Should You Buy A Retirement Home Before Retiring?


By Peter G. Miller

Here’s an idea: Buying a retirement home should not be for the retired.

At first this may seem like an odd notion. After all, it’s entirely natural to associate retirement with retirement real estate. However, if someone is truly retired, as in not working, it may be difficult to obtain the home you want to buy. It may well be a better idea to buy before leaving the workforce.

retirement home

The central reason to buy a retirement home now concerns money. In the period before retirement, we are each, by definition, not retired, which is to say we are working. Not only are we working, but after a long time in a given industry, field or profession it’s likely that we have maxed out our income.

“A few years before retirement lenders likely see a prospective borrower who can easily document income and assets, someone with a solid credit rating,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at “Alternatively, if someone without employment walks into a lender’s office it may be more difficult to prove that the potential borrower has the ability to repay the loan.”

The biggest retirement issue for many people is the question of where to live. Yes, it’s been great to live where you are today and it might be terrific to age in place, but would a warmer climate be of interest or maybe a place at the beach or a mountain town? What about a location closer to adult children? Perhaps a change of venue would be good for the soul, to say nothing about the wallet.

The catch is that now may not be the right time to move. Maybe you can’t move because of a good job situation. Sure, moving to another location with a lower cost-of-living could make retirement dollars go further but how can you finance such a move if you leave your current location?

Several options stand out:

  • Sell you current residence and rent in the community where you now live. Use the proceeds from the sale to buy a retirement home.
  • Keep your current residence and refinance at today’s rates to get cash out of the property. This will allow you stay where you are while funding the purchase of a home elsewhere.
  • If you have no mortgage, finance the current home and use the proceeds to buy a second property outright. When the time is right sell the first house to pay off the mortgage. Since lenders will only provide a loan which reflects a portion of your property’s value the idea is that when you sell the home it will be worth enough to repay the debt in its entirety. In the end you will have sold the original house and the second one will be mortgage-free.
  • Buy a retirement home and rent it out until you want to move. If you go this route be certain to tell the lender that you intend to use the property as investment real estate and that it’s not a second home.
  • If past age 62, refinance today’s property with a reverse mortgage. With this form of financing there’s no monthly requirement to pay principal and interest, instead interest is added to the loan amount. If you sell, move or pass away the loan becomes payable, however the lender cannot collect more than the value of the property that secures the loan. Speak with an attorney who specializes in elder law for details.
  • Buy a second home and allow adult children to rent the current house. This produces income to support the second property, however it may raise significant tax issues.
  • No matter what choices you consider, sit down with a tax professional before making a decision to see how given options impact your tax situation.


About the Author:

Peter G. Miller is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist. His books, published originally by Harper & Row, sold more than 300,000 copies. He blogs at and contributes to such leading sites as, the Huffington Post and Miller has also spoken before such groups as the National Association of Realtors and the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials.

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Spring Cleaning Life Hacks



Spring has begun, and you know what that means: spring cleaning time! Now get out your buckets, sponges, rags, towels, mops, chemicals, and start cleaning. But before you rush into any spring cleaning, take a look at these awesome spring cleaning life hacks.

Spring Cleaning Life Hacks

1. Clean with Baking Soda with White Vinegar

Most people do not use this trick often enough. We buy tons and tons of liquid cleaners every year that do not do the trick for dollars more than what we could save if we just used baking soda and vinegar. Here’s what to do: grab a bucket, pour some baking soda and white vinegar into it, stir, and you’ve got yourself a great cleaner. Try out the cleaner in your bathroom, kitchen, or on any other metals that you want to get shining again.

Spring Cleaning Life Hacks

2. Make Room

This spring cleaning life hack list isn’t just about cleaning; you need to make space for the items in your home. A great way to make space is by using a closet-door-shoe hanger. Don’t just use it to hang shoes. You can hang any item in those plastic holders. Hang cleaners, mail, clothes, kitchen items, or toys, to stay organized and keep clutter at bay.

Spring Cleaning Life Hacks

Courtesy of












3. Toss Clutter or Donate

Yep, get rid of those old toiletries, cleaners, clothes, shoes, toys, and food no one uses, wears, or eats. If you look in your kitchen cabinets you’re bound to find cans and cleaners dating back to the previous year or even earlier than that. So when are you going to use them? Just throw them out! However, if the items are still usable, donate them to a charity or a secondhand store where they will be used by someone else.

Spring Cleaning Life Hacks

4. Use Your Dishwasher

This is a great spring cleaning life hack. Use your dishwasher to clean more than just your plates and cups. You can place hair brushes, makeup brushes, plastic toys, your showerhead, and many other plastic and small items that you can think of. Just be sure none of the items you throw in the dishwasher are electric or contain batteries.

Spring Cleaning Life Hacks

5. Clean Your Showerhead

If your showerhead does not detach, then you need to clean it another way. The best thing to use is a sandwich bag. Pour some vinegar into the bag. Then place the vinegar bag around the showerhead. Use a rubber band or hair tie to hold the bag in place overnight. In the morning, take the bag off, and you should have a shiny showerhead ready for use.

Spring Cleaning Life Hacks

6. Ceiling Fan Pillowcase

Use a pillowcase to clean your ceiling fan. Just take an old, clean pillowcase, use a stepping stool or ladder, and wrap it around each fan blade and clean the dust off. The pillowcase is great because all of the dust will be trapped in the fabric rather than getting everywhere and on you.

Spring Cleaning Life Hacks

7. Rubbing Alcohol on Shiny Fixtures

Use rubbing alcohol on your bathroom fixtures, kitchen sink, as well as mirrors and windows. Rubbing alcohol is a great way to spring clean because it naturally evaporates on window or mirror surfaces. Rubbing alcohol is also a good liquid to use to remove water stains.

Spring Cleaning Life Hack

8. WD-40 in the Tub

This lubricant will cut through virtually any built-up grime in the bathtub. Just be careful when you step in. The tub floor would be slick for the next couple of uses.

Spring Cleaning Life Hack


Spring cleaning is all about “out with the old and in with the new.” If there is lots of clutter and unwanted items in your home, make room for the new. Be sure to put your rubber gloves on and get cleaning this spring with these and other spring cleaning life hacks.

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April Fools Day Pranks Around the House [Infographic]



April Fool’s Day is just around the corner! Here’s some inspiration for some pranks you can pull on your loved ones (or not-so-loved ones) in various rooms around the house!



Wrap a rubber band around the hose part of the kitchen sink. When the next people go to use the sink, the water will fly out of the hose into their face!


Place a layer of bubble wrap under the doormat. When people step on it, the pops from under their own feet are sure to startle!


Tape an embarrassing picture of a family member over the sensor of the computer mouse. The next computer user will be baffled why the mouse doesn’t work until they discover the silly photo!


This is the messiest – and perhaps the meanest – prank on the list!
Place some hot sauce packets under the toilet seat lid for the next unsuspecting user. . .

Happy April Fools Day!


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How to Choose the Right REALTOR ®


By Jeff Gould

Buying or selling a home is typically the single largest financial transaction you and your family will make in your lifetime. Choosing the right REALTOR® is important if you are looking to sell your home for top dollar or to find the home of your dreams. Just because someone passes a real estate exam and puts a name tag on does not make them the right REALTOR® for you. Here are some of the items you want to look at to find the right REALTOR® for you and your family.

How to Choose the Right Realtor


Buyer’s Agent – In real estate a Buyer’s Agent assists a buyer in searching for a home. Today’s real estate market is sometimes complicated and this assistance goes far beyond the property search function. Here is a quick list of the essential tasks that should be handled by a qualified buyer’s agent:

  • Find out your buying motivation, needs and wants in a home
  • Be you adviser and advocate during the entire home buying process
  • Educate you on the current real estate market conditions and trends
  • Research homes for sale in the area
  • Assist you in narrowing your list of possible homes to view
  • Show you homes
  • Write up, present your offer and negotiate with the seller
  • Assist with appraisal and home inspections as needed
  • Do the final property walk through with you
  • Attend closing to ensure that all of your interests are protected

When looking for a Buyer’s Agent, you want to find a REALTOR® that is an expert in the local area that you are purchasing in. This agent should know the current real estate market, be able to advise you during the home buying process and know the local real estate contract inside and out. This agent should also be a great negotiator to ensure you purchase the home at the best possible price.

Seller’s Agent – The Seller’s Agent main job is to get your home sold for the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time. The Seller’s Agent responsibilities and duties are too numerous to list here but here are the minimum responsibilities they should be performing for you:

  • Research the current local real estate market
  • Prepare a Comparable Market Analysis for you
  • Assist you in determining the asking/list price of your home
  • Identify and help highlight the key selling points of your home
  • Market the home to sell
  • Place your home for sale in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
  • Add your home listing to additional top real estate and social media websites
  • Place a “For Sale” sign in your yard
  • Put a lockbox on your door (for safety reasons you should insist on an electronic lockbox)
  • Coordinate home showings with buyers
  • Ensure buyers are qualified to purchase the home
  • Hold an open house after you check out 5 Open House Facts Your REALTOR® Won’t Tell You
  • Present and explain offers from buyers to you
  • Negotiate with buyers on your behalf
  • Attend closing to ensure that all of your interests are protected

Again these are just a few of the tasks a seller’s agent (or listing agent) will perform for you. Pricing your home properly is one of the most important aspects to getting it sold for top dollar. Find a REALTOR® that knows how to price and home and does not overprice them. If it is overpriced it will end up selling for less and taking longer to sell.

The agent should be a home marketing specialist. I believe this step is misunderstood by most listing agents. Putting an ad in the local paper and holding an open house is not marketing your home! The truth is those two items largely market the agent and not your home. You should look for and hire an agent that can reach qualified prospects that are looking to buy in your area. Today, that is done by promoting the home online! Your agent should have an online marketing system that incorporates the top real estate industry websites as well as social media outlets. This is the only way to get your home seen by as many qualified buyers as possible. Online marketing is very visual so ensure the agent will be using high quality photos and videos. If the agent is going to use their old flip cell phone to take the listing pictures you may want to find a different agent or at the very least have the agent hire a professional photographer.

In some cases you may be selling a home and buying a new one in the same area. You will need to find an agent that has qualities from both the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. Lean towards an agent with great marketing and understands how to price a home. These skills are the hardest to find.

The Interview

There are literally thousands of REALTORS® located in most areas of the country. Just like with any profession not every REALTOR® is created equal. At a minimum you should interview at least three REALTORS®. Each will have their own sales pitch and tout why you should hire them. To dig through the sales pitch you will need to ask some great questions. Here is an article with 15 great REALTOR® interview questions and what to look for with each answer.

What to Look For in Your REALTOR®

Experience – There are a couple of different aspects to experience, time and quantity. For hiring an agent, let’s focus on the quantity or number of closed transactions. In real estate experience is learned and to get this experience you must close transactions! Look for an agent with at least 10 closed real estate transactions. Anything less than that and they are still really just learning the ins and outs of the profession. I’ve been involved in this industry for over 30 years and closed hundreds of transactions. I still learn something from every single closed transaction. So trust me when I say you don’t really want an agent that is just learning the business when it is your hard earned money is at stake! As far as time is concerned there are a lot of REALTORS® that have been in the industry for years but have never sold anything so to me how long an agent has been in the business is irrelevant.

Local Market Knowledge – This is important! Real estate is local in nature and you want to find a REALTOR® who is an expert in the area that you are looking to buy or sell in. If you ask an agent where they specialize and they say the Tampa Bay area they are most likely not an expert in the Tampa Bay area. It is really too difficult to specialize is such a large area. Find someone that specializes in the immediate area or community where you are buying or selling. I am a REALTOR® in the Tampa Bay area and have bought and sold a lot of homes in the Tampa Bay area but I specialize in FishHawk Ranch real estate. There is no other agent that knows the FishHawk Ranch area as well as I do. You should try to find the expert for your area, the knowledge is priceless.

Marketing – We touched on this a little bit already but it is extremely important. In today’s real estate environment 90% of home buyers start searching for homes online and you need a REALTOR® that knows how to leverage this to your advantage. Find a REALTOR® that has an online presence that includes their own website, and social media accounts like a Facebook Business Page, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram. This agent should understand and be able to use these powerful social media platforms to get your home in front of as many qualified buyers as possible. I recently pushed a listing on one of my social media sites and in less than a week had over 20,000 views on it! The reach is simply amazing and most REALTORS® don’t understand it yet. Find the REALTOR® in your area that understands and uses this kind of marketing. It is powerful and will help get your home sold for more money!

Communication – In general great REALTORS® are very busy. Ask how the agent will communicate with you. Is the agent technologically savvy? Do they use email and text? Will they answer the phone when you call? Do they only return phone calls during certain times of the day? Do you speak directly to them or someone else on their team? Only you know how you would like to be communicated with. The key is to find the agent that meets your needs.

The Real Estate Company – Century 21, RE/MAX, Keller Williams or a small local real estate boutique, does it matter? I’ve worked for both and in fairness they each have some advantages. In my opinion the agent is much more important than the company they hang their license with. Ultimately it is the agent and the systems they have in place that will matter most to you, so find a great agent and hire them!

I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to answer them for you.

About the Author

The above article How to Choose the Right REALTOR ® was written by Jeff Gould.

Jeff is a top selling, nationally recognized Florida REALTOR® and local FishHawk Ranch real estate expert. You will find him selling homes in the Tampa Bay, Florida and surrounding areas. Some of those areas include FishHawk, Lithia, Riverview, Valrico, Brandon and Tampa. If you are looking to sell or buy a Tampa Bay area home, Jeff is your local and trusted professional. He can be reached via phone/text at (813) 421-3007 or by email at


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How to Stage Your Home



If you’re planning to put your home on the market, there are some things that you need to do before getting someone to fall in love with your home. You need to hire a great real estate agent and have a home in mind that you want to buy. Finally, you need to set up an open house with your real estate agent. With setting up an open house, there is more to do than just inviting potential buyers over. You have to make your open house stand out, be memorable, and learn how to stage your home.

How to Stage Your Home

What is Home Staging?

Home staging is preparing your home to look as though it is ready to be lived in. This way, potential buyers are likely to see what it would look like if they already lived in your home before they buy it. So when you learn how to stage your home, you’ll be happy to know that it is a great way to get the highest value from your home sale.

Stage Yourself or Hire a Home Stager

You can learn how to stage your home by either hiring a professional stager or learning it online. The price per stager varies, but doing it yourself is an inexpensive alternative if you have a knack for homemaking. If you ask your agent, they are more than likely going to help out with getting your home staged and ready because they want to sell it as much as you do. Since only 1/10 people can visualize what a home would look like before they move in, you need to help the other 90% visualize the property potential.

Why You Should Stage Your Home

If you are planning an open house with your real estate agent soon, then you need to stage your home. Staging a home is the best way to help gain a buyer’s interest in the interior of your property for sale. There are many reasons as to why you should stage your home, but the greatest reason is that there is a 586% return on investment. Staging your home is the best way to guarantee yourself that you will find a buyer who will love your home.

The Basics to Staging Your Home

Before you have your home open to potential buyers, you want it to be clean, peaceful and well organized. These are the characteristics that sell a home. You do not want to have any furniture that looks old or dirty around.

You can start by cleaning and getting rid of all of the trash in your home, including any household items or furniture that is no longer used or looks ragged. You want your home to look as good as possible, so make sure that it is spotless. If there are stains in the carpet or paint, then there isn’t much you can do about that unless you want to get new carpeting or repaint.

How to Stage Your Home

How to Set the Furniture

If you do not have new or modern furniture, you can always use sheets and covers to wrap around any couches or chairs. However, if you do not want to do that, you can always buy new furniture or rent home items, like couches, televisions, or tables. By making your furniture look as new and clean as possible, you are giving the potential buyer a perspective on what the home will look like once they move in.

The way you set furniture is up to you, your Realtor, and home stager (if you decided to hired one). However, a great way to arrange furniture is to have a home flow, a way in which you organize your home so that there is order and room to move about it freely. You want to maximize the space in your home while making it look neat and organized throughout. Do not leave clunky furnishing in heavy walking areas.

Be sure to fix any holes in the walls. Do not leave out too many family photos, and be sure that the home smells great by using household fresheners. If you’re still uncertain how you will stage your home, there are some awesome tips online about home staging.

Where to Start with Staging Your Home

How to Stage Your Home

Now if home staging is a completely new concept to you, the best thing you can do for yourself is ask your agent if it is necessary to sell your home. They will most likely say there are some things you can do to get the house in shape for your open house. If you two plan to work together, make sure to come into an agreement as to how the home will be staged for the open house.

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