Blog :: 12-2013

Home for the Holidays

Maybe it’s the kid in all of us, but each year when December rolls around, there is palpable anticipation in the air – the feeling that something uplifting is going to happen. It’s an expectation of being home for the holidays.

This pervasive excitement tears through grade schools faster than the chicken pox, but expectations also run high in the group of people known as first-time homebuyers.

Whereas school children’s expectations of presents, family get-togethers and delicious food are realistic, many first-time homebuyers anticipate, rightly or wrongly, that in a buyer’s market properties should have a full range of amenities within their budgets.

But even in today’s market, it’s not easy to find that perfectly-fixed-up or new open concept home with a cathedral ceilinged great room, large master bedroom, spa-like bathroom, walk-in closets, kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, plus a large fenced-in yard with privacy from the neighbors.

More effectively than a roster of upscale amenities is livable spaces that will bring you and your family together. If you are scouting properties this winter season, here are some things to consider when dreaming of being home for the holidays:

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Meals: Holiday happiness often revolves around meals. Do you require a separate dining room for more formal meals or does your family tend to cluster in the family room? Is the kitchen mainly used for cooking or would you prefer to socialize around a kitchen island or breakfast bar?

Recreation: Do members of your family have hobbies or do they congregate around the TV to bond over sports and entertainment programming? Will you need space for a sound system, gaming console or computer? Will the garage need to hold bikes and sports equipment or mainly the car?

Guests: Will your guests need a spare bedroom, or can they use the fold-out couch in the living room? Can a flex space serve as both an office and extra room for visitors? And what about the benefits of having a finished basement for the holidays?

Entertainment: Do you tend to entertain at home or prefer to go out in an area full of restaurants and bars? Do older members of the family enjoy a day of shopping? Do younger ones do better at pools, parks and movie theaters?

We all dream of being home for the holidays and it pays to look at properties with this in mind. Even the most modest starter home can have a special charm of its own when filled with family and friends enjoying the bounty of the season.

"Reprinted with permission from Connecticut Association of REALTORS®, Inc."

The Loss of Innocence & How 10 Minutes Changed Our World

Newtown

It’s another one of those awful days & times we will always remember where we were when we found out. I was sitting in my car on the phone with a paralegal after a successful walk-through at a property that was scheduled to close that afternoon, and she was in Danbury, just a few miles away from the quiet suburban enclave of Sandy Hook, CT. In the middle of our conversation she told me she had to call me right back, and when she did, I learned there was a shooting at a school and the whole area was in lock down.

What we would come to learn is that for 10 agonizing minutes a lone gunman with “significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with othersâ€, who had access to legal firearms, changed lives in a quiet Connecticut community, the nation and the world.

The grief is deep and widespread and as we come upon the one year anniversary the families are encouraging people to perform acts of kindness in remembrance. Light a candle, give your loved ones a hug, perform an anonymous act of kindness – remember “Love Winsâ€!

My thoughts & prayers are with the families of the 26 victims –

Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gray, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt, Rachel D’Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Leigh Soto.

Hopefully we can find a way to help those with mental illness to avoid more tragedies.

Serious Housing Conversations Happen Over the Holidays

Grandson-Grandpa

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As the holidays approach, families will be gathering all across the country to share meals, exchange gifts, and take part in activities and traditions passed down through the generations.

And while this time of year is typically reserved for celebration and remembrance, it is often a time for serious conversations and decision making for those with elder parents and relatives.
Seniors are a segment of the real estate market that I enjoy working in. I have taken additional classes and earned the designation Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and have training and resources that may be helpful if you are facing this type of situation. Please don't hesitate to contact me and I would be happy to sit down and chat.

Common Situations:

“My mom always bakes the Holiday pies. Last year she left out the sugar and we all just laughed, but this year she almost burned the house down when she forgot to take them out of the oven. It’s time for her to consider moving, but we don’t really know where to start. We are going to encourage her to go with us to look at assisted living communities while we have time off from work.†- Marcie L.
“This has been a tough year for all of us. Mom died after battling cancer for eight months. Following two minor fender benders, Dad was then diagnosed with macular degeneration leaving him without the ability to drive. My siblings and I know we need to talk with Dad about his ability to live at home alone, but none of us know where to begin when it comes his housing options.†- Jim H.
“While we are in town for Thanksgiving this year, we are going to ask our mother to move in with us. Even though we aren’t sure if that is the best arrangement, we don’t know what else to do since her health is declining and she needs more daily care. Having her closer to us will help since we still have kids and jobs requiring us to better prioritize our time. Selling her home of 52 years and going through all her things feels pretty overwhelming to us so we can only imagine how she will feel.†Joan B.
These are common sentiments shared by baby boomers caring for aging parents and relatives as we move into the winter months and often they don’t know who to call for support. Senior living communities and placement services, such as A Place for Mom, also report an increase in inquiries over the holidays.