Why Your Trust Should Own Your Home - A Guest Post by Anthony Carducci, Esq.

Ways to Own Your Home

When you buy a house, you can title (i.e. own) your home in different ways, but each has its own advantages – and disadvantages that you, as a homeowner, should know. You can own the home in your name, with your spouse, or with someone(s) else. Here I shall discuss the pluses and minuses of when more than one person owns a home. When you own the home with another person and you each own 100% of the home, we call that joint ownership. Owning your home with your spouse (tenants by the entireties) is a form of joint ownership. When you own 75% of the home and someone else owns the other 25%, for example, that is known as owning the property as tenants in common. Each of these forms of ownership has drawbacks. First, if you own the home jointly with someone, the home is subject to creditors of either party. So, if your friend gets into a car accident, is sued and loses, the winner of that lawsuit might be able to force a sale of that home. Also, all of the owners have to agree to any proposed use of the property. Second, if all of the owners pass away then the house will go through probate. Probate is a lengthy process (at least nine months in Maryland) where creditors or unhappy friends/family can sue your estate. Additionally, the person in charge of your estate has lots of confusing paperwork to complete and file with the court under tight deadlines all while grieving over your passing.

What can you do to avoid these problems?


Consider a Trust

A trust is very similar to a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation. The trust is simply a way of holding assets and determining what happens to those assets in the future. Usually, the trust is designed so that children, loved ones, or a charity will benefit from the assets in the trust at some point in the future. The trust is managed by a trustee, who is usually the initial creator of the trust.

You should have your trust own your home because the trust protects the home and your other assets from probate. If the trust is structured properly, you might be able to eliminate capital gains tax on the sale of your home. An additional reason to move your home and other assets into your trust is to ensure that your children or loved ones inherit these assets and do so at the right time. One of the worst things that parents sometimes do is to leave their assets for their kids to receive all at once, and then they inherit when they are too immature to handle those assets.

If you are considering buying a home, you should speak with an attorney who specializes in trusts first so that we can properly establish your trust before you buy the home. Why? Because you are paying for the title company to properly list the owner of the home on your deed. If your trust is established before you buy the home, you can have the title company list your trust as the owner. If you buy the home in your name and then want to put your home into your trust, perhaps five years later, you will have to pay for a deed a second time.

In summary, the best way to own a home is in your trust. Through a trust, you can ensure that your heirs inherit the home at an appropriate time for them. A trust enables you to avoid probate and, in some situations, protect the home against creditors. Please give me a call (240-235-5070) or send me a note (anthony@carducciandbraggs.com) if you would like my law firm to help you find an ideal solution for owning your home.

Walkable Communities in the Washington, DC Metro Area

Many people I’ve talked to want to downsize from the home where they raised their children, but they don’t yet need the extra support of a Continuing Care Retirement Community or an Assisted Living Community.  Many active seniors want to move to one-level living and be within easy walking distance of lots to do.  They are thinking ahead to when stairs and driving might become difficult, but they also just want to really enjoy their retirement and/or empty nests.

In the DC area, there are many places that also have active Senior Villages.   You can follow the link to read my blog about these (specifically the Capitol Hill Village), but basically, these are organizations that offer plenty of clubs and activities for seniors, in addition to volunteers who can help or support seniors when necessary.  So, what areas in the greater DC metro area might be a good fit if you’re looking for these things?

In Maryland, the metropolitan centers of Friendship Heights, Rockville, Bethesda, and Silver Spring all fit the bill.  They each have walkable areas that include grocery stores, restaurants, and shopping.  They all have metro stops.  They also each have senior villages (Rockville's is currently being developed), or community organizations that act as senior villages.  The cost of real estate in these areas does vary somewhat, with Friendship Heights and Bethesda being more expensive, and Silver Spring and Rockville being less so.

Washington DC itself has many walkable areas, of course, and it would be hard to narrow down your options to just a few.   But the areas with active senior villages include Capital Hill, Cleveland and Woodley Park, Dupont Circle, East Rock Creek, Far Southeast, Foggy Bottom West End, Georgetown, Glover Park, Mount Pleasant, Waterfront, Palisades, and Northwest.  If you’re thinking about living in DC itself, it might help to narrow down your options by thinking about what you most like to do.  Waterfront is a great area if you want to go to a lot of Nats games, Capitol Hill and Foggy Bottom are great if you want to go to museums frequently, etc.

In Virginia, the walkable areas in Arlington include Ballston-Virginia Square, North Rosslyn, and Courthouse-Clarendon.  In Alexandria, the King Street Metro/Eisenhower Ave, Old Town, and Braddock Road metro areas all earn top marks according to Walkscore.com.  There is an Arlingon Neighborhood Village and an Alexandria Senior Village, in addition to other senior villages in Northern Virginia.

So, there are definitely lots of options for people in the DC Metro Area who want to downsize and move to a more walkable community.  I’ll examine some of these areas more closely in future blogs.  Also, this is by no means an exhaustive list, so feel free to send me an e-mail if you think I've left an area out.  

Please let me know if you’re thinking of downsizing and buying in a walkable community.  I’d be happy to help!


Top Five Tips to Begin Downsizing

Often I meet with people who know they want to move to a smaller place, but they’re totally intimidated by how much stuff they have.  They know they need to begin going through their things and paring them down, but they just don’t know where to start.  If you’re in that situation, here are some tips for getting started.

1.    Start with the smallest or least-used room in your house.

There are two reasons behind this.  First of all, it is less intimidating than starting with a large room, or a room you use a lot.  Secondly, once you have finished the downsizing process in that room, you can use it as a storage space for boxes, etc. that you’ve packed, without disturbing your daily life or routines.

2.    Make a realistic daily goal for yourself

The hardest thing about downsizing is getting started.  Make a daily goal to get yourself motivated.  Tell yourself that you will do one drawer a day.  Or that you will work on downsizing for half an hour a day—something like that.  Make sure it’s a realistic goal, so that you can really stick to it.

3.    Divide your things into three piles

The three piles I recommend are keep, throw out, and give away.  You might decide to have two give-away piles—one for charity and one for items you want family or friends to have.  Don’t let yourself have a maybe pile!  Try to touch everything just once, and make a decision that way.  I should add that if you think you have a number of things that could be valuable, don’t hesitate to call in an estate sale person and ask their opinion on your possessions.  I know of some great estate sale people or organizers who can help you determine if it might be worth it to sell some of your things.  Feel free to contact me for more information.

4.    Remember your Motivation

For many people, the main thing that stops them from moving to a smaller place is not wanting to let go of their possessions.  Even knowing they might be happier in a home with no stairs or in a senior living community is not enough to help push them to pare down their things.  Don’t let your possessions weigh you down.  Allow yourself a small box of sentimental items, but beyond that, consider giving the things that are sentimentally important to you to family or friends.  Remember, you will have to pay to move everything you decide to keep. By letting go of things, you will have a cheaper, easier move, and have more room for living in your new place.

5.    Clear as you Go

As you sort through your things, store packed boxes you plan to move in the rooms you have finished packing.  But make an effort to put the throw-out pile by the curb once a week.  Give a bag to charity as soon as you fill it.  Have a family-and-friends get together where you display all of the things you’d like them to have and let them choose what they’d like (have them pick numbers and pick things in turn if you don’t have specific people in mind for each item).  Seeing your rooms looking cleaner, more organized, and emptier will serve as continuing motivation for you to keep downsizing.


If after reading these five tips you still can’t get started, consider hiring a professional.  An organizer, senior move manager, or estate sale person can come in and help you decide what to keep, sell, or throw away.   If you’re not sure that you want to hire someone, it doesn’t hurt to bring in someone and talk to them about what they could do to help.  Then you will have a better idea of where to go from there.  I am also always happy to come and meet with you in your home to help give you an idea of how to get started or whom you might want to bring in to help.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Good luck and happy downsizing!


Olney Assisted Living - Memory Care by Design

Earlier this month I was able to tour Olney Assisted Living with Rhonda Thomas, their Marketing and Family Relations Director.  Rhonda was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, and would be a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about Olney Assisted Living.

Olney Assisted Living is an all-memory-care community.  Its Executive Director is a Certified Dementia Practitioner.  It has 64 beds in total.  The Community is divided into four houses, with 16 residents each.  Each house has its own dining area and lounge.  There is 24-hour nursing care, and programming throughout the day to keep residents active and engaged.

Olney Assisted Living is somewhat unusual in that 60% of its residents are male, and there are quite a few residents there with early onset dementia.  They have great, secured outdoor space to make sure the residents are getting the exercise and fresh air that they want and need.  There is a walking path, and even an outdoor putting green.

Outdoor Putting Green at Olney Assisted Living

Outdoor Putting Green at Olney Assisted Living

Olney Assisted Living is a fairly new community—it’s only been open for a couple of years.  So the building and facilities are in great shape.  It’s a leasing community, meaning you don’t have to buy anything to live there.  You just pay an initial community fee (currently around $4500) and then pay monthly for your apartment and care.   There is also a respite stay program, where you can have a loved one stay there for two weeks to a month.

Many thanks to Rhonda for taking the time to meet with me and show me around the community!

Brighton Gardens

Outdoor seating area at Brighton Gardens

Outdoor seating area at Brighton Gardens

Last week I had the pleasure of touring Brighton Gardens, an assisted living community, with Sue Erim, the Director of Sales.  Sue has been at Brighton Gardens since it became a Sunrise Senior Living Community thirteen years ago.  Her love of the community and passion for seniors was obvious throughout the tour.

Brighton Gardens has 106 assisted living apartments and 24 memory care apartments (those are located on a special memory care floor).  There are seven floors, but each floor has a large terrace, and there is common outdoor space on the first floor (there are even raised garden beds for residents to use).  Many of the residents are still very independent.

An outdoor terrace at Brighton Gardens

An outdoor terrace at Brighton Gardens

Perhaps the most special thing about Brighton Gardens is its location.  It is located in the heart of Friendship Heights.  Residents can easily walk to grocery stores, restaurants, and the metro.  It is also right next door to the Friendship Heights Village Center.  The Village Center is a community center for all ages, but many of the activities reminded me of what senior villages offer.  Books clubs, exercise classes, lectures, concerts, etc. go on there every day of the week.  Brighton Gardens has its own vast array of offerings, but if residents want to go off site, they merely need to go next door for lots more to do, with people of all ages.

There is a farmers market at the Village Center on Saturday mornings, and outdoor concerts every Wednesday when the weather is nice.  If residents are unable to walk to the concerts, Brighton Gardens will even bring them out in their wheelchairs.  Shuttle transportation to various places is offered through the Village Center and through Brighton Gardens.

Brighton Gardens is a leasing community, meaning there is no buy-in to live there.  You can rent an apartment month-to-month.  There is an initial one-time move-in fee of $7500.  The monthly fees were very similar to other places I’ve visited—base rent starts around $7000 a month (the exact rent depends upon the size of the apartment), plus extra monthly fees for residents that need extra help.  The base rent includes three meals a day, afternoon social hour, weekly housekeeping (plus daily making of the bed and emptying trash).  There’s also a weekly towel and linen service.

There’s an emergency lifeline pendant provided to each resident, and RNs and LPNs are in the community twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  The daily bed-making and trash emptying service has the added benefit of someone checking on residents in their apartments in an unobtrusive way every single day.

All kinds of doctors and therapists come to Brighton Gardens, so that residents don’t need to leave the community for doctors’ appointments.  They even have a lab come twice a week for residents that need bloodwork or urinalysis.  Even if a resident is nearing the end of his/her life, they are able to bring in hospice to help care for the resident, so that the resident doesn’t have to leave the community.

Brighton Gardens offers great assisted-living amenties, while its location allows one to still be quite independent.

Senior Villages - Capitol Hill Village

Have you heard of senior villages?  They are usually organized around neighborhoods.  Their purpose is to help seniors who want to age in place.  For a yearly membership fee—which is typically a few hundred dollars—the village coordinates volunteers that can help seniors.  The senior can have a volunteer drive them places, go to the doctor with them, or even help around the house.

Villages also typically have social and education components to them.  They organize talks, book clubs, and other get-togethers to keep seniors socially connected and intellectually stimulated.  There are currently 190 villages across the country, and 48 of those are in the Washington, DC region.

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Molly Singer, the Executive Director of Capitol Hill Village, which is the second-oldest village in the country (the oldest village is in Beacon Hill, in Massachusetts).  Capitol Hill Village has over 400 members, and is located, of course, in Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC.  There are two full-time social workers at Capitol Hill Village.  They visit seniors at home or in the hospital, and help make sure that their needs are met.   Molly told me that there are even four members of Capitol Hill Village that are over 100!  They are still living at home, and are able to age in place.

Various village members head up different social and educational options within the village—there is a group that goes out to dinner, a walking group, several book clubs, a travel club, a group that goes to see plays together, etc.  The list is only limited by what groups members want to organize.  Here’s a photo of the July calendar, just to give you an idea of what is offered.


In Montgomery County, I know of senior villages in Bradley Hills, Burning Tree, Cabin John, Chevy Chase, Potomac, Silver Spring, Kensington, and Takoma Park, among others.  If you’re interested in learning if where you live has a village, you can look here: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/ADS/Villages/villageslist.html, http://dcgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=cd1880a5e3d44b128116622f25676df1, or just google your county or city and the phrase senior villages and see what comes up.  If your area doesn't have a village, maybe it's time you started one!


Why Use a Senior Real Estate Specialist, Part 2

Part of the reason I chose this specialty is based on my own experience, and learning of the experiences of others.  There is a real need for senior real estate specialists.   I gave one example here.  This is another example from my own family.

My husband’s grandparents lived into their nineties, and when they were in their mid-eighties, his family realized they needed the help that only an assisted-living senior community could provide.  My mother-in-law was their only child, and she lived a distance away.  Her parents were insistent that they didn’t want to move at all, but if they had to move, they wanted to stay in their town. They wanted to stay near their friends, and what they had always known.

But what ultimately happened is that they outlived their friends, and they were almost two hours away from their daughter.  This left them very isolated.  Their daughter did her best, driving to see them at least once a week, but it was a tough situation.  If they had used a senior real estate specialist when selling their home, they might have been able to hear about similar things happening to other people, and been able to make a more informed choice about where to live.  The senior real estate specialist might have been able to add a neutral third perspective to the situation, and been able to talk to my husband’s grandparents and help them see why it might be important to live near their daughter.

This is not a situation where the home sellers or their children would usually think to call in someone for advice.  If you’ve never been through the situation before, how would you even know to think through common pitfalls?  So it’s very helpful if the real estate agent selling the family home knows and has experience with common problems that might crop up when downsizing.

If you live in Maryland, DC, or Virginia, I’d be happy to work with you.   If you don’t live in my area, I’d be happy to refer you to a senior real estate specialist in your area.  Please give me a call or e-mail me if you’d like more information.


Fox Hill Residences

The front entrance to Fox Hill.

The front entrance to Fox Hill.

On May 13 I had the opportunitiy to tour Fox Hill Residences.  It’s a condominium community for age 60+, on 16 wooded acres near River Road and I-495.  Teresa Lahm, a Retirement Counselor there, was my tour guide.

Fox Hill is different than many of the other places I’ve toured in that you buy your condominium.  They have many sizes and layouts available, ranging from a one bedroom with 874 square feet, to a three bedroom with a den with 2,126 square feet.  Prices range from around 371K to 1,039K, depending on the condominium.  There is also a monthly service fee, which includes weekly housekeeping, scheduled group transportation, an emergency call system, most utilities, and a credit to be used towards meals, the spa, and other internal services.

Fox Hill has many amenities, included an indoor heated pool, a fitness center, an indoor virtual driving range and practice facility, an outdoor putting green, a spa, a wine cellar with tasting room, a recording studio, and a woodworking shop, just to name a few.  Residents can purchase meals in several different restaurants in the building.

The main dining room at Fox Hill.

The main dining room at Fox Hill.


The top three floors of Fox Hill are a Sunrise Senior Living community, which houses residences who need assisted living or memory care.  It’s important to note that buying a condo at Fox Hill doesn’t mean you’ve also bought into Sunrise—they are separate from one another.  But you have the advantage of being near your old friends and neighbors if you need to move into the Sunrise part of the building.

Residents at Fox Hill who find they need additional care can bring in home health aides.  Fox Hill has a partnership set up with Family and Nursing Care, and can help match residents with an aide if need be.  That way residents can remain in their condominium for as long as possible.

If you are thinking about touring Fox Hill and might like me to represent you as your buyer's agent there, please call me before contacting anyone at Fox Hill.  Fox Hill will only pay for you to have a buyer's agent if your buyer's agent makes the appointment for you.  If you've contacted them without an agent, they won't pay for you to have an agent.  I've had several people learn this lesson the hard way.  You can contact me at 202-352-4899 or catherine.s@lnf.com.

You can find more out about Fox Hill by going to www.foxhillresidences.com.

Forest Hills of DC

The courtyard at Forest Hills of DC

The courtyard at Forest Hills of DC

A few weeks ago I was able to tour Forest Hills of DC, a not-for-profit assisted living,  rehabilitation, and long-term care community located in NW, off Connecticut Ave.  Jennifer Brown, the Director of Admission and Marketing, was my tour guide.   Forest Hills also has another community called Forest Side, which specializes in Memory Care.  It is located nearby on Military Rd.  Forest Hills of DC was founded in 1926 as the Methodist Home of DC, though it is no longer affiliated with the Methodist Church.

Forest Hills is a leasing community, meaning residents pay by the month to live there, rather than buying into the community.  There are 57 studio, one-bedroom, and three-room assisted living apartments in the community, as well as 50 long-term care beds.    On-site services and amenities include a library, a full-service beauty salon and barber shop, a gift and convenience store, a professional clinic, including a furnished dental suite— and a well-equipped fitness and rehabilitation center.

Its location is ideal for residents who want to enjoy city living, as it’s an easy walk to restaurants, a pharmacy, and a bookstore.  There are also regularly scheduled trips to see and do things in the city.  As with the other assisted living and long-term care communities I’ve visited, there’s a dining hall that serves three meals a day, and a calendar full of activities to keep residents as busy as they’d like to be. 

A unique feature of Forest Hills of DC is that the Northwest Neighbors Village is located there.  You may have heard of the village concept—they are basically organizations that cater to seniors who want to age in place.  So the Northwest Neighbors Village holds activities, classes, and talks inside the Forest Hills community, which means the seniors in the neighborhood get to mingle with the residents of Forest Hills and attend one another’s activities.

The long-term care section of the community is in the same building as the assisted living section, which makes it easy for residents to visit friends in one section or another.  It also means if an assisted living resident has to make a temporary or permanent move to the long-term care part of the building, they don’t have to go far or get used to a new place.

I enjoyed touring Forest Hills of DC very much, and I appreciate all of the knowledge and time Jennifer Brown shared with me. 

A living room in an assisted-living apartment at Forest Hills of DC

A living room in an assisted-living apartment at Forest Hills of DC

3 Questions to Ask When Touring a Senior Living Community

I’ve had enough experience touring senior living communities, and speaking with people who’ve had experience living in them, that I thought it would be helpful to share a few questions I think are important to ask when touring a community.  These might be less obvious than the questions that naturally come to mind.

1.    Do you have a way of making sure your residents are okay?

I have a sad personal story that motivates my asking this one.  My Grammie was living in an independent senior living community well into her nineties.  My parents lived very nearby and usually saw her several times a week, but they had been travelling.  When they returned, they called her for a couple of days but didn’t get an answer.  My Dad finally went over there and had the management key in, and they found her collapsed and unconscious.  Her neighbors and friends there felt terrible.  They had noticed her missing at meals for a couple of days but assumed she was just busy.  She had suffered a stroke.  She was able to partially recover but she was not the same.

Different places I’ve toured have different methods of checking to make sure residents are okay.  Riderwood has a lever outside of each door that security goes around and pushes down each night.  By mid-day the next day, a staff member walks past and checks to make sure the levers have moved (the doors have been opened).  If one hasn’t, they knock on the door and check on the person.  Kensington Park, Brightview Fallsgrove, and Brooke Grove each request that residents wear a pendant, and they can push a call button on it if they need help.  Forest Hills of DC watches to make sure everyone who is supposed to attend lunch or dinner is there.  If someone doesn’t come a staff member goes to check on the person.  Personally, I think it's important that even independent living communities have a way to regularly check on their residents to make sure they're okay.  Otherwise, it's not that much different than living on your own.

2.    What happens if a resident runs out of money?

If someone runs out of money and they’re elderly, Medicaid usually will kick in and pay for a bed in a nursing home.  But not every senior living community accepts Medicaid or has Medicaid beds.  And often, you need to already be living in a community in order to be given one of their few Medicaid beds.  So if you or a loved one might run out of funds sometime in the future, be sure to think through what your plan would be.  And don’t move into a senior living community until you understand how they deal with this issue.

3.    What if a resident want to move out?

Sometimes a senior moves to a senior living community and decides it’s just not a good fit. Other times a senior moves to a senior living community to be close to a relative, and then the relative moves away.  What happens then?

Some senior living communities are leasing communities, and some are buy-in communities.  Most leasing communities are fairly easy to move out of, but buy-in communities are sometimes not.  Understand what their policy is if you want to move out.  How much of your money would you get back?  How much notice do you need to give? 


If you sell your home using a senior real estate specialist, he or she should be able to help you think through these kind of questions when planning your next move.  If you live in the Washington, DC area, and you're thinking of selling your home, please don't hesitate to contact me.  If you live outside the DC area and are thinking of selling your home, I'd be happy to help you find a senior real estate specialist in your area.




Brightview Fallsgrove

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour Brightview Fallsgrove, an assisted living and memory care community in Rockville.  Wendy Papuchis, the Community Sales Director, was my tour guide.  She was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about Brighview Fallsgrove, and I enjoyed my time with her very much.

There are 70 Assisted Living apartments at Fallsgrove, and 24 specialized dementia care apartments (this specialized dementia care part of the neighborhood is called Wellspring Village).  Brightview Fallsgrove is a lease community, meaning other than a one-time only community fee (right now it’s around $5000), you pay by the month for your apartment, rather than having to buy in to the community.  You are required to sign a one-year lease when moving into Brightview Fallsgrove, but you can easily get out of the lease with 30 days notice.

Brightview Fallsgrove’s public spaces had a warm and cozy feel to them.  Above and below are a couple of pictures of their bistro area, where residents can come and grab coffee and a snack and socialize whenever they’d like.

There are several apartment choices for residents in different sizes—studios, one bedroom, and two bedroom units are all available.  The care residents receive is more bundled than in other assisted living places I’ve visited.  Everyone receives 5 hours of care as part of their monthly rent.  If a resident needs more than that, they can pay extra for different care plans.

Brightview Fallsgrove focuses on resident choice and resident independence.  Everyone has a personalized care plan there.  Not every resident needs, for instance, a night check, or a lot of care.  There’s no nurses station, which helps give Brightview Fallsgrove more of a community feeling.  There are aides around, however, to help residents whenever they need it.  They can wear a call pendant and just press a button if they need help.  Every resident has a primary aide, so that the aide and resident have a chance to get to know one another.  There are also wellness nurses on staff to provide care to the residents, along with a number of specialists and therapists under contract that provide in-house services.

Residents are allowed to come and go when they please, and to attend (or not) whatever events and classes they choose.  There are also no visiting hours—visitors are welcome whenever they’d like to come.  The dining room has specific meal times, but it’s also open all day, if someone wants to just drop by at a non-meal time for something light like soup or a sandwich.

Brightview Fallsgrove seems like a pleasant and flexible place to live.  But it provides the care residents expect from an assisted living or memory care community.

Why Use a Senior Real Estate Specialist - Part One

There are lots of real estate agents in our area, and most of them do a great job.  They are nice people, they work hard, and they want to do the best they can do for each of their clients.  But most real estate agents are generalists—they don’t specialize in any area of real estate, because they don’t want to limit themselves.

But by specializing in nothing, they are left with a knowledge base that is very broad and very shallow.

I believe that there are enough circumstances that are unique to older adults moving that they deserve to have a real estate agent who specializes in their needs and circumstances.  Let me give you an example from my own family’s history.

My grandmother was 90 and living alone in Florida when she decided it was time to move closer to her children.  Her children were all at least 10 hours away by car.  She was an extremely capable and smart lady (not to mention fun and the best grandmother ever), so she basically moved herself.  She found her own realtor, sold her car, packed up, sold, or gave away all of her things, and moved up to North Carolina.  But, it turns out she was more overwhelmed by the move than she was willing to let on.  We discovered later that she had just thrown all of her family history in the trash—including all of her photo albums and photos, of relatives through generations.   She felt very bad about it later, and certainly her children, my father and aunt, very much wish she had given them those pictures and albums.  If she had hired a senior real estate specialist, the person could have talked her through what she needed to do in order to move, and suggested bringing in an organizer or senior move specialist to help her.  That person would’ve made sure that my grandmother kept the things that were most important to her.

Most people only make a big downsizing move once in their lives, so they don’t have the benefit of experience and learning from their mistakes to make sure they do it right.  But if they use a senior real estate specialist, they can benefit from that person’s wisdom and experience.

If you live in the Washington, DC area (DC, MD or VA), I can help.  If you live outside of the DC area, I would be happy to refer you to a senior real estate specialist inyour area. 


Organizers - Just That Simple

There are quite a few professions you may not realize even exist, especially in the realm of helping people ready a home for sale.  As part of my commitment to seniors, who may need extra help with a move, I have been meeting with organizations that offer different kinds of help to people who need or want to move.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Judy Tiger a few weeks ago.  She’s the owner of Just That Simple, a home and office organizing business based in the DC Metro Area.  Judy grew up in a Foreign Service family, and has a lot of experience with moving.  Her goal is to come into a home and help people sort through all of their belongings and decide what to do with them.  This isn’t necessarily a service just aimed at people who are getting ready to move—sometimes someone is so overwhelmed by all the stuff in their home that it helps to bring someone in just to reclaim and enjoy their space again.

Judy typically comes into someone’s home for at least 4 hours at time, though she reduces that time down to two hours if someone is elderly or seems easily fatigued.  She goes through their belongings, with their feedback and involvement, and sorts things into piles (typically the piles might be trash, donate, keep, and sell).   She then arranges for the things to be trashed, donated, kept, etc.). She said she often helps people designate piles for each of their children, if they are moving out of a longtime residence and into something smaller.  If the client is moving, she will sort things into color-coded boxes for them, for easier unpacking.  Sometimes the task can be accomplished in one visit, and sometimes multiple or on-going visits are needed.

If you’re interested in learning more about Judy and Just That Simple, you can go to her website at www.just-that-simple.net.


ManorCare Bethesda and Wheaton


Dining Room of ManorCare Bethesda

Dining Room of ManorCare Bethesda

Last week I toured HCR ManorCare Bethesda with Chris Gloth, the Admissions Coordinator there.  The week before I toured HCR ManorCare Wheaton with Yalda Davoodi, the Admissions Director there.  HCR ManorCare has centers throughout the region that are leading providers of short-term, post-acute services, and long-term care.  ManorCare has centers in Adelphi, Chevy Chase, Hyattsville, Largo, Potomac, and Silver Spring, in addition to the ones in Wheaton and Bethesda that I’ve toured.  The centers are all a fairly intimate size, which helps give them a greater sense of community.

For the purposes of what I do (selling seniors’ homes and offering them help in all steps of the process, including guidance about places they could downsize to), the long-term care aspect of HRC Manorcare is most interesting to me.  ManorCare Wheaton really only admits patients to its short-term care facility (people recovering from surgery, etc.).  They also have a long-term care wing, but it is filled with people who enter for short-term care and then are unable to return home on their own.  ManorCare Bethesda has both long-term and short-term areas, and people can arrange to stay there for either one. 

Both ManorCare facilities that I toured have dining rooms where residents take their meals.  Visitors are able to join them for meals for a small extra charge.  Visiting hours are 24 hours a day for the private rooms, and 9am – 9pm for the semi-private rooms.  They also both have rehab centers that offer all kinds of therapy (physical, speech, occupational) for people recovering from surgery or trauma.  They also both have activity calendars, offering residents a variety of things to do.

ManorCare offers private and semi-private rooms, and it does accept Medicaid.  There are on-site beauty salon and barber services.  They also have medical directors, 24-hour nursing care, other medical services such as dental care and optometric care available by appointment.

Many thanks to Chris Gloth and Yalda Davoodi for sharing their time and expertise with me!

Ten Reasons to Downsize

There are probably as many reasons to downsize (or right size) as there are people in the world, but I definitely hear some reasons over and over.  Do any of these resonate with you?


10. Tired of yard work – Many people enjoy working in the yard when they are first-time home buyers, but the thrill gradually wears off for many people.  By the time you’ve been a homeowner for many years, it’s just one more chore on your list, and you’re often paying a landscaping company to do it.

9. Master bedroom on the first floor – Not everyone is ready to actually live in a smaller home, but most people are ready to no longer have to climb stairs multiple times a day, to get to their bedroom or a bathroom.

8. Want to be able to walk places – Many people move to the suburbs for better schools for their children or big yards.  Once the kids are gone, though, they decide to move where they can walk to shops, restaurants, and other fun things.  This is a nationwide trend for all ages, but it seems to be especially big for baby boomers who are empty nesters.

7.  Don’t want so much house to care for – There’s much more cleaning to be done in a larger home.  You’re also paying higher utility bills to heat and cool areas of the home you no longer use.

6.  Be closer to family – In our mobile society, adult children often move far from their parents.  If parents are retired, it is often easier for them to move to where their children are then vice versa.

5. Move somewhere warmer – Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia certainly don’t have the terrible winters that some places in our country do, but it can still be grey and cold for long stretches.  Plus sometimes we even have major snowfalls!  If you’re retired and can live anywhere you choose, you might want to live somewhere warmer.

4. Live in a vacation destination – Beaches, mountains, tropical islands, Europe.  The possibilities are endless.  If you choose to move to a vacation destination, you not only get to enjoy it year round, but you are virtually assured that lots of friends and family will want to come and visit you!

3. Feeling lonely and bored – Staying in the home you’ve lived in forever can be isolating if you don’t have an active social life nearby.  Moving to 55+ housing or a senior living community can really improve your quality of life.  There are lots of activities to choose from everyday and lots of people around who are eager to make friends just like you.

2. Boost your retirement fund – If you’ve owned your home for more than 15 years, chances are it’s gone up in value substantially.  By selling your home and downsizing into something less expensive, you’ve likely freed up a large chunk of money to add to your retirement fund.  And that’s never a bad thing.  Don’t forget that the money you make from selling your home is free from capital gains taxes for up to $250,000 for a single person and up to $500,000 for a married couple.

1. Lower taxes – Many retired people choose to move to places like Delaware and Florida for the lower taxes as much as for the beaches and lifestyle.   Sales tax, property tax, income tax, and even the estate tax are lower or nonexistent.  This is a way that many people are able to stretch their retirement income.


What other reasons did you decide to downsize or right size?  Feel free to share in the comments section below.

If downsizing makes sense to you but you’re not doing it, ask yourself why.  If it’s because the idea of moving just feels overwhelming, get in touch with me.  I can help you come up with a plan for selling your home and moving that will make things more manageable, and I can bring in other service providers to help you handle the details of moving that seem too hard to tackle alone.  If you don’t live in the DC area, I can put you in touch with a realtor that specializes in this in your area.