard to buying or selling a home, you are welcome to text, email, or call. You may also click on the "Homes For Sale" tab at the top of the page and explore homes that may be available and then contact me to arrange for showings.
Don't we always tend forget things when we move? I have been guilty of some of it and these are a few of the biggies that seem to "sneak up" on me!
6 Weeks Before
Research and arrange for movers
Guilty! The move tends to sneak up on me so quickly that I am a couple of weeks out and have forgotten to hire movers. Once you are that close to a move, you may start to get desperate as well. Ask friends, family and even apartment complexes who they would recommend.
4-3 Weeks Before
Change of Address
I always think about the post office (you can even do it on-line) but what about your bills, bank statements, and magazines? Start about a month before you will be moving and as monthly bills and mail come in, make the change. Most can be done simply on-line.
2 Weeks Before
Transfer/Cancel Utilities, Internet, Cable, and Solar
I always forget to cancel or transfer one of my utilities, cable, or solar until a day or two before I move. It can sometimes take a week or so for these to transfer over so be sure to get it done early. Solar, I have found, can sometimes take several weeks to transfer to the new owner.
10 Days Before
Arrange to Have the Locks Changed at the New Home
This is something I ALWAYS seem to forget. Yes, the seller will likely give you the keys to the house, but often there is an "extra" out there somewhere with the housecleaner, neighbor, in their kid's backpack, etc. No accusations that the seller will break in and take things, but you never know how many other keys are floating around out there.
1-2 Days Before
Back-up Your Computer
I NEVER remember this one! Who am I kidding? I never remember to do this even when I am not moving. I have learned the hard way this is a must before you move or you may lose a LOT of vital information if something happens to your computer during the move. Oops!
The home was a "steal" when you bought it four years ago and it should have been! The home needed a lot of work! After four years of constant work, your older, beautiful home, in an up-and-coming neighborhood, is perfect. It is finally time to kick back on your wrap-around front porch, watch the kids riding their bikes, and listen to the birds in the mature trees that line your street. This is the summer you can finally enjoy the rewards of the money and time spent to make that dream home you have always wanted...until a knock at the door might cause your dream to become a nightmare. By the way, all of these have happened at least at one time. What is the saying about truth being stranger than fiction?
1. Long-lost relative appears. I swear this is not a plug for title insurances companies, but sometimes that stuff can sure come in handy! Let's say, for example, a court decides that a long-lost relative who was traveling in Europe for 20 years is in fact the house's true owner. Seriously?! "I thought I owned this home and look at all the work I did!" At least an Owner's Policy will cover your financial losses (though you might still have to move out of the house).
2. Someone Comes Back From the Dead. Nope. I am not talking about a zombie apocalypse. Usually, after about seven years of not making an appearance and no indication that person is still alive, a court may declare a person "legally dead." Let's sell the house, get rid of stuff and move on, right? Well, guess who showed back up and was NOT dead. Oops! A court might find the newly "undeparted" the true owner of the home and you are out but at least with your insurance, your expenses may be covered.
3. Misspelled names. True story - growing up, until I was about 16 years old, I thought my legal first name was spelled with a "C" since my dad had always spelled it that way. Once I got my first job working at Dairy Queen (I was pretty popular with my friends who came by to see me) I learned that it was actually spelled with a "K." Paperwork buried for years under a misspelled name might reveal a claim concerning the property.
4. Red Rum. Murder does not have a statute of limitations. Sometimes your hear stories of people being arrested 30 years after a murder, charged, and sent to jail. If you murder someone, you cannot benefit from your act. For example, a wife is found guilty of murdering her husband 5 years ago. In the meantime, she sold the house that was in his name but she had gotten via his will. The relatives/beneficiaries may be able to go back in and take back the house.
5. Your Neighbor Doesn't Make Your Mortgage Payment. What? True story regarding a case that is happening right now. Let's say 28 years ago you bought a home and started paying the insurance and mortgage. Your house is now paid off so why are you getting notice that your home is about to be up in a foreclosure sale? Ends up you don't own your home. The legal description was for your neighbor's house, which you now own, and not your current home. Additionally, your insurance is ALSO on your neighbor's house and the neighbor has stopped making all payments on yours. Be extra careful on those legal descriptions!
Kitchens are some of the most important places in our home. It tends to be where we gather for holidays and what many buyers consider the most important room in a house when searching for a home. Every day we tend to use the kitchen and cooking has become not just a chore anymore, but a hobby. More and more people tend to want to cook at home for health reasons and to save money. So which is better for such an important room in the house? Wood or tile?
Wood Vs. Tile
1. Wood floors fade and warp. Wood floors often will fade from exposure to light. The floor can warp from water which will notoriously splash from the kitchen sink and ice cubes that are kicked under the fridge, if the teens even take the time to do that. Tile, if sealed correctly, repels liquids and will not warp like wood. Every few years, you will also need to clear all of the furniture off the wood floor to have it sanded and resealed.
2. Wood tends to be limited on size and color. Although there may be some choices, wood floor planks are limited on size. With tile you can change things around and play with different colors and shapes. Tile allows for wider planks and more options to put in different colors.
3. Trees are obviously cut for wood floors. Clearly wooden floors need to come from trees and it takes a lot of them to make sure you have the perfect planks for a floor. Tile can now be made to look like wood floors without trees being chopped down to create the same look. (See the photo at #5 below) Tile now has the option of including the knots, lines and colors that look like real wood.
4. Maintenance of wood is a pain. I have two large labs and a bunch of kids so you would think that wood was the way to go. Not so much. My kids would drop a toy on the floor and cause a gouge. I have dropped a large pan on the wooden floor and caused a chip. My dogs' nails would cause scratches. The grape juice that was not cleaned up very well led to stains (kids, remember?). The only way to fix it was to hope sanding and staining/sealing would be the trick. With tile I can fix one or two tiles and not have not worry about the entire floor. It is also more durable so the dogs don't leave their nail scratches.
5. Tile costs less to maintain. The cost to buy and install tile is about the same as wood, depending on what you choose. It is later that the cost savings for even regular maintenance makes the difference. Remember what I said above? Wood floors need to be resurfaced, restained and refinished every few years. With tile it is a matter of resealing.
The market in Denver, Colorado and its surrounding area is HOT right now for sellers!!!
1. Home prices are high. The average price for a single-family detached home in metro Denver is at an all-time high. In April 2016, the average went over $400,000. Home prices have never been this high before, which means your home is worth more than ever. Prices are up over 1o percent from this time last year and show no signs of stopping yet.
2. There are not a lot of homes on the market. Nationally it takes about three months to sell a home while in the Denver metro area it is only taking a little over three weeks! Why so quickly? There is a shortage of homes that are on the market right now. Denver only has about a 6-week supply of homes. Nationally it is closer to 18-weeks. That, obviously, creates a very tight market for buyers resulting in faster sales at higher prices.
3. Interest rates are low. Interest rates during the 1980s are a faded memory. The idea of a home mortgage with a 15% interest rate seems unimaginable for those who were not attempting to purchase "back in the day." Lower interest rates mean an ability for purchasers to buy even more house. FHA loans only require a 3.5% down payment as well, opening up even more possibilities even for those who may not have stellar credit or a lot of money saved up.
Selling before the Divorce is Final
The Best-case Scenario: Selling at a Profit
If you and your spouse are among the fortunate, you may be able to sell your house at a profit before the completion of your divorce and divide the proceeds in an equitable distribution. Yet, even this seemingly simple scenario may pose complicated issues that must be addressed.
For example, if you sell your principal residence (main home) at a profit, you may need to pay taxes on the profit unless you qualify for the capital gain exclusion. Even if you and your spouse jointly own the property, you might elect to file your taxes separately for any number of reasons. Generally, if a co-owner files separately, up to $250,000 of the profit (capital gain) on his interest in the house will be exempt from taxation if that individual satisfies the use and ownership tests for the exclusion. Thus, if each spouse meets the use and ownership tests that apply to co-owners filing separately, each may be allowed to exclude up to $250,000 of his or her share of the profit.
If you and your spouse file jointly, however, you may be eligible for the $500,000 exclusion if you meet the specified criteria, which vary somewhat from those applicable to co-owners filing separately.
Selling at a Loss
In today’s struggling economy, we often hear the terms negative equity, upside-down or underwater mortgage, and short sale. If your house is valued at less than what you owe on your mortgage, you have negative equity, and your mortgage is upside down (or underwater).
If you sell your jointly-owned house at a price lower than your current mortgage balance, you and your spouse will share a debt to your mortgage lender rather than a profit, and the mortgage lender can come after either of you to satisfy that debt.
In some circumstances, your attorney may be able to persuade your mortgage lender to approve what is known as a short sale. Again, the sale price will be lower than the current mortgage balance, but the lender may agree not to come after you for the balance.
Selling After the Divorce
If the value of your house is lower than your current mortgage balance (as described above), you and your spouse may decide to wait until the value goes up before you sell, which may mean waiting to sell until after you divorce. This can be accomplished in a number of ways and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Both Ex-spouses Retain Title
Couples who face serious financial limitations, yet still feel compelled to get divorced, may be forced to retain joint ownership of the marital home until a sale is economically feasible. If the couple’s financial restrictions are severe enough, they may both elect to reside in the house and lead otherwise separate lives. This option is rife with potential pitfalls and is not often recommended unless there is no other available choice.
If you can afford the costs of living separately but still cannot afford to sell at a loss, a more workable solution may be for one of you to remain living in the house while both of you retain title. Though this arrangement may be preferable to the alternatives, it may still have some unwelcome consequences, all of which should be considered before choosing this as your course of action.
For example, if a couple owns a home as tenants in the entirety during marriage (as most couples in Pennsylvania do), their ownership will change to tenancy in common as soon as the divorce becomes final, and tax ramifications related to the deduction of interest payments may occur. [An explanation of the differences between tenants in the entirety and tenants in common appears at the end of this blog.]
Another important consideration is your level of compatibility. You and your ex-spouse may get along to a certain extent at the time you divorce, but that may change sometime down the road. Difficulties may arise and other personal relationships may develop. Any agreement between you and your ex-spouse should address such contingencies and how they will be resolved.
Decisions need to be made regarding who will pay the costs of maintenance, taxes, and mortgage while dual ownership is maintained. Time and manner of the future sale of the property must be agreed upon. Refusal of one or the other to abide by the terms of the agreement, and how to deal with such refusal, should also be considered.
Among the many issues couples often fail to anticipate are the following: What if the person occupying the house allows someone else to move in? What if you can’t sell at the agreed-upon time? What if the occupying spouse acts in such a way as to discourage a sale that might otherwise have been made? What if one spouse remarries and wishes to sell before a sale is economically advantageous? The list goes on and on.
One Spouse Takes over Sole Ownership
One spouse may wish to assume sole ownership of the house after the divorce. Such an arrangement is often intended to be temporary—until the children have reached a certain age, for example, or until the spouse who retains ownership feels emotionally strong enough to give up the family home. But, sentimentality and inertia should not be the deciding factors in an asset distribution. The important consideration is whether the spouse who wishes to take over sole ownership can afford the payments, taxes, and upkeep now and in the future without the help of the other.
If you and your attorney determine that one spouse is able to afford sole ownership, that spouse must purchase the other’s interest and obtain financing in his name, alone. This refinancing is crucial.
If one spouse gives up title to the other and the other cannot refinance, the selling spouse is still liable on the original mortgage. If the owner fails to make the mortgage payments, the mortgage company can go after either spouse to satisfy the debt. If the mortgage lender decides to foreclose, the foreclosure will affect the credit rating of anyone still liable on the mortgage, including the party who no longer holds the title. Even if none of these untoward events occurs and the owner makes all the mortgage payments on time, the mortgage still remains a debt for the spouse who has given up title, and this reduces his ability to purchase another property.
Complicated Decisions Call for Objective and Knowledgeable Assistance
The sale of your marital home either before or after your divorce raises many complex issues, only a handful of which have been touched upon here. A divorce attorney can help you anticipate and deal with these issues before they turn into thorny problems you can no longer avoid.
[Both Tenancy in Common and Tenancy by the Entirety involve co-ownership of real estate by more than one person, but there are some important distinctions between the 2 types of ownership. Property owned by individuals as Tenants in Common carries no Right of Survivorship. In other words, if one owner dies, the other does not automatically gain ownership of the deceased person’s share. If a co-owner of property held as Tenants in the Entirety dies, however, the survivor does have Right of Survivorship and will automatically acquire full ownership upon the other’s death.
Another distinction involves the rights of co-owners to sell their interest in the property during their lifetimes. Owners of property as Tenants by the Entirety cannot transfer or sell their ownership interests without the other owner’s permission. Owners of property as Tenants in Common, on the other hand, may transfer their individual interests without the consent of the other.]
Thank you to the law firm of Fellheimer &Eichen LLP for this information