Category Archives: Real Estate Market

How to Become a Canadian Transplant

An increasing number of retirees, and Baby Boomers are choosing to spend their retirement years outside of the U.S, and Canada with its natural beauty, and national healthcare system, is also one of the happiest countries to live according to the United Nations. As with any big move, relocating will require research to navigate the how to’s, and red tape.

Try before you buy. Plan a visit to the provinces you have in mind to get an idea of where you want to be, and to get a feel for the neighborhood. The national capital of Ottawa for example, is widely popular amongst tourists with its architecture, and museums while also being less expensive than other large cities. If you’re a U.S citizen, no visa is necessary if you’re planning on staying less than six months or if you’re a snowbird, and travel to and from the states before the six month period is over.

Have kids or grandkids living in Canada? If they’re citizens or have a permanent resident status, you have the option to sign up for the Parent, and Grandparent Super Visa, and live here for two years.

If you do decide to reside in Canada longer than six months, and you don’t qualify for the Super Visa, you’ll need to apply for a permanent residency. This gets a bit tricky, because you’re application is reviewed based on income, education, and even being bilingual (English/French). According to livingabroadincanada.com, those carrying a degree, or still in the work force are higher on the qualifying scale than a retiree on a fixed income unless they can show proof of a sufficient nest egg.

Healthcare is notorious for being so expensive that many forego necessary medical treatment because they just can’t afford it. Canada’s healthcare system called “Medicare” is available to everyone allowing residents to receive the care they need without the burden of co-pays, and deductibles. You’ll have to make arrangements for coverage in advance, unless you’re still working in which case you employer can assist you with the application process.

Canada is not only beautiful, but also has a reputation for healthy people, and high quality of living. Do your homework, and plan a trip to know if becoming a Canadian expat is right for you.

Teeing Up For the Best Retirement Ever

A few years ago I attended a conference in a golf community, and I remember gazing out of the window marveling at the lush rolling green, weeping willow trees, and thought those golfers had it made. These guys were living and breathing a love of the game with the course literally in their own backyards. Whether you’re an avid golf enthusiast, or you’ve chosen a 55+ golf community for the ambience, and beauty, your friends and family will wonder why they didn’t think of it first!

When purchasing a home in a 55+ golf community, stunning fairways, and manicured landscaping is a major bonus, but everyone has HOA fees. The upside to enjoying the greenery, is you don’t have to maintain it yourself, but becoming part of an association places restrictions on exterior modifications including landscaping, satellite dishes, or using your own golf cart vs one owned by the HOA. Before signing the dotted line, carefully read the bylaws, and regulations to know what to expect.

Dreaming of buying prime real estate close to the action? A 55+ golf community may fit the bill. From coast to coast, active adult communities with golf as a primary amenity offer home styles from manufactured to single family floor plans. Homes in these communities are not only coveted for their views, but most offer a variety of exciting features like beautifully constructed clubhouses, fitness amenities such as tennis courts, and pools, and fine dining perfect for after game refreshment.

Generally homes in a golf community hold their resale value, particularly those boasting big name designers like Robert Trent Jones, or Jack Nicklaus. Championship designed golf communities such as these make them highly sought after by boomers, and retirees ready to take their love of the game to the next level.

Birds of a feather flock together, and so do those who share a passion for the driving range. Making new friends with fellow age peers is the focus of a golf community lifestyle, and even if your idea of tee time is cocktails on your veranda, why not invite the neighbors? Many 55 or better will say their social calendars have never looked better since joining an active adult community.

Retirement living means more time doing what you love, and what better way to take advantage of your golden years than indulging in your favorite hobby? An active golf community offers residents the chance to exercise their best swing, with beautiful locations to choose from across the country.

Is a Condo Lifestyle Right For You?

Downsizing, less maintenance, or desiring a second vacation home are just a few of the great reasons baby boomers, and retirees are choosing condominium communities for their active lifestyles. Buying or renting a condo in a 55+ retirement community can be the perfect option to a single family home in terms of both price, and convenience. Some offer features such as underground parking, elevators, or a doorman, and many communities are located near exciting local attractions with amenities such as fitness centers, and clubhouses. If retiring the lawnmower, and show shovel sounds like a great idea, then condo life could be for you!

Affordability
Many 55+ condo communities are located in highly desirable areas where a single family home would be out of reach cost-wise. Depending on the community, some condos are available to rent, which may be a great option for active adults who spend much of the year traveling, or snowbirds living in the unit on a seasonal basis. Another money saving aspect to a condo lifestyle, is utilities are often lower than traditional homes, but keep in mind that association fees should be factored into the monthly housing budget.

Low Maintenance Living
Active adults who want more time doing what they love, can enjoy the low maintenance lifestyle of a condo community. 55+ home buyers using their unit as a rental property, or who spend most of their time traveling can enjoy having the exterior building maintenance, and landscaping taken care of in their absence. Seniors living on their own, or looking to downsize may find the upkeep of a condo much easier to manage.

Special Considerations
Homeowners association fees exist to cover the expense of building maintenance, amenities such as concierge service, and landscaping. Monthly dues collected may be higher depending on community location, available amenities, or assessments incurred due to unforeseen maintenance issues. Active retirement housing in a condo community often places restrictions on pets, so it’s a good idea to check the association guidelines beforehand. Another thing to consider is sharing common walls, and being in close proximity to neighbors. Noise, and problems like cigarette smoke should be factored into the decision to choose a multi-unit dwelling.

Whether you’re seeking a snowbird rental community, or are looking to purchase a primary home, condominium/apartment style living is a great choice for active adults wanting a simpler lifestyle, with more time to enjoy their retirement years.

Change What You Thought About a Manufactured Home Lifestyle

As a baby boomer, or retiree, now is time to explore, and live it up without sacrificing the pride, and comfort of owning your own home. If the dream of buying a house seems out of reach, have you considered a manufactured home lifestyle? 55+, and active lifestyle communities exclusive to manufactured homes, are making senior living more affordable giving folks the opportunity to get in on the real estate action. Today’s “mobile” homes are a far cry from the trailer on wheels from yesteryear with the look, and quality of a traditional home for years of memories to come.

According to the Census Bureau, the average cost of a new manufactured home in 2015 was $68,000. The price tag is variable depending on the size of the home, and whether or not you own or lease the land. Many active adult communities operate on a land lease whereby you own your home, but rent the lot you’re on. You’ll often find these retirement communities offer the feel of a neighborhood with amenities that put the fab in prefabricated like clubhouses, swimming pools, and fitness centers.

When you’re shopping around for a manufactured lifestyle community ask yourself where you’ve envisioned spending your retirement? Maybe the coast, or metropolitan living has been calling your name. Going prefab opens up opportunities to go where your dreams lead rather than your wallet. Choosing an age targeted or age restricted retirement community is a personal preference based on location, and which amenities are important to you. Also many are required by law to adhere to the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) which means 80% of homes within the community must be occupied by someone 55+, and provide services geared towards this lifestyle. For more information about this ordinance visit
http://www.manufacturedhousing.org/publications/default.asp?id=10&article=120

Affordability is a major selling point. Many manufactured homes are Energy Star efficient with a focus on green living that help to lower overall monthly maintenance costs. If you’re a retiree or baby boomer you’d probably rather secure a comfortable nest egg, than go house poor right? The downsides of going manufactured, is depreciation, and fluctuations in lot rental rates, however the lower financial profile of a manufactured home may be worthwhile in the long run.

You deserve to retire in style, and whether you’re dreaming of a wrap around porch near the water, or place in the city, buying a manufactured home is a worthy investment making the term mobile home a thing of the past.

The 411 on Applying for an HECM Loan

Part IIIYou’re 62, and have substantial equity in your home to tap into, but may be wondering where to go from here? Once you’ve satisfied the eligibility requirements for an HECM, and found a lender that will help set your financial goals into action, it’s time to apply for your loan.  We’ve learned how a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage can benefit home owners by eliminating their mortgage payment, offers a variety of disbursement options, and frees up funds for a vacation, savings, etc.  Planning ahead, and mapping your financial forecast is step one in the loan process.

In the last two segments of this HECM series, we covered the basics, and many of the nuances associated with this type of loan. An education in HECM is first, and foremost, and hopefully this series as well as advice from your lender will help you make a more informed decision.

To submit your application, you will be required to complete a counseling session by a HUD approved counselor and these certificates cost from $125 to $200.  They will sit down with you either face to face or telephone to discuss the legalities, and obligations of an HECM, evaluating your unique situation to ensure this type of loan is the right option for you. The more questions the better, so ask away! To find a HUD counselor in your area visit http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/hecm/hecmlist

After you’ve completed your application, and you receive an estimated loan cost, it’s appraisal time to find out how much equity you have to work with, and ultimately determine the amount of your loan. The appraiser must be FHA approved, and they will evaluate for any major defects, to ensure your home is structurally sound. Serious issues such as a roof leak will need to be addressed before moving forward.

You’ll be required to carry three forms of insurance.  A home hazard policy which you should already have as home owner, federally mandated government insurance that ensures that what must be repaid won’t exceed your home’s value, and title insurance, one that is required to protect the lender, with the option of title insurance to protect you as the borrower.

Once you’ve decided how you’ll receive your loan proceeds, and you’ve signed the closing documents, you’ll have three days to back out should you choose to cancel the mortgage.

An HECM can be a wonderful way to take advantage of your home’s value, and enjoy your hard earned retirement with money in the bank.  Talk to a lender today, to find out if an HECM is right for you, and get your financial game plan rolling.

The Advantages of Choosing a HECM Loan

So you’re considering a Home Equity Conversion mortgage, aka. HECM, and may be wondering if you qualify, or what you might do with money. A trip to Tahiti? Pay off debt? Last time we discussed the fundamentals of an HECM, and how it compares to a traditional mortgage. In this second installment, we’ll get into eligibility requirements, and ways this loan could benefit your financial future.

The basic qualifiers when applying for an HECM, are you must be 62 or better, and own your home as a primary residence as well as having an ample amount of equity. But what if you live in a condo or manufactured home? Aside from Co-Ops which are ineligible, condominiums, and manufactured homes approved by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 1-4 unit homes, and some land lease properties qualify for an HECM.

Can you apply if you already have a mortgage? If you don’t own your home outright, most folks considering an HECM already have a traditional loan that must be paid off by the proceeds of the HECM. This is where having enough equity comes in because you want there to be enough to cover the remaining loan balance, plus what you may be putting cash back in your pocket.

What are the benefits of an HECM? The best part about this type of loan, is your house is still your own without having a mortgage payment. Without that big chunk of change going out every month, it leaves money to perhaps tackle a renovation project, buy that Italian leather sofa you’ve been eyeing, or add to your nest egg.

The money you borrow from your home’s equity is not considered taxable income by the IRS, and can be used as you wish. As a federally insured loan, your heirs aren’t held liable for repayment even when the home sells for less than the loan amount.

An HECM can be of great help for older adults trying to achieve financial security. There are options to how you receive the money from your home’s equity. You can choose to take it as a lump sum, use it as a line of credit, receive a monthly payment for a set period, or a tenure that pays you monthly for as long as you or any other owners reside in your home. Needing a down payment for a purchase? HECM funds can also be issued as an advance along with monthly income payments.

Once you decide that an HECM is the way to go, shopping for a lender you feel comfortable working with is crucial. Don’t settle if it doesn’t feel right! Before you sign the dotted line, tune in next time where we’ll take a guided tour of the application process.

HECM vs. Traditional Mortgage 101

In this series, we’ll be exploring the ins and outs of a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM as the pros call it. Find out how it compares to a traditional mortgage, how to qualify, and the benefits of going this route. From application to closing, learn how to make your home work for you, and get the most out of your retirement years!

Sounding a bit like hi-tech medical equipment, the HECM acronym translates to a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. The basic idea of this loan is the ability to either replace the existing loan and/or borrow against the existing equity in your home, and not make a payment until you no longer occupy the home as your primary residence, sell the home, or the last homeowner has passed away. Unlike a traditional mortgage where you will pay the piper until the end of the loan term, an HECM provides the option to receive a monthly tax free disbursement from the loan proceeds.

Qualifying for a traditional mortgage requires a decent credit score, and proof of sufficient income to make the monthly payments. With a HECM loan, income, and credit is reviewed for the minimum required to cover expenses such insurance, HOA fees, and property taxes.

In a reverse mortgage scenario, the loan balance increases over time whereas a traditional home loan balance is paid down each month. Ultimately the more equity you have in your home, and the less you owe on your current mortgage the greater the payout will be on your HECM loan.

Jumbo Reverse Mortgage? The big sister to the FHA reverse mortgage loan, a Jumbo Reverse Mortgage allows folks in higher priced homes to tap into a greater amount of equity than what traditional HECM loans are limited to. For more information, visit https://www.aag.com/news/aag-introduces-jumbo-reverse-mortgage-loan

If you’re on the fence about whether to go traditional or HECM, next week we’ll delve into eligibility requirements, and how a reverse mortgage could benefit you.

Del Webb at Alegria

Alegria by Del Webb is located in Bernalillo, New Mexico, just 20 minutes north of downtown Albuquerque and 40 minutes south of Santa Fe. This lovely Del Webb gated community was developed in 2006 and has 376 Del Webb homes. Del Webb at Alegria is nestled along the Rio Grande Bosque and boasts stunning views of the Sandia Mountain Range.There are nine-floor plans, which range in size from 1,400 to almost 2,400 sq. ft. All floor plans offer at least two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a two-car garage.

These Del Webb Communities include amenities such as a gated entry, a 9,000 sq. ft. clubhouse with fitness center, indoor pool, a grand hall, full service kitchen, craft and card rooms, a computer area and lending library. The full time on site lifestyle director keeps residents of this Del Webb community busy with a huge variety of social, academic and physical activities. There is also an outdoor pool, jaccuzi spa, bocce ball courts, a putting green and a mile and a half lit and paved walking trail.

You can find more information about this Del Webb community by clicking here